Carlo Fernando (front row, rightmost) during an outing with his Knowledge Channel colleaguesOnce in a while, a Lopez Group company gets to welcome an orphan who has made good inspite of the challenges he faced in life. Here is Carlo Fernando who worked with Knowledge Channel FoundationInc(KCFI). He share show his stint at the foundation helped him pay it forward. His nationalism has made him seek out way sand means to help in the education of his country men.
How did you get involved with KCFI? What was your job there before you left?
A week after I arrived in the Philippines after pursuing my master’s degree in Australia in 2018, I joined Knowledge Channel Foundation Inc. I experienced a whirlwind of emotions—I was both excited and scared, quite confused and anxious—as I was back again in the motherland, now continuing, I guess, the sense of nation building after having had the fortunate opportunity to build myself. I joined Knowledge Channel because I believe in its mission—to reach out to as far and as many Filipino children as possible, and provide them resources they might not have received otherwise.
During my one year of working closely with Knowledge Channel, I learned how to better ground my experiences to design teacher training initiatives. I helped process findings, translated policy and research into actions that are more understandable and usable, and assisted my teammates to appreciate their work more by seeing that what we do in the office truly influences the realities that our teachers and learners experience in the field.
As officer for Educational Leadership, I was given a platform to bridge the work teachers do in the field and ensure that their voices are considered in the design of initiatives that impact more teachers.
I always tell myself I am fortunate to be working with our Filipino teachers, and that the work I do, while it is indeed for the nation and for God, is truly for those in the battlefield—living their truths to advance the status of learning for our Filipino children.
What values did you acquire and how did you practice these?
If I learned one thing in the foundation, it is to constantly practice humility and gratitude. In this day and age where millennials seem to be in a constant battle of proving one’s worth, I realized that we have yet to learn more from those who experienced more from life. Constantly being surrounded by amazing education leaders and teachers—I realized that while I guess I have gained a number of things and that while I have privileges others may not have, there is always more wisdom to listen to people, to see grit and love practiced in front of the classroom and to, for some time, learn from the lives of others—how they learned, what it means to be a Filipino— and not to impose my beliefs on them. I realized, after coming back home to the Philippines, that I have yet a lot to learn. It means using each and every day to build spaces for dialogue, to build opportunities to mentor and be mentored, to protect sacred relationships and to respect the context where teachers are.
Can you tell us about your background?
My childhood was my bottomless source of inspiration. I learned how valuable life is, how important it is to go back to my community and to live life meaningfully every day. I was very young when my ate and my kuya, both of whom were very young as well, were passed on the duties and responsibilities to raise me after my nanay died when I was five and my tatay died when I was seven. Ate was 17 at that time while Kuya was 13. They raised our family up, working as tutors after their classes in UP and Pisay respectively, while I was left most of the time alone, to take care of our home and to fend for myself.
As a diligent first grader, I realized I had no other job but to make sure that I won’t get a failing mark, that I finish all my assignments and to maximize the education that I receive for free. Fortunately, with all the hard work that my ate and kuya have done for me, I was able to graduate from college as cum laude, following the footsteps of my ate to become a teacher, and to finish my master’s degree at The University of Sydney through the Australia Awards Scholarship.
Growing up as an orphan, I am always reminded that my life could have taken a very different turn. I could have been addicted to drugs, I could have ended up in jail, I could have been ended up living on the streets.
And I guess that “couldhave-been” is the driving force as to why I constantly bring myself back to the communities which affect me the most—that is, to use the privileges I have been fortunate to acquire and help address inequities that persist in the society today.
While I guess I have every opportunity to work abroad and for myself alone, I find peace and contentment in working for my countrymen, to work for my kids and their families, and to provide unconditional support to those who most need my help.
Every day I ask myself, “What is it that I could do for my countrymen?” I guess the response is, while there are people who work for their families by working abroad, I am also blessed to have a family that supports my advocacy to work for others by staying here.
How did you find working in a foundation like KCFI? What were your challenges?
Working in Knowledge Channel has opened my eyes to the work that nongovernment organizations do to support the national agencies in addressing the challenges faced by the country. The extensive length of the years given by Knowledge Channel to reach to as far and as many learners inspires me to learn from their extensive experience, and to understand what else I could do to help both the foundation and the country in general to address the gaps in education.
I was blessed to have supportive mentors such as [KCFI president] Ms. Rina LopezBautista, [channel head] Ms. Danie Sedilla-Cruz, [Operations head] Sir Edric Calma and [education consultant] Dr. Fe Hidalgo; and to work with hardworking and joyful teammates like Niña de Sagun, Maffee Santos, Ian Gaite and Jomar Villanueva. I realized that it is possible to work joyfully while also addressing needs that our teachers experience in the field.
What made you move on? How are you doing now?
Seeing the employees in Knowledge Channel work— that is, to work both meaning fully and joyfully—I realized that there are other sectors which I may possibly lend my experience to. I realized that with the tough and happy spirits the family of Knowledge Channel has, there might be a tougher environment which needs my support more and other gaps existing in the realm of Philippine education that I can help patch up more.
This made me decide to join government. I am now working as lead for Policy and Programs in the newly established Education Affairs Unit of the local government unit of Quezon City. This work allows me to craft education policies that streamline all education efforts, from pre-K to higher education, while also designing a more robust system to select the education programs that run in the city.
While doing this, I also work as senior lecturer in UP Diliman College of Education, now teaching preservice teachers as they carve ways to become teachers themselves. Balancing work both in policy and in teaching, while also lending some of my time to provide consultation to KCFI, has allowed me to help Philippine education in a much more systemic way and have the opportunities to truly serve the Filipino children.
What message would you like to pass on to those working in a Lopez foundation?
There’s only one word that guides me in my work: “Live.” Live for the Filipinos, for your ambitions, for your families, for your country, for yourself. Live purposefully, joyfully—without regrets, without complacency. Live with gratitude, with kindness, with appreciation, with love. Live in the service of the Filipino, live in the service of God and mankind. Live each day and allow others to see life as a beautiful, precious gift.
With his elder sister and brother, a creative manager at Star Creatives