They say teaching is the noblest profession of all. They play a huge role in shaping the mind, the character, and the future of every individual they teach.
In celebration of the National Teacher’s Month, Diwa Learning Systems, Inc. and Bato Balani Foundation, Inc present 12 new inspiring stories of teachers that show how educators uplift the students under their care and help entire communities overcome obstacles, fight adversities, beat hard times, and conquer challenges.
The 12 educators are the finalists in “The Many Faces of the Teacher,” an advocacy campaign that searches for Filipino educators who represent the various ways that teachers contribute to nation-building.
Leading paths out of hardships
One of the more familiar impediments to learning is poverty.
Teachers Roy Biñas Basa, Ph.D., a Master Teacher 1 at Negros Occidental High School; Noemi Tanguilan Cabaddu, Instructor III of St. Paul University, Philippines-Tuguegarao City Campus; and Allan Mendoza Delos Reyes, Alternative Learning System teacher under Minalin Elementary School are no strangers to sufferings.
Drawing lessons from their own life experiences, they made it their life mission to help kids experiencing similar struggles they had.
Dr. Basa teaches at the Night Class Department, where he mentors working students. He also helps them find jobs so they can continue going to school. He also offers scholarships for them, which covers their miscellaneous fees upon enrollment.
He also formed an outreach group called Ballpen Incorporated, which has since provided scholarship grants and school supplies to deserving countryside learners.
Cabaddu is Instructor III head of the Community Extension Services at her school. At an early age, she felt that social work is her vocation. Since then, she has been devoting her time to her advocacies.
The cause closest to her heart is child protection. One of the programs she spearheads is the Child Protect program in Apayao under Child Fund. The program provides children access to basic education and quality early full care development. Part of this is working with the community to create safe environments for children.
Meanwhile, Delos Reyes, as an Alternative Learning teacher, goes around the streets of Minalin, Pampanga to encourage out-of-school youths, young parents, blue-collar workers, and even the elderly to continue pursuing education.
He holds his classes under the shade of trees, inside chapels, in nipa huts, makeshift tents, and even in jails. He doesn’t mind the poor, cramped, and even horrible smelling study stations. He goes up to the farthest corners, even to the swamps, to bring education to people like him, who had once been constrained by poverty.
He does not stop there. He conceptualized the 3Es program, which stands for Education, Entrepreneurship, and Employment. Under the 3Es, he teaches his students technical skills and looks for opportunities for employment for them.
Steering communities to overcome challenges
For some teachers, their responsibilities extend to the community around them.
This is the situation where Lodema Dela Cruz Doroteo, community teacher at Paadelan E Denomagat–Paaralan Dumagat of Tanay, Rizal; Dominic Rover Ocampo, Master Teacher II, serving as mobile teacher at Benito R. Villar Memorial School of Oriental Mindoro; Ruel Eballar Janamjam, Teacher II at Upian Elementary School; Junmerth Cretecio Jorta, Teacher I at Kèupiyanan Tè Balugo of Bukidnon; and Sherlaine Tubat, Master Teacher I at Badjao Floating Elementary School of Isabela City, Basilan find themselves in.
Doroteo is the first in her Dumagat community in Tanay, Rizal to finish college. Instead of pursuing a better life outside her community, she went back and established Paadelan E Denomagat, a one-of-a-kind school that gives importance to preserving the Dumagat culture.
Her determination to help her community extends to teaching the Dumagat elders the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. This gave them the opportunity to enter a trade in the city and establish livelihood projects that can augment their household income.
Janamjam, on the other hand, uses his influence as a teacher to help uplift the lives of the Matigsalug tribe of Sitio Upian in Davao City.
In weekly meetings with the community elders and parents, Janamjam discusses how they can improve their crop yield. He also helps them deal with issues on mining and land disposal by educating them about their rights.
His most valuable contribution to the community is the establishment of an extension school for grades 7 and 8 students. This encouraged more students to enroll and finish their studies. Today, plans are underway for an independent high school which will be built in a two-hectare land given to him by the tribal council for the future Upian National High School.
Jorta did not only brave the trails to teach the Matigsalug of Bukidnon, he also helped them address the most basic concern of everyone—food sufficiency.
He saw the reality that most of his students go to school with empty stomachs. This urged him to establish the feeding program “Balugo Pagkaon Sakto,” which is running for three years now. The program, which has gained the support of non-governmental organizations, as well as the local government and the municipal office of the Department of Agriculture, has helped him encourage more students to enroll and curb absenteeism and dropout.
Aside from the feeding program, Jorta also led the efforts to acquire resources for other school facilities.
Meanwhile, Ocampo brings light to the Mangyans of Mindoro literally and figuratively. His Backpack Alitaptap project gives light to Mangyan communities in two ways. First, he ensures they will have a chance to get a brighter future by providing them with basic and functional literacy skills. Second, he provides the community with solar lanterns and panels that serve as their light source during classes at night—the only time the Mangyans get to study since they work in the day.
Tubat serves the Sama Dilaut community, more popularly known to as the Badjao.
Her passion for helping the Badjaos, which may be considered as among the most marginalized ethnic group in the country, prompted her to strive for the development of their own Indigenous Peoples Education Framework. She was part of the team that documented their history, practices, livelihood, political system, faith, food, characters, and other information about how they live.
She also led the building of a Badjao replica house in her school to showcase the tribe’s rich culture.
Guiding ascends to peaks of learning
It is common knowledge that the country’s education system is plagued with problems. But Bryan Buñing Pajarito, D.Eng., associate professor and research laboratory head at the University of the Philippines-Diliman; and Michelle Don Rubio, Master Teacher II at Calao Elementary School initiated efforts to provide better avenues of learning for their students.
To train and transform students into the scientists of the future, Dr. Pajarito established the Polymer Research Laboratory. His laboratory pioneers cutting-edge research on polymers, creating solutions to a variety of industry problems while getting recognitions along the way.
His dream is for his research laboratory to eventually become a research institute.
Rubio, on the other hand, teaches her students how to read by reinventing the teaching and learning environment.
With “Resort for Learning,” Rubio created a learning environment that keeps her students focused and interested. The reading program started in 2014 when she decided to use the school garden as an extension of her classroom. Little by little, the garden was developed into what it is today, an outdoor “mini-resort” intended for learning.
Because of its success, public elementary schools in Prieto-Diaz and Gubat, both in Sorsogon, have already adopted the same project in their schools.
Putting learning on the right track
Ricardo Jose, Ph.D., director of Third World Studies Centre and professor at UP Diliman; and Aletta Tiangco Yñiguez, Ph.D., Associate Professor 7 at the Marine Science Institute of UP Diliman, use the information they derived from their own studies to make learning come alive in their classrooms.
Dr. Jose is the country’s pre-eminent scholar on World War II in the Philippines and the Asia Pacific. He is considered the leading expert on World War II, as well as in Military History, Diplomatic History, and Japanese History.
For Dr. Jose, history is not simply an anthology of names, dates, and places. History is a collection of experiences, and a bit of that is what his students get in his class. He makes his discussions more interesting by bringing relics, old photographs, newspapers, and historical memorabilia to animate the past.
Dr. Yñiguez is one of the country’s very few experts on Biological Oceanography.
She is at the forefront of the understanding of Harmful Algal Blooms, more widely known as red tide. She and her team of scientists and students are figuring out the triggers for the red tide and the potentials for predicting it.
Their work benefits the fisheries sector, particularly the shellfish industry, by preventing major economic threats and harmful effects on human health.
Currently, she is collaborating with UP’s National Institute of Physics to develop low-cost sensors that can provide real-time data affecting the formation and decline of the harmful algal blooms.
Of the 12 finalists, four honorees who exemplify how teachers pave the way for better lives will be chosen from this list. They will be announced on Oct. 5 during “A Tribute to Teachers.”
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