Commendation for our public school teachers

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - November 20, 2020 - 12:00am

While we hear a lot of complaints from government officials and employees whose lives and careers had been disrupted by COVID-19, and while we read of many grievances and misgivings expressed by well-paid corporate staff and personnel in the cities, we never hear teachers in far-away barangays making some fuss about their difficult, dangerous, and often demanding tasks.

And while the whole world never stops paying tribute to the medical doctors, nurses, hospital attendants, and other medical practitioners in these times of pandemic, and while people also do admire the hard work, sacrifices, and fearless daily exposures to the coronavirus by our police and military personnel who man the checkpoints, guard the bus terminals, seaports and airports, we should never forget the untold sacrifices of our public school teachers, most especially those assigned in far-flung mountain villages, remote islets, and hinterlands. I always remember these little heroes in the outskirts of human society and try my best to help them, with small contributions to fund the printing of modules, and to help them with some transport money to reach the remotest houses of their pupils in the midst of rains, floods, and lightning.

I remember the teachers who do not make much ado about their difficult tasks of drafting the modules, encoding them, printing reams and reams of these teaching materials, and also delivering these important modules to the houses of their pupils. They are not given materials no additional budget, therefore they have to find sources of funds by using their own money and pleading for donations from kind-hearted souls. They even publish their predicament in social media, and the DepEd leadership never does anything responsive and sufficient to help them and to alleviate the difficult predicament of these teachers. Why do I know this? Well, many of them are my close relatives, neighbors, and friends, and I am the usual target of their plea for help. I am not rich but I never refuse to help them.

As I remember and give assistance to these public school teachers, I honor the memory of my late mother, Constancia Birondo Jimenez from Argao, and my late father Leonor Quirante Jimenez, from Dumanjug who taught for more than 40 years in the many mountain villages of Ronda, at a time when public school teachers were paid less than P1,000 a month. They had to buy their own teaching aids, chalk, and other school materials, and their salaries were often late because teachers' pay was centralized in Manila. It was only Congressman Dodong Gullas who authored a law decentralizing teachers' pay and my parents were very happy before they retired and migrated to Hawaii, USA.

To me, our public school teachers are the most selfless, the most persevering and the least remembered by our government and general public. We shower medical frontliners with praises, and I do not have problems with that. We also repeat and repeat our positive comments about the police and the military. That's okay with me. What is not okay is when the people forget the public school teachers and do not recognize the scope and consistency of their sacrifices, COVID or no COVID. They are the most overworked, underpaid, and unrecognized among our public servants. In this regard, I am writing a formal letter to the DepEd regional director who happens to have the same family name as I. I am proposing an annual award for outstanding teachers, at least in our town first, then in the whole seventh district. Who knows, this can be a ripple that will spread throughout the whole province.

Public school teachers are parents of lawyers, doctors, pilots, engineers, nurses, and accountants. But we, the children of these unsung heroes, can never even hold a candle to their memories of great achievements. And while the nation often ignores them, I opt to keep their heroism alive by helping as much as I can. We can never give back to them the tremendous value of their sacrifices.

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