By Danica M. Azur
Fueled by their passion and dedication for teaching, public school teachers of Santiago Integrated School (SES) of Barangay Santiago, Iriga City, Camarines Sur initiated Project SAGIP: Sa Aking Gabay Ikaw ay Papasa that intended to aid 21 students of the aeta tribe in the remote village of San Ramon Resettlement, San Ramon, Buhi, Camarines Sur.
According to Mrs. Criselda T. Taduran, a Master Teacher II and the overall project head of Project SAGIP, “Actually ako ang over-all chairman noon. Sinama ko ‘yung mga kagrade ko, mga si Mrs. Carullo, tapos ‘yung isang Grade 5, Si Rowena. Tapos isang ano siya dati eh, Grade 6 kaya lang nalipat na siya sa Grade 2. ‘Yung mga iba doon na mga teachers naman, mga members ko, ‘yon ang mga hinihingian ko ng mga activities para sa mga anak ko.”
(Actually I was the over-all chairman then. I took my classmates, Mrs. Carullo, then the Grade 5, Rowena. Then what was he before, Grade 6 that’s why he was transferred to Grade 2. The others there who are teachers, my members, those are the ones I ask for activities for my children.)
Under her lead, teachers conduct redemption classes in the mini assembly hall of the village twice a week. The initiative is a joint effort with her fellow educators at SES in response to the parents’ concerns on the growing challenges of remote learning education in the community.
Tracing the Problems
The gradual shift of education in public schools to remote learning this pandemic exacerbated the everyday plight of indigenous parents in the community, adding additional burden to their financial problems.
Taduran added, “Kaya lang hindi pumupunta sa school ‘yung parents na kumuha ng module kasi nga hindi naman daw kaya ‘yung module. ‘Yung magulang hindi rin naman nakapagaral. Siyempre, sino ang magtuturo? Mag-aano sila, maghahire nang magtuturo. ‘Yong mga magtuturo naman siguro dahil hindi naman teacher, ginagawa sila na ang gumagawa ng module.”
Marites Vargas, an indigenous parent and a resident of San Ramon Resettlements said on a phone call interview, “Su iba po talagang kag igin sini, amo na po an sabi kong kulang sa inadalan. Minsan su ibang kag-igin ‘di man nakapag eskwela, amo po an nagmomodyul adding mga igin nira, nagbabayad talaga sira sa tatao para makapag modyul su igin.”
(Since other parents weren’t able to attend nor finish their studies, they opt to pay people who will answer the modules of their child.)
In addition, Vargas admitted that the parents in the community hire other people and pay P50 just to accomplish the modules on behalf of their child.
Moreover, aside from the concern on module distribution and difficulty due to lack of learning assistance, the students also face insufficiency of learning materials due to financial constraints.
“Wala silang gamit. Pag pumunta sa’yo, ‘yun lang mga sarili nila ang dala-dala nila. Pero may mga gamit din naman akong dala. Kaya meron ako niyang lalagyan. May mga crayons, papel, lapis. Tapos ah ‘yung mga envelope na ano, andiyan nakalagay ko lahat tapos ‘yung mga activity sheets ko. Kasi, pag halimbawa, ano walang papel, hindi ngaya ko Ma’am gagawa wala akong papel. Walang problema, meron ako bibigyan ko sila,” Taduran added
Breaking the Barriers
In the broader realm of Philippine education, the current health crisis also transformed the pedagogical methods of teachers — breaking the education divide worsened by the pandemic, making it adaptive to the changes of time.
Taduran also shared her challenging experiences in teaching the IP students of the tribe. She said, “Actually ang ginagawa ko talagang one-on-one. Nagsisimula talaga ako saan ang kanilang ano yon nga sinasabing start where the pupils start. Ang inaano ko kung ano talaga yong ano nila kulang sa kanila. Kasi kagaya nung mga nasa grade 4 grade 5 na mahihinang bumasa. Ang ginagawa ko niyan one-on-one, nag mamarocco approach ako tapos kung tapos na sila, okay na sa filipino plano ko proceed na sa polar technique para sa English naman. ‘Yong mga ano naman ‘yong mga kinder mostly sa mga coloring, tracing.”
As the school year continues, the project’s proponents and the faculty of S-E-S remain steadfast, determined, and persistent in their mission of aiding the I-P students and parents in the remote village to ensure that no student will be left behind amidst any difficulties.
“Isang napakalaking hamon sa isang guro na kailangang meron ka talagang mahabang pisi para sa pagtuturo sa mga bata lalo na ‘yung iba parang nawawalan na sila ng interes sa pagsagot sa module especially itong mga batang ito…Meron lang silang matutunan na kaunti parang okay na sa kanila. Kaya bilang isang guro ngayong panahon ng pandemya, talagang kailangang magano ka, talagang habaan ang pisi, talagang maging dedicated, committed”, Taduran said.
(It is a huge challenge for a teacher that you have to have great patience for teaching children especially others who seem to lose interest in answering the module especially these children …They just have to learn a little bit, and that’s enough for them. So as a teacher in this time of pandemic, you really have to be good, patient, dedicated, and committed.)
Meanwhile, the teachers behind the initiative are also open to monetary or in-kind donations for individuals who want to assist the children’s learning resources in the tribe.
Rekindling Young Dreams
Regardless of the hurdles brought by the pandemic, the teachers and the people of the tribe remain motivated and unified in providing the children the quality education they deserve.
“Kin sa pangarap, Ma’am syempre dawa si isay na kag igin agko pangarap sa igin na makatapos. Kindi po ading nababayad ading kuwan namo, syempre kulang kami sa pinansyal, kin sa kuwa tios kami.” Vargas stated.
(If we will talk about dreams, every parent wants their child to finish studies and graduate. However, in our situation, we are poor. We do not have financial access to suffice our basic needs.)
Furthermore, she said, “Syempre po ma’am kinukuwa man ka kag-igin na makatapos a igin para makuwa bagang su adtong maging edukado man po baga sira. Makaanap sira sa maray na trabaho ta kin kami pong kag-igin uno man po ipapamana namo kanda na buko man po kaming mayaman? Syempre po amo na po tanda na ‘yan bilang pamana namo kanda, inadalan na makatood sira ag makatapos.”
(Of course, Ma’am, our dream for our children is to graduate for them to be educated and find a decent job that will help them in the future. Parents like us do not have material wealth; we are not rich. Education is the only wealth that we can provide for our child to learn and graduate.)
Taduran also expressed her message of hope to her students saying, “Ang mensahe ko sa kanila, ano mang hirap ng buhay, kung makakapag-aral mababago ang kalagayan ng buhay. ‘Yon ang palagi kong sinasabi sa kanila. ‘Wag niyong isipin na IP kayo.”
Despite their cooperative efforts, all of them are still hoping for a safe and inclusive resume of classes where students will not suffer anymore — grappling with the challenges of remote learning.