A Shining Light to the New Generation; (Speech before Pangasinan Teachers at Banaoang Central School, January 12, 2007, Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan)

Article excerpt


THIS morning, I am honored to be with you, dear teachers and school officials of our division districts in Pangasinan.

I am also elated because, like most Pangasinenses with humble beginnings, I am a product of the public school system from the elementary and high schools in the town of Sta. Barbara.

I must admit, I owe it to my teachers who helped and inspired me to where I am today.

According to Patricia Cross: "The task of the excellent teacher is to stimulate "apparently ordinary" people to unusual effort. The tough problem is not in identifying winners: It is in making winners out of ordinary people?"

I am also taking this opportunity to share with you the legacy of one of the most prominent public school teachers from our province, the late Angela Valdez Ramos, mother of former President Fidel Valdez Ramos, who is himself a product of the public school system. She was an English teacher at the Pangasinan Vocational High School in Lingayen.

To inspire the present breed of public school teachers and mothers, I am sharing with you some copies of her biography written by a cousin, noted historical biographer Melandrew Velasco.

The book is a tribute to Filipino mothers and teachers who want to see their children and students grow up in age, wisdom, and grace equipped with the proper education, traits and values honed by mothers' and teachers' guidance and love.

My late parents - despite siring nine children - always inculcated in us their children - the value and importance of education. It is something that can never be taken away by anyone and it is only the lasting legacy our parents can bequeath to us. My parents also taught us to always respect our public school teachers who are our second, at times, venerated as community leaders.

That position of respect, I know, still prevails. But due to some chronic problems faced by the educational system and by the teachers themselves, community respect on public school teachers - has somehow been depreciated through the years.

That is why, in my own little ways, I have tried to do something about your predicaments when I was assigned in Pangasinan as the regional police director of the Pangasinan-Ilocos region.

I was thinking then that if an example is done, other leaders would pick the idea and apply them in other places.

My efforts were mostly on the high school and elementary schools where I studied - the Banaoang Central Elementary School, and the Maramba High School where I finished my high school. All other schools in Sta. Barbara have also become beneficiaries of this new school building project.

Using the proven formula of making things happen through cooperative efforts, the school officials, the parents, the alumni, the community, the local government, and myself, succeeded in pooling scarce resources to renovate and enlarge the facilities of both the elementary and high schools where I got my basic education.

By upgrading the facilities in both schools, we were able to create a more conducive environment for learning and teaching, and of course a better working conditions for teachers.

These physical improvements that the schools help maintain, likewise upgrade the quality of basic and secondary education in a school.

As they say, the mindscape defines the landscape. Or vice versa.

Perhaps, it is modest and safe to say, that both schools which have been recipient of more than R40-million worth of infrastructure projects over the last five years are now "model schools in Pangasinan and Region 1 terms of infrastructure development."

Except for only one school building here in Banaoang Central, all the rest here are new ones.

So if the General Problem is school buildings, then what is the General Solution?

There are other general problems of teachers that need to be addressed. …