Tribute to schoolteachers | Inquirer Opinion

Tribute to schoolteachers

/ 12:05 AM October 03, 2016

BY VIRTUE of Proclamation No. 242 issued by then President Benigno Aquino III in 2011, the period from Sept. 5 to Oct. 5 of every year is celebrated as National Teachers Month.

The proclamation cites the occasion as an opportunity “to celebrate the unique role and service that teachers play in guiding families, strengthening communities, and building the nation.”


In line with this issuance, two private companies—Metrobank Foundation and PLDT—have for the past years been honoring men and women who help mold the mind of our youth and prepare them for the challenges of the future.

Metrobank fetes in formal ceremonies yearly 10 outstanding teachers from different school levels in the country with gold medallions, trophies and cash prize of P500,000 each.


PLDT, through its Gabay Guro Program, treats the teachers to a whole day of entertainment and raffle contest that gives away a house and lot, motor vehicle and other prizes to lucky winners.

The events are aimed at expressing appreciation of the important role that public and private schoolteachers play in the values formation and skills development of our youth.

For many families, they are considered second parents; for children of Filipino overseas workers, they often act as substitute parents, in addition to being mentors.

It is noteworthy that despite the lure of foreign employment and financial and physical difficulties, many “ma’ams” and “sirs” have opted to stay in the country to meet the educational needs of our people.

For far-flung parts of the country, public schoolteachers are the only symbol of government. In areas that can only be reached after walking for hours on unpaved roads, or taking a ride on rickety boats or improvised rafts, the teachers personify the government’s concern, no matter how meager its resources, for the education of their young residents.

Based on the records of the Employees Compensation Commission, the government agency that handles public and private employees’ claims to work-related disability or death benefits, teaching may be considered a hazardous profession.

More teachers are hospitalized or die of service-related illnesses than any other government or private employees, except soldiers and law enforcement personnel.


Without meaning to denigrate their counterpart in the private schools, the physical demands of public school teaching are heavy.

Public schoolteachers handle classes with 40 to 45 students in morning, afternoon and, sometimes, evening sessions. During weekends, they are often obliged to attend to school-related extracurricular activities or participate in government-sponsored activities, such as, reforestation work and information campaigns, without the benefit of overtime pay.

And when VIPs from Manila or the regional head office visit, the teachers are tasked with the preparation of the amenities needed to make the guests’ stay comfortable.

Until Republic Act No. 10756 was enacted into law last April, it was compulsory for public schoolteachers to serve as members of the Board of Election Inspectors during national and local elections. This meant performing poll duties from dawn to late night, safeguarding election paraphernalia from theft and tampering, and delivering election returns to municipal or city halls after the canvassing of votes.

That was the easy part. What made the task more stressful was that they often had to contend with unwholesome elements who wanted to subvert the electoral process through force and intimidation. Many schoolteachers paid with their lives to safeguard the integrity of the ballot.

As if the threats to their safety were not enough, they sometimes had to face administrative or criminal charges from candidates who, unable to accept defeat, would accuse them of complicity in tampering with the election results.

For all these troubles, the schoolteachers were paid an allowance that was hardly commensurate to their work and the perils they faced in the performance of their assigned tasks. Worse, the payment often came late.

Starting with the 2017 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (assuming they will not be postponed again), election duties will be optional for public schoolteachers.

If there are not enough public schoolteachers to man the precincts, the Commission on Elections would have to tap private schoolteachers, members of accredited citizens’ groups and police officers to fill in the gap.

The removal of compulsory election duties is welcome relief to public schoolteachers. A stressful activity has been removed from their lives.

On the occasion of National Teachers Month, it would be nice if you can call the teachers who inspired you to greater heights to thank them for their efforts in helping you get to where you are now.

If you are still in school, a simple thank you note or a token gift to your favorite teacher or teachers will be surely appreciated.

May the tribe of our dedicated schoolteachers increase!

Raul J. Palabrica ([email protected]) writes a weekly column in the Business section of the Inquirer.

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TAGS: Commentary, national teachers’ month, opinion, Teacher, tribute
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