Last March 21 (Saturday), I had the privilege to attend Leaders’ Night with Senator Mar at the Expo Centro in Cubao.
I received a text message which goes like this: “Hi. Gerry Roxas Foundation will be having “Leaders’ Night with Mar”, a forum dis sat 6pm at expo centro cubao (across farmer’s). It will focus on the role of youth on nat’l dev’t. Guest spker 4 d event will be Sen. Mar Roxas. Orgs and student councils are encourgd 2 attend. Dnner will b served and there will be a party after.”
Anyway, I asked some PROPharm members to go with me. Most of them have exams and are busy that time, so I was really really glad that Cata joined me–without hesitations! 😀
Come Saturday, after our make-up class in Jurisprudence, Eizel and I went to Robinson’s and had some snacks at KFC. Super kwento to the max about one Sunday when I accompanied a friend to the airport… long and funny story, really. Moving on, Cata called me at around 4:45pm and told me that she doesn’t have a class anymore… so we’re good to go. 🙂
It took us almost an hour waiting for an FX to Cubao. It was strange because it was a Saturday and Taft Ave. was really jampacked with so many cars, buses, jeeps, and pedestrians. I got really dizzy from the heat and smoke–and from waiting too. So I suggested that we hail a cab already… before I faint. Once inside the cab, Cata and I were relieved because it was airconditioned and because we were surely on our way to the said forum.
We got a bit lost because we alighted at Cubao Expo… wrong place. Hehe. The sign Expo Centro was really inconspicuous… you can hardly see it. So I texted Roseval, the one who invited us, and she told me to meet them at Mercury Drug at Farmer’s Cubao. It was a good thing that Cata was with me. She’s very familiar with the place… No sweat finding the place. 😀 When we got there, surprise surprise. A-K will also be attending the said forum… with Joey and Maan as the attendees. 😀
Anyway, we went to Expo Centro already and after registering, we shared a table with Roseval, Marje, Golda, and Rosie. Chikka chikka and took some pictures. 🙂 The place was big… it could handle a lot of young leaders. Hehe. 😀 Spotted Terry Ridon and Kuya Mark Arnedo there… Parang celebrity na talaga si Terry. 😀
The program started at around 7pm with welcome remarks from Aljie Kemper Dacusin of Student Councils Alliance of the Philippines. Then, there was a roll call of all participating organizations. After that, Atty. Chito Gascon, from the Office of senator Mar Roxas and Director Leader of Liberal Party led the Opening Remarks.
According to Atty. Gascon, the objectives for the night are: 1) to gather the growing network of young leaders concerned about the country, 2) talk with Senator Mar, and 3) decide on how to continue communication with these young leaders.
After the speech, it’s DINNER TIME! 😀 They served pasta, java rice, lumpiang shanghai, spaghetti, and barbecue. Yummy! 🙂 There were free-flowing drinks as well. Busog lahat! hehe…
Senator Mar Roxas arrived just after dinner. He was first introduced by Atty. Doris Ramirez, Secretary-General of Alliance of Liberal Youth. And Senator Mar’s talk soon followed after.
So what did Senator Mar talked about? His speech started with an anecdote… and then he posed a question. “Sa kabila ng tagumpay (of the youth to get an education) and then what?” He told us that he is very sad… because he cannot assure all graduates of a good future ahead of them. [He attended the graduation ceremonies at Philippine Normal University prior to the Forum.]
He said that the reason for the hazy future for us is… “sira ang sistema.” Here are some points on his talk:
– Sa totoong buhay, ang mababait at sumusunod ang agrabyado. Ang mga maloko, sweet-talkers, mabulaklak magsalita, etc… sila pa ang ahead.
– THE SYSTEM IS BROKEN. 🙁
– Idealism vs. Pragmatism
– Wag tayo magpaloko! In times of despair and frustration, it’s very easy to give in to fate–“we are doomed.”
– “Do the right thing.” Hindi madali ang tama…
– Think about it. In this conflict between ideal and vs. pragmatic… Pray. Hold true and be steadfast and do what is right.
– And then he told us that “Peter Parker” said in Spiderman movie that “With great power comes great responsibility.” [Correction, it was Ben Parker who said that.] Anyway, he cited that only 1 out 5 Filipino students lang ang makakagraduate ng college. And then he emphasized that we, being in College already, are already elite. We are part of the minority. And that we defied our default future.
He made a meaningful talk… but he didn’t say something new. He really just reiterated and emphasized the status quo. But I liked his argument about idealism vs. pragmatism.
After his speech, the floor was opened for questions. The first question asked was “Baka madaya sa bilangan ang dapat manalo? How to ensure na yung iboboto talaga ang mabibilang?” And Sen. Mar answered, “dapat bantayan ang boto!” And he compared it to how we buy groceries in the supermarket… How we fall in line at the counter watching over our cart of foods and toiletries, etc… How we watch the cashier register our items… etc. etc.
The second question was, “How to make sure that people in the government really do their job?” He answered, “How do you establish accountability? Pag may accountability… gagawin dapat. Accountability ay nasa tao. Pag nasa opisina, magtuturuan. Dapat may political will.”
The third question was regarding the title of the program… and the Comprehensive Education Reform Program. “May program ba for national development/ How to involve youth sa national development?” Then Sen. Mar stated his plans of extending years in school. And he said that “Other than education, there is no other program for the youth. Program for youth=program for future.
I had a reaction to this one because in my opinion, it is not necessary to extend the length of education programs in any education level (primary, secondary, or tertiary). Because what we have to do is to IMPROVE QUALITY OF EDUCATION. Lengthening will do nothing if the quality is not improved… right? It will just be an additional burden especially on the part of the parents.
The fourth question was, “What are your visions for the country?” And he answered, “A system where we can actualize our potential. Yung hindi baluktot… A country that allows all of us to actualize our best potentials… A country that is able to feed ourselves…” Hmmm… simple vision. 🙂 But to realize it, it should be paired with action.
The fifth question was about what he can do about the declining access to education. It was actually a very good question… and the one asking the question asked if Sen. Roxas could support their Tuition Monitoring Program — a program that will stop the private schools and other education institutions from increasing their tuition. However, Sen. Roxas brought his Tution Moratorium bill. He told us that he would like to have a voucher system. Kung ano naman daw kasi ang binabayad ng magulang, yun daw pinapambayad sa teachers. So sisihin daw namin teachers namin kasi sila naman ang mataas ang demand. WHAT THE?! In my opinion, this voucher system is ineffective… and not the right answer for the question. We could control the tuition increases… and the tuition increases do not really all go to compensation of workers. Diba?
The sixth question was “What do you feel about tertiary education being a right?” He answered that that is what it is right now… and the challenge is how to finance it?
In my humble opinion, I believe that it should not be the parents who should be burdened by the weight of financing the education of the future leaders of our nation. The government should be increasing the budget allocated for education. That is the real problem here… we have to incease the budget for education in the economic pie.
The seventh question was “What are specific actions done in his term as Senator? Future plans to address system failure?” And he said that the reason for the system failure is that government officials practice lying, stealing, and cheating. And these three, he never did. (What an eyebrow-raising answer right? :P)
The eighth question was on how to improve the quality of education. I forgot his answer to this question… because he really was not able to answer the question well. So next…
The ninth and the last question was regarding his agenda to make a change in the society. He argued about the existence of BNPP or the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. I’m glad that at least in this thing, we share the same ideas… NO to BNPP.
The tension was really high during the open forum… it was really funny. Hehe. I didn’t ask question since I might not be able to walk out there alive. Kidding aside, I just placed my comments in a paper. 🙂
Then, DQ’s Dilly Bar was served. It was yummy… pero the best pa rin ang Sundae McDip ng McDo! 😀 Hehehe… 😀 Yummy! Then uwian na after that. 😀
We didn’t stay for the party… I just wanted to rest and go home that time. 🙂
It was a fruitful night… I learned a lot of things. Anyway, I hope we have more options for the Presidential elections next year. 🙂