Leading with ‘bugsay’

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Monday, April 1, 2013


THE bugsay principle is the principle of Roberto E. Aboitiz, president of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (Rafi), whose daughter Amaya translated it into a children’s book which, in reality, has lessons for adults as well.

Amaya grew up in Cebu and finished her elementary grades and high school at the Cebu International School. During this time, she would occasionally tag along with her mother Marian who was then working also for Rafi. So even at a young age, she saw how the “other side” lived.

Her college years were spent in the United States where she took a degree in childhood education, after which she worked for the Beacon School in Taguig, Rizal, for two years. She then went back to the US to take up masters in education policy. Then she taught at Beacon School again for two years. Then she came to Cebu to work for Rafi, particularly with the Dolores Aboitiz Fund, a Rafi program for child education.

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The bugsay principle, she explains, was conceptualized years before she came to Rafi.

Her dad had been talking about the bugsay kind of leadership that in effect says “everybody has the capacity to become a leader in his own right and that he can determine where he would go. One day while we were talking about it at home, I told him that these characteristics of leadership need to be developed from when you are a child. At which he challenged me as to how we are to talk to children about it. So the idea of making a book for children came about.” As she explained, “For me as a teacher, I find stories and books an effective way to transmit values and concepts to very young children.”

The result is Akong Bugsay (my paddle in English). The book is in two versions, as a plain book and as a coloring book. The illustrations for both books were done by Karmina T. Cuzon, who was with Rafi’s Young Minds Academy. The book is also bilingual: the Cebuano version was done with the help of the Rafi staff.

Asked what the feedback has been, Amaya says, “It’s actually amazing how many kinds of people relate to the book. I’ve had a grandmother who bought it for her granddaughter.

When she read it to her, her granddaughter asked her father if they could go fishing. Business organizations who bought the book have used the back cover to inspire their staff to perform better. Our main target, the teachers, like the fact that the setting is in the Philippines.”

Amaya says she learned so much about the life of the fishermen through this book. She showed the first edition to “some Lapu-Lapu fishermen and they laughed. They told me all about fishing and we came up with a second edition more true in illustration to the life and fishing gear of the local fishermen.”

Asked if she misses teaching, Amaya says “It’s always a call. I miss working with the children. It is different kind of work, very creative, fulfilling, maybe someday… but this is also a very interesting job… through this job I’ve seen so many places, so many different situations in life.” And yes, through this job, she has become an author of a children’s book. Will more books follow?

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 02, 2013.

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