9th Moment: Cellphone Scare, Work Experience, Nash and Flying A
Cellphone scare: In Sri Lanka, my project covered the East Coast districts heavily devastated by the Tsunami. The area was also under the influence of the LTTE, the rebel groups fighting for a separate Tamil state. One day I withdrew money from an ATM machine in Ampara, in the district capital town. When I went back to my hotel, I noticed that I left my cellular phone inside its leather bag on top of the machine. I immediately returned to the place only to find out that the area was full of heavily armed policemen. I was informed that they were there to guard the place while they were retrieving my cellphone bag, thinking that it was a bomb. I left hurriedly and forgot about my phone. Anyway, it was locked and cannot be opened!
Work experience: I was visited by our donor from the Belgian Development Agency during my project in Sri Lanka. We were having dinner together in the hotel where I was staying when a white gentleman approached us. He introduced himself as a development worker also for an international organization. In the course of our conversation the gentleman told us that he had 20 years already of experience in working for children in post-crisis areas. I thought my donor guest was impressed, but after the guy left, he whispered to me, “Rudy, that guy is bragging about one year of experience repeated 20 times!”
Practical strategic planning: Part of the consultation process that we were utilizing in our project with the MNLF in Mindanao was to discuss with the target groups their plans on livelihood and income generation using a brainstorming tool. In our meeting with the Chair and members of the state revolutionary committee in Lanao Norte we agreed on three project ideas with their justifications:
1. Carpentry - “because our members are relocating to the town as a result of the GRP-MNLF final peace agreement”.
2. Halal bakery - “because we need our own-baked bread to eat on our new settlement”.
3. Dressmaking - “because our ladies need to have new dresses and continue to be beautiful in accordance with our traditions”.
Police character: After finishing a two-year technical-vocational course I went immediately to practice my vocation. I underwent a one-year apprenticeship as an auto mechanic in the Philippine Volkswagen distributor. When I was assigned in the dealer in Naga City, I encountered different kinds of customers. One was really a character, Frank, a medical representative.
Frank would not want to put a plate number in front of his Beetle car to make way for a sporty fog light.
One day he was apprehended by a policeman and this was their conversation:
Policeman - where is the plate number of your car?
Frank, without getting out of his car - it is in the rear officer.
The police went to see the rear of the car and saw it was there.
Policeman : Ok, but where is the one for the rear?
Frank - it is there Sir, have you not seen it?
Policeman, feeling insulted - can I see your driving license?
Frank, offering a pack of blue seal cigarette to the law agent - please have a smoke officer.
Frank was booked for bribery! But at least he escaped from non-use of car plate!
Nash and basketball: Nash, my favorite driver in Mindanao is an avid fan of basketball.
One time we were on the road he talked to me about his favorite PBA player - Johnny Abarientos, known by fans as the “flying A”.
This was our conversation:
Nash - Boss, Johnny Abarientos is being invited in the NBA. He could be very rich and famous.
Me - In the NBA?
Nash - No Boss, in the PBA! But I think he will have a problem.
Me - In the PBA?
Nash - No Boss, in the NBA! Because there are many good guards in the NBA. But maybe he will think it over and choose.
Me - The NBA?
Nash - No Boss, the PBA.
Me - Nash we better change the topic, we are going nowhere.
Nash - Yes Boss. I think you are right - in the PBA.
TVET graduates, in demand 2nd Class citizens:
Whether we like it or not our culture still looks down to vocational training and its graduates as 2nd class citizens in the world of work. I don’t have to explain.
How can we change that perception?
It isn’t because I am a community development worker but because ever since I was a shop instructor in the former NMYC, until I was the Executive Director of the Institute of Vocational Training and Development in TESDA , my advocacy was on making TECH-VOC as a separate and parallel department from the department of education so it can have its own decent identity and focus on training first class manpower for work in industries.
The state of our being second class citizens in the technical and vocational sector will perpetuate as long as the sector will be managed by graduates from university under CHED or DepEd.
TVET must be free, it deserves freedom for the sake of the people manning our machines, equipment, production, and service tools.
TVET Graduates deserves to be first class citizens!