FR. BEN NEBRES, S.J.,
Synergeia Founding Chairman
Video link: https://youtu.be/hERnW3BeyIY
- Be relentless, push and you will often succeed.
- Why should we push education all the more? … All of us. We are here because we see the faces of these children. Nakikita natin ang mga bata walking to school 3 to 5 kilometers. Little children. We see their parents sacrificing for them. Why? Because they hope in education for a better life. So, how can we not give our best to make sure that the schools are good? How can we not make sure that they really learn in their school? Kasi kung hindi natin gagawin, mabibigo ang kanilang pangarap. And how can we do that? We cannot do that. We cannot let go… We cannot let the dreams of our children, we cannot let the dreams of our mothers, be lost.
- Your own commitment to the dreams of the children is an inspiration for us.
Good afternoon. Good to see all of you. I am supposed to share with you about keeping the faith and holding true to our mission.
Keeping the faith. Faith means continuing, ipagpatuloy, huwag susuko. We heard so many inspiring stories of leaders who keep the faith. Maganda the way Secretary Rex put it – being relentless. Huwag susuko. Marami mang hadlang ang dinadaanan natin, hindi susuko.
And we saw that we can win. Sec. Rex showed that as Mayor of Valenzuela. It took him nine years but within that nine years, he was able to reduce the number of non-readers. Alam natin na napakaraming frustrated readers but he was able to reduce it. Secretary Abalos was able to reduce malnutrition by being relentless.
Are we inspired by that? (audience agreed) Yes! And because we are inspired, dapat we should also be able to keep the faith.
Of course, Ma’am Winnie Monsod was pushing them (the panelists in Panel 2) to talk about failures and problems. You can always focus on the problems or, as I have learned in my life, you can focus on finding solutions. There will always be problems. Marami akong kaibigan o nakakasama na mga sigurista. When you propose something, nakikita nila ang problema, susuko na. But you cannot do that. You have to find a way. Be relentless, push and you will often succeed.
But why should we push? Why should we push education all the more?
I will tell you a my recent experience. I went to Sulu two months ago. My first time. Synergeia has been in Sulu for so many years. We had a very painful experience around 2018 or 2019 when a principal in one of our schools in Patikul was kidnapped. Hindi nakabayad ng ransom and he was beheaded. We were really shaken when that happened.
I went there because I read last year that it is peaceful now. There was an article in the Inquirer that said there is a nightlife now, the children are out playing and people go to the beaches. Milagro. So I went.
I was with some Fil-Am friends who are doing tutorials for out-of-school youth, now totaling about a thousand. In Sulu, there were some 100 young people, about 18 to 25 in age, whom we were trying to tutor to be able to pass high school equivalency and hopefully, get some IT skills and get a better job.
What struck us is all of them is their story. Ganito ang kwento nila, ‘I had to drop out of school because of poverty. Parang wala na akong pag-asa sa buhay. Ngayon, nabuhayan ako, nagkaron ako ulit ng pag-asa. You have given us hope.’ This effort to tutor them so they can be given high school equivalency is giving them so much hope. Their faces began to light up.
One of them, a young man in his early 20s, was imprisoned for seven years for a crime he did not commit. He was finally released. His education was very limited. He studied in an Arabic school in Baguio, and he was teaching students. He said, “I realized that my students need skills that I cannot give so I would like to get this high school equivalency and get a better education so I can teach them.” What struck us was he was not bitter despite being imprisoned for seven years. All he wanted to do was to learn something so he could educate others, and give hope to others.
Sabi namin, we have to succeed, we have to persevere, we have to be relentless. Kasi looking at their faces, looking forward sila to this education in order to have a better life. Ito talaga ang katuparan ng kanilang mga pangarap. I remember their faces…how can you withdraw, how can you give up, paano ka susuko? I think this is what keeps us together. We have to be relentless. Bakit tayo susuko?
I have an older sister who was the directress of St. Theresa’s Quezon City. She was telling my younger sister after my trip to Sulu that I am old and should not be travelling anymore. But why do I travel? Because of the young people like them. All of us. We are here because we see the faces of these children. Nakikita natin ang mga bata walking to school 3 to 5 kilometers. Little children. We see their parents sacrificing for them. Why? Because they hope in education for a better life. So, how can we not give our best to make sure that the schools are good. How can we not make sure that they really learn in their school. Kasi kung hindi natin gagawin, mabibigo ang kanilang pangarap. And how can we do that? We cannot do that. We cannot let go.
We have to be relentless. We have to keep the faith and be true to our mission.
Napaka-basic ng sinabi ni Sec. Gatchalian – make sure every child can read and make sure children are not hungry. At naipakita niya na pwedeng magtagumpay sa reading at ganun din sa malnutrition. Nakita ko si Vice Mayor Lorie and she said bumaba na ang number of wasted children sa Valenzuela.
Whatever our situation, we need to continue. I have been with Synergeia for 20 years. An example of relentlessness is our President, Ma’am Nene. She keeps on saying she will retire but she will not. Hindi ka magre-resign, di ba? (looking at Ms. Guevara) Sinasabi niya pagod na siya but she is still here.
For the same reason, we cannot let the dreams of our children, we cannot let the dreams of our mothers, be lost. Hindi natin pwede pabayaan sila.
We are invited to keep the faith, we are invited to be relentless. Ano mang nararamdaman nating mga problema, mga frustrations like corruption, we have to go on.
Thank you for being here. You are our inspiration. They (Synergeia staff) are telling me we have to get 600 (attendees) but we have more than 850! Your own commitment to the dreams of our children is an inspiration for us. We are here to fulfill the dreams of the parents and of the children. Everywhere we go, in education summits, we find out that they only have one dream. They say ‘tanggap namin ang buhay namin pero pangarap namin na maging mas maganda ang buhay ng aming mga anak.’ They accept their limitations but they have a dream for a better life for their children. Let us not make that dream be lost.