by Rene Pizarro
I have always been cynical of local leaders who impress me negatively about the way they work and how politics, power and greed invariably fill their cup of governance.
My expectations were a bit shattered when I joined the recent training workshop activities of Synergeia in the BARMM area in Mindanao.
I felt there is something different and unique with the mayors of these varied communities, who proudly identify themselves as “Synergeia” mayors, working for the betterment of education of their children, the hope of the future.
What makes them different?
They are visionaries who see the value of education as the key to poverty eradication and improvement in the quality of life of Filipinos.
They are game changers who are not afraid to be at the center of change and innovation.
They are always present in the affairs of their community, giving more time and offering themselves as mentors, stewards, guardians and inspiration to their people.
They have big hearts which, with authenticity and genuineness, allow them to feel and emphatize with the needs of their communities and invest in the kind of emotional currency, that has a specific love language attached to it, which make them do more and be more for their constituents.
What is their language of love?
In Synergeia’s culture of creating communities of mission and action, I have observed a love language that resonates within its universe of local leaders and partners. It also effectively communicates its bonds with the concept of good governance which Synergeia is relentlessly influencing more mayors to believe in its possibilities and raising local capabilities for it.
In Gary Chapman’s book, he cited five love languages which refer to the five simple ways that we want love to be shown to us and the ways that we show others love.
These are: 1. Words of affirmation, 2. Acts of Service, 3. Gifts, 4. Quality time, and 5. Physical touch.
I saw how these mayors expressed and manifested the second language of Love, Acts of Service, to their children, teachers, parents, and other community partners.
I sensed that for these mayors, their relationship with their people is nurtured and flourished by these Acts of Service, which is essentially a Synergeia brand of love.
I listened to their conversations about how to shape and reshape education, pushing reading at the forefront of learning and boosting the power of Local School Boards and School Governing Councils to effect reforms and affect change in the mindset and behavior of their communities.
They are long-term thinkers who are committed to action and who are not afraid to be vulnerable in the face of their people.
There was this young Mayor of Balindong, who bravely taught reading to his teachers.
Another example is that of Mayor Abubakar “Toy” Paglas of Datu Paglas who brought his Madaris teachers to new ways of educating children about peace and values.
And a woman Mayor of Buldon who wears education like her second skin, boldly saving a day for multiple capacity building activities on reading, peace-building and policy reforms.
The validity of a love language in governance is real.
I discovered governance is beyond programs or projects, platforms or advocacies.
In education governance, most especially, it is important to learn the love language communities will identify with, apply and optimize it to keep relationships with communities alive and empowered to facilitate change and sustain positive outcomes.
With love, Synergeia and its local leader partners can indeed do almost anything to make a difference in education.