I was invited to teach a one-day journalism course to participants of a youth summer camp in Anda, Pangasinan last Saturday. The summer camp was organized by volunteers of the University of the Philippines Social Action and Research for Development Foundation, Inc., an affiliate NGO of UP College of Social Work and Community Development. When I was invited, I eagerly said yes for three reasons: first, the opportunity to travel outside of Manila; second, I love to teach students who are younger than I am and I love to be in the company of campus journalists; and three, the compensation–I am always in need of cash these days, hehehe.
I really expected to see this scenario: UP students and graduates unselfishly spending their precious time with the rural community, sharing their knowledge and organizing the people. But it was different to actually see them in action. There they are, products of the country’s premier school, actually eating what the people eat, living without the comforts of city life, living a simple life while earning a very modest salary. They are considered by the people as part of their community, adopted sons and daughters of the villagers. It is not an easy thing to spend the days of your youth in the boondocks or in coastal communities while empowering the community with knowledge on how to preserve the environment, teaching them about sustainable development, while your contemporaries go to work in Ayala or Ortigas in the morning and gather at Starbucks after partying at night. I salute Pao, Zoe and other Iskolar ng Bayan who live with the communities for the sacrifice they are making to be able to live the life of a true iskolar ng bayan. They make me proud I am their schoolmate.