𝐓𝐄𝐀𝐂𝐇𝐄𝐑 𝐂𝐇𝐑𝐈𝐒𝐓𝐈𝐍𝐄: 𝐋𝐈𝐆𝐇𝐓𝐈𝐍𝐆 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐖𝐀𝐘
𝘉𝘺 𝘋𝘰𝘳𝘦𝘴 𝘗. 𝘊𝘭𝘢𝘳𝘰
𝘌𝘥𝘶𝘤𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘗𝘳𝘰𝘨𝘳𝘢𝘮 𝘚𝘶𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘷𝘪𝘴𝘰𝘳
C𝘢𝘣𝘢𝘥𝘣𝘢𝘳𝘢𝘯 𝘊𝘪𝘵𝘺 𝘋𝘪𝘷𝘪𝘴𝘪𝘰𝘯
“𝗔 𝗴𝗼𝗼𝗱 𝘁𝗲𝗮𝗰𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗶𝘀 𝗹𝗶𝗸𝗲 𝗮 𝗰𝗮𝗻𝗱𝗹𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘀𝘂𝗺𝗲𝘀 𝗶𝘁𝘀𝗲𝗹𝗳 𝘁𝗼 𝗹𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘄𝗮𝘆 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗼𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿𝘀,” 𝘀𝗮𝘆𝘀 𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗲 𝗔𝗻𝗴𝗲𝗹𝗶 𝗠𝗮𝗰𝗲𝗱𝗮 𝗗𝗲𝗹𝗹𝗲𝘇𝗼, 𝗮 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗱 𝗠𝗮𝗻𝗼𝗯𝗼 𝘁𝗲𝗮𝗰𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝘀𝗲𝗿𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗼𝘄𝗻 𝗜𝗻𝗱𝗶𝗴𝗲𝗻𝗼𝘂𝘀 𝗣𝗲𝗼𝗽𝗹𝗲𝘀 (𝗜𝗣) 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗺𝘂𝗻𝗶𝘁𝘆, 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗶𝘀 𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝘆.
Since she was a child, Christine dreamed of making it big in life to liberate her family from poverty. But, in the barrio where she came from, life was hard. She never thought that being a part of the Manobo Indigenous community would be the key to her fortune. Because she was an IP student, she obtained a scholarship program from Father Saturnino Urios University, where she graduated with honors (cum laude.)
After passing the Licensure Examination for Teachers, she was hired and assigned at Ansili, the last Sitio in Barangay Puting Bato, 13 kilometers away from Cabadbaran City. It allowed her to teach her tribal community and meet the elders who guided her to practice their almost forgotten culture and traditions.
Her assignment was a challenge since the only means of transportation was the habal-habal, an improvised motorcycle designed to carry ten or more passengers. The rugged, rocky, and bumpy roads meant that she had to endure several vehicle crashes, wounds, bruises, and other injuries. On some occasions, hiking was her only recourse because riding a habal-habal through bad weather was too risky. She did this while carrying her one-week supplies of food and other necessities. For practical purposes, she chose to go home only during weekends.
Teacher Christine had to battle with homesickness and the lack of the usual amenities of the city, such as electricity, internet, and phone signal, made worse by a feeling of loneliness every time the children went home after class. But for her, teaching Kindergarten up to Grade Six in a multi-grade setup was the most challenging part of her job. But she was determined to stay there because she embraced her mission for the children in her community.
After learning that most young ones could not speak their Manobo language anymore, Teacher Christine asked the intervention of the elders to teach the children their native tongue after class hours. Moreover, she took the extra mile of tutoring some pupils in her own house almost every night, using just a kerosene lamp and a lighter as their source of light. Afraid of being alone, Teacher Christine also had to deal with strange bothersome noises outside her house at night that the community had attributed to many different causes: winds, ghosts, rebels, etc.
Nonetheless, she knew she had to be strong because she understood her calling was to form the minds of her learners and instill in their hearts the importance of education, values, and their roles as productive members of the community. She also relied on prayer as her powerful weapon to accomplish her mission.
Sometimes, she felt pity seeing some of her learners having only root crops for lunch, especially after they told her, “we want to eat rice and fried chicken.” Once again, she took the extra mile by providing them – whenever supplies were available – rice and fried chicken at least once a week. She observed that her pupils strived hard to study despite having no baon. This reality motivated her to work harder even without her superiors or supervisors monitoring her efforts because she believed God saw her hardships and sacrifices for the children.
In her almost three years of living within the community, she learned the Manobo way of abaca weaving, small-scale gold mining, and root crop planting, helping her relive and practice their culture and traditions. As she taught the children academics, she too taught other teachers to live simply without gadgets and other modern amenities. In every DepEd activity, she ensured that everyone in the community was involved. And she was rewarded with their high sense of cooperation every time they generously performed rituals, dances, songs, and chants called Tud-om.
In this highly competitive world where everyone tends to migrate to highly urbanized cities, Teacher Christine took the opposite path. She reconnected with her cultural heritage, and in return, she experienced authentic generosity and acceptance. In her tribe, the hunters always share their bounty with the entire village. She considered it a way of showing love and care for one another, and she also saw it in the way her pupils treated her.
They showed love and care for her in the way they paid attention to her words in the class. Their interest and eagerness in schooling resulted in their improved reading skills. Teacher Christine took pride in being part of it, knowing that she had become their source of inspiration. Little by little, she saw their dreams build up as they now shared the same mission to help their tribe live a better life through education.
After two years and eight months, Teacher Christine transferred to another school. It was heartbreaking for her to leave because the children wanted her to stay. Currently, she is a Grade 1 teacher at Puting Bato Elementary School in Cabadbaran City, a school with 80 -90 % IP learners.
Ansili will always have a special place in her heart. But in her new assignment, her mission to help her tribe continues. She now embarks on another journey where she will again become a candle that consumes itself to light the way for others.
𝐸𝑑𝑖𝑡𝑜𝑟’𝑠 𝑁𝑜𝑡𝑒: 𝑇ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑝𝑎𝑔𝑒 𝑖𝑛𝑣𝑖𝑡𝑒𝑠 𝑡𝑒𝑎𝑐ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑠, 𝑛𝑜𝑛-𝑡𝑒𝑎𝑐ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑝𝑒𝑟𝑠𝑜𝑛𝑛𝑒𝑙, 𝑙𝑒𝑎𝑟𝑛𝑒𝑟𝑠, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑜𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟 𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑘𝑒ℎ𝑜𝑙𝑑𝑒𝑟𝑠 𝑡𝑜 𝑠ℎ𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑖𝑟 𝑠𝑡𝑜𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑠, 𝑛𝑒𝑤𝑠 𝑎𝑟𝑡𝑖𝑐𝑙𝑒𝑠, 𝑝𝑜𝑒𝑚𝑠, 𝑜𝑝𝑖𝑛𝑖𝑜𝑛𝑠, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑜𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟 𝑤𝑟𝑖𝑡𝑒-𝑢𝑝𝑠 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑝𝑢𝑏𝑙𝑖𝑐𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑜𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑝𝑎𝑔𝑒 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑜𝑓𝑓𝑖𝑐𝑖𝑎𝑙 𝑤𝑒𝑏𝑠𝑖𝑡𝑒𝑠. 𝐶𝑜𝑛𝑡𝑟𝑖𝑏𝑢𝑡𝑜𝑟𝑠 𝑚𝑎𝑦 𝑠𝑒𝑛𝑑 𝑎𝑟𝑡𝑖𝑐𝑙𝑒𝑠 𝑣𝑖𝑎 𝑃𝑀 ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒.