Honoring Andrea and other teachers | Inquirer Opinion

Honoring Andrea and other teachers

Los Angeles — I belatedly realized from Krista Mae Misajon’s e-mail that preparations for National Teachers Month 2017 are underway once more. From a simple, heartfelt gesture of thanks that Br. Armin Luistro FSC and Chito Sobrepeña of the Metrobank Foundation thought of in 2008 together with a handful of corporate foundations and schools, there is now a National Teachers Month Coordinating Council (NTMCC) that convenes annually to map out activities culminating in World Teachers Day on Oct. 5. The council is made up of representatives of the Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, and Tesda (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority), as well as of all major news organizations (including, of course, the Philippine Daily Inquirer), telecommunications companies, corporate foundations, education institutions and associations, and NGOs.

While the gestures of appreciation have become more expansive with each passing year, the recurring theme is simply the expression of childlike gratitude to all the teachers that we’ve met along the way.


I can’t join the NTMCC’s meetings this year because I’ve moved to Los Angeles, but I’d like to start the ball rolling.

I’m very lucky that meaningful education reform is the core advocacy of the Eggie Apostol Foundation, because through the years I’ve had the chance to work with educators like Celia Adriano and Evelyn Mejillano. Their credentials are impeccable, but what I’m most impressed with is Adriano’s pioneering efforts in harnessing information technology for distance learning. Conversely, Mejillano has been a driving force for the innovative teacher formation program called “Mentoring the Mentors,” which is offered by the Marie Eugenie Institute through Chinit Rufino. (“Mentoring the Mentors” was a startup program of the Eggie Apostol Foundation, as was the “Education Revolution.”)


I’ve had the privilege of listening to and exchanging ideas with Edilberto de Jesus and Jose V. Abueva, former education secretary and former president of the University of the Philippines, respectively. Keeping up with these two intellectuals is very difficult I assure you, but Abueva was kind enough to simplify matters for me. The key to genuine education reform is simply “Education for what, and for whom,” he said.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Education Undersecretary Dina Ocampo and CHEd Commissioner Cynthia Rose Bautista, both of whom I met when they were still at the UP College of Education. Ocampo, together with my good friends Ricky Nolasco, Ched Arzadon and Greg and Diane Dekker, helped me understand that mother-tongue-based instruction is critical to learning success in school. Bautista, on the other hand, shared with us the invaluable mobilization and organizational insight that she gleaned from her involvement with the DepEd’s Third Elementary Education Project and the School-Based Management Program.

I’m doubly fortunate that I grew up around teachers. My late sister, Josie Hernandez-De Leon, taught political science at UP College Manila. She moved to Canada, where she got her PhD, and became a tenured professor at the political science department at Laurentian University in Sudbury. Josie’s eldest son Leroi now teaches at that university, too.

And then there was my first teacher, my nanay Andrea. Born on April 16, 1922, in Palo, Leyte, Andrea became a teacher at a time when Philippine society held the teaching occupation in high esteem.

Nanay taught me how to read and write in English when I was four years old, before I started formal schooling. She also taught me to appreciate the power of faith and prayer. When you need it most, God will provide, she would always say.

Last April 12, Nanay decided her time here was done. She left us quietly, peacefully, and on her own terms. We will always miss her.

I have found a job that I’m sure she would have liked: I’m now a computer instructor for seniors at the Elito Santarina Technology Center in the City of Carson.


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Butch Hernandez ([email protected]) is the executive director of the Eggie Apostol Foundation.

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