When I Left That School (2)

(2nd of 5 parts)

“Where do you go from here?”

That was another question I repeatedly heard. My better half  asked me another question in her pointed and direct fashion, “What will happen to us when you leave that school?” It seemed that my wife had forgotten that I don’t make hasty decisions when it comes to anything that would affect my family and my career. That’s the thing about major decisions. I know it would affect not only me but also my loved ones.

I also have parents depending on me so I could not afford to mess up. Even my siblings come to me once in a while to ask for help. In short, I always need to be gainfully employed. To ensure that, I need to have set goals and a definite plan of action to achieve them. I always tell my students and friends that planning on anything involves the preparation of possible alternatives so that when, for example, plan A doesn’t work then you still have a plan B or a plan C. The more alternatives, the better.

I have a three-pronged career path to follow. Such is the offshoot of my dreams, education, training and experience.

First – run a school of my own. That’s my dream. I want to have a school of my own. That, I guess, is the dream of many educators.

Second – occupy the highest academic position… dean of a department… college dean… or probably president of a college or a university. Why not? We’re free to dream. I want to supervise at a school and, yes, teach at the same time. I simply cannot be divorced from teaching.

Third – work overseas as an English teacher. It was because of the constant prodding of my father that I included teaching in another country as part of my career-pathing. He kept telling me before to look at how successful are my cousins and their spouses because they decided to work overseas. But I told my father that if ever I would have a chance to work in another country, I should be a teacher – not anything else.

Going back… 

“Trust me. I know what I am doing.” That’s the way I reassured my wife when she got too worried about me leaving the Catholic institution. Any of my decisions relative to work should always fall within the sphere of my career path, and include those other things important to me. I did not veer away from that path with the important decision I was about to make.

I walked the career path I paved for myself. I became a part of the management teams of the schools where I worked during my mid-20’s. The first administrative position I had was director of academic and student affairs. But my dream school remained in the pipeline. I needed an investor  for it to become a reality. What I envisioned was a tandem of capitalist and industrialist partners with the latter being me. Most of my friends who have their own schools either inherited them from their parents or they opened schools supported financially by their moneyed parents or siblings. This was not an option for me.

I have no rich parents or affluent siblings or relatives capable of financing my project. The most viable option for me was to find capitalist partners. I actively searched for people I could convince to finance my dream school. All they needed to do was invest their money and I would take care of everything else, or so I thought!

During the early 1990s, the town adjacent to my father’s birthplace was a good site for a computer school. There were none there then. With information technology starting to take a hold in the world at that time, there was strong demand for expertise and skills related to computers and IT. That was the time when computer schools started to mushroom all over the country. It was the best chance for my dream to have a school of my own to become a reality. I created a feasibility study and presented it to several people I knew had money. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to convince any of them.

 Just a couple of years after that, a local businessman opened the first computer school in that locality. The big players in computer education also opened branches soon after.

The school I wanted to have was not within reach. I would have a couple more rejections after that. So, I focused on my teaching and supervisory job and put my dream of having a school of my own on the backburner for a while.

Then I received an invitation from a religious  to join her team and lead their Education department. It was an offer so difficult to refuse – salary and opportunity-wise. I resigned from my job and decided to work in the school ran by sisters.

Under the tutelage of the first Sister President I worked with, I learned so much. I swear that I learned from her much more than I had learned from several years in Graduate school. She was my mentor… one of the best, if not the best education supervisor I worked with. The seven years we were together were my Golden Age. She set the standards that unfortunately her successor could not measure up to. I felt that that institution had entered its Dark Age when my mentor left and before I could completely revert back to my barbaric ways I seriously considered leaving the school.

When the next Sister President came, with all the negative information about her circulating in the campus,  I was afraid that things wouldn’t be good. I suddenly actively pursued my dream of having my own school again. I targeted a school site in a town in the province where I had settled down with my family. I created another feasibility study and started presenting it to prospective capitalist partners.

My most heartbreaking experiences came a couple of years before the resignation I was planning to make. I came so close to the realization of my dream – so close and yet so far.

In 2009, I presented my proposal  to a Briton. I was able to convince him of the merits of my plan and he asked me to start doing both the legwork and the paperwork, which I did. We were supposed to start operating the school June, 2010. He promised to provide the initial investment in November, 2009. Finally, my dream school would become a reality… or would it? The Briton lost his job in Oman in October, 2009. Much to my consternation, he decided to back out from our project.

Of course, I was so disappointed. I did not give up on my dream though. I had already laid out the plan and been working on the paperwork. I had also already talked to the owner of the building we were targeting as a site for the school, so I searched for another capitalist partner. I found another one, an Australian, who was working in a bank in his country and was the fiancée of one my friends in a local gym. He agreed to finance the project.

Unfortunately, I did not find the terms he set for the partnership acceptable. He wanted the initial profit sharing to be 80-20 with him getting the lion’s share. He also demanded that he got back in full whatever amount he invested after five years. I did not agree, even when he added that my share in the profit would increase annually until the profit-sharing became 60-40. My offer was nothing less than 50-50 and that he was not supposed to get back the amount he had invested. That was to be his investment. Mine would be to get the school up and running and operating successfully. Neither of us budged. Thus, even though I knew I was letting go of a dream that was about to come true, I did not pursue the project with him.

That was the closest I got to having my dream school.

Those were heartbreakers, but life has to go on, I moved on and vowed that I will just keep trying. My dream to have a school of my own did not die. For as long as I am breathing, that dream will remain alive. This brings me back to the Catholic institution and the important, possibly life-changing, decision I was about to make.

NEXT: “Do you think you can find a better school?”

About M.A.D. LIGAYA

Teacher-Writer-Lifelong Learner M, A, and D are the initials of my two first names (Massuline and Antonio) and my mother's family name (Dupaya). Ligaya (a Filipino word which means happiness in English) is my family name. MAD is actually one of my nicknames aside from Tony and Ching. My full name is Massuline Antonio Dupaya Ligaya. Many times I was asked the question "Why do you write?" I don't write for material rewards nor adulation. When I write poems, stories, and essays, when I do research, the process of creating them gives me immense joy and seeing them completed brings me great satisfaction. I don't write for cash incentives, "likes," and "praises." I would be thankful should I get those but the happiness and sense of fulfillment I get while doing them and completing my works are my real rewards. Is teaching difficult? No! When I teach, I don't work but I play. My educational philosophy - "The classroom is my playground, the students are my playmates, and the subject is our toy." I am a lifelong learner. My daily goal is to be better than I was yesterday. It's difficult, but it's worth the try. It's not for what I get from doing it but for what I become. Proud to be me! Proud to be a FILIPINO! TO GOD BE THE GLORY!

Posted on March 14, 2021, in Career Crossroads, Decision Making, Making Firm Decisions and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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