I have been blessed in many ways in having taken part in the nurturing of the questing minds of young men--and young women--who tried to answer the call of God or--God forbid!--a fantasy of a call that looked and sounded so real to many of them, with the exuberance of their youth lived in the most interesting times in the life of a cursed land and in the history of a people famished for what is just and right and fair.
The Prefect responding to my blog entry on my long comment of another blogger's comment--so this is where the winding roads of thought begin, with no end in sight, I am certain--moved me to blog some more about my experiences as a teacher in at least four seminaries and in as many Catholic schools that had the semblance of medieval educational institutions in Europe, with each of these institutions having some kind of relentlessly resurrecting and incarnating 'The Prefect' with their perfections and their illusions of having some.
The first seminary is one at Loyola Heights, and for want of a better term, we call it 'the ministers of the sick and the dying'.
Oh, there you go: the prefects came in all shapes and colors, in all holiness and hollowness, in ideological commitment and zealotry for a cause grander than their bloated sense of self, that sense of self-importance in many ways misplaced, the feeling always not in the proper places.
The prefects made the rounds--you remember Gulag here or Auschwitz or Dachau or Gulag, suit yourself--and like policemen who have no sense of privacy except when their private needs are at the forefront, these guardians of morals and discipline and facetious acting have themselves as the models, er, the exemplars, for a more medieval effect: The Examplars.
Yes, the exemplars, who have their own temples, and these temples have to be visited during the holy hours, and you have to kowtow to the key holders of these temples or else you are left out in the cold and in the dark. Think of clique in shallow sociology and in that Weberian analysis of what constitutes CYA--covering of your ass--in religious institutions: it is that destructive capacity to give your vow to the hungry for recognition and power.
I have seen them all, round and rotund, the boastful and the idiots, and those who can cite the Holy Book to prove their point, complete with the chapter and the verse of a holy writer's text, minus the page number.
It is not that there were no saviors in the seminaries I had the chance to teach, among others, seminar courses in ethical theory, linguistic philosophy, political philosophy, semiotics, and the like--courses that fell on my lap on the presumption that I know their titles and their descriptions. Ha!
I remember in another seminary in Quezon City--I taught in three in that city at various times, short years of adjunct appointment in two because their respective rectors, the bosses of the prefects, did not like my face, much less what I was teaching the seminarians: that the Philippine Catholic Church, in a hermeneutical and political sense, is outright a purveyor of unbridled capitalism.
I remember that in the first seminary that I went to to test my (in)abilities to explain my theory---grand and pretentious at that--of what I called 'truth and meaning manufacturing incorporated', I was subjected to a kind of a Holy Inquisition, except that this was the Philippines, and Brothers Karamazov had nothing to do with our lives in these islands, but there I was, in front of a rector, in front of a prefect, in front of an academic dean--all big shots in that business of educating priests we call 'the seminary', a curious word, I would say, with its allusions to something that has to do with the abundance of testosterone, and the proof of that abundance, the semen--The Semen.
I had them grill me--the three inquisitors cross-examined me--about why I was teaching the seminarians that The Church was socially irresponsible with its false practices of economic empowerment for people and for societies. Of course, in my readings, I xeroxed a proof: the entrenchment of The Church in big businesses, with lots of investment holdings tracked by those people who were in the know.
Even from afar, I have something nice to say about prefects as I have something awful to write as well.
In one all-male college I went to teach to put food on my young children's table--a table known for the constant disappearance of hotdogs and vegetables, the first because the children liked them, the second because they simply abhorred them and had to throw them away so quickly everywhere that your eyes could not reach and which act gave you the impression that your children were like your Ilokano ancestors who knew no other food except leaves from trees and from summering farms--I had this prefect--The Prefect--whose duty each six o'clock in the afternoon was to ring the campus bell and to go around and find out if everyone rose to the occasion to pray the angelus.
And my students, in that all-male college, had their girlfriends in mind while reciting the announcing by Gabriel of the blessing of the Lord to the Virgin, and that blessing had something to do with her getting the crack of giving birth to God's Son.
All those concepts need unravelling now, and I will come back to take another look at them.
I am writing this to thank The Prefect for keeping me on my toes with memory especially now that the fingers cannot type the keyboards without the prescription glasses.