Contemplation on no Collection

Don’t worry about it; my treat.

Yes; everyone loves a treat. Someone has a birthday; the people around all ask for a treat. I had my birthday recently; and I intentionally took a leave from work to avoid treat trappers. (Not that I’m stingy or anything; but peace and quiet is my own way of celebration.) Later, I, along with some colleagues got promoted to a higher position; Then there’s this buzz among co-employees making passes for us to blow out some treat. There was one time, some civic organization was giving away free rice for persons with disability. (Yes, I could afford to buy rice.) For the fun of it, I joined the queue (along with children from indigent families) to get me some rice. (Hey, man. It was for free.) I could imagine the look on the donor’s face; hesitating to give me that plastic bag of grain, which he couldn’t do because I had the qualifications to be a recipient. (hehe) So, one would understand that people would be flocking over free stuff. Just pass the word; we’ll be there.

Sometimes, it doesn’t have to be totally free. A discount would do. Have you noticed how ubiquitous flea markets have been in the recent years? (or as we call it in the vernacular, ukay) Interestingly, the lines have blurred the delineation between the “ukay” and the conventional boutique. If we climb a little up the social stratum, a crowd is created when malls have sales; which make you wonder if they really cut the price or is that the actual price? Then, we get promos here and there. Well, you get my point, right?

So, when DepEd implements “no collection” policy, of course, every parent would want to avail themselves of that. No collection starts on enrollment and presumably extends throughout the school year (except for some stuff like BSP?GSP, Red Cross, the school paper) and reaches its monumental climax on the graduation and recognition season, which where we’re at right now. On a serious note, it’s not the human nature or the Filipino culture (if we could call it that) for freebies, treats and discounts; but since basic education is a right; and many pupils’ families run across or under the poverty line, many of them could only shell out a few pesos. If you’re a middle or upper class Filipino who has not had the exposure to such scarcity, and who’s thinking that such thing is ridiculous before the opportunities of livelihood despite its inadequacy, yes man, poverty is real. Many pupils are children of families of meager income, among multiple siblings, with nephews and nieces depending on one parent, uncle, aunt or grandparent or relative abroad, calling a modest space bounded by light materials, their home. In such situations, “no collection” is the logical and humane direction to go.

However, exercises like graduation, moving up, completion or whatever the authorities would want to call it, including awards and recognition come with some expenses. I don’t want to bore you with accounting; (aside from the fact that I myself get a headache from it) but monthly operating expenses and assistance from the local government apparently would not suffice. Imagine, a family with regular bills to pay, which has to throw a party, what do the parents do? Loan from a friend perhaps? Or maybe everyone in the party could just pitch in some contributions, there won’t be any collections, they will be contributing. Wait, but would not that be a violation of the “no collection” policy? No, they’re contributing… voluntarily. But if that’s a violation of a government policy, a citizen could expose that on mass media, or forward a complaint to the proper authorities. But without the contribution/collection, it would be a crappy ceremony.

Last year, a parent complained about a school’s graduation fee; and the local government agency withheld its support from the school. However, word on tt the street is, everyone does it. It’s just the matter of squealing or not squealing. Recently, this year, another parent did the same thing to the higher office. Which prompted the school head to irately give back the collections/contributions. Then this school receives complaints from parents again. What’s the matter? Isn’t the collections/contributions terminated? This group want the contributions to be implemented again for a decent graduation ceremony. I should have taken it seriously when someone told me this world is crazy.

What makes these year end activities expensive anyway? Paper and ink? Stage decoration? Venue? Honorarium for the guest speaker? What if we take it all away? What if a graduate does not have a ceremony and just has to get an envelope that contains his/her completion documents from the guidance office? No ceremony. Recently, DepEd reportedly released the wrong memo announcing that Grade 6 completers would not have their traditional graduation, and we had a taste of that alternate reality. Parents were sad because their children would not experience that moment of wearing a toga and cap, marching through the hall, being called to the stage, and having a picture taken getting a piece of rolled paper with red ribbon around it– sentimentality.

Sometimes, we have to pause, sit down and think of what we really want.

“A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” James 1:8