Video link : https://youtu.be/e6h1rK6XLH8
Esteemed ofﬁcials from our national and local governments, friends and colleagues in the education sector, partners in industry and civil society, ladies and gentlemen, good morning; maayong buntag; as-salamu alaykum.
Ano nga ba o saan itong Neverland?
According to its creator, James M Barrie, Neverland is near the “stars of the milky way” and it is reached “always at the time of sunrise.” And so Peter Pan, the main character, tells us that you can reach Neverland if you go “second star to the right, and straight on till morning.”
Alam niyo, mahina tayong mga Pinoy sa directions. Madali tayong malito sa north, east, south, west. Kahit alam na natin kung saan sumisikat at lumulubog ang araw, parang walang bisa sa atin na tandaan kung saan ang pagsilang at pagpanaw nitong kaisa-isang bituin natin. Naliligaw pa rin tayo, kung saan-saan tayo lumiliko. Pag nagbigay tayo ng direksyon, tumuturo tayo na gamit ang nguso. Minsan nga, kahit kanan at kaliwa, nalilito pa, ayan tuloy, maya-maya, nawawala.
Second star to the right and straight on till morning. Paano ba yan? If we look for Neverland with the eyes of grown ups, we will surely ﬁnd it too far, too long a travel, expensive, elusive, unreachable. Never tayo makakatuntong sa Neverland. By our grown up senses, we will never ﬁnd Neverland. It is quite apparent now that Neverland was never really meant to be found by grownups.
But if for the next two days, we will try to become children again, then perhaps we will ﬁnd Neverland. If in this time together, if we could only put in a box our big roles and titles and worries, if we could only become small again and look at the world as we all once did, with the eyes of a child, then perhaps it will be possible to reach Neverland, that magical place of our childhood, that wonderful time of timelessness, that delightful place of trust and freedom and dreams.
To help us go back to becoming like children once more, I suggest we ﬁrst put our hand on our navel. We do not often pay attention to this part of us. We take it for granted but navels are there to remind us that we were once connected to another person. Physically, organically we were once tied to our mothers. We came into this world after much pain, after someone else’s sacriﬁce and love.
I ﬁrst learned of Neverland from my mother. I ﬁrst met Peter Pan through her. My mother read the story of Peter Pan to us children in bed. When my sister became a mother, she in turn read stories to her children in bed. I am sure that my niece (her daughter) who is now herself a mother, she too is now reading stories to her child.
It is remarkable how a simple and intimate act of goodness, this act of reading stories to children at bedtime gets to be imitated and passed on to succeeding generations. Let this summit be a sort of bedtime for us, a time to recline and rest, a time to tell each other stories. Let it also be a time to listen with wonder and imagination, a time to be thankful for our stories of goodness and generosity, stories that have the power to ﬂy us to Neverland.
Becoming like children, we will also recover something we may have lost over the years. Read a story to a child, and you will observe that a child never seems to weary of starting all over again. Read it again, a child will beg us. Hindi ito kulit ng bulilit. Mangha lamang ito ng musmos, manghang di maubos-ubos. Mangha is what we tend to lose when we grow old. To children, there is always something new to be found beneath the worn out words and pictures, always something fresh to discover, as if they are seeing it for the ﬁrst time.
If we become little as children again, life will always be big. There will always be something in life to startle us. If today ﬁlls us with wonder, we can imagine what tomorrow will be like. Tomorrow will be new again. In the words of Khaled Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner,” a novel about children and friendship, “there is a way to be good again.” Or as one song has it, “the sun’ll come out tomorrow”, in joyful deﬁance of whatever the weather might bring.
And when the sun does come out, bungang araw. Bunga ng araw. Flowers and many good things open up with the sun. Children ripen with daylight. When the morning comes, we play. More outside than inside. We run, we climb, we stumble and gash our limbs, we cry, we ﬁght but we do not let the anger last, we laugh, we sing and dance and we hold each other’s hands. We jump for joy when in a game of patintero, one of us makes it home. We do not have to be the one to make it to the ﬁnish line. Their success is ours to celebrate as well. Before we knew organization development, we already had a sense of what makes for teamwork or teamplay. Before we learned to add one plus one, we already knew that it was more than two. Even as children, we already had a sense of that big word, synergy.
It helps to remember what we here in Synergeia once said of synergy.
Ang synergia ay ang pag-uugnay ng mga bagay-bagay para makapagbuo ng bunga na higit pa sa simpleng pagdadagdag o suma ng mga bahagi. Ika nga, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Halimbawa po: sinigang. Maraming sangkap ang sinigang pero ang lasa nito higit pa sa indibidwal na lasa ng mga sangkap, higit sa lasa ng sampaloc o kamatis o kung anu-ano. Ang musika ay synergy; sa saliw ng sari-saring instrumento, isang simponiya ang nalilikha. Ang bahaghari (rainbow) ay isang sinergia. Pati ang kulay puti. Hindi nagsasarili ang kulay puti. There is no such thing as a color white. White itself is a synergy of many colors. Ang tao ay isang synergia, ang kanyang halaga at dignidad ay hindi mauuwi lamang sa suma ng mga bahagi ng kanyang pagkatao. Ang barangay ay higit sa koleksyon lamang ng mga bahay. Ang isang bansa ay higit pa sa suma ng mga barangay o tribo, munisipyo o probinsya.
Walang synergy kung isang bahagi o sangkap lamang ang kumikilos. Ang kare-kare ay hindi lamang tuwalya; ang bahaghari ay hindi lamang bughaw; ang simponiya, hindi lamang dinadala ng pianista. Hindi nangyayari ang synergia kung may nagsasarili, may namamayani. Nangyayari ang synergia kung may pagbabahagi at bigayan.
Matagumpay po tayong lahat dito sa Synergeia kung ibinabahagi o isinasauli ang responsibilidad ng pagpapalaki ng mga bata sa buong komunidad. Ang responsibilidad ng pagpapaaral sa ating kabataan ay hindi lamang sa mga magulang o paaralan, hindi lamang sa DepEd o superintendent o pribadong sector o civil society. Sa Synergeia, pinaninindigan natin na ang komunidad ang dapat umako sa responsibilidad ng buong pagpapaaral sa mga bata.
Sa kanilang pag-aaral natuklasan ng ating mga propesor at mananaliksi ang isang importanteng pattern: mataas ang correlation ng learning performance ng bata at ng community participation. Sa madaling salita, if the community is engaged, the grades go up. If the community is involved, the students learn well. Oo, mahalaga ang pinuno, ang liderato, ang nagkukumpas, pero ang kahalagahan nya nagmumula lamang sa halaga ng mga bumubuo ng komunidad, sa kalidad ng kanilang kontribusyon at pagtiwala sa isa’t isa.
Mahalaga ang tiwala, ang social capital, ang level of trust na batayan ng pagiging isang komunidad. Mahalaga ang buong orchestra.
Concretely, this means that local chief executives take the podium in leading over non-traditional programs that keep children in school, programs that make them read well, programs that make good teachers, good instructional materials, programs that build the capacities of our parents. It means reinventing local school boards, broadening their membership and functions, instituting performance metrics, and making School Governing Councils work. It means that the governance of education, from planning to implementation, is made both participatory and transparent. Bayanihan po. Hindi po hari o reyna ang ibinubuhat, hindi sariling bangko. Sa bayanihan, sa synergia, ang ibinubuhat hindi lamang bahay; ang ibinubuhat ay bata, paaralan, pamilya, buong bansa.
Sa tunay na synergia, mahirap alamin kung sino o anong sangkap ang may kagagawan ng kabuuan. Kung maganda ang musika, ito’y hindi dahil sa konduktor lamang. Sa tunay na synergia, nabubuwag ang pyudal na hawak at mababaw na pag-aako ng mga padrino. Ang komunidad ang nananagot; ang komunidad ang sumasagot sa kinabukasan ng mga bata. Sa tunay na synergia, katiwala lamang tayong lahat, katiwala (stewards) ng mga biyayang hindi natin sukat inakala.
Second star to the right, and straight on till morning. Kung ganito lang naman pala ang direksyon patungong Neverland, hindi na siguro tayo mawawala. Alamin lang natin kung saang banda ang umaga, makakarating din tayo sa Neverland.
Kung matanto lamang natin kung saang dapit sumisikat ang araw, at kung saan itong mga bunga ng araw, makakatuntong din tayo sa Neverland. Kung paroroon lamang tayo sa may silangan, kung lalapit lamang tayo sa kinaroroonan ng mga bata, hindi na tayo malalayo pa sa Neverland.
In the story of James Barrie, it is told that children are able to ﬁnd Neverland because it was “out looking for them.” There lies the secret then to ﬁnding Neverland, this magical place of our timeless hopes and dreams. We can only ﬁnd Neverland because it seeks us. Let us then look out for what is already out there looking for us. Let us look out for the children who are looking for us. Let us love them, as one song has it, till the 12th of never. And that’s a long, long time.
Maraming salamat po. At maaraw na bukas sa ating lahat.
Jose Ramon T Villarin SJ Synergeia National Education Summit
PICC, 21 September 2023