Inspiring teachers

/ 09:33 PM September 16, 2012

(Last of two parts)

Last week, we looked at five of this year’s Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Teachers, who teach mathematics and science.


Now we look at the rest of the awardees, who have dedicated their lives to the arts, to psychology, and to students with special needs.



Language and literature

Mariam B. Rivamonte has been teaching for 15 years.   Though she handles general education at Santa Cruz South Central School in Barangay Banahaw, Santa Cruz, Marinduque, her strength lies in making the English language come alive.

Her short story, “Excuse Me, Ma’am, May I Know the English Word For” was included in the book “How, How the Carabao:  Tales of Teaching English in the Philippines” by Isabel Pefianco-Martin of the Ateneo de Manila University.

The story stresses the need for English teachers not only to be patient, but also to think of creative ways to help students become fluent in the language.

Rivamonte’s various innovations made use of disposable materials for models or dioramas.  Samples include her “Magic Box,” “Wishing Well,” “Flora and Fauna of Knowledge” and “Disc Mobile.”

As head of the school’s environmental group, she constantly urges her students to participate in vegetable gardening, tree planting and other earth-friendly activities.

Annie I. Rodriguez has been teaching language and literature for 20 years at the Philippine Science High School-Southern Mindanao Campus in Tugbok District, Davao City.


An empathetic educator, Rodriguez has used her doctoral degree not to vie for a post in the nearest university, but to produce reference materials for teachers of students with special needs.

She has fine-tuned teaching strategies to meet the needs of indigenous students, respecting the richness of their diverse cultures.

Rodriguez uses pop culture when needed, patterning her “Rama Race” after television’s “The Amazing Race,” for instance.  In the game, students explore each station and solve puzzles on the Indian epic, the “Ramayana.”

Rodriguez has led her students to victory in various competitions on leadership, extemporaneous speech and choir.

Believing that “teachers are vessels for positive change,” Rodriguez has led the school’s outreach effort, “Pakiglambigit,” to help Grades 4-6 students in the community to become competent in science, math and English.  The program has helped students enter PSHS.

Galcoso C. Alburo has been teaching Filipino for 14 years at Concepcion Integrated School in Marikina City.  Many schools have emphasized English and downplayed Filipino, but Alburo deems it his duty to raise Filipino’s status as a subject.

He constructed the Filipino portion of the Licensure Examination for Teachers, specifically for Filipino majors.  His “Pasa-Bola” technique has helped enhance students’ communication skills through information technology.  His teaching materials, such as skill books, theme-writing books, model lesson plans, have made him a sought-after trainer in curriculum implementation, test construction and creative writing.

As a volunteer teacher in Marikina’s Alternative Learning System (ALS), he has put the city at the top in terms of ALS passers.  He also helped in Kariton Library’s remedial reading program.

When Tropical Storm “Ondoy” struck in 2009, Alburo saved more than 400 people in Barangay Tumana, bringing the evacuees to his school.  He made sure they had food, water and medicines.

Alburo regularly participates in medical missions and feeding programs.  An environmentalist, he led the ban on Styrofoam in the school canteen, and regularly participates in tree planting and fumigation campaigns.


Hilda C. Montaño has been teaching psychology for 25 years at West Visayas State University in La Paz, Iloilo City.  A seasoned teacher with great classroom management skills, she impressed my fellow judges and me with her unflappability and humor.

A recipient of grants from the Fulbright Foundation and from the Belgian government, Montaño constantly shares her expertise with fellow teachers.  Aside from training more than 4,000 teachers from Panay and Guimaras on the rudiments of the K to 12 curriculum, she actively participated in the Mentoring the Mentors Program in Iloilo, where she “inspired participants to grow professionally” and to renew their commitment to the teaching vocation.  She has conducted training for the Civil Service Commission and the group In-Service Training for Teachers.

A teacher with a heart, she evaluated the impact of the university’s socialized tuition fees and assistance program. As director of Student Services, she generated scholarships for deserving students.  Heading the school cooperative, she was instrumental in making their university number one in the region in terms of return on investment.

Special needs

Marivi Lim-Castro faces a challenging task daily:  teaching students with special needs and helping them excel.   Lim-Castro has taught English for 17 years at General Santos Special Education Integrated School in Barangay San Isidro, General Santos City, South Cotabato.

With the motto “Expose, Experience and Explore,” she ensures that her 11 hearing-impaired, two visually impaired, and 48 students with behavioral disorders achieve their potential.

She developed review materials in the National Achievement Test and the National Career Assessment Exam.  The materials helped the school top the exams in the region since 2004.

She has coached school journalists, broadcasters, debaters and photojournalists to win in competitions.  Her “House Cup” interschool competition has improved students’ speaking and writing skills, and fostered camaraderie.

The civic-spirited Lim-Castro initiated feeding programs for undernourished kids. An environmentalist, she has headed cleanliness and tree-planting drives, and staged plays and concerts to urge students and their parents to take care of the environment.  Her passion for community work has made the school the first in the city to be adopted by the Rotary Club.

E-mail the author at [email protected]

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