‘There’s a teacher everywhere’
“There’s a teacher everywhere. Whether in times of war, times of peace, times of prosperity, in places of joy, there is always a teacher and we will recognize each and every one of them,” Education Secretary Leonor Briones said yesterday.
Briones made the statement at the awarding of certificates to Metrobank Foundation’s most outstanding teachers at the Department of Education (DepEd) main office in Pasig City. The outstanding teachers will each receive a cash prize of P500,000 and will soon be acknowledged by President Duterte.
“So far, there are 683,000 public schoolteachers in the Philippines. The challenge is, perhaps, to widen the net of recognizing … For every 10 teachers we are recognizing now, there are a thousand more who are unrecognized, whom we do not know, are in the most remote places, who suffer along the way and yet choose to continue their job,” Briones said.
Adult night class
Among the awardees was Roy Basa, a master teacher at Negros Occidental High School in Bacolod City and founder of Ballpen at Iba Pa Foundation, which sponsors and seeks donations for the 40 students of his adult night class.
From teaching a regular class for 11 years and training students in national competitions, which he said, gave him a big break, Basa shifted to teaching security guards, house helpers, welders who work in the day and studies at night as continuing high school students. Their classes are held at 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
“I had a break before. But my experience moved me to teach adult night classes … perhaps because I know how it is studying with no money, working and tired, lupaypay (weary) and hungry,” said Basa, one of the 21 adult night schoolteachers of Negros Occidental High School.
Basa, a son of farmers and the eldest of seven children, was able to finance his schooling in the province by working as a room boy in a hotel in Negros Occidental.
“I remember back then, after attending my class from 8:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., I will run next to my work from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m., and then attend my class again at 8:30 a.m,” he said.
Basa said that when he saw his students about to give up, he would motivate them. “My magic words are my own experience,” the teacher said.
He said teaching at an adult night-school class was a shift from the regular classes. “In here, it’s not just theory, all minds. Here, you first have to gain their trust, catch their heart and then real learning will follow through.”
Basa’s youngest student is 13 years old, who works as a helper in a store and the oldest is 65-year-old Nanay Rosita, who saw value and pride in continuing her studies despite her old age.
Some of the challenges they face in class, although tuition is free, are the need for a science laboratory. “But it shouldn’t stop at that.” Basa said.
“For instance, when teaching astronomy, I take advantage of the fact that our classes are held at night. I bring them out. We do stargazing. I teach them and we are happy,” he added.
Part of the P500,000 he will receive will be given to Ballpen at Iba Pa Foundation for the miscellaneous funds of the students, for school supplies and for training of adult night learners.
He also teaches part-time in private colleges—not to earn more, but to have more connections for his students.
“Through that link, the school was able to give 30 computers and funded a computer teacher for my class. Now they know how to use a computer,” Basa said.
As workers who have long stopped studying, most of them, he said, were not computer literate before and had problems with English comprehension and pronunciation.
Courage to continue
He said the passion to change lives was keeping him going. “If you feel like giving up, just look at your students and you will have the courage to continue,” he told fellow awardees and DepEd officials.
Basa, who was honored last year as the 2015 Outstanding Teacher for the Division of Negros Occidental, has a doctorate in philosophy major in educational management from University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos.
Also receiving their certificates from Briones and Metrobank Foundation president Aniceto Sobrepeña were Winona Diola of Muntinlupa City; Rujealyn Cancino of Lingayen, Pangasinan; Josephine Chonie Obseñares of Butuan City, Agusan del Norte; and Arnol Rosales of Naujan, Oriental Mindoro for the elementary competition.
Awarded winners for the secondary competition were Basa, Nelson Agoyaoy of Caloocan City, Ma. Regaele Olarte of Muntinlupa and Katherine Faith Bustos of Bayombong Nueva Vizcaya.
Winners of the tertiary category were Ernelea Cao of the University of the Philippines Diliman and Mark Anthony Torres of Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology.
Another awardee, Torres, is an associate professor V at Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology, who uses his expertise in biology, specifically in ethics and evolution, in peace-building.
The officer in charge of the Institute for Peace and Development in Mindanao, Torres helped in enabling teachers from other schools to establish their own Peace Education Centers.
“We have programs to erase animosity between different groups of people. By profession, I am a biologist, but I work for peace. Perhaps, they saw the uniqueness of my interests.”
His goal, he said, was to erase the long-held images of the so-called “enemies” and “the others” by erasing biases, understanding their psyche, and holding various training on culture sensitivity, gender equality and development.
Torres also trained volunteers who facilitate trauma-healing sessions to come up with reconciliation through active listening.
He noted how Muslims—especially those wearing hijab—were prone to discrimination. “Muslims are seen as terrorists. Even in the writing and teaching of our Philippine history, we do not see Amai Pakpak, a hero in Lanao. Most of the heroes are from Luzon, but most do not know there are many heroes who are Moros from Mindanao,” he added.
Torres, a staunch advocate of special education, is also the coordinator of the Philippines-Australia Community Assistance Program, which aims to enhance the learning conditions in the DepEd’s special education centers.
Torres was recently awarded the 2016 Gawad Chancellor Pinakanatatanging Guro sa Larangan ng Ekstensyon.
National Teacher’s Month
The awarding by Metrobank Foundation coincides with the country’s celebration of National Teacher’s Month (NTM) with the theme “Guro: Kabalikat sa Pagbabago” starting Sept. 5.
The Philippines, according to Sobrepeña, prides itself as the only country that commemorates a monthlong celebration for teachers.
Also unveiled on Thursday by Philippine Postal Corp. is the 2016 NTM stamp, with the words “Guro” inscribed on it.
Briones urged the teachers to continue learning and help create global citizens in the context of human rights and gender and equality.
“I’m already 75. I have been teaching for more than 50 years at least formally, and each day I am learning something new … something I never knew before and from most unlikely places,” she said.
Teachers, she said, should continually learn, observe and see what’s happening in the rest of the world, teach our students love of country, history, how we came as Filipinos.”
“Teachers should never stop. If you (teachers) have a good fortune of teaching bright students, you should always be a step ahead … because sometimes they know much more because of access to information.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.