The Filipino's Resilience in the Face of Adversity

Resilience is manifested in light of the natural disasters which struck the country in the last ten years. The images of the devastation Tacloban suffered remain etched in the memories of those who lived through it and those who watched it displayed on their television screens after reporters were finally able to reach the city after the super typhoon passed. 

Resilience is a word that is often used to describe the average Filipino who faces adversity every single day in whatever aspect of his life. Filipinos in the urban areas have to contend with the lack of foresight and planning resulting in a stressful environment. Those in the regions struggle to make a living and are constantly on the lookout for means to better their lives in the best possible way they can give the limited opportunities available to them. 

Resilience is manifested in light of the natural disasters which struck the country in the last ten years. The strongest typhoon in recent memory cut a destructive path along the Visayas and left at least 10,000 dead. The images of the devastation Tacloban suffered remain etched in the memories of those who lived through it and those who watched it displayed on their television screens after reporters were finally able to reach the city after the super typhoon passed. 

I recently visited a city government-run university. The institution is hampered by inadequate funding and the usual politics in the bureaucracy but the students in its College of Industrial Technology which offers TESDA courses and an alternative ladderized program leading to a bachelor's degree showed remarkable resilience in light of the inadequate facilities which has them in a structure that wasn't designed to be a school building but as a car park. 

Low ceilings and small windows have them continuously perspiring while they fan themselves in a bid to avoid potential heat stroke. The largest open area is the roof deck which they don't have access to for obvious reasons. The only open areas are small balconies which have large diameter metal pipes welded together as benches. This is where the students hang out while waiting for their next class and where they can see the sun. 

The instructors are also resilient because they haven't given up despite the teaching conditions they find themselves in. You can see that they have the same zeal and determination as the students. In fact, they have banded together to make the best out of the worst. 

The TESDA students have cobbled together a CCTV system which is necessity since their location is a security nightmare. The project was funded by donations from the instructors, students and generous individuals. 

Instructors don't use the blackboard or whiteboard anymore. Donations again funded the acquisition of cheap LCD panels hooked up to laptops. Given the inadequate lighting, this makes a world of difference for the students because those at the back who wouldn't normally see the board very well wouldn't be able to stand up on their toes to get a good look at the board to take notes. 

The alumni also contribute to the resiliency with their donations of equipment. This is borne out of the strong sense of community formed by the administrators with the students. It is their way of giving back to an institution which played a large role in helping them achieve their goals of lifting themselves up from poverty. They realize there are still many who share the same goal and are struggling in the process. Every little bit of help counts. 

State-run educational institutions are supposed to be the equalizer for the greater majority of Filipinos who can't afford quality private education. There's a cliché that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The creation of city colleges and universities are good intentions that go to hell because of the politicization of the institutions. This primarily results from unqualified appointees who don't sincerely feel for their constituency - the Filipino youth who want an education in order to escape poverty and transform themselves into productive citizens and contribute to nation-building. 

Fortunately technology can expand access to education. With Education 4.0 being the buzzword now, and blended learning as its centerpiece, the physical infrastructure deficit can be bridged and prepare the youth for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We need future-ready and future-proof graduates to drive the country forward. 

Now if only we can get politicians to toe the line and clean up their acts.

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About the Author
RG is a seasoned international trade and sales and marketing professional who also dabbles in writing. He was a contributor to Business World in the mid-90s and is also a tech geek.
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