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MHPEd Graduation Speech (June 2016)

Photo opportunity with Chancellor Carmencita Padilla and Dean Nemuel Fajutagana

To Chancellor Carmencita Padilla, Vice Chancellor Michael Tee, Dean Nemuel Fajutagana, College Secretary Elizabeth Grageda, NTTCHP Faculty and Staff Members, distinguished guests, loved ones, fellow graduates, and to all Filipino teachers: Welcome to the historical and first UP-NTTCHP recognition ceremony!

This very day, we become full-pledged educators! Sounds ordinary. Seems not a feat at all. Until this very day, I have questioned myself many times why and when I decided to become an educator.

Going into the teaching profession is something most Filipinos do not take pride in, myself included. Usually, teaching was the career path for those who had nowhere to go or for those who were just “not good enough”. I have never seen a house, especially in the provinces, that displayed a teacher’s plaque, or a car sticker that says “Do not delay, teacher on board”. This kind of pride for teachers just never existed in the Filipino psyche.

So, why did I decide to become an educator? I have four reasons and I believe that we share at least one of the four reasons for choosing this narrow road towards teaching.

First, because teaching lacks the honor it deserves as a profession. Teachers generally get low remuneration and are overworked. We cannot expect teachers to be in their best selves if they are hungry, indebted, and exhausted. As health profession educators, let us continue to assert ourselves by demonstrating to our stakeholders how meticulous and demanding it is to design a lesson plan for a week, more so transforming a curriculum that will reflect our future health workforce. The honor that we, educators, must uphold is not a transaction between you and an individual, but a covenant between you and society.

Second, because we have forgotten that teaching is the parent of all professions. There would be no health professionals, engineers, accountants, businessmen, lawyers, and leaders if not for dedicated teachers. Unfortunately, our society has failed over and over to recognize that even before a learner becomes a health professional, a teacher needs to pull off an all-nighter just to create a test blueprint and construct a comprehensive examination in order to evaluate a learner’s readiness to serve well and sick people with confidence and competence.

A teacher does not end the job after giving out the examination, because consequently, it is expected for the teacher to provide encouragement and corrections to the learner to facilitate reflective learning. This cycle needs to be done by a teacher more than a thousand times before a health professional is born.

Third, because our society has failed to recognize that teaching eliminates ignorance. I decided to become a teacher because teachers have the power to change mind-sets among learners. The diaspora of Filipino health professionals are equally encouraging and disturbing. Encouraging because we know that Filipino health workers are equipped to work overseas and consequently help their families financially, but also very disturbing because we are losing a large number of “life givers” to foreign systems. As health profession educators and mga iskolar ng bayan, let us encourage our former, present, and future students to achieve their dreams (here or abroad) with the mind-set of thinking global and acting local.

Lastly, because teachers measure their success by denying the self as they witness their students surpass their achievements. As Leonardo Da Vinci said, “Poor is the pupil who does not surpass his master”. In today’s educational system, we are all expected to be taught by teachers who are supposed to have more experiences and qualifications than us. We have toiled long to receive our academic degrees today to adhere to that system. But is it really the measure of becoming a “great educator”? In my five years of teaching, I have written recommendations for former students who wanted to pursue higher learning and encouraged several ones to level up in their chosen careers. For instance, I had an OT student who entered UP to pursue a law degree to advocate health policies, a PT student who went to the University of Cambridge for her master’s degree in special education, some students who have published papers in international and reputable peer-reviewed journals, and several students who are successful in building their own therapy clinics as well as in their clinical and community practices. I am taking this chance to call today’s health profession educators to continue this act of humility in order for us to witness a Filipino society embraced by highly qualified health professionals with greater hearts to serve this ailing nation.

To our professors in UP-NTTCHP, thank you for letting us realize that after all, we belong to an honourable profession without having to affirm it through plaques, car stickers, or even titles. To all our teachers, mentors, and tutors from elementary to graduate school, thank you for being our second parents and for chiselling us to the teachers we have become today. A special mention to my Teacher Michelle Del Rosario, my elementary tutor, thank you because you never failed to tell me “You can do it!” when my surroundings used to echo failure and disbelief.

To my UP-CAMP professors, thank you for brainwashing me towards a different perspective on brain drain. A special mention to Professor Teresita Mendoza, my OT professor, thank you for always encouraging me to think globally and act locally as a Filipino occupational therapy educator.

To our former, present, and future students, thank you for letting us become part of your growth journey. Thank you for teaching teachers utmost humility by helping you reach your aspirations day by day. I pray, by God’s grace, that you will surpass whatever we have gained as professionals and educators with the hope of witnessing a healthier Filipino society.

Lastly, to my very first teacher, my mother Alma, thank you for teaching us that true wisdom comes from the Lord. You may not have taught me how to read novels, but you taught me how to read the Bible. You may not have finished your college degree when you were younger due to inevitable circumstances, but today I want to honor you because through your five children you were able to obtain five college diplomas, a master’s degree, today, and a PhD in three years. I love you, mom.

My five years in the UP-NTTCHP made me re-define the true meaning of Health Professions Education or H.P.E.D. After obtaining my MHPEd degree, for me H.P.E.D now stands for:

Teaching is an honourable profession.

Teaching is the parent of all professions.

Teaching Eliminates ignorance.

Teaching requires Denying of the self.

From today and beyond, may we always revisit this new definition of H.P.E.D. every time we face the battle of educating the next generation.

Mabuhay ka, Guro ng Bayang Pilipinas! To God be the honor, praises, and glory!

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