Saturday, May 06, 2017


THE image was upside-down.

A seminar my class recently coordinated was delayed when the image projected on the screen was inverted.

Desiring to orient stakeholders about human trafficking, the students invited speakers to discuss programs that could help trafficked victims move on.

During the lull, I spoke with a speaker representing the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda). He was interested to promote their training programs.

Aside from including materials and a certification of completion, the trainings are free. Residents can also register at their barangay, and the agency will conduct the training on-site, making it more accessible.

Recalling the SunStar Cebu special report series, published last Mar. 3-6, about the rehabilitation of those who surrendered under Project Tokhang, I asked the speaker if Tesda was training drug surrenderers to consider options that did not include peddling illegal drugs.

The speaker said that the reluctance of the Department of Health to certify that they were psychologically stable barred drug surrenderers from certain trainings.

Would you conduct a training in automotive servicing or hairdressing with cosmetology if you feared the screwdriver or scissor in the drug dependent’s hand? he asked.

His candid comment surfaced again amidst the celebration over the passers of the 2016 Philippine Bar Exams.

Not only was the passing rate of 59.06 percent among the highest in recent years, the Bar topnotchers were graduates of schools outside of Metro Manila.

Among the most stirring stories were accomplishments made by ordinary people facing extraordinary challenges: juggling law studies with work, a family, past failures, advanced age, poor health.

Emerging consistently in these tales was the person’s sense of self-worth.

Belief in oneself trumps being born into wealth, having innate brilliance, or developing self-discipline.

How is self-esteem developed? Over the decades, I’ve often wondered how adversity has different effects on different people.

The slightest pressure can pull a person under. And unimaginable obstacles make others soar higher.

Remembering the comment of the Tesda representative, I’ve wondered if I had paid equal attention, too, to the outliers on both ends of the spectrum: the ones who are brilliant, and the ones who are not. The ones who succeed, the ones who don’t.

It only takes a slip of the tongue to pronounce “paso” two different ways. Put the accent on the second syllable, the word means “march,” a metaphor for graduation, a transition prized by every student and parent.

Fix the accent on the first syllable, and the word means “burn”.

( 0917 3226131)

*First published in SunStar Cebu’s May 7, 2017 issue of the Sunday editorial-page column, “Matamata”

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