Starweek Magazine

Professors of all Professions: Why teachers aren’t “teachers lang”

Cherry C. Bobadilla - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - “Mag-teacher ka na lang.”

People who give this advice make teaching sound like the easy career path. It is definitely not; go ask any teacher. “Teaching isn’t an easy career path. There are a lot of frustrations and challenges along the way,” says Dr. Matrose Galarion, an English teacher from Angeles City National High School in Pampanga.

Yet, the reality of being in the teaching profession, notwithstanding – the endless work hours, the low pay, the different hats one has to wear as classroom manager, second parent, mentor, counselor – Galarion cannot imagine herself doing anything else.

A few years ago, she was diagnosed with a cyst in the spine that paralyzes her whole body every night when she sleeps. However, this has never stopped her from waking up every morning to go to school and conduct her class, for she knows that her students are waiting for her.

Like Galarion, it’s Sharon Rose Puyo’s Special Education (SPED) students that motivate her each day. Handling hearing-impaired learners enrolled at Cabadbaran South Central Elementary School SPED Center in Agusan del Norte, she confides that she often spends sleepless nights thinking about how to improve her craft as a teacher of children with special needs.

Seeing the communication barrier between deaf students and SPED teachers who do not have sign language skills, Puyo set up a sign language class for her colleagues as well as the students’ parents so they can communicate better with their children. She also trained other community members such as police officers, nurses and social workers who sometimes work with deaf children who are victims of abuse and other related crimes.

Furthering her advocacy to achieve the holistic development of her students, she sent adult deaf learners to entrepreneurial training such as cooking, baking and candle-making in partnership with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Indeed, it’s never an easy job, but these mentors choose to live their lives and dedicate themselves to their vocation.

These are the kind of teachers Metrobank Foundation, Inc. (MBFI) seeks to recognize through its annual Search for Outstanding Teachers (SOT) that honors the teaching profession, acknowledging those who exhibit competence, remarkable dedication to their work and effective educational leadership within and outside the confines of their schools.

Now celebrating its 30th year, the search is implemented by the Metrobank Foundation in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). Over the years, it has become a sought-after award among educators, seen as the benchmark of excellence in the teaching profession.

“The Search is not just a platform for recognizing excellence for three decades, it has become a launch pad for people aspiring to serve the nation in bigger ways,” said MBFI president Aniceto Sobrepeña.

“These educators, who have quietly and unselfishly dedicated their talents and energy to their profession, gained confidence and deepened their commitment in sharing their expertise with their peers and other sectors of their communities, after being recognized through the Search,” he continued.

This year’s outstanding teachers, who include Galarion and Puyo, are a group of diverse individuals whose stories and examples of teaching excellence and commitment inspired and impressed a distinguished board of judges – Senator Cynthia Villar, Supreme Court Associate Justice Arturo Brion, Pasig City Representative Roman Romulo, CHED chairman Patricia Licuanan, Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno, Australian Ambassador William Tweddell, Asian Institute of Management (AIM) president Steven John DeKrey, Solar Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Wilson Tieng and Ayala Land, Inc. and Manila Water director Antonino Aquino.  

They were recognized together with the awardees of the Country’s Outstanding Police Officers in Service (COPS) and The Outstanding Philippine Soldiers (TOPS) last month, serving as one of the highlights of Metrobank’s 52nd anniversary celebration. Each awardee was presented with a trophy and gold medallion, and a cash prize of P500,000.


Teachers play a significant role in the life of a student. By nurturing and molding the character of future leaders and heroes, they play a pivotal role in nation-building.

Juanito Merle of Talipan National High School in Pagbilao, Quezon makes full use of his power as a teacher to instill in his students the value of serving God and doing good deeds to become productive members of the society.

Aside from values formation, Merle also contributes to the education system through his publications, research and teacher trainings in Mathematics, as well as in curriculum improvement and effectiveness of tests or exams administered in their school.

As a mentor to fellow indigenous people (IP), Jesus Insilada feels it is his personal responsibility to be a guardian and purveyor of Panay Bukidnon knowledge and culture. Through his creativity and passion, he continuously elevates the sense of oneness among their tribe and cultivates their cultural identity as an empowered IP community.

Serving Alcarde Gustilo Memorial National High School in Calinog, Iloilo, Insilada is a writer who helps propagate and enrich Panay Bukidnon language and literature through three novels serialized in Hiligaynon, a vernacular magazine. He is also currently finishing the creation of the English-Hiligaynon dictionary.

Beyond the classroom, teachers are also leading change in the community, championing advocacies not only in education, but also other equally important causes. A staunch environment advocate, Resurreccion Sadaba always emphasizes to his students the critical role of higher learning institutions in advocating responsible environmental stewardship.

In line with his specialization in mangrove studies, this professor from the University of the Philippines (UP)-Visayas in Miag-ao, Iloilo has co-authored books on the impact of oil spills on the mangroves, as well as on beach forest species and mangroves associates. He has lent his expertise as adviser and resource person on mangrove rehabilitation projects in Guimaras and Iloilo.

For her part, Teodora Balangcod of UP Baguio has been engaged in the conservation and preservation of Philippine flora. She developed the UBaguio Herbarium that serves as a repository of information of the existing flora in the Cordillera region. Housing more than 13,000 botanical specimens, it is the most comprehensive herbarium in the whole of Cordillera region.

Outside the university, Balangcod has established a plant nursery and revegetated a model landslide scar in Poblacion, Atok, Benguet and trained the people in the community on how to mitigate landslides before they happen.

Its own reward

For these outstanding teachers, the joy in teaching is its own reward given all their hard work and sacrifices.

Dr. Enerio Ebisa of Doña Juana Actub Lluch Memorial Central School in Pala-o, Iligan City finds inspiration in his students who show much interest in learning Mathematics. As a teacher, his role is to introduce initiatives and innovations. Thus, he conducts research both as an interest and a way to further hone his skills. He has developed and published instructional reading materials to address students’ reading deficiency, among them the “Book of Abstracts”, which was featured in various conferences here and abroad.

Witnessing a student change for the better is the greatest fulfillment for Dr. Noel Ibis of Vinzons Pilot High School in Camarines Norte. For him, the essence of self depends on the path a person chooses to take. Ibis not only imparts factual knowledge to his students but also teaches them the values of optimism and determination, the same morals he upheld as he was growing up. He has developed instructional materials for Chemistry and has also explored subject matters such as metacognitive experiences and conceptual understanding.

“Good teachers are not hard to find. We are not a vanishing breed at all. There are still teachers who, after a chain of arduous tasks, continue to find joy that no monetary remuneration can ever replace,” Anna Bella Abellera of Naga Central School I in Naga City. Among her notable achievements is a compendium of lesson plans and workbooks for the English subject from Grades 1 to 6, which she co-authored and edited in partnership with the city government and the Ford Foundation.

A warm feeling in the heart

Teaching has always been an honorable career. And while the country has always looked up to architects, bankers, businessmen, engineers and lawyers, teachers, in fact, are the professors of all professions. As such, they should be held only in highest esteem: as heroes inside and outside of the classroom.

“The mentality that teaching is only for those who have average abilities and skills must be changed. There would never be great men and women in our society without great teachers,” shares Dr. Allan Moore Cabrillas of San Jose West Central School in San Jose City, Nueva Ecija. The English and Literature teacher himself is a role model who inspires excellence among his students and peers. A prolific learning materials developer and researcher, he has contributed significantly to improving the learning and teaching of Literature in his school division.

 True to the celebration of National Teachers’ Month or NTM (Sept. 5 – Oct. 5, pursuant to Presidential Proclamation 242), teachers in the Philippines are honored and recognized for the essential role they play in molding the minds and hearts of millions of young Filipinos. NTM began in 2008 as a simple idea of giving gratitude to teachers.

“I feel grateful that there are agencies that recognize the efforts of teachers who I believe have the biggest role in the lives of many people as they are the ‘makers of people.’ Being given incentives and recognition like this gives a warm feeling in the heart,” Balangcod.

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