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Students in Iloilo island-village brave sea to get to school

ILOILO, Philippines – What are you willing to risk to get an education?

Every day at 7 am, a fishing boat docks in the island-village of Tinigban in Carles, Iloilo. But the boat does not bring in the day’s catch of sea food. It brings students instead.

More than 70 students from Sitio Tubig Manok, a far-flung community located 3.5 kilometers away from Tinigban village proper, brave the sea everyday just to get to Tinigban Elementary School (TES).

“They need to go this far because there is no school in Tubig Manok…They pay P10 one way for the boat ride. They ride the boat going to and from the school,” Editha Logronio, the school’s head teacher, said. 

TES has little more than 274 students and was only promoted to a full elementary school in 2010. 

Before Super Typhoon Yolanda, Logronio said parents used to accompany and pick up their kids after school separately using their own boats. This proved costly after the super typhoon destroyed the villages’ livelihood materials. Others, would walk hours through dangerous rocky terrains on the hills inland just to get to school. 

In June 2015, the Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Committee or BDRRMC received a new pump boat from the Iloilo Caucus of Development NGOs Network (Iloilo CODE-NGOs) and Christian Aid to be used as patrol boat to guard its coastline from poachers and illegal fishers. Local leaders had the idea of using the town’s patrol boat as a school service with one barangay official serving as the operator.

The organizations also gave fishing boats to most of the fisherfolk in the village.

“The patrol boat was very useful to minimize illegal activities in the marine protected area of the barangay and also during emergencies. But the BDRRMC gave the top priority to the need of the children for the early morning and afternoon transportation,” the organization said.

Braving the seas

Logronio, who had been teaching in the elementary school for almost 30 years, commended the children’s dedication to get an education, saying they should be an inspiration to all students.

“Sometimes, when the waves are really high, we excuse them from going to school. It’s dangerous for the kids, especially those in kindergarten and Grade One,” the 53-year-old added. 

INSPIRATION. Tinigban Elementary School head teacher Editha Logronio says the students are an inspiration to more privileged youth. Photo by David Lozada/ Rappler

INSPIRATION. Tinigban Elementary School head teacher Editha Logronio says the students are an inspiration to more privileged youth.

Photo by David Lozada/ Rappler

While the risk of crossing the sea was lowered when the newer patrol boat arrived, Logronio admits there have been previous cases of accidents because sea conditions could drastically change.

“We are not informed of the incident sometimes. The kids would sometimes arrive wet here in school and they’ll tell us the boat did not withstand the waves. Many of them have adapted to the condition because they know how to swim,” the teacher said

Logronio also added: “Many of our students from Tubig Manok have already finished college. They study here for elementary and go to Estancia town proper on the mainland for high school. So the children are inspired to study.” 

The students from Tubig Manok continue to ride the waves to reach their dreams of finishing school. And teachers like Logronio say they will continue to watch over the children’s journey to getting an education. – Rappler.com

This is part of a series of stories on Iloilo CODE and Christian Aid's post-Yolanda project "Rebuilding for the Better." From August 9 to 11, a team from the organizations took MovePH to the rehabilitation sites in northern Iloilo to evaluate and document the completion of the project. The rehabilitation project covers 4 themes: renewable energy, shelter, coastal management, and livelihood. Check out the other stories here: