CHANGE: A Feature Article on MPM-RD

Posted in News
mpmrd1“EVERYTHING has changed.”

Thus said Agrarian Reform Secretary Gil de los Reyes as he challenged the graduates of the 2nd batch of the Master in Public Management major in Rural Development (MPM-RD) to stand ready when the time comes for them to take up the cudgels.

“Ang kinabukasan ay nasa inyong mga balikat, nasa inyong mga kamay. Binayaran ng pamahalaan at ng mamamayan ang inyong pag-aaral, huwag sana natin silang tawaran at ibigay nating lahat ang ating magagawa (The future lies in your hands The government and the people paid for your studies. Let’s not shortchange them. Instead, let’s serve them to the best of our ability),” De los Reyes said

And so, March 17, 2015 will forever be etched in our minds for it was then when we were called upon to stand ready for the challenges up ahead after emerging victorious from the seemingly endless and torturous nights over the past 18 months or so. On that special occasion, the consortium of the country’s four premier learning institutions – the Ateneo de Manila University (AdeMU), the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP), the University of the Philippines (UP) and the Xavier University (XU) – bestowed upon us our hard-earned diplomas at the Malacañang Palace… err… at the equally elegant Armed Forces of the Philippines Commissioned Officers’ Club (AFPCOC).
Speaking before the “standing room only” AFPCOC inside Camp Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo in Quezon City, De los Reyes said: “A big part of the long term solution, will be you, the men and women of the three rural development agencies,” referring to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Calling the graduates of the 18-month course as the catalysts for reforms to get the government’s rural development program rolling, De los Reyes urged us “to not be afraid to look at the past, at the success(es), and, in the case of problems, for solutions.”

“Looking forward, we need to understand that time has changed. We have changed and the country has changed. And this (MPM-RD) is the investment that we are counting on (to deal with these changes),” he said.

He added: “You will forget the three of us. We’ll just be another portraits in some halls. Some will look at those portraits and not feel so happy while others will be so happy because they’re done. But at the end of the day, it will be you, the graduates, who are going to carry this on,” referring to the National Convergence Initiative (NCI): Ridge to Reef program.

But the good secretary, for sure, would always stay in our hearts and minds for taking time out from his busy schedule to be at probably the last MPM-RD commencement exercise that he would be attending to since his stint at the DAR would likely be up to June 2016. By then, the third batch would still be grinding it out with their action plans and projects. His unexpected arrival, however, brought the AFPCOC to life and everybody on their feet, especially the graduates, who initial felt sad upon learning that the top honchos of the three rural development agencies would not make it to the occasion reserved only for the “bravehearts.”mpmrd3

As commencement keynote speaker, Dr. Federicus Bernardus Franciscus Maria Schiphorst, put it: “This (course) is not for the weak ones.”

“I know from first-hand experience what sort of stamina and perseverance is demanded from students to pursue such a long programme,” said the Deputy Rector of the International Institute of Social Studies of the Erasmus University, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, who lived up to his name by delivering a kilometric speech that lasted for nearly an hour!

Not even the combined speeches of MPM-RD Batch 2 president Delia Gabales and Valedictorian Joyce Bengo could beat that as they recalled separately the hardships that each of us went through, a few of us even suffered various illnesses arising from the ever-demanding course, in addition to, the works that we had to attend to at our respective workplaces.

Yes, it was a well-deserved personal accomplishment for each of us because the 18-month or so saga was literally no piece of cake. It was like going through the proverbial eye of the needle. This is not meant to discourage anybody wanting to tread the same path. But mind you, it is worth it.

And Dr. Schiphorst, Dr. Freek to his friends and acquaintance, was too kind and generous to acknowledge the same.

“You are a remarkable lot. Hailed from three different quarters – DA, DAR and DENR – and brought together in one class in the past 18 months, you must have gelled into a single force, ready to go out there and change the world with a single focus on sustainable rural development, which requires hands to join, bodies to meet, and minds to converge into a single effort;
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Admittedly, completing your studies is a major milestone for all of you individually. You deserve all the accolades bestowed on you. Take a rest and enjoy. However, your task is not finished (yet). Your studies have only better armed you to address the multi-faceted challenges of rural development. I wish you all the success in the world…” he concluded.

Truly, everything has changed. From the time we applied for this scholarship up to the time we savored the fruits of our labor, we could feel the changes in our values and in our perspectives so much so that I could not help but liken us to kids acting differently – to each his/her own – when we set out our journey on that “long and winding road” and then emerged like men and women with firm resolve to make a difference. (by Richard B. Gallardo, PAMRS)