Saturday, December 26, 2015

Educator by Example (San Vicente IS to the World Series)

Educator by Example (San Vicente IS to the World Series)
Dr. Francisco C. Macanas, Ed.D.
He is simple in his ways, within like silent water, proudly throb the humility and honesty of the person, steeled and seasoned. 

By Dr Abe V Rotor 
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School on Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday

It is indeed difficult to truly describe a man of accomplishment and virtue. The closest I could get, being once a boy scout myself, is to envision the emblem of Head, Heart and Hand as the underlying attributes to becoming a good citizen – and in the case of Dr Francisco C Macanas, to becoming a respectable educator, playwright, community leader and family man.

Symbols however, are inadequate to pinpoint the real qualities of Frank, as his colleagues and friends call him. You have to look back, and there you see the humble beginning of the man. It is here where the three Hs are translated into real life experience, likened to tempering - the making of steel. We call this in Ilocano, paslep. Which by the way, has no equivalent term in any regional language.

Tempering builds courage and determination; it gives a sense of direction and purpose. It is like a tree that has survived the elements, its seasoned timber never gives up; it holds on – and on. Early initiation to hardship places a premium to success in meeting the challenge in life. Virtually all by himself in childhood and in youth, Frank did the almost impossible. It is the impossible great men and women dream of like in the song, The Impossible Dream. At the end waits a pedestal for those who succeed.

Frank does not like to stay on that pedestal. The pedestal he knew is the stage on a graduation day where he wishes the graduates good luck, the stage the zarzuela he wrote were played, the stage where issues were brought into a forum. It is the stage where everyone, without exception, must play his role as Shakespeare said, “The world’s a stage, and everyone has a role to play.”

Farmers, fisherfolk, out-of-school youth, homemakers, entrepreneurs – Frank brought the school to them, breaking tradition of the academe. Call it distance education, university without walls, e-learning, or another name, but the essence is to reach out – the school must go to the people, hands-on and on-site in their very community. It is education delivered at the doorstep. Frank studied the open university program of Thailand and other countries. I can only surmise how lofty a dream can be, Frank as the pioneer and director of the system must have been searching for an Aristotle, Confucius, Thoreau, Locke, Webster et al in our times, and imagining a university of the people of all ages, walks of life, creed and race – a true university as the term implies. 

I imagine a local university in the category of STOU (Sokhothai Thammathirat Open University) which I had the chance to visit in 2010. At any given time 250,000 students were enrolled in non-degree and degree courses, including postgraduate studies. And this is not surprising. Other Thai universities, like Chulalongkorn University and Ramkhamhaeng University, have a million students enrolled in their open university system. Originally founded in European universities, distance education spread to the US, then to Asia and today, to practically all countries.  

Frank as VP for Administration, and VP for Academic Affairs, saw the inevitable revolution in education worldwide. such as the meaning of literacy in postmodern living, mass education of the world’s fast increasing which is now  of 7.5 billion, the return of liberal arts to restore a harmonious balance of the left and right brain, logic and creativity, among the other realms of multiple intelligence, so with humanizing science and technology, and preserving the integrity of the institutions.

Here, the university in a dichotomy of conventional classroom and textbook learning on one hand, and extension or distance education, on the other. The latter is regarded as applied teaching, a means of transforming people capabilities, beliefs, ideas, and above all, infusing the faith that they can help themselves. Which leads us to the persistent question, “How relevant is the university to the masses?” It is often asked with knotted brow on the viewpoint of the people, and vantage view of remote villages. I can only present a reference from an extension worker which is indeed a good guide and motto for teachers, as well as other agents of change. To wit:

Your program:
If it is of high quality, people will respect you.
If it is relevant, people will need you.
If it is measurable, people will trust you.
If it is innovative, people will follow you.

Throughout his career, and even in retirement, Frank has been persistent and consistent with the dual role of a teacher to the point of elevating it as a personal philosophy. By breaking the walls of the university he also opens a wider field of teaching and learning, contiguous and dynamic in the true essence of freedom and exercise of human rights, and that is, education of, for, and by the people, borrowing the words of America’s most loved president, Abraham Lincoln, in describing good government. 

If there is anything that a society upholds most, it is a kind of education that can face the growing complexity of our postmodern society, but more important, I must say, an education that can provide an anchor against a chartless, accelerated change, an education that is not only a catalyst of gathering and piecing up data from the present explosion of knowledge, but one that warns people of the consequences of information overload, and like a winnowing basket, it should be able to teach them separate the grains from the chaff. 

A person of lesser caliber would ask, why travel on a rough road only to find at the end an enormous task beyond your power, or anyone's.  I say, a person of vision and a mission looks at the scenario as an opportunity. Which reminds me of the legendary Achilles when warned by an errand, “If I were you, Achilles,” the boy said, “I won’t fight that big man challenging you to a duel."  The hero calmly replied, “Then I will not be remembered.”

Heroes don’t fight ordinary men, much less those they know they can defeat. Honor and glory wait in fighting a bigger enemy. They fight for a cause. They fight that others might win - even if they lose. For an educator like Frank, he does not only plant the seed of knowledge but the seed of a cause for which his students will fight for in life, perhaps contributing just a drop to the sea of humanity – so nil yet the sea will never be the same thereafter.

I compare the teacher to a sower, a shepherd, but I would also compare him with the potter. The potter prepares the clay, moulds it, bakes it into a functional and beautiful masterpiece. 

Here is a verse I wrote as a young teacher then, which reads - 

Knead and mould, knead and mould,
Time may tarry with its demand;
Let not the clay sit still, I am told,
and wait for the child to be man.

Knead and mould, knead and mould,
Again and again, and trying still;
Godly and oblate, lovely to behold,
For Heaven's sake, don't move the keel. ~

Frank may not have brought in thousands of off-campus students like in STOU and other big open universities in the world;  he may not have built a Plato’s Academia, except in his dreams, but his school during his term produced a crop that looked up to the best examples of men and women. He may have set a teaching standard which drew ungainly remarks as a “terror” professor. He may be straight and strict, and simple in his ways, beneath like silent water, proudly throb the humility and honesty of the person, steeled and seasoned. ~

To know more about Dr Francisco C Macanas, visit the Internet. Just enter his full name and you will see and listen to him on You Tube, Wake Up, Ilokano Ak (I am proud to be an Ilocano). Frank summarizes the three Hs of his life Hard work, Humility, Honesty. He tells us the story of his life, from a humble beginning with many sacrifices, but it is this experience that enabled him to realize many of his dreams. He earned the highest degree in his field Doctor of Education.  A native of Bangar, La Union, Frank decided to reside in San Vicente, the town of his wife, 
Ma Luisa Rosal, with whom they are blessed with two children, now professionals: an engineer and a lady doctor.  After retiring as Vice president of UNP Dr Macanas remains active as volunteer professor at Saint Benedict Institute and the major seminary, and member of the Parish Council of San Vicente. AVR

"We best remember the teacher who influenced us most in our present life; he is the one who enlightened us.  Enlightenment is the gauge of being truly learned, it is from it that we draw lessons from the Great Teacher."
- AV Rotor, My Vision of a University

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