Rural views | Lost and found

AT THE RISK of sounding like a broken record, I have been repeating my gratefulness to God for my miraculous survival of a hemorrhagic stroke in 2015. The big miracle marked a 180 degree turn of my life.

The time I counted and appreciated small and big miracles, I realized the blessings to me and my familyare countless. My self-esteem and confidence are back and even at higher levels. Despite attendant pressures, I enjoyed more my lawyer profession now.
Without knowing the purpose in life, I was in limbo. In effect, I imprisoned myself for years. By grace of God however, he allowed the stroke to happen to wake me up from that nightmare. He made me feel how blessed I am. He freed me from self-made detention.
Aside from going back to passionate lawyering, I started teaching. With rich experiences in public speaking, debate, strategic planning and writing, I found it easy to teach subjects within my fields of specialization.
Aside from a part-time teaching job in a private school, I got the rare opportunity to teach English and Mathematics for the pioneering student – detainees of the College Education Behind Bars in Davao city jail.
The school is a first of its kind in the country. It is a collaboration of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Social Entrepreneurship Technology and Business Institute, and University of Southeastern Philippines.
I really love my teaching job because I learned things which could be more important than what my students learned from me.
The job enabled me to go back to basics in Algebra and language. More importantly, it enabled me to develop each day into more human in nature and humane in character.
Let me share some beautiful lessons of life I got from city jail. Here are some of the essays written by my Computer Technology students for their final examinations in English 1.
This is the story of Mr. Clyde. In the absence of written title, let us name his story,
“Lost and found”
“Life is cruel, sad, and full of deceit. This is about my adventure in life – how I messed up and how I managed to go through it.
We lived a simple life. Like many families, our problem was mainly the drinking habit of my Papa.
My Mama is a joyful woman who is full of dreams. Her dreams were centered on me, her only son.
The moment she had enough of my Papa’s drinking, she left to work abroad. That moment was also the beginning of my real-world adventure.
I ended up committing infraction of laws.
When I got busted and brought to jail, the feelings of regret and sadness were so deep. The sadness I felt was just like the sadness the moment Mama left.
Nevertheless, being inside the city jail has taught me many things. Learnings I am sure to use after getting out of this place.
When I get out from jail, I have many things to do – things that I failed to do before I got busted and things I was planning to do.
But the first thing I really want to do is to spend more quality time with my parents, which I forgot and took for granted when I was still a free man.
After what happened, I realized that a person will only miss the things he had when they are all gone. You will never realize how lucky you are until you lose everything you have.”
Other stories
I may use the space of this column in the subsequent weeks for the other stories. They are worth sharing as they reinforce my strong stand against extra-judicial killings and respect for human rights and due process of law. Aside from the constitutional presumption of innocence, detainees or accused are no less human beings than all of us. They deserve our respect and empathy as we are all loved by God.
(The author is a vegan lawyer, holding law and realty offices in his hometown in Calinan, Davao City. He teaches part-time at Holy Cross College of Calinan and College Education Behind Bars at Davao City jail. He serves as Director of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines – Davao City Chapter.)

Posted in Opinion