An essay by CPT GERALDINE NICOLE T ANG PROF
Head, RDD / Head, Admin / Acting Head, Acad, AFPCMO School
Graduate of the Strategic CMO Officers’ Online Course Class 16-19
This essay is based on one of my turn-ins for the course which posed the question on whether or not we deserved to take the Strategic CMO Officers Online Course.
I am a member of the Corps of Professors, AFP, and I aspire to become a useless teacher. Yes, useless. I am currently assigned at the AFP CMO School, and my mandate, that both of a teacher and a soldier, is to serve the school and help it realise its mission to provide quality CMO education to members of the AFP, other Philippine Security Forces, and other government agencies. Through the work I do in the development of academic programs of the school, research, and administration, I assist the school in delivering to its students value for their investment in CMO education.
Since my days in the civilian academe, and now in the military, my philosophy in teaching is to inspire in students the desire to learn. I get genuinely energized at the sight of students who “glow” during a learning session. I perceive this glow to indicate that something inside of them is coming to life and stirring. I have faith that this becomes the phase when the attractiveness of extrinsic motivation, such as grades, gets substantially dwarfed by the intrinsic motivation of the actual enjoyment of the learning process. The most hopeful part about this is when learners become driven to want to learn even more. My plan with each of the brief periods of time I facilitate learning is for the students to walk away from the session with some self-reflection relative to what transpired in the activity. I hold that when learners go ahead and further expand their quest for learning beyond the session facilitated, all the while doing so at their own pace and using resources of their choosing, the teacher now becomes useless, positively useless. That is the kind of teacher I aspire to be. Useless. Positively.
Mandated by the oath I have sworn to when I joined the Corps of Professors, AFP, my role is to shape the character and sharpen the minds of leaders of our country, stand by truth and justice, doing all my work for the greater honor of the AFP. Teaching is honest and selfless work which cannot be cheated. Those who ever cheat it are better off leaving this noble profession, else, are the ones who become ineffective at it. Honest work delivered with genuine sincerity is fundamental to CMO, a field where positively useless teachers will always have a place. Among the primary and internal stakeholders who need to be influenced in the CMO advocacy of peace and education – winning the war without warranting the use of arms – are our very own soldiers, the leaders of our country. Useless teachers can effectively help break down barriers that thwart the population away from the AFP, and facilitate the favor and support of stakeholders towards the organization and what it stands for. Useless teachers can help create in the community the accurate perception that soldiers are their allies in peace and development.
My limited experience thus far in CMO is in the arena of training and education and I was fortunate to have had some exposure to the application of CMO in the field when I was deployed to oversee students in their CMO Immersion activities at Headquarters Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City, and at the 303rd Infantry Brigade in Negros Occidental. In these experiences, I have seen how relationship with others is fundamental to influencing them. The rapport established with children selling banana fritters is one step in engaging the stakeholder in the children themselves, and potentially in their parents, their neighbors, and the community. I have seen how communities who have not previously had the opportunity to ever actually interact with members of the Philippine Security Forces find that it can be a very pleasantly rewarding experience. I have seen how much wider in the community the AFP can still reach out to in order to gain the support of the populace, valuable to the fulfilment of its mission to protect the people and the state.
Undergoing the course has definitely expanded my appreciation of Civil-Military Operations. Frankly speaking, I have registered last year in both of the two classes of this course, but ended up not participating in either one of them. I did not deserve to take up this course back then. This time around, I enrolled in Class 16- 19 determined to actually go through and finish the course. The class started in February 2019, and I have navigated through the first set of course requirements with just a little struggle, feeling satisfied with my outputs, and submitting them on time. I felt a sense of accomplishment with each turn-in submitted and discussion in the course participated in. This added to my motivation to finish the course, combined with the motivation of upholding my mandate as a member of the COP assigned in a CMO education and training unit, and of gratifying myself in learning anew. As the course progressed, so did the difficult challenge of striking a balance among school, work, relationships with my significant others, and self-care. Now, three months since this journey has started, through the support of my superiors, colleagues, and loved ones, i officially graduate from the course with fifty-two others who each also have their own stories to tell.
Does completion mean that, I, the aspiring useless teacher, now deserved to take this course? I really cannot say for sure. But what I do know is that graduating from this course and wearing the CMO badge will only stand merit when I embody and practice what CMO stands for and all that it does in the interest of peace and development of our nation.