In three months, I will have been serving for three years in the field though not quite as the Gurong Pahinungod that I imagined I would be when I was in college. In the end, I turned out to be a full-fledged public school marm in my high school alma mater tilting windmills in the exigency of the service. I promised myself when I started to keep my wits about me, to approach my service not as a career professional but as a participant observer. You see, I am ambitious in my own quiet way, overblown with chutzpah, really. I thought then that I was entering public service for "research," to uncover the ills that beset our educational system, to see for myself the state of affairs independent of my professors’ views as outsiders of the public school system, so that I could formulate solutions grounded in thick understanding of the real situation on the ground. An underlying thread in this conviction is a distrust of what I was taught in the classrooms of UP Diliman, those esteemed halls that for all the admiration that my school pride can muster, is still at the bottomline situated in the core of imperial Manila whose faculty and student body are still by and large, citizens of the center who without a second thought call events, contests, and organizations in Manila as Philippine so and so without considering if it were truly representative of the country as a whole, where Tagalog friends with whom I can most be myself failed to consider time and again that their childhood experiences were not mine, too, because I came from the peripheral South where Pong Pagong just doesn’t hold a soft spot in our hearts or that perya/arcade place that used to be in Cubao. So I wanted to learn for myself, without the colored lenses of the privileged Manila-based academic.
True enough, the view looks different from here at the bottom. Only, I feel too much in the thick of the things, treading water desperately to stay afloat in this roiling mass of public school teacher responsibility, which could very well pull anyone under if she did not deal with care. So much has happened so fast, I cannot keep up a habit of reflective inquiry into the why’s and how’s. I am exhausted. Right now, I do not know if I have one more year in me left. I worry about my well-being. I might be acutely depressed.
Where do I find the strength to carry on when I feel burned out? Where shall I find the vigor and bull-headedness to carry on despite all the things that go wrong and are never made right; the system’s culture trains its leaders and members to sweep points for improvement under the rug under the false name of being committed to the general good.
If I draw strength from the potential of what I do now creating ripple effects in our government this seems naive to me. I think Gandhi probably had the right mindset to this, of doing something not for the sake of results, but because it was the right thing to do.