Since time immemorial, education has always been one of the institutions that shaped and molded heroes, educators, philosophers, scientists, statesmen, leaders and everybody else in the complex of society. Today, thousands of new college graduates are going to join the rank of educated men and women. More professionals are going to be entering the society and hopefully be part of the development of this nation-state.
As a nationalist, I am supposed to be happy with this development. But I can not help but be pessimistic about it. I was part of the batch that graduated last year. I worked hard all my four years in college. I am a scholar and had worked part-time in one of the city’s food chains. I maintained my good grades and occasionally hit the dean’s list. My co-curricular is not at all dull. I joined forums, helped in organizing them, community works – all these, I did not merely do for academic purposes but for communal growth. These achievements were quite impressive considering that I do night shifts at work and barely had time to review. Even before graduation, I had forwarded resumes to various local institutions hoping to secure a slot as an assistant instructor or any reservation which they may offer. For all I know, my degree, my personal achievements, my work ethics and experience, and my academic records would be enough to help me find a teaching job. My confidence back then was overwhelming. I know myself and I know my capabilities.
But sadly and much to my surprise I was snubbed by all these institutions. Their frank reason is; they need applicants with Master’s degrees (they say this is for their competence, a direct statement that we are not competent) and it seems that that is the trend these days. I can not help but be frustrated. Most of my colleagues experienced the same. Good for those who could afford to take graduate courses because they still have another option so they either took up law or any master’s degree. But what’s bad is, some decided to exploit their knowledge abroad.
But for us, we ended up taking calls. We ended up teaching foreigners who do not even have the intention to listen to us anyway. They only came here for the certification that they did take English courses. What is so frustrating is that we are professionals in our fields. In the university, they taught us to be competent, imbued in us the values of nation-building. We were trained to share what we learned from school; apply them and have fulfillment. Instead, our labor, intelligence, time and effort get to be exploited by a foreign company and by foreigners. It seems that four years in college is our training so that we may accept calls in call centers, or tutor foreign students – things we do not have the heart for. But what choice do we have. This is what I call a “brain-drain-done-locally”.
The government may boast that we are employed, but for us laborers the work is not fulfilling. Some envy us because we are agents of these call center and that call center or that this Korean school pays thrice the average daily salary. But to me, I don’t know if others feel this too, it is disappointing. I did not invest four years in college to be a call center agent or to be an English tutor. As a nationalist, I am so eager to apply what I have learned from school. Share them to my fellow youth. Teaching is my outlet, and until I got that master’s degree, I’m stuck to being a call center agent.
The problem of today’s society is, there is no longer a place for nationalists. Nationalists are mocked, intrigued and blamed. They say it’s our fault, why don’t we just ride the wave? Nationalism has lost its essence. It has been estranged from the Filipino people. It became a mere topic for college students to write about in their essays or term papers.