How do you intend to give back to the Filipino youth all the learning and experiences you got abroad? A measure of a real young aspiring diplomat is to serve the people and the interests of the people.
The Ilustrados (Spanish for "erudite," "learned," or "enlightened ones") constituted the Filipino educated class during the Spanish colonial period in the late 19th century.
They're called the "enlightened ones" for a reason. They're exposed to contrasting paradigms and European ideologies other than the existing moribund propaganda back home. After another window is opened, they go back.
Is this the case today?
"You should love your country. Do you expect other nationalities to sacrifice or even die for our country? No." - Ambassador Reynaldo Arcilla, Philippine Foreign Policy Class 2015
Jose Rizal, after obtaining a new perspective, went back to the Philippines to organize La Liga Filipina and bring the reform movement to the Philippine soil. I remember a Taiwanese friend who went to one of the most prestigious university, Brown University. We met in D.C. and engaged in discussions vis-a-vis the China-Taiwan relations and the political system of the Philippines. I asked her what she intend to do after her studies, "I'll go back."
When I was 15 years old, I was ready to leave the country; to change my passport, citizenship and to travel the world. I've searched all over the internet the most powerful passport in terms of visa-free regulations or even what country is the most corrupt-free. If I made a mistake by not enrolling to the International Relations program of the Lyceum of the Philippines University, and didn't have retired Ambassadors of the Philippines as my professors, without a doubt my passport wouldn't be maroon anymore.
"But you have to pay the price"
The price of being stuck in traffic 6 hours a day, the price of paying 30% income tax to a government that doesn't have your vote of confidence, the price of not feeling safe while walking in the streets of Manila and so on.
My professors ingrained to me the real situation of my country. I was overly-confident when I saw the syllabus of our Philippines Socio-cultural Conditions involving topics like family, religion, gender and all the basic stuff. But lo and behold, it's my lowest grade to date. This, however, is the first time I felt "okay" to have low grades because I was learning so much. We didn't talk about families like papa, mama and baby, we've talked about how we became one of the most intact families in the world.
"Learning your roots is crucial"
Having an extended family under one roof (from grandmas to aunties), why our own Filipino families became the "shining savior" instead of the government. The influence of major religions in state development and policy-making; Religion as a geopolitical and neocolonial instrument.
We then dissected the history of tagalog or filipino; it's never-ending debates on what our national language should be called. Bogus treaties from the modern world imperialists. All these without losing the Philippine aspect.
A world view
However, other than being trained by leaders in the Foreign Service, I gained a multi-dimensional perspective by being immersed in different places embedded with a new kind of language, beliefs, morals and cultures that is waiting to be discovered. To me, being an Ilustrado doesn't only mean being educated in the four corners of a classroom situated abroad. I believe the world itself can be your classroom.
I'm actually very interested in History. That's why I'm wondering why I find myself sleeping in lectures and struggling with my Perspective on Civilizations III and IV classes. But who would have ever thought that I'll study about the Caucasus, the Soviet Union and the diaspora in a deeper level. We had those in our exams but I never expected to be so interested on the regional relations of the Caucasus. The reason: because I'm going to Azerbaijan. I've always loved that feeling when you've read about something before you actually experience it. Like reading a book before you see the film.
"You should share your stories! We're really curious how you do it." - Ms. Sarah Laurel-Lopez, LPU
Imagine the youth realizing that he/she could do things beyond his/her capacity. It's no hocus-pocus to help your fellow Filipino youth to develop and eventually help boost our country one way or another; to inspire your fellow stakeholder to improve himself/herself.
It all starts with passing down knowledge; the only reason why I'm writing this blog. The moment you realize you could turn the ordinary to extraordinary, is the day you transform those to real-life solutions. My greatest contribution to the youth other than the youth development project you see everywhere is my resolve to make every Filipino youth informed; possessing the knowledge that could transform a community.
Ilustrado (Part II) will discuss about the specific learnings I got in some of the few countries I've been to, how I would translate those learnings for the Filipino youth and its actualization.
- The American Heritage Spanish Dictionary (2nd ed.)
- Glossary: Philippines, Area Handbook Series, Country Studies, Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, LOC.gov (undated, retrieved on: July 30, 2007