At Long Last: My Road to Becoming a Dignity Defender



At long last, I did it.

I had planned on doing the Track-A training since my very good friend and now Regional Director, Lord Pomperada, finished his internship with WYA AP – a very long time ago. He had always persuaded me to do so, telling me that it was a worthwhile endeavour. However, I was not ready to embark on it due to my engagements at the time. I told him that I will do it when I can fully commit myself to the training.

When I felt that I was ready, I didn’t know at the time that the training will be one of the ventures that will change my life for the better. That fateful summer of 2014 started it all.

A week before the training, I paid the Regional Director a visit. I was toured in the office, and was introduced to Lilia Cornelio, WYA AP’s Regional Director of Operations. I remembered that she was the one who assisted me with filling out the application forms and signing the WYA Charter. I was filled with delight knowing that they will be with me every step of the way. Concluding my visit was the moment the Regional Director handed me a very thick book containing the materials for the training. “This is it”, I said.

A week after, I arrived at the appointed time. However, it seemed that I was a tad too early: the training was moved to 1 PM. I contented myself with re-reading the materials – the first three chapters introduced me to the concepts of WYA’s Foundational History, Human Dignity, and Freedom. While reading, there were a lot of young people coming in the office. I presumed that they were there for the training. It was only during the orientation when I learned that all of them are interns, and as interns, they are required to undergo and pass the Track A Training. They were all very young. I was even surprised to see my former student, Joyce Cedeño, who was just starting her internship back then, and then went on to be one of WYA AP’s dedicated interns. Despite being years older, I am used to having young people around me as I am an educator. Right then and there, I was very excited to get to know all of them and have fruitful discussions with them.

However, as it turned out, I was only present once in the whole duration of the training: the first day. The week after the first day was the beginning of a new term, and the teaching schedule given me made it impossible for me to attend the Monday training sessions. Thus, I faced the challenge of reading the lessons on my own, digesting them alone, and answering the chapter questions. Indeed, it was not easy, especially as the further the lessons went on, the more difficult the readings became.

Looking back, I certainly couldn’t have accomplished that feat if I didn’t have the innate desire to learn the materials and finish the training. There were so many things that demanded my time – my work, my further studies, and my family life, among others; however, I was determined to go the extra mile and finish the race. Now, I can proudly say that I am a dignity defender. My only regret is that I didn’t get to know and bond with my training batchmates.

Now, I am embarking on a new endeavour: to convince my students to do their internship at WYA. If not the internship, then even just the training. The training has certainly given me a new lens on looking at things – a lens that places human dignity and freedom at its core. In today’s fast-paced world, it is very important for us to not lose sight of this truth. Amidst the hustle and bustle of urban life – a proof of the endurance of what Joseph Pieper called back then in 1952 as “visual noise” – I want my students to regain their sight of the truth. If I were to go back to the day I was deciding whether or not to embark on the training, I would still choose the former, even if I must do it alone.

And I was very glad I did.


By Rachel Mary Anne A. Basas, certified member of WYA Asia Pacific. Read more about the Track A Training with WYA Asia Pacific here. If you are interested in internships with the WYA Asia Pacific office, click here.

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