Suffer Not the Little Children

Dr. Ricardo B. de los Santos, PhD

The senate hearing in aid of legislation which focused on the events that transpired in Socorro, Surigao del Norte show the remarkable effects of education in the lives of people and conversely the disastrous effects of maleducation. Apparently, the eight young people who escaped Kapihan knew their rights and how they were abused and enable them to take ultimate refuge with Senator Risa Hontiveros.

But what about their parents who allowed these abuses? What about the eligible teachers, policemen and soldiers who participated in this tragic tableaux? Perhaps, somewhere along life’s journey, their education faltered and was overwhelmed by a fanatical belief and superstition prevalent also in our educational system.

This is because in our government systems, there is also a form of cult following. In DepEd alone, one can find teachers who have given up their academic right to question their principals and master teachers, and master teachers who could not question their supervisors and yes, definitely, supervisors who could not question their superintendents. Take for instance, Mamerto Galanida who perhaps had been conditioned to almost absolute unquestioned power which he experienced as superintendent and mayor, respectively. For how else could he embark of such a sinister experiment which would reverse the goodwill of a people’s organization which enlivens the Filipino Bayanihan values and replace them with exploitative superstitions. For in DepEd alone there are superintendents that exercise their power as nefarious sovereigns. They begin their careers as principals with their own little kingdoms and as supervisors and assistant superintendents who have their own dark principalities which will follow every whim and wish of their infernal sovereigns. In effect, the superintendent who had already given his absolute policies could not be questioned and will continue to wear the emperor’s new clothes until a learned child has pointed outright nudity with truth.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. This is why there should be professional organizations which should stem the tide of tyranny in government agencies especially DepEd where the teacher is taught to be reverential to authorities and the superstition that asking questions about valid issues such as “why more paperwork when it was promised to be paperless” in the rationalization scheme or why does a “wrongking occur instead of a real ranking” are impediments to promotion. What are we promoting then, dear Superintendents? Ignorance?

A.k.a. Jane had revealed in the senate hearings her forced marriage to an 18 year-old boy she had never met. Implicated in the violative pairings were Janeth Ajoc and Mr. Karren Sanico whose disdain for the proceedings won them contempt detention. Ajoc and Sanico were positively identified as the ones who assisted Senior Aguila in his whim of marrying partners who are still children, according to Philippine law, and are total strangers to each other. Ajoc even made the lame excuse that her own child who was claimed to have been married actually had fallen in love with his childhood sweetheart. Senior Aguila, in fact had remarried people who were already married according to his whim and had the nerve to order “spouses” to rape their “wives” or suffer chastisement for disobeying a divine decree. This so-called reincarnation of the Sto. Nino even asked to have sex with some of the ‘Brides” claiming something like the Divine right of Kings during medieval times. Jane Doe must be honored by the senate or even by DepEd for having shown vestiges of real learning.

A younger child, introduced only as “Renz” nailed the real issue. He said he escaped because he could not go to school in Kapihan. Instead, he was being trained as a soldier of god! Who’s the god here? Senior Aguila or the invisible god, Dr. Galanida. They both even mentioned of terrible corporal punishments which we do not allow in Philippine schools.

Renz reminded me of a friend with the same nickname who told me about the story concerning a current superintendent who was too cruel in punishing his child corporally under the sun. No wonder this superintendent is so cruel to the supervisors, principals and teachers. It must have been force of habit.

I must therefore remind my colleagues still in DepEd. Suffer not the little children. Do I have to repeat to you, Jesus’ justification? According to tradition, the apostles were one day worried about the children who may be disturbing the sermon of the Lord. But he rebuked them and even asked the children to approach him. He took one of them and placed Him on his lap, and this according to tradition was St. Ignatius of Antioch who described the Christ’s church later as “catholic” to mean universal and gave the justification. He said that the children are so important to God that he had in fact, assigned an angel to protect them. And so, if we let the children suffer what do you think will be the guardian angels’ report to the Lord. Isn’t preparing a module which would make the children suffer equally evil? Superintendents, the teachers are your very “own children”. If you deliberately make them suffer with needless reports and “interventions” so that you can boasts of them as your achievements, aren’t you doing evil as well. Do you deserve heaven then, if you are giving hell to your own people?

In my memory as a former teacher, I can only remember at least two of my superintendents who have tried improving the quality of lives of their teachers. They are my idols although they never occurred to me as gods.

Awful for me is the fact that now, there are teachers who believe that superintendents are gods and their hierarchy are demi-gods. I am reminded once more of the amazing short story by Gilda Cordero-Fernando, “The Visitation of the Gods” which is an indictment of how criminal the public school system is administered of how people in school suffer down to the students themselves. I can see that nothing much have changed because people continue to live the disdainful life of a corrupt society. It is only a little improvement from the deliberate ways of the Socorro tragedy where some of the children were born only to die because some god or demi-god had proclaimed that they do not have to go to the hospital or health center down the mountain because god is already with them. My Undas had been haunted by the picture of the graves of the little children who should have been given a chance for a beautiful life but are now instead buried in lonely mountain spot where SOCO should have gone earlier in Socorro.

And in the teaching profession we have such “children”, too who should have been given a more quality of life except that some god has determined that she should not be promoted but instead persecuted. Sounds like too much injustice had happened but yes, truth is stranger than fiction. I know of one dedicated scouter who was given an errant as an errant scouter but was denied any help because it was not within class hours. Another teacher was prosecuted because she denied the superintendent’s wish to put her principal down because this principal was not perceived as a team player by the local deity. Another was denied promotion after several edited rankings where he did well. Well, I think this last one has his fault, too. He is too cowardly to question results and just smile and not to the whims of the demi-god. Well, for those who died and suffered much in life because of these false gods, please find time to haunt them trick or treat even if Halloween is already over.

Anyway, no amount of material gain could ever satiate these demons and I know they will find no rest even when they are able to retire scot-free from charges. My only hope is that somebody reads this article and be inspired to exorcise the DepEd. Yes, because I believe I am too old already to still continue defending my co-teachers. During the last time I sat to act as a witness for a teacher who is just a victim of persecution, I have wanted to say more so that the truth would come out, I was surprised that I was not asked the pertinent questions. I almost forgot that it was an administrative case and that they could run the show so as not to implicate any wrong doing on the part of the division.

I also noticed that the usual technique applied by the hierarchy was to divide and rule. This could be the reason why the policies sometimes made are rather detrimental to the learning of children. The division hierarchy are so divisive in policy implementation because the policy is said to be for the good but its reverse is the resultant as experienced by good supervisors and principals. But who’s going to bell the cat under the Ratplan since feline gods are so busy licking themselves clean even if they excrete the worst smelling poop!

Suffice to say that our teachers had the option to go abroad because they couldn’t stand the system. Thus, it was easy for the calloused bureaucrat to quote, “If you do not like the system then get out of the system.” Nice cultural proverb and very apt. This is why the poor eligible Filipino teacher would rather be nanny or a maid elsewhere. The men could always qualify as handymen overseas since they have been trained to be handymen by the division. Now, I know why small government agencies are called divisions. They are very divisive for our people even if they have wanted to express themselves in unity.

In one of the recent homilies, I heard, I listened to Father Algerico “Gerry” Orbos and he was anecdotal in talking about their mother asking them not to be heavy and “stay light” as they rode their surplus jeep. He made a wonderful analogy of being “light” and humble and being “heavy” and boastful. He spoke of the local phenomenon of people who throw their weight around. I know of some people very much who have forgotten their humble beginnings. Be careful, you heavy people, your heaviness could bring you faster and deeper into the abyss. Then, you may try yelling “Socorro!” hoping close to the for some Spanish saint close to Filipinos to help you out but no one comes.

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