In bid to win hearts, troops give haircuts
DASOL, Pangasinan — For a day this month, policemen stopped chasing criminals and became barbers, teachers, lecturers and book donors for 120 school children in a remote village in this western Pangasinan town.
Members of the Ilocos Regional Police Safety Battalion (RPSB) traveled at dawn on Wednesday from their base in San Fernando City in La Union province and reached the Tambac Elementary School here at 8 a.m., just as students had entered their classrooms.
The police officers, wearing light blue shirts and dark blue shorts, quickly buckled down to work.
PO1 Dan Almoite brought out scissors, razors, combs, a bottle of alcohol and water and a container of talcum powder. So did Roger Migano, the leader of the group sent by the Citizens Armed Forces Geographic Unit.
Their mission: Cut the hair of at least 30 boys who had lined up, patiently waiting for their turn.
The boys belonged to poor families, and the free haircut would mean saving P50 and the P20 fare for a tricycle ride to the village where a barber shop was located.
In another part of the school, Grades 1 and 2 students were learning new songs and dances, courtesy of PO1 Mary Ann Cagampan.
A more serious conversation occupied Grades 5 and 6 students in another room, where PO1 Orlando Tambot III discussed how not to be a bully and how not to be bullied. He also gave a lecture about the dangers of illegal drugs.
The school was selected by the RPSB as a beneficiary of its “Adopt a Library” project for children from poor families, said Senior Insp. Darwin Guerrero, RPSB community relations officer.
There have been sightings of New People’s Army rebels in the community, he said, and reaching out to the students could prevent them from joining the armed group.
Tambac Elementary School is 5 kilometers from the national road and is accessible by crossing through forested hills and rice fields.
School with a view
Up a hill with a picturesque view, the school is canopied by giant acacia trees. An ancient tamarind tree with exposed tangled roots sits in front of the school building, a few meters from stairs carved out of the hill that is the only way to the school.
The school has six buildings but with only four teachers. A teacher from another school comes every afternoon to teach the kindergarten class.
Classes in Grades 1 and 2 and Grades 5 and 6 are often combined for certain subjects but simpler activities are given to the lower grades and more difficult ones given to the higher grades.
“We love it here,” said Regie Ancheta, who handles the Grade 4 class. While transferring to a bigger school was an option, she and the other teachers preferred to stay here.
“The children here may be poor but they are courteous and friendly. They would sometimes surprise us with fruits they gathered from the wild,” said Sherryll Parajas, Grade 5 and 6 teacher.
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