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Logjammed at PRC

June 2. It was past 10 p.m. when I arrived at the regional office of the Professional Regulation Commission in Davao City, where I and other would-be teachers waited until the next day for “priority numbers” to be given. It was a wonderful reminder of status equality, in a way. I had to experience what it is like, to fully understand what teachers have to go through to get their license.

Considering the late hour, I thought the queue of applicants would be more manageable than if I had arrived early the next day. My instinct was wrong this time! When I got there I noticed a group crowding a small table set up in front of the closed door of the PRC office. As I moved closer I saw that the applicants were busy listing their names on sheets of tattered bond paper.

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It was finally my turn after waiting for 10 minutes or so. I scanned the four pages filled with names and signatures and saw that there was no space left. A concerned man beside me said in the vernacular that I could just write my name on the space left below the name at No. 447.

That done, I left the table to look for food and saw a street vendor offering the usual instant choices—cup noodles, hard-boiled eggs, coffee and biscuits. I ate a little until I felt a bit filled. And then my companion and I decided to rent some kind of mat. It was for rent at P20 for the whole night. Everything’s for sale there, unless you come prepared for the “vigil.”

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I tried to get some sleep in one corner facing the highway. I prayed hard that it would not rain so the 500-plus people there, myself included, would not have to suffer too much. I dozed off around 1 a.m.

After two hours, we were all awakened when a woman started the roll call. I knew I had to wait longer than the others because, my goodness, my number was 448!

I was able to observe what I assumed to be a fresh graduate. She was patiently waiting while reading her notes, or whatever those may have been. I thought to myself how much “hunger” she had to pass the upcoming LET (licensure examination for teachers). I thought to myself that she might have spent (or her parents did) a lot just to get to the PRC’s regional office in Davao. Only God knows where she’ll get the money for the fare as well as the test fees, which will amount to P1,005. The examination fee is P900, and the folder costs P105.

So more than 500 of us waited until the sun rose and until our priority numbers were released. Good thing the numbers were distributed earlier, at around 7 o’clock. While we were squatting on the floor, or trying to find any comfortable sitting position possible, some people beside me could not help but comment on this poor system of the PRC in regulating the applicants, especially concerning the LET.

I was able to speak with a number of the other people there. Many came from General Santos City, my hometown; in fact I saw a lot of familiar faces. Some came from Kidapawan, Cotabato, and from the Davao area as well.

A fellow teacher commented that having a PRC office in every region would help alleviate this problem. According to another, the PRC’s online system is useless because one still has to travel to the regional office in Davao City to submit one’s documents after registering some personal information. She added that the online system would be a lot better if it would also automatically generate and assign the priority number and schedule of every applicant.

Of course, a number of the other people expressed their disappointment at the usual “pasingit” culture of Filipinos. I heard a person beside me saying sarcastically: “Kanang magpasingit dira, makapasa ug LET pero patay!”

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He was saying that those people who were allowing others to jump the queue would pass the examination but would also die instantly.

It was past 7 a.m. when I got my most awaited priority number. The entire experience was exhausting, especially because earlier, the officer in charge announced that another set of numbers had to be printed—meaning we had to wait a little bit longer (under the heat of the sun).

I felt such great relief when I finally got my priority number and was told to return on June 16 for the proper filing. That’s one day beyond the deadline set earlier, which was June 15.

Yet the battle would not stop there, because after the filing process, all the aspiring teachers would have to face another challenge: passing the LET scheduled on Aug. 17.

Ever since the government upgraded the salary of public school teachers, the teaching profession has become more attractive to graduates of various BA or BS courses. It’s said that it’s easier this time because one only needs to earn 18 units of professional education and pass the LET to get a license.

For those who have only professional-education units to their name, like myself, this is not as easy compared to those who were soaked in theories and essential lessons in education. Although I am currently in the academe, specifically in private schools, getting my license is still a challenge because no one can really tell what would come out of the examination.

I do not want to speculate any further, but the point is clear: It takes a lot to be called a professional teacher, and yet many are taking it for granted after enjoying (and even abusing) all the benefits.

Nevertheless, in my heart I know that I want to be involved in and be a part of the solution to the problems in our educational system. I know it will be a long and tedious process, but at least making a difference in my lifetime will be worth it.

Catherine Linobo, 24, is a part-time instructor and a communication arts graduate of the University of the Philippines Mindanao.

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