BLIND SPOT: Bring on the Brigada

So, what’s it going to be? Are you going to do some construction labor? Volunteer some cleaning time? Or donate cash to purchase construction materials? Why is it called ‘brigada’ anyway? Isn’t ‘brigada’ the Spanish word for brigade? Doesn’t ‘brigade’ denote of a military unit composed of several regiments? A brigade is a “major tactical military formation that is typically composed of three to six battalions plus supporting elements”. So how on earth did a group of soldiers come to mean the act of cleaning and repairing school buildings and campuses? At least, that’s a better Filipinism than salvage’s definition of summary execution. “Brigada Eskwela brings to us a picture of people from different sectors of society repainting walls and blackboards, cleaning windows and doors, or repairing fences”. (oh yeah, more like an Amorsolo painting) “Throughout the years, the spirit of volunteerism in Brigada Eskwela has reached more people in the communities. In 2007 alone, it has generated more than P2.5 billion worth of support-in-kind and countless volunteer man-hours.” “People from surrounding barangays who spare their time to volunteer or donate money and resources get the rare opportunity of collaborating with teachers and the members of the LGUs. Seeing them work together paint a picture of shared goals and responsibilities between the school and the community it serves.” Yes, it’s not a burdensome obligation. It is actually a situation which offers the possibility to do something good. It is an event which gives people favor to fulfill one’s purpose to extend help towards a noble cause. It presents a good position and prospect to p articipate in the community. Brigada Eskwela makes a citizen realize “that while the government has a duty to its citizens, the citizens also have a duty to the government.” (Now, that reminds me of that famous JFK soundbyte.) It brings us above the level of receivers of dole-outs and elevates us to the honorable status of sacrifice of community service. “One of Brigada Eskwela’s goals is to foster understanding among all sectors of society that the education of the Filipino people is the responsibility of everyone. The government which provides free education for the Filipino youth, the community where they grow, and the private sector who will eventually employ them are all stakeholders of education. Their cooperation is significant to the success of every student’s education.” ( However, should not “local governments be the one to fund the maintenance of public schools? Should schools have to generate resources from private companies or individuals?” Isn’t it only proper and logical that the greater institution that covers or shares with one entity bear the responsibility of faithfully providing for its necessities towards the achievement of efficient performance of its services? Is it not only rational that the State be accountable for the maintenance of instruments of its services? Why should private organizations and individuals accept the weight of the consequences of scarcities of the government’s resources? Yes, this argument may sound egocentric; but it is simply a promotion of the value of responsibility, that one should perform the duties vested on his person, and not pass the burden on his neighbor. Would not doing so be a form of injustice; since the neighbor did not enter in any contract of performance of any of that person’s duties? Would this not cause an imbalance in the equilibrium in the ecosystem since some organisms would be carrying out a niche which is natural to another organism? Why should external sectors “need to raise funds for a project that should be funded by the government”? Should not the government appropriate funds and oversee the implementation of these sort of projects? If government funds are not expended in public school projects, where then, do they go? ( This phenomenon presents diverse faces of the Filipino. One face resurrects the barangay folk rallying together for bayanihan – a selfless partaking in the community. However, one should also remember that these practice occurred in a time period when barangays looked after themselves, datus would look only after his barangay despite the citizens being next door neighbors with the other barangay; and unity among barangays would only go the level of a loose confederacy. Yes, to each Filipino (or whatever they were called at that time), his own. Had there been a strong sense of unity, there would not be any colonization. But apparently, in the present time, the former face has been winning over the latter. Thank God, there’s hope. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17