Friday, September 17, 2021

Valderrama: Embracing Ubuntu

Maria Gemima C. Valderrama

SHE Writes

UBUNTU. Unfamiliar word, right?

I came across that word again last week from Department of Education (DepEd) Regional Director (RD) Allan G. Farnazo when he was sharing about the essence of being human. That’s ubuntu (oo-boon-too).

This is an African word and philosophy that best translates as “I am because of who we all are”. Ubuntu symbolizes being human.

Thanks to RD Farnazo for bringing that up again. Every day he would go to Our Lady of the Assumption Parish to hear the 6 a.m. mass before proceeding to his office. And every Monday, during the executive meeting, he would share the homily or some Bible verses. That day, it was ubuntu.

So, while I was listening to him, I was like looking at an imaginary big screen in front of me watching the life we have had since the start of the pandemic. It looks like we’ve forgotten how life used to be before all this new normal thing. Or have we really?

When we stop interacting face-to-face and seem to be afraid as each may be a carrier of the virus, did we forget about this ubuntu? Or encouraging everyone else to get vaccinated so that we will all be safe, is this ubuntu?

This is not learning about a new vocabulary. This is about who and how we are to others. This is about being human, valuing life, dignity, compassion, respect, harmony, and all acceptable human behavior.

I am because you are.

This statement is the Ubuntu philosophy. It speaks a lot. It says we cannot be without each other. We cannot live in isolation. We are human beings who need other human beings. With this, we affirm one’s humanity by recognizing the humanity of others. And yes, we establish respectful human relations.

I imagine DepEd embracing this philosophy when it was so firm to continue education in the middle of combatting the Covid-19 virus. Some were against it and accused DepEd of endangering the children.

But it never happened at all.

They stayed in the comfort of their homes while they continued studying. Teachers prepared the modules, and they go as far as visiting the children in their homes if they needed learning interventions.

It may be hard without a teacher, but children had their families with them. They had bonding moments. They spent a lot of time together and all these made their life normal.

Imagine one year of isolating the children at home to ensure their safety. What would it be like? Sure, they will be watching a lot of movies and series or playing computer games. For children in the boondocks, some of them might be spending the year working with their parents. Or some would surely escape from home and find time to be with friends.

This is who we are. We grow with others. We learn with and from others. We connect with them, and this connection allows us to grow and progress.

When everything seems to be not normal, DepEd wanted the children to feel normal in the challenging times. Education, aside from play, is the life of children. Most of the grown-ups spent most of their time in school learning what needs to be learned. And now, they make wise decisions and work well with others.

We are still in this fight against the spread of the virus. But we are all working together. When we simply observe the health protocols or allow ourselves to be vaccinated, we show that we only do not care for ourselves, but we also care for others. We are all connected.

This is the Ubuntu philosophy. I am because you are.

Everything we do affects others. When we show respect, people pay respect too. When we sow the seeds of peace and kindness, we reap peace and kindness in return.

So, when someone does wrong and you want to retaliate, breathe deeply, and remember ubuntu. Bring healing and bridge the gap. Your one act of kindness will build bridges of love, harmony, and joy.

Remember this – I am because you are.


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