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A Noble Profession: Part 2

During his 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Rodrigo Duterte asked Congress to pass a new Salary Standardization Law that will raise the pay of government workers, including public school teachers. This is not just the fulfillment of a promise he made during the election campaign but a recognition of the hard work and sacrifice of teachers. This well-deserved salary increase is a recognition of the role of public school teachers in shaping the mind of the youth and building the foundation of a strong future for our country.


They need better compensation and benefits. And we should provide them with a level of income commensurate to the extraordinary work that they do. But the strange fact is that most teachers don’t do it for the money.


I met many teachers when I was still in public service and all of them told me their motivation is anything but the money. They did not decide to become teachers to earn. They became teachers because they love to teach. They do what they do—despite all the difficulties — because that’s what they love to do.


And it is that love of teaching the young that gives them the “superpower” to overcome the odds. You have got to really love what you’re doing to be able to survive what some of our teachers go through.


I remember that teacher who literally had to cross rivers, traveling at least two hours by foot or on a raft just to reach her classroom in a remote barangay in Occidental Mindoro. According to teacher Elizabeth Miranda she is the only person available to educate her students, so it does not matter how many rivers she needs to cross. Her sacrifice makes our complaint against EDSA traffic seem trivial.


I also read the inspiring story of Ma. Cristina Medina who suffered from loss of vision but not from a loss of courage. She persevered and now handles Special Education (SpEd) and regular classes. As Hellen Keller once said, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”


There was also Ronyla Santiago who used her skills and abilities to teach former members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). Inquirer.Net chronicled her bravery: “Standing before 58 rebel returnees was so scary. One of them said he will take me home. Even if I was terrified, I told him that he should respect me because I’m his teacher.”


There was Randy Halasan who won the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2014 for his dedication in braving hours of daily travel in order to provide basic education to children of the Matigsalog tribe in a remote village in Davao City.


And there are millions more nameless, faceless educators who go about their daily lives making sacrifices for the nation without any expectation of recognition. The activities during National Teachers Month encourages us to pay tribute to these heroes.


The best recognition we can ever bestow our teachers is to become our own persons—kind, caring, successful, and open to sharing our knowledge with others. Let us become the kind of person they inspired, guided, and taught when we were under their care.


While I was preparing this article, I came across a quote from the Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis which I thought captured the heroism of teachers:


“True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.” 


Happy Teachers Month sa lahat ng guro!