Hub and I just finished the four-day workshop on English proficiency and report writing for the recruits undergoing orientation at the National Office of the Bureau of Fire Protection. We ran the workshop for two consecutive days (Thursday and Fridays) for two weeks. I felt exhausted after leaving the place but it was nonetheless a worthwhile experience not only for us trainers but for the recruits as well. We would not exchange the profuse gratitude of our attendees to us especially after they had learned it was a labor of love on our part. Yup, it was for free for the benefit of all 81 eager minds that craved for some quality learning experience.

It was heart-warming to be listened and looked up to. When the students approached Jing and me for the signing of our books, I felt inwardly grateful for the opportunity to make a dent in the youth of today. I guess Chair De Leon’s line in her preface to our book now starts to sink in: “I sincerely thank the authors for finding the path to move our country to greater heights.” Whew, big words. We are taking things in stride. We love what we do and there’s inexplicable joy in being of service to our fellowmen.

Being able to fill a gap, having an apropos balm to a chronic itch, being an instrument to meet a need –this makes our hearts smile even as physically we are as spent as a beaten horse after days of galloping. It ain’t easy standing for hours holding a wired microphone (time for government agencies to purchase wireless mics) and teaching. Boy, do I salute full-time teachers who sacrifice all day long and all year round so that young minds may be molded. I can only do so occasionally.

So far we are done running workshops for the employees of the Civil Service Commission, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and Central Bicol State University of Agriculture, aside from BFP of course. One thing common to all though is that English proficiency even among professionals (and those who even hold doctoral degrees) has indeed deteriorated. Their diagnostic tests with only a grade six level of difficulty speak volumes of the quality of English learning in the country these days. Hmmmmm. Disheartening.

One reason for this is that the present generation no longer has the passion for reading as the previous generations had. The advent of technology – cellphones, emails, social media—has made communication quick yet haphazard. The beauty of the once well-thought of letter-writing had been replaced by the urgency of tweets and text messages crafted on impulse and without the benefit of evaluated thinking and going through the rigors of the writing process.

No wonder we have a generation of non-thinkers. True writers think, because writing is thinking. Now? Nada. May be there’s just a handful – so few we can probably count with our fingers, young people who communicate (speak and write) sensibly. Time that could have been spent reading, introspecting and writing has been overtaken by online social networking which oftentimes dwells on the mundane and non-essentials such as rants against an obnoxious neighbor. (Uh,uh. I oftentimes cringe when I see mangled English for all the world to read.)

Sigh. Enough with the lamentations. Technology per se is not bad for as long as it is used properly. I for one am grateful for the internet as it has given me a platform to post my thoughts through this blog. I am also deeply encouraged when I read thought provoking and inspiring posts of other bloggers. What’s disheartening is seeing irresponsible posts which do not help at all in building others up.

This brings me back to my original topic – having conducted the workshop for BFP recruits. I hope our students had taken to heart the wisdom we shared with them so that our efforts would pay off as we see them perform their jobs with passion and excellence, and thus thrive in their career.

Nobody desires to see his efforts rot in the dust bin. Neither do we.
No student is above his teacher. But if the student is fully trained, he will be like his teacher.
(Luke 6:40)