Bato Balani Foundation Inc. (BBFI), with the support of Diwa Learning Systems Inc, presents its The Many Faces of the Teacher honorees for 2013. For years now, the foundation through The Many Faces of the Teacher advocacy program searches for teachers who showed exceptional commitment to their profession and to the community where they teach. The search once again took BBFI from the northern end of the country all the way to down south.
Teodora Balangcod, an associate professor of biology at the University of the Philippines in Baguio City, shares her knowledge about plants and human ecology not only to her students but to the indigenous communities she regularly visits in Benguet. “Indentifying the needs of these communities includes helping them better understand and appreciate the role of plant in human life,” said Dr. Balangcod. Endearingly called “Dora the Explorer” by many of her students, Dr. Balangcod also provides free books to assist tribe people in their learning, and encourages them to take part in the rehabilitation of areas devastated by landslides. The fulfillment this must bring the students is more valuable than the college class rings for men they will receive upon graduation.
Julieta Serrano, a grade school teacher at San Joaquin Central School in La Paz, Iloilo City, has committed her life in leading her students, particularly those with special needs, to excel in class and in competition. Her calling began when she and some friends would look for free areas every Saturdaywhere they can teach special children basic school lessons. In 2008, after years of lobbying, Serrano finally got to make San Joaquin Central School set up a Special Education department that offered services for children with visual and hearing impairment, autism and cerebral palsy. “Given adequate attention, these kids can do better than others,” Serrano said, explaining why it’s not pity that motivates her passion.
The long travel Randy Halasan takes every day to go to Pegalongan Elementary School in Barangay Malamba, Davao City has never wavered his commitment to its students and its community. For six years now, Halasan has been helping its students see the importance of continuing their education and been providing its community a sustainable source of living. “No matter how good you are in teaching, if the people are hungry, your efforts are useless,” said Halasan. To help alleviate poverty in the area, Halasan organized the Pegalongan Farmers Association to teach residents to become food sufficient, capable of farming various vegetables and durable crops. Halasan was also instrumental in getting the Department of Education to build more concrete classrooms in his school.
Two Palanca Awards, a doctorate degree and a Masters in literature has opened a lot of doors for Jesus Insilada to work in Manila or abroad. But he chose to stay in his hometown Iloilo and cultivate in the minds and hearts of his students a love for Hiligaynon and Kinaray-a. “I like my students to express themselves in their mother tongue. I believe when they do that, the feeling is authentic and from the heart,” said Insilada. Many of his well-crafted work, influenced by the traditions and history of his birthplace, are being used by teachers in Iloilo and endorsed by DepEd. By forming a group that focuses on his native heritage, Insilada gives his students an opportunity to be a part of something that would make them proud someday.