Thursday, November 03, 2011

Human Rights Seminar-Workshop for Teachers

The weekend of October 22-23, we held a Human Rights and Peace Seminar Workshop for Teachers at the LIKAS Ridge Training Center in Irosin (very nice place, clean and comfortable dorm beds). The over-all goal is to inject human rights concepts into elementary school curriculum. We invited the teachers whose pupils' average marks in the fourth periodical exam last year were the highest in the municipality.

The project was conceptualized by the municipality and was financially supported by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP). Mr Florencio Bermundo, Values Education supervisor for the Division Office gave the welcome remarks. Director Ana Elzy Ofreneo of the Commission on Human Rights's Education and Research Office and Dr. Aurora Parong of Amnesty International Philippines gave lectures on human rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

We were also generously granted a personal sharing and reflection by Mrs. Zenaida Enaje, former principal of Gubat National High School and sister of martial law martyr Dr. Juan Escandor. Later in the program, we were also joined by Karapatan-Bicol and Father Bong Imperial of the Our Lady of Penafrancia Seminary (OLPS) for a conversation on human rights concerns and issues in the Philippines today.

Nothing is better for us as citizens than to get a human rights education. The Philippine Constitution deems it very important that it tells us to have one. I myself have very fond memories of a human rights class I had under Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, now a member of the GRP peace panel talking with the NDF.

There are some people though who believe that a human rights education makes us selfish, but it was because people were not even aware of a self with inalienable rights the state cannot encroach upon that in times past whole populations were decimated. When we become better aware of our rights, we become better aware of our political obligations as citizens because whether we like it or not, yes paradoxically, it is the existence of the state, our sometimes very oppressor, that also guarantees the protection of our rights.

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