After high school, he said, he did not know what college course to take but his family urged him to take up nursing so he could get a high-paying job abroad.
But even as a third-year nursing student at Manila Tytana Colleges (formerly Manila Doctors College), “I realized I would enjoy … teaching. During lectures … I unconsciously found myself making observation notes and thinking how it would be if I was the one teaching,” he said.
After passing the nursing board examination in 2011, to his family’s dismay, Sotelo, instead of applying for a job in a hospital, became an online English teacher so he could go back to school to complete 18 units of education subjects needed to be able to take the LET.
Enrolling first at the University of the Philippines (UP) Open University, then at St. Paul University Manila, Sotelo completed the requirements and did a two-month practice teaching handling a biology class. Sotelo found the work “challenging, but I enjoyed teaching.”
“I want to do what I enjoy, where I can excel, where my heart is. And, no matter how hard, I will enjoy it,” he said.
Sotelo has been hired by MGC New Life Christian Academy in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, where he will teach chemistry.
Engineering to teaching
A graduate of Manila Science High School, Alvin John T. Mayor, who got the fifth-highest score (91.20) in the LET secondary level, was in third year of the electronics and communications engineering course in UP Diliman when he had to stop for financial reasons.
Mayor, the eldest of four children, worked in a call center. It was during the two years he was there that he realized what he really wanted to do.
Doing some teaching in a tutorial center at the same time, “I realized I was happy, I felt satisfaction in teaching. I wanted to be a teacher instead of continuing my engineering course,” he said.
Mayor enrolled at National Teachers College (NTC) in Manila where a younger sister was also studying, while keeping his job in the call center.
Although he had to start from scratch as none of the college subjects he had already taken were credited, “I decided it was worth it,” Mayor said.
He eventually resigned from his job as he found it difficult to work at night then go to school in the daytime.
Fortunately, Mayor received financial assistance through NTC executive dean Leonisa del Rosario and Ponciano Menguito, superintendent of the Manila division of city schools.
He has so far applied at two private schools, one in Manila and the other in Caloocan.
“I will not go abroad. That’s not in my plans. I also want to teach at a public school,” Mayor declared.
Janine L. Pogoso, who got the ninth-highest score (87.2) among the 10,310 out of 37,117 examinees who passed the LET for elementary teachers, wanted to become a nurse and go abroad. “But my application papers would somehow get lost at the last minute so I could not submit them,” she said.
Pogoso, who lost both parents when she was in high school, is the eldest of eight children.
With the deadline in college applications nearing, Pogoso decided to enroll at the Philippine Normal University-Manila on the advice of an aunt who, along with her grandparents, helped with her schooling.
Pogoso reviewed for the LET on her own while teaching at a private school. She will be joining Elizabeth Seton School in Las Piñas City this school year to teach Grade 3 Araling Panlipunan.
Dream come true
Devina D. Redillas, who was also ninth in the LET elementary level, said, “It had always been my dream to become a teacher so, after high school, I knew what I would take up in college.”
But financial difficulties made it hard for her to concentrate on her studies in a state university. After three years, she was no longer allowed to enroll because of too many academic deficiencies.
“I was not able to attend classes because I had no money for transportation. I had to drop many subjects. I needed about P100 a day to go to school. We couldn’t afford it,” said Redillas who was overcome by emotion remembering the situation.
After a year doing a series of temporary jobs, Redillas pulled herself together and decided to resume her studies for an education degree.
But she was turned down several times because of her poor transcript of records, until she remembered the school where a student-teacher who taught at her high school had graduated from.
NTC’s Del Rosario allowed her to enroll in 2009.
“She gave me a chance to redeem myself,” Redillas said.
A brother, who by then had graduated and had a job, paid her tuition. With assistance from professors when she was broke and some money she made from tutoring, Redillas graduated in October.
She did not expect much from the LET, much less to be in the Top 10, as she had a part-time teaching job until shortly before the LET.
Redillas credited the refresher courses and battery of tests they took before graduating for her good LET showing.
She would want to teach at a public school. “I [went to] public schools so I know the system. I want to … make a little difference, to make it (the system) better,” she said.