Keeping the faith

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A global event that went almost unnoticed locally was the International Day of Education.

The event, spearheaded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, was observed on Monday, Jan. 24. It was themed “Changing Courses, Transforming Education”.

As underscored by UNESCO, the day, which was marked on its fourth year, served as a “platform to showcase the most important transformations that have to be nurtured for everyone’s fundamental right to education and build a more sustainable, inclusive and peaceful futures.”

In highlighting the inequitability in educational opportunities, UNESCO shared that today, 258 million children and youth still do not attend school and that about 4 million children and young refugees are out-of-school all over the world.

The occasion was also expected to hasten digital transformation in the educational system especially toward the functional benefit of mentors and students, particularly in our country which still remains largely dependent on blended learning platforms due to the pandemic.

As an educator for almost four decades, I am convinced that while think-tanks work toward greater digital relevance in the academic setting, the tested-and-proven approaches must not be relegated to the backdrop. Among these approaches is the education of the heart which proponents consider as “the heart of education”.

I have been an advocate of Service-Learning, which, in my experience and studies, has been an effective avenue for citizenship building and social transformation among university students who realize life-changing values and insights gained or learned from civic engagement or community service.

As popularized by a Hong Kong university considered as an S-L frontrunner, it is an education anchored on the “Learning to Serve, Serving to Learn” philosophy.

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Another celebration held last week was the fiesta in Cauayan, my hometown – held on Jan. 25.

The event is both a religious occasion, observed by Roman Catholics as it is the feast day of St. Paul and, like most fiestas in the country, it has also become a socio-civic observance.

Because of the pandemic, the fiesta for the second straight year, was reduced to a ceremonial celebration with a mass in church and a commemorative program sponsored by the LGU to honor top taxpayers and service awardees and retirees among municipal employees. The program was held in a testimonial dinner attended by officials led by Mayor John Rey Tabujara.

Sorely missed was the Lubay-lubay festival, which has been a centerpiece activity to showcase the resilience, adaptability, endurance and strength of the townsfolk as characterized by the bamboo, after which the town is believed to have been named.

Growing up in a Baptist family, I don’t have many remarkable memories of the town fiesta, except for fun rides and games at the plaza, school-sponsored programs and sumptuous noontime meals at our neighbor’s place to celebrate the occasion.

It is my hope that, pandemic or otherwise, the faithful will continue not to lose sense of the reason for the feast day – which is actually focused on the conversion of Paul, originally known as Saul, who persecuted disciples and Christians prior to that turning point in his life on the road to Damascus.

The Apostle Paul is best remembered by Bible believers for writing 13 books in the New Testament.

Paul, in his epistles or letters to churches in friends, four of which were written while on death row in Rome, urged believers to be steadfast in their faith and persevere amid trials and tribulations.

Paul’s message, like the rest found in other parts of the Scriptures, have remained relevant through the ages, applicable even today as we face extremely trying times.

His writing, considered by scholars as his “last will and testament” to fellow Christians, reverberates not only for those who celebrated his life last week but also for all of us to keep the faith – growing, spreading and being strengthened and deepened.

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Happy new year to friends and colleagues of Chinese roots and affiliations.

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For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God not a result of works, so that no one may boast. – St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians (2:8-9) – NWI

OPINIONS