Just before last Christmas, I promised to myself that by yearend I shall have checked all my students' papers, prepared the rest of my teaching materials, fixed all my files, and read at least three books. Well, as anyone who knows me might predict, I was only able to do the last one, managing to devour five secular and religious tomes. The others had to follow after New Year's Day, giving me my New Year's stress. :)
Going through my files (piles, actually, that had accumulated over a few years, flitted with us from place to place as we transferred apartments, and remained mostly packed in dusty, roach eggs-infested cartons ) set me into several reflective modes as I recalled the grassy trails and well-paved roads I took since college, and the pleasant and unpleasant experiences that went with each choice. There was much uncertainty in all these bittersweet periods of my life, but what has become certain to me thus far is that each failure and success has helped me prepare for the academic and non-academic pursuits I am presently engaged in; that whatever coincidences I encountered were ultimately purposive. A rolling stone in the past two decades can gather a little moss here and there, after all.
The Dutch medical doctor-writer, Hans C. Moolenburgh, wrote in his stirring book, As Chance Would Have It: A Study in Coincidences (Essex, UK: The C. Daniel Company Limited, 1998):
For those people who long for the small, still voice and yet do not hear anything, the voice of coincidence often speaks loud and clear.
By observing coincidence conscientiously they become aware of the fact that life, though seemingly chaotic at first sight, is not such a haphazard business after all. Through the chaos or drabness of silence can catch glimpses of beautiful structures. At one point it is only vague, dream-like, at another it is so intense that it translates itself into a feeling of 'I am being cared for.' (176-177)
I can relate to what Moolenburgh has to tell us, for I find it true that my "path of life... [has been] a walk from What to Who" (179).
An Ex-LGOO Looks Back
A short but fruitful stint with DILG was one of the several sidetrips I've made, during which the rigid training for the 44th Batch of LGOOs (Local Government Operations Officers) I had to undergo made me appreciate deeply why this officership course is regarded by insiders as "the golden band that binds DILG people'" and why it is often said, "Once a DILG woman/man, always a DILG man/woman."
Phase I of the training was such a hemorrhagic ("nosebleeding," to my students) exercise with all the thick modules we were required to master ranging from the history of the Department that goes back to the days of the great revolutionary Andres Bonifacio, the PACD (Presidential Assistant on Community Development) period of the late '50s and '60s which always had a nostalgic ring to it when spoken about by some old-timers, and the many-tentacled form the DILG has now become with the PNP, BJMP, BFP, and PPSC (along with the LGA, of course) being brought under the command of the SILG (Secretary of the Interior and Local Government), to the various laws and directives as well as the programs, projects, and activities we were expected to fully know or take part in after our induction.
Phase II, the Field Immersion, was expectedly of a more practical nature consisting of observing how the DILG operates at the grassroots level, and working with barangay officials on the implementation of certain government projects. In our case, we were tasked to help actualize what were then regarded as "flaship projects of the Department" -- the Gabay sa Mamamayan Action Center (GMAC), Bayanihan Savings Replication Project (BSRP), and the Barangay Tanod Professionalization Program (Phase I - Radyo Aralan). It was such an ambitious task for greenhorns like me, being expected at times to know what you don't know.
Yet, with all the various types of "information diarrhea" we had to suffer, the organizational leg- and paperwork we had to accomplish, and our frustrations -- even near-disillusionment -- over the results of top-down decision-making at the national level, the whole experience was for me and my batchmates a rare opening to a great hall of specialized education, a passage to a higher level of maturity, a test of genuine camaraderie, and a thrilling ride through the fields of community service to which we eventually (or supposedly) would go back to.
After two unforgettable years with the Department, I had to bid goodbye to a promising career as part of my quest for meaning and fulfilment. What a waste! relatives, friends and superiors have told me many times, puzzled at why I should resign from a job where I seemed to fit in quite well. But looking back, I don't have any regrets at all. For it was a sidetrip taken and ended willingly, fully wept over and enjoyed fully.
True, I will somehow miss all the familiar fixtures in that house that sheltered and nurtured me during one of my sidetrips: the doors of learning and sharing; the compassion, friendship, and wisdom of those who have been to me a mother, a father, a sister, and a brother. But the memories remain: the pride of being part of "DILG Proper," the honor of serving with or working under the watchful eye of women and men better than me in a lot of ways, the shared caring among real friends I would never have met had I not gotten off the main road during my journey, and the inspiration drawn from the unacknowledged heroism of many at the frontlines of community service and development.
I came across my notes during our LGOO-ship training, one of which contains 10 marks of a "Reinvented Government," to wit:
♣ Catalytic Government: Steering rather than Sowing
♣ Community-owned Government: Empowering Rather Than Serving
♣ Competitive Government: Injecting Competition Into Service Delivery
♣ Mission-driven Government: Transforming Rule-driven Organization
♣ Results-oriented Government: Funding Outcome, not Input
♣ Customer-driven Government: Meeting Needs of the Customer, not the Bureaucracy
♣ Enterprising Government: Earning Rather Than Spending
♣ Anticipatory Government: Prevention Rather Than Cure
♣ Decentralized Government: From Hierarchy to Participation and Teamwork
♣ Market-oriented Government: Leveraging Change Through the Market
I wonder how our present government measures up to these? If other organizations (churches, schools, etc.) were to measure themselves against these 10 principles, how would they fare? :)