When LtGen. Yano came to the Ateneo late last month, he was still Army Chief. Some days before that, I had been packing my bag for a road trip when Bimbay Eliab of the Social Involvement and Coordinating Office called to ask for the General's CV. I was zipping up my bag when SAS Dean Jess Manuta texted me for pointers on the closing remarks for the occasion. (I'm glad to be in the Ateneo. The people there share their resources. That's quite rare in the academe, by the way.)
LtGen. Yano's staff was most helpful, professional, and efficient. The CV was in my email before I had to text to ask where to follow up my request. The note said "please acknowledge receipt." Post It language. Like, I know who your boss is.
The General's EA texted me a number to call for a brief on the talking points. No speeches. Just a short filmshowing on organizational situationer, then it would be open forum, I was told. I could see that the program they had in mind was streamlined to hear more about audience concerns than to impart/direct/inform the audience about their concern. Hmm…mmm. You gotta be careful there. You got to handle that just right.
I lost track of time on the road. It was only when we got to Bacolod when a colleague texted me about how hilarious Judge Canete was during the open forum that I remembered to text the General's staff to inquire about ADDU's reception. Well, by all indications, that proceeded quite well. ADDU is quite proud that the General came to visit a few weeks before the turnover.
Woe for me to have missed it. But not to worry, he was coming back to address the business community on 17 May, I was consoled. So when the date rolled in, I was there to listen to what I had earlier missed.
Don't ask me how I got in. I found out later that the press people were supposed to have waited for the press conference scheduled after the roundtable discussion. So it turned out that I was probably the only media person there documenting the discussion.
But I wasn't there for the media. I was there as a social scientist trying to understand how two important institutions in our community would try to hammer out convergence. There's a very important process going on here, one that spells a decisive change in direction that would take this country someplace it's never been. Wouldn't you want to be the fly on the wall for that?
I took copious notes, but I can't discuss them here. The press conference did not push through and only the TV people were quick enough to get their soundbites. I did not really mind that because I was just going to listen in some more anyway. No questions for now. Am still taking it all in.
But in solidarity with my colleagues in the press, I should have waited outside with all the rest. While I had been told the event was going down, I wasn't really invited to that thingy. The organizers did not even know I was there. Sure, they'll find my name in the attendance sheet if they would care to check. It says ADDU on the space under organization represented. Send me the bill for two cups of coffee. The waiter wouldn't take my money.
The man is easy listening. His is an honest, steady gaze and a tone of voice that does not bluster and blow. He does not patronize when he defers to someone else's expertise. A thinking man, an empathetic one, who likely keeps his moral compass steady at ninety degrees. At the end of his talk you would want to wish him luck, roll up your sleeves, and follow his lead. No wonder he's got our soldiers in high spirits
I got back to ADDU in time to catch the tail end of Ben Lumbera's talk. I am so happy I did. He was talking to a mixed set of students and scholars and he got them all so eager to share their views that I was so much tempted to take them all back to my classroom to let them talk some more. Except that I'm on summer off. I don't have a classroom just now.
There was Ben Lumbera sitting on the teacher's desk looking like he'd lived forever. And talking like he did, too. Ah, joy.
People ask why I seldom leave Davao since I got here. Whatever for when the people worth listening to would sooner or later find their way to where I am?
Besides, do you know how much teachers are paid? Nobody I know wants to finance the stuff I'm interested to study. Sometimes, I do think that is the reason why those stuff interest me. (Wayward and Fanciful is Gail Ilagan's column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. Ilagan teaches Social Justice, Family Sociology, Theories of Socialization and Psychology at the Ateneo de Davao University where she is also the associate editor of Tambara. You may send comments to [email protected]"Send at the risk of a reply," she says)