Amazing Women: Filipino teacher champions training for fellow mentors in provinces

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 23 2023 05:00 AM | Updated as of Mar 24 2023 04:33 AM

Filipino teacher Christine Joy Aguila was among the recipients of the Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Filipinos award in 2022. Photo courtesy of Aguila
Filipino teacher Christine Joy Aguila was among the recipients of the Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Filipinos award in 2022. Photo courtesy of Aguila

MANILA — Teaching has always been regarded as a noble profession that requires great commitment, especially in the Philippines where the labor conditions for educators are far from ideal. And Christine Joy Aguila is one who remains dedicated to the job, which she has been doing for 15 years now. 

But aside from her students, the 36-year-old Filipino teacher is also passionate about mentoring fellow mentors in provinces where opportunities for training programs are limited.

“Ang naging adbokasiya ko rin talaga bukod sa pagiging guro sa paaralan, lagi ko rin nababanggit ‘yong sobrang halaga ng sana naibahagi ko ‘yong mentoring mentor program,” Aguila, who teaches at the Philippine Science High School’s (PSHS) main campus in Quezon City, said in a recent interview with ABS-CBN News.

(My other advocacy, aside from being a teacher in school, is, as I always mention, the importance of a mentoring program for mentors.)

“Naniniwala ako na kapag malakas, epektibo at mahusay ang guro, ito ‘yong nagpo-produce ng mga mahuhusay na mga mag-aaral, kaya ba’t natin papabayaan ang mga guro?” she added.

(I believe that if a teacher is strong, effective and competent, he or she will produce competent students as well, so why should we neglect our teachers?)

Last year, Aguila was among the 10 recipients of the Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Filipinos award, which recognizes “exemplars in the academe, military, and police sectors.”

In giving the recognition, Metrobank said Aguila “helped innovate the way Filipino is taught to students by integrating technology, music, and the sciences into the subject, and helped train fellow teachers in using the language as a medium of instruction more effectively.”

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Family of teachers

It comes as no surprise that Aguila entered the teaching profession since she comes from a family of teachers.

“Sobrang laki ng impluwensiya ng buong pamilya ko. Mula pa sa ninuno namin, lahat sila teachers. Sa pamilya namin, 4 kami na guro. ‘Yong nanay ko, mga kapatid ko, guro din. Tapos ‘yong tatay ko ay pastor, na kino-consider ko rin na teacher,” she said.

(My family has a huge influence on me. From our ancestors, all of them are teachers. In my immediate family, four of us are teachers. My mom and my siblings are all teachers. My dad is a pastor, which I also consider as a teacher.)

At a young age, Aguila would watch her mother teach Filipino, which was also the reason why she chose to specialize in the same subject.

“Doon ko nakita 'yong lalim ng pagpapahalaga sa wika, kultura, kasaysayan [at] panitikan,” recounted Aguila, who holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Filipino from the Philippine Normal University.

(That’s where I saw a deeper appreciation for language, culture, history and literature.)

In teaching Filipino, Aguila incorporates technology and the arts. “Ang aming aralin ay nasa Filipino pero ‘yong mga kagamitan, istratehiya [ng pagtuturo], puwedeng gamitan ng iba pa. Kasi kung hindi, grabe ‘yong attention span nila, sobrang ikli lang,” she said.

(Our lessons are in Filipino but we use other things for our equipment and teaching strategies. Because if we don’t, it will be hard to capture students’ attention since their attention spans are so short.)

For instance, Aguila makes use of a “quiz-bee type” of app when conducting assessments.

Instead of showing video adaptations of “Noli Me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo” — the novels by national hero Jose Rizal which are required readings in high school — Aguila asks her students to turn the stories into plays that are performed in class.

To make it easier for her students to memorize their lessons, Aguila also makes them write songs based on the lectures.

Christine Joy Aguila. Photo courtesy of Aguila
Christine Joy Aguila. Photo courtesy of Aguila

Mentoring mentors

In 2017, Aguila joined Buklod Guro, a teacher training effort under the Madaris Volunteer Program (MVP), an initiative that aims to improve education quality in the Bangsamoro region through cooperation between Islamic and Catholic schools.

The program is an initiative of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), implemented by the Ateneo de Davao University with the help of other partner entities, including the PSHS.

“Hinuhubog namin sila sa iba-ibang mga technique kung paano ang paraan ng pagtuturo sa isang partikular na year level [o] subject area. Kasi kadalasan sa kanila, nandodoon na ‘yong husay, nandodoon na ‘yong galing, kaya lang, kinakapos lang sa trainings,” Aguila shared.

(We teach them different techniques on how they can teach a particular year level or subject area. Because most of the time, the teachers have the skills but they simply lack training.)

“Iba ‘yong nagagawa ng nasa Kamyanilaan ka. Saka ‘yong oportunidad dito, mas marami talaga… Kaya pinupuntahan namin sila,” she added.

(There’s a difference when you’re in Metro Manila. There are more opportunities here… That’s why we go to them.)

There are many teachers who are interested in training fellow educators but this is often hampered by a lack of funding, Aguila said.

“Ang problema siguro, at aminado kami, ‘yong budget. Kung paano makakalap ng talagang sapat na donasyon. Kasi kahit gustong-gusto naming maparami pa ‘yong saklaw ng natutulungan, minsan nalilimitahan dahil sa kapasidad ng budget,” she said.

(Our problem is probably, and we admit this, the budget. How we can get sufficient donations. Because we really want to expand the scope of the teachers we give training to, but sometimes we’re constrained by the budget capacity.)

Christine Joy Aguila. Photo courtesy of Aguila
Christine Joy Aguila. Photo courtesy of Aguila


As the government conducts a review of the country’s education sector, Aguila appealed to policymakers to have “empathy” towards teachers, arguing that mentors are familiar with the problems since they are the ones on the ground.

“Kaya nagkakaproblema kasi hindi natin nakukuha ‘yong danas, karanasan ng mga guro na mismong nandodoon sa labanan. Kaya babalik ako sa salitang empathy. Kailangan nating makinig,” she said.

(The reason we have problems is we don’t get the experiences of teachers who are in the frontlines. That’s why I go back to the word ‘empathy.’ We need to listen.)

“Pakinggan natin, ilagay natin ‘yong katayuan natin sa kanila para kapag bumuo tayo ng mga partikular na programa o gusto mong may masolusyonan, natutumbok niya kung saan talaga ‘yong problema,” she added.

(Let’s listen to them, put ourselves in their situation so when we craft a particular program or have a problem that we want to resolve, we always get to the bottom of the problem.)

This article is part of the Amazing Women series of ABS-CBN News this month of March, featuring stories of select women who are making a mark in their respective fields and advocacies. March is National Women's Month in the Philippines.


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