I have reconnected with a former senior Monitoring and Evaluation manager at my former employer’s regional office. He was our unit’s boss’ boss actually hence our regular interaction with him. Despite his achievements internationally, he has remained grounded, humble, and true to the development ideals.
He shared me the compendium of his development “adventures” and “misadventures” which I immediately devoured. The story on the first page, I’m sharing here below, is distinctly him, reminding me of his wit, as we in the M&E Regional Network which he headed tried to make common meaning of development results. The Filipino, in his stories, often comes out the hero simply because he was Filipino. The other nationals took this good-humoredly. In exchange for their sportsmanship, other nationals are by turns made the heroes.
How we become development workers
There was an international workshop on development at a riverside hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. One of the topics was how to attract the best and the brightest to the development field. The workshop went very well. The resource persons were development specialists (an American, an Englishman and a Filipino). They were excited to write the workshop report and send it out. At the end of the workshop, they went out for dinner. They were tired of the hotel food like prawns, crabs and lobsters.
After dinner, they decided to walk back to the hotel. They would like to have a closer look at the Chao Phraya River at high tide. At one point, they were convinced it was deep. They then heard people shouting. They found out that a little girl fell into the river. It was clear nobody was about to rescue her. Suddenly, the Filipino was swimming in the direction of the hapless little girl. After a few minutes, both of them were on the riverbank. He was mobbed by cheering spectators. They profusely thanked and congratulated him.
Upon seeing his colleagues who were smiling widely, the Filipino quietly asked them, “Who pushed me into the waters?”