THE MISSION OF CONTINUITY
I was thrust into the mission of education not by my own design but by divine intervention. While both my sisters were teachers, even when I was still young and being the youngest in the family, I had never dreamt nor imagined myself as a teacher, more so an “educator.” My dream then was to become a priest. But as the proverbial biblical words would say, “many are called, but few are chosen.”
My journey into the ministry of education began, which I considered an accident at that time. I had mentioned in my previous writings that I was just a temporary replacement for my elder sister, who was sick at that time. I still could not remember why I said yes to the Dean, knowing I was just fresh out of college with no teaching experience to speak of, and more importantly, I did not know how to teach except for what I saw from the teachers I had. I was unsure if my students even learned anything from what I taught them during class. However, I must admit that I enjoyed my initial teaching experience since my students then were of my age, and we were able to blend quite effectively. As fate had it, it was the beginning of my lifelong continuing journey in the field of education. What I thought then was finished continues to evolve to this very day.
Looking back on all those years, I am amazed at how unplanned my journey was in the field of education, how it evolved and continues to evolve. In the beginning, it was a regular job, a source of livelihood. I went inside my class, taught students, and then went home. I did not even care then whether my students learned or not, as long as I had done what was expected from me as a teacher.
Until I slowly realized that teaching goes beyond the four corners of the classroom. The mission of education must continue even after students leave the campus. Thus, I found myself more and more drawn to my students’ daily and very personal lives and even with their families. As I wrote before, “From the very mundane task of helping them dress up for formal occasions and advising students not to wear white sports socks in their formal attire, editing letters for them, pep talks and giving a piece of my mind when students go wrong, and gracing and giving opening remarks in student-sponsored events, it soon became a 24/7 affair. Never have I thought that I would be in the core of my students’ very lives; their midnights calls crying for help, their requests of my presence to grace various occasions– from the birth of their first-born children to the death of their parents or a fellow student, or, in so many critical times of their lives, to issues where they ask me to mediate –I go to each and every one of these milestones, making sure I was there by their side. Of course, things are not always that glum—there were a number of times where they reach out to me to ask me to join drinking sprees, night outs, and outings, among others.”
The true challenge of the mission in education was to be with my students in those crucial moments they needed me (or someone) the most (which happens mostly outside of the classroom).
Photo credit: Atty. Domingo Y. Reyes, Jr., Ll.M., Ph.D.
During graduations, I felt like a doting father making sure everything were in place, fixing their neckties and their togas, and seeing them march in and out of the plenary hall of the PICC. I thought my mission to every student entrusted to my care was fulfilled right after they graduated, but it did not. From the simple subject matters that I was tasked to teach in class, it continued beyond the classroom and after school, in the private and professional lives of the students. Our encounters became more profound, and the mission of education continues in the real-world classroom called life. They continue to reach out whenever an opportunity arises. They continue to seek counsel and advice. They continue to get in touch, sometimes even just to greet and say hello. To my endearment, many of them became my “compadres and comares,” my “inaanaks” (godchildren), and even close friends. Funny, in many instances, I am now the one seeking their help and counsel. Old that I am, it is such a wonderful feeling as they continue to remain connected and seek my blessings.
In this context of mission continuity, I decided to begin writing my daily prayers and my thoughts and insights, which I post daily on social media. I believe that through these various social media platforms, somehow, in any way, where ever they may be, I can still contribute to and continue with the mission for which I felt I was called. Though we may no longer see each other, we could still reach out to have meaningful encounters, which allows me to continue teaching and touching them in a more personal and meaningful way. As they themselves are now part of their own missions, it is still the duty of a teacher to influence and guide them as they play active roles in the mission of continuity.
The mission of continuity is vital in our lives, in any profession or field that we are called. Service goes even beyond the sphere of the vocation we are called or the ministry we are tasked to accomplish. In that sense, same with a doctor even after the patient is healed, a lawyer even after the case had been won or lost, a priest even after the mass is celebrated, an engineer and architect even after the project is completed, a politician even after the term is over, a businessman even after the deal is done, a driver, a market vendor, a street sweeper, a janitor, and a security guard even after his duty. We are all called to take an active role in the mission of continuity.
Since the creation of the world, when God created everything in it, continuity has always been the foundation and cornerstone in this awesome order of creation. A divine design of interconnected, unbroken series of events that continues to evolve individually and collectively in this great unfolding story of our humanity. As the great Carlos P. Romulo said in his famous essay, “I am a Filipino,” “I am a (Filipino)–inheritor of a glorious past, hostage to the uncertain future. As such, I must prove equal to a two-fold task–the task of meeting my responsibility to the past, and the task of performing my obligation to the future.” At one time or another, we are the link in each event that happens in us and amongst us, in every phase of history, in every person’s story, and the annals of every generation. Be attentive, for we are called, and must be ready to take part in God’s great and awesome mission of continuity.