MANILA - National Teacher’s Month ends today and I may have left school years ago but I remain grateful to my teachers who for many years were my parents away from home.
Admittedly, not all teachers are great. Some are good, some are middling and some are bad. But for many of us, we stand on their shoulders as we pursued success after success, even failures after failures. Teachers do not just teach. They also inspire, mentor, counsel and empower their students to aim higher, and not let a little thing like losing stop you from going after your dreams.
Having described such a paragon of virtue, why did I not become one? Well, the long and short of it is the poor pay, meaning the pay will make me poor and stay poor. Not that writing paid more, but my 15-year old self thought that writing will at least give me the freedom to travel and see more of the world. Choosing to be a teacher meant a life lived mostly inside classrooms, and a salary that is just a few steps above the poverty threshold.
Imagine my surprise when I came across a group of aspiring educators whose families are all struggling to make ends meet and yet they have chosen this vocation. Their eyes are wide open as they see the difficulties their teachers face daily. They know change is needed, and they are bold enough to make the change happen and be that change.
Let’s meet 6 of them as they share the Teacher’s Day gift they hope to give to their hardworking heroes and heroines.
#1 Salute and a heartfelt promise to be part of the positive change in this country.
From her elementary school days, Razel Santos knew she wanted to be a teacher thanks to the dedication of her teachers at that time. Now a junior with the Philippine Normal University taking up a degree in Mathematics Education, Razel plans to teach where she studied junior school, her small way of giving back. The eldest in a family with 3 children, she feels pressured to finish college and find work soon.
“It’s hard to pick one favorite teacher because I feel all of them are extraordinary but there is one I admire most, Miss Deborah Astorga Zurita. She is really passionate in teaching and she treats her students as her own daughters and sons. She gives real life lessons alongside the academic lessons,” shares Razel. For Miss Zurita and all her other teachers, she laments why they are not given the importance they deserve and their work is not as valued as other professions. “At this time, I can only offer them my sincere gratitude and a heartfelt salute, plus a promise to work for change in our country.”
#2 Box full of letters for pick me ups when needed.
“For times when they feel down, or they need to stay motivated, I want to give them a box full of letters so they can read one and get timely encouragement,” says Sherina Marinel Posadas, a sophomore with Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila pursuing a degree in Social Studies Education.
She has one sibling but at home, she shares cramped quarters with 9 other family members. She is grateful her parents are both still employed despite the tolls the extended lockdown has taken on the economy.
There are many teachers in her extended family, and Sherina cannot name a favorite one as she has too many to mention. After college, she plans to teach High School or apply for a University post as she considers this a critical time to shape students’ minds and hearts. “Someday, I hope I can touch the lives of my students as I also strive to “input” academic information into them.”
#3 Groceries for a year to ease their burden.
When he graduates, freshman Education student Kirk Cyril Ramos from the Philippine Normal University will be the first in his family to become a teacher. His grandmother wanted to be his mother to be one, but she ended up taking a vocational course instead.
The older of 2 children, Kirk’s mother became their family breadwinner when they lost his father to a heart attack in December 2019. He is no stranger to the daily struggles of making ends meet, which is why his idea of a Teacher’s Day gift is designed to ease his teachers’ burdens. “If money was no object, I will give them something that they all need which is a grocery package good for a year, or at least half a year.”
Top of his grocery gift list is Miss Melanie Saplagio, his Grade 9 Filipino teacher. “You will never leave her daily class without getting any new knowledge from the subject or in life. She still send me words of appreciation on my birthdays and special occasions. She has become my second mother.”
Kirk considers teachers as modern-day heroes who deserve better pay. “I want to see teachers get higher salaries and additional living allowance. If you think about it, teachers shape the future teachers, doctors, nurses, engineers, and all other critical professions so they deserve more.”
#4 One week vacation at the destination of their choice.
Erika Padilla reasons that teachers deserve a break so her gift of choice is a full week’s vacation, with pay, and they get to choose where they want to go. A junior student with Philippine Normal University, Erika is studying English Education and plans to teach in a public high school when she graduates.
“My favorite teacher is my grade six class adviser, Ma'am Remedios Lauzon. She was there for me when I really needed a second parent. She saw my potential and never gave up on me despite of how problematic I was that time,” Erika recalls. Her parents are separated and now have their own new families. Erika lives with her mother and helps raise her two younger brothers.
Eulysis Robles also wants a trip voucher for his teachers. “They are exhausted and they deserve to enjoy life while they still can,” explains Eulysis. A junior Mathematics Education student at Philippine Normal University, Eulysis is the youngest of 7 children and his family are doing their best to cope with the new normal. In his case, the lack of privacy in their cozy home makes studying difficult but he pushes on, in part because of the encouragement he receives from his uncle Alexander Robles, who is also a teacher in Gingoog City in Mindanao.
If a miracle happens and Eulysis finds a trip voucher, his college professor Mr. Wilmer Marquez will surely get it. “I really love the way he teaches and his commitment to mold us to become good students. He is not that good in terms of technology but I've seen his efforts to adapt to the new way of teaching and he's getting better. He is not just a teacher, he is like a father to all of us.”
When he graduates, Eulysis plans to teach in a public high school in Dasmariñas City, a short distance from his house. Together with friends and classmates, they also plan to teach students in mountain areas for an outreach program during school breaks.
#5 WiFi connection, working laptop, and printer along with supply of bond paper.
Not the most sexy of gift ideas but certainly the one all teachers need today. “The current scenario that our educational system is facing now, especially teachers, is no joke. It is really challenging and not all teachers have the tools they need to continue teaching their students,” declares Lyn Joy Olana, a sophomore with the Bukidnon State University, studying Science Education.
Lyn also wants to throw in a bouquet of flowers, to show her thanks and appreciation for her teachers’ efforts and sacrifices to continue teaching amidst the pandemic.
When she graduates, Lyn will be the first in her family to become a teacher. “This is my childhood dream and along the way, this dream has become a passion and a longing that someday I will be able to nurture young minds and empower them as I was empowered by my teachers whom I have shared my years in school,” she reminisces.
Lyn comes from an indigenous family. Her father is a farmer and her mother serves as a barangay volunteer. Despite the daily hardships, Lyn describes her family, along with one sibling, as happy. “God is faithful as He provides our daily needs.”
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.