By Ken Subillaga
I have always believed that the best things in life are just around the corner and they’re free.
We just have to open our mind and heart to what surrounds us. I am not just talking about having a loving family, enjoying the fine weather, having a healthy body and a set of true friends but I am also talking about finding opportunities in adversities. I have always been a believer that adversity, when dealt with correctly, brings us to that place of clarity and brings out the best in us.
When the French Embassy sent out an invitation letter to the faculty of the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management of the College of Saint Benilde, no one responded–simply because the nature of scholarship programs such as, but not limited to Erasmus Mundus, is somewhat tedious and time-consuming. But there was something in me that kept bugging me – that thing that pushed me a bit towards initiating a change and self-development.
My constant search for self-improvement and professional development has always been my leverage to making changes possible, in my own little ways. The catchphrase “the best things in life are free” is perhaps one of the most misunderstood beliefs. For most people, to become successful, one needs to have money and political clout to make things possible. Yes, I agree to a certain extent but personally, to become successful one needs to simply realize your own philosophies and goals in life paired with strategic planning and well-thought out decision making.
Being a scholar provided a whole lot more than just going to school abroad. Some of the most important lessons I have learned in the past few months have greatly influenced how I view myself and my life as Filipino scholar.
What is EMMA?
The Erasmus Mundus Mobility with Asia or commonly known as EMMA, is a scholarship program made possible through the partnership of eight Asian and nine European universities led by the University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis in France seeking for the support of the European Commission in order to encourage individual mobility flows of students of all levels and of faculty members of partner universities.
This program aims to enhance the relationship of European Union States with other countries and aid the development of education, cross-cultural understanding, socio-political affairs, and technological partnerships to bring about economic development.
It offers mobility or scholarship programs for undergraduate, master, PhD, post-doc students, and staff from Asian partners countries to EU partner universities.
In the Philippines, there were more than two hundred applications submitted and among the twenty-six selected and confirmed scholarship grants for Lot 9 in Asia included mine – a PhD scholarship grant in Education.
The question I have in mind is always related to making a change in our society towards a better Philippines. It is a question of how can we make Philippines better?
Simply put, if everyone shares in this change, anything is possible. There are three steps in making change happen: (1) Start the change in you, (2) Initiate change in your place of work, (3) Influence other organizations or institution within your industry in making the change. One doesn’t have to look for any further, or think some complex theories or programs, as these simple steps begin with each and every Filipino. If we want change, then we just have to do it.
My masters’ degree in Education in the field of Learning and Teaching from De La Salle University opened a lot of opportunities and realizations about the problems of the Philippines. One of the most important aspects in change is the ability of a person to evaluate how he can contribute to the betterment of the society. It would be easier if he is able to find meaning in his existence. It may be just a simple statement but it is an important foundation for the education of oneself.
These are some of the things I want to see: The spirit of bayanihan, nationalism, improvement of self and quality of life through EDUCATION.
It is my desire that each Filipino, including those who have had the opportunity to experience international education could somehow pitch in the change that we want to see…
Ken Subillaga is a PhD Scholar at the Universidade de Santiago de Compostela (USC) in Spain under the Erasmus Mundus Mobility with Asia program.