Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Dr. Antonio Levy Ingles, Jr.

As an EDUCATOR, I am simply grateful because I am here where I am right now not because I am that really good but because of the support from my family and people around me who made all things possible.

Dr. Antonio Levy Ingles, Jr., founder of Aral Pinoy, a Philippine-based organization which aims to involve Filipinos to serve fellow Filipinos in the field of education. To date, Dr. Ingles has started initiatives in the Philippine education system such as adopting and nurturing classrooms, teaching and conducting free seminars on different teaching strategies and interventions, providing assistance to schools that have insufficient instructional materials/equipment and insufficient budget or funds.
Today he shares with us his story and why you should consider supporting his education cause.
This is his story:
AMS: Tell us your background: education, training and community involvement.
Dr. A. Ingles: “Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.” ~Viktor E. Frankl. 
Since 1991, I am an EDUCATOR, and I have been teaching for the last 20 years. I have worked as Christian Living Education (CLE) high school teacher inAssumptionCollege(1991-1992), religion/theology teacher in Centro Escolar University (CEU) (1992-1994), in St. Paul College of Manila (SPCM) (1994-1997) now a University, and in De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (1997-present). In all these 20 long years of meeting students from different walks of life, I have been seeing that majority of them need purposes in their own specific contexts and conditions: in their studies, future works and practically in all areas of their lives.
But to make a little difference, particularly in the lives of many who have no chance to receive a decent education, I dream big for them, but I guess I cannot be of help without making it sure that I am also in the position to help others. And I think I cannot pursue the realization of this noble dream without seizing this opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of these aspiring young students to go after heir own dreams regardless of who they are or where they come from.
I am blessed to earn and I hope that I am better equipped with the following: AB / Bachelor of Arts in Classical Philosophy, San Carlos Seminary, 1989;  MA (cand.) / Master of Arts in Sacred Theology, San Carlos Seminary,1991;  MEd / Master of Education Major in Religious and Values  Education, De La Salle University, 2000 MaLT / Master in Learning and Teaching, De La Salle University, 2005. Finally, I received my PhD / Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Cosmic Anthropology, Asian Social Institute, 2011.

AMS: What are you currently involved in?
Dr. A. Ingles: Inspired and motivated by education for life-giving relationships and by justice in four directions: Maka-Diyos (Pro God); Maka-tao (Pro People); Makakalikasan (Pro Nature / Creation and) and Makabansa (Pro Country), Aral Pinoy is launching its 2nd Year of Project Baon, and it is now searching and accepting sponsorships for the school year 2012-2013.
You can see our Project Baon  last year here.
AMS: What made you start Aral Pinoy?
Dr. A. Ingles: On March 25, 2009 I received an email from Mr. Eduardo B. Verzosa, a Filipino professional web/graphic designer based in Norway, who expressed his intention to support my education advocacy after reading my blog on free teacher-training for public schools. Mr. Verzosa generously shared his website-design talent and web hosting services free of charge and by April 16, 2009, Aral Pinoy launched its official website.
My simple advocacy dedicated to education for life-giving relationships and by embracing and practicing an ethical pedagogy on how to be just and live in life-sustaining and life-giving relationships gave birth to Aral Pinoy.
Eventually series of programs, projects and activities have been done and will continue doing. On August 11, 2010 I was blessed to formally establish ARALPINOY.ORG INC., as a non-stock, non-profit organization and non-partisan organization registered under the laws of the Republic of the Philippines with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) (with CRN CN201012580 and TIN 007-842-097).
AMS: Tell us more about Aral Pinoy, its mission and how it is being fulfilled. What are your visions for them?
Dr. A. Ingles: Aral Pinoy simply means a Filipino (Pinoy) Pedagogy (Aral), which is basically a tangible vision of my initiative to create ethical-pedagogical bridge in concrete action for purposes of values re-orientation or formation program for sustainable living.
According to Fr. John Fuellenbach, SVD (1998) in the Old Testament (OT), justice (katarungan) concept is “Right-Relations” or even better as “Life-Giving Relationships”. To be just means human beings should live in life-giving relationships in the following holistic essential relations in four directions: (1) with their fellow human beings, (2) with themselves, (3) with nature (creation) and (4) ultimately with God (p. 195).
Aral Pinoy is dedicated to EDUCATION, through which its mission is to uphold and support a life-giving-dignity-based of living and relationships. The principles enumerated below are the context on what this EDUCATION Mission stands for:
Ako ay Pilipino (I am a Filipino)
Buong katapatang nanunumpa (I pledge my allegiance)
Sa… Pilipinas (To… the Philippines)
Na may dangal, katarungan at kalayaan (With honor (dignity), justice and freedom)
Na pinakikilos ng sambayanang (That is put in motion (action) by one nation)
Maka-Diyos, [For the love of] (God,)
Maka-tao, (People,)
Makakalikasan at (Nature and)
Makabansa. (Country).”
Source: Republic Act No. 8491, S. 25 & 40. (1998).
Aral Pinoy would like to continue and sustain any, if not all, its previous projects/activities below and to do more:

AMS: How do you see yourself with Aral Pinoy in the future?
Dr. A. Ingles: Aral Pinoy is a tangible vision and just a small version of Education For All (EFA).  But I dream big that one day, if God’s generosity allows, I will build schools in the rural areas, the schools for life that will empower them. This dream of helping and working with the marginalized sectors of our society started since my seminary days in the early ’80s. I believe more that education today is an urgent call to action for and by the rural poor: the indigenous people, the rural women, the fisher folks, the farmers, the rural youth, the elderly, persons with disabilities and the informal sector.
AMS: As a professional and the founder of Aral Pinoy, what do you think is the most important skill one must possess in order to become successful?
Dr. A. Ingles: The breadth of my experience has enriched my teaching life. I meet exemplary teachers and I have been so fascinated and interested in finding out what makes them really good. Regardless of the substantial differences among them in terms of teaching style, personality, teaching goals and ways of interaction with students, I have realized that it is the inherent sameness of good teachers that made them really good. I could also say that good teachers, in all settings and at all levels, have more in common with each other: They have hearts to teach.
It is really worthwhile for a school to select, hire and re-hire a good if not the best teacher by scrutinizing his or her teaching credentials, performances and experiences.
I believe that a school will not settle for less. Lower quality teachers are more expensive; they produce lower levels of student learning and erode morale. Good teachers matter and they matter a lot for they can make a vital difference.
Being an EDUCATOR here at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde for the past 15 years, I have also witnessed good teachers who have been keys to Benildean learning, to Lasallian educational reform, curriculum design and implementation, community building and Christian values formation. They really have hearts to teach. But teachers cannot be good in a generic sense; they have to be good for something and should have hearts to teach. These are the teachers “who have some sort of connective capacity, who connect themselves to their students, their students to each other and everyone to the subject being studied.” (Parker Palmer, 1999).
With humility I know I am one of them. I believe I am a good. I believe I have a heart to teach.  And I think that what is most important is not only the skill, but also the value and attitude in life order to become successful.
AMS: For a follow up question, what motivates you to do what you do?
Dr. A. Ingles: The official logo of ARALPINOY.ORG INC (Education Philippines) consists of the feather pen (blue), the book (blue and red), the Philippine flag (blue and red) and the sun rising (yellow) above the mountain horizon (blues and red), three stars (yellow), the text Aral Pinoy which all put together they symbolize hope for knowledge and education, and at the same time demonstrate a true Filipino spirit. 
In the Philippines, the Republic Act No. 8491, also known  as An Act prescribing the code of the national flag, anthem, motto, coat-of-arms and other heraldic items and devices of the Philippines [Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines], declares in Sec. 40 : The National Motto shall be “MAKA-DIYOS, MAKA-TAO, MAKAKALIKASAN AT  MAKABANSA.” These principles are the context on what this ARALPINOY.ORG INC. advocacy stands for. These holistic essential relations in four directions are what have been motivating me to do what I am doing now.
AMS: In building Aral Pinoy, what are the obstacles you have met and how did you overcome them?
Dr. A. Ingles: The K + 12 Basic Education Program of the Department of Education (DepEd) is now a new and another challenge more than an obstacle. Dr. Angel C. de Dios of Georgetown University, Washington, argues that we are facing two major problems: “(1) high dropout rates in primary and secondary schools, and (2) lack of mastery of specific skills and content as reflected in poor performance in standard tests for both Grade IV and Grade VIII (2nd year high school) students.” She claims that the “K+12 curriculum does not directly address these problems. Both dropout rate and poor performance in standard exams indicate failure in the early years of education. That these problems are caused by a congested 10-year curriculum is not strongly supported by currently available data.”
I observed that in the 10-year curriculum despite having100% free public education both in elementary and high school levels, many students neither finish nor proceed to the next grade level. One of the reasons is that many of them are lacking or having no schooling allowance nor ‘baon’ for their snack foods or meals for their daily schooling, no needed school supplies, no funds to spend for their school requirements, no transportation fair and more.
Only last school year, there are 40 students who are supposed to be helped by Aral Pinoy in their schooling, but due to the limited funds available it has only supported 10 scholars. More than sending financial assistance out of my own pocket, this school year 2012-2013 I am hoping to help more students by seeking supports and sponsorships from among my colleagues, friends and generous individuals and groups.
The 10 scholars are sons and daughters of farmers/fishermen in Batangas who unfortunately some of them have not able to get even an elementary education. I am helping them so that in the future when they will have families of their own they will not repeat the same cycle of not being able to send their own sons and daughters to school. I wish that they will be able to finish at least in high school education and to be able to graduate in college is already so much blessings.
AMS: Apart from your family, who are your inspirations? Can you please cite an example when they were the most influential to you?
Dr. A. Ingles: Since 1999, I am married to my loving wife (for 13 years now) and in 2009, I have my one and only loving (3 year old) daughter.
My family will always be my number one inspiration. But apart from them it is Fr. John Fuellenbach, SVD who is so most influential to me. Fr. Fuellenbach does not know me personally and I only met him in a lecture-seminar in De La Salle – University many years back.
My conversion is likened to St. Augustinewho was so impressed by the sermons of St. Ambrose, bishop ofMilanwho himself baptized Augustine. Reflecting on his life and experience, Augustine said to God, “You have made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”  Reflecting on my life and experience I started to believe more that we must be driven by our most fundamental commitment and conviction to work for the promotion of justice, which is rooted in Jesus Christ’s command to seek the Kingdom: “But seek first the Kingdom (of God) and his righteousness (justice), and all these things will be given you besides” (New American Standard Bible, Matthew 6:33). According to Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J. (1973) action for justice and liberation from oppression cannot be separated from seeking the Kingdom.
To seek and proclaim the Kingdom implies a rational and benevolent use of nature, a use that is respectful of its purpose and destiny and is mindful of the needs of the present and future generations. To be just, it is not enough to refrain from injustice. To heal this wounded home, it is not enough to simply be sorry for the injustice being done.

“Just as the cosmos itself can be ruptured and torn apart by injustice, it can be healed by all human efforts to bring justice back to human relationships to earth, air, fire, water and one another” (Schreck, 2003). In the Old Testament (OT), it was Fr. John Fuellenbach, SVD. who opened my heart and mind to the Hebraic Covenant Theology which best translates justice concept as “Right-Relations” or even better as “Life-Giving Relationships” (Fuellenbach, 1998). This “Life-Giving Relationships” as value can be associated with the concepts of harmony, wholeness, caring, compassion, reciprocal regard, and mutual valuation of intrinsic worth (Acorn, 2004). In the New Testament (NT), Paul also describes the Kingdom of God as, “…not a matter of food and drink, but of righteousness (justice), peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (New American Bible, Romans 14:17).”
AMS: As the founder of AP, how do you see your role for the future of the advocacies you support?
Dr. A. Ingles: Now with K+12-year basic education and with the challenges it may bring, I see myself as an EDUCATOR working for more for the education and promotion of justice inspired by Hebraic Covenant Theology.
AMS: What do you think of the Philippine education? What are your hopes for our school children?
Dr. A. Ingles: President Benigno S. Aquino III on April 24, 2012 just led the launch of the K + 12 Basic Education Program of the Department of Education (DepEd). This would add two years to the basic education and hopefully increase capabilities among students who would pursue to work and earn after graduating from high senior school (Grade 12). Studies about 10-year basic education would show that out of 100 pupils who enter Grade 1, only 66 graduate in Grade 6 out of which only 58 enroll in high school, only 23 actually end up entering college and 14 luckily get to earn a degree. Now with K+12-year basic education, DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro is now calling for “stakeholders to work together to achieve the collective goal of providing adequate and equal opportunities for every Filipino youth to have a decent and honorable way of living.” (Malipot & Carandang, 2012).
I guess I should be dreaming bigger now that I may be able to build schools in the rural areas intended for K+12-year basic education.
AMS: Finally, what is your definition of success? (to both)
Dr. A. Ingles: I do not totally believe that I can do everything within my power to be where I am today.
As an EDUCATOR, I am simply grateful because I am here where I am right now not because I am that really good but because of the support from my family and people around me who made all things possible.
I may not be the best, but in all modesty, I am taking the liberty of saying that today I am a good teacher who made and will make a vital difference in the lives of our people more than most people do.
I do not believe in coincidence for I know from my everyday life that an opportunity could be missed if not grasped at the right time. I have faith in Divine Providence and I thank GOD for being a teacher who opens many doors to all. A Chinese Proverb would tell us that the “Teachers open the door. You enter by yourself.” Life has been a teacher to me, opening the doors of opportunities to be of great service to others which fortunately I have entered by myself.

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