Froilan Calilung ignites nationalism through teaching



THE CLOCK shows four in the morning—it is hours before the break of dawn, but for Froilan Calilung, his day has already started. He rises then sits on the edge of the bed where his wife also lays. He closes his eyes once again and converses with the Man above.

Froi, as he is fondly called, stands up and stretches his limbs before heading toward the kitchen where he always makes breakfast for his wife and daughter.

His duty as the pillar of the home does not stop there yet. After breakfast, the politics professor eagerly prepares to go to his 7 a.m class to do what he loves the most: teach.

Prioritizing learning

On a typical Thursday, in the College of Fine Arts and Design where Froi holds his classes for fourth year industrial design students, the Philippine Government and Constitution (PGC) professor makes it a point to arrive at his class on time despite having to attend to other work-related errands on the same day.

As he exits the elevator and walks along the hallways of the Beato Angelico building, he brings nothing but himself, a bunch of index cards, and a pen for his class. He starts the class by giving students clear instructions for their graded recitation for the day.

“[C]hallenging para sa’kin kapag tinuturo ko ‘yung isang subject sa mga tao na hindi nila naiintindihan [ang PGC], pero at the end of the semester, I find us talking the same language already. We are on the same page. I was able to bridge the gap of their interest and their lack of interest doon sa subject. I still make it to the point na na-appreciate nila [‘yung subject],” he says.

Despite his calm and quiet demeanor during class, his students know how effective his ways of teachings are because it makes them realize how they will apply his lessons in the real world.

“[K]apag may nakikita kang students mo sa labas, naaalala ka nila, naaalala nila ikaw ‘to, na ito ‘yung ginawa mo. This is what make educators feel good, not about ourselves, but of what we do,” he adds gratefully.

Reaping the good things

After his class, the professor seemed not to reflect any weariness as he rushed toward another building to teach his students in the graduate school and perform his other duty besides teaching: research.

In 2018, Froi, along with a pool of political experts, created the Federalism Readiness Index—a government-funded study to test the readiness of the country for a federal system. His dedication to his research work reflects his philosophy as a professor.

“I want to see how you apply what you learned. ‘Pag minemorize mo ‘yung provisions, magaling ka mag-memorize. Pero kung hindi mo maintindihan kung saan gagamitin, saan ia-apply […] that’s the only time your rights will have a bearing,” he  stresses.

As he walks along the building’s hallways, he pauses and greets one of the maintenance men. Froi recalls the days when he served as a laboratory technician at the Main Building while studying as an Asian studies major at the same time. To some, work may be a big hindrance to academics, but for Froi, the experience shaped him and led him to his noble work in the field of education and research.

Natuwa ako sa nangyari kasi tumibay ako […] ‘Yung integrity sa trabaho, professionalism na malalaman lang nila when they started working, [nalaman ko na] noong estudyante pa lang ako. The same thing that I want to impress to my students [is] that if you will try to bear the hardships in the beginning, you will reap good things in the end,” he expresses.

Giving others a voice

After his last class, Froi leaves the building and happens to pass through the St. Raymund de Peñafort Building where he was first molded into who he is now. He sees several Artlets skimming through their readings and cannot help but admire the sight.

“Artlet students are the beacons of civic enlightenment. I believe the people in AB are supposed to be very vigilant, vocal, [and] active in stating their sentiments on what’s really happening in the country. Ang talagang batayan ng isang Artlet ay ‘yung kakayahan niyang tignan lahat ng anggulo, consolidate it, and then come up with his or her personal appraisal of things,” he explains.

The professor reaches his car, starts the engine, and begins to bear the long drive home. All the weariness washes off as soon as he is welcomed home by the arms of his loving wife and daughter, allowing his day to come full circle. F

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in Vol. 54, Issue No. 4 of the Flame. View the entire issue through this link.

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