Edilberto de Jesus
Almost a decade ago, I had written a weekly column in the Manila Bulletin with this title. I was writing from Bangkok, where I was serving as Secretariat Director of the Southeast Asia Ministers of Education Organization(SEAMEO). I had taken this OFW assignment after deciding that I had no wish to extend the term of my last job as Secretary of Education in the first Arroyo Administration.
My career path had taken some unexpected turns. My academic training was in history, with a focus on Southeast Asia. But the job offered to me after graduate school at Yale was the Don Andres Soriano Chair of Business History at the Asian Institute of Management, the first graduate school of business to offer an MBA explicitly developed for an international student body. The AIM appointment allowed me to continue with my disciplinary track, while opening up opportunities to pursue my interest in the region.
Predictably, AIM found it necessary to accommodate other priorities and asked me to join a dedicated research unit to undertake the task of developing a curriculum focused for managers in the government and not-for-profit sectors. Over a ten-year period, the Rural Development Management Program established the foundations for AIM’s Masters in Development Management program.
In 1987, AIM seconded me to the government to serve for one year as Deputy Commissioner to the newly-established Peace Commission. The primary task of the Peace Commission turned out to be the establishment of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, a project that we quickly realized would extend well beyond one year. Thus, after the year of secondment, President Cory Aquino arranged for an extension of my Peace Commission term through a second appointment to a Cabinet rank post as Presidential Adviser on Rural Development.
During my years with the Cory Aquino Administration, I also had occasion to serve as Presidential Liaison to the NGO Sector and as a member of the President’s Committee on the Bases, the body assigned to oversee the negotiations with the United States on the issue of American military bases in the Philippines.
In between my terms in the government and after SEAMEO, my primary engagement was with the education sector. I served as president of Far Eastern University, the University of the Cordilleras in Baguio, and AIM. This experience gives me a special interest in education.
In the interest of full disclosure, I currently serve on the boards of Far Eastern University and of Phinma, the Philippine Normal University, and the Philippine Reclamation Authority. I am involved with a number of civic groups, including the Philippine Business for Education, the Summer Institute of Linguistics, the Foundation for Liberty and Prosperity, and Former Senior Government Officials (FSGO).
The materials I post in Second Thoughts reflect my personal views and not necessarily those of any of the institutions with which I happen to be connected. The reflections, while personal, will be evidence-based. It will inevitably draw on my academic studies in history and the social sciences, service in government, engagement with the civil society sector, and the perspectives offered by time spent in study and work in foreign countries.
I hope that the materials will prompt readers to pause for second thoughts and to share their own reflections with us.