education in the Philippines

Filipino students share anxieties, joys, expectations on return of face-to-face classes

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Filipino students share anxieties, joys, expectations on return of face-to-face classes
From expensive commutes and traffic jams to finally seeing classmates in person – Filipino students have a lot of feels about the upcoming school year

MANILA, PhilippinesBalik-eskwela na!” We usually hear this phrase at least once a year before school starts, which may either signal excitement or anxiety depending on how much you want to go back to school. But this hasn’t been a problem in recent years due to the emergence of COVID-19 as a global pandemic.

More than two years into the pandemic, the Philippines is still transitioning from holding online classes to reopening the schools for in-person classes. The first official resumption of face-to-face classes in the country was only implemented in November 2021, 20 months from the start of the pandemic, when 100 public schools and 30 private schools participated in the pilot run of limited in-person classes.

At this point, many students cannot wait any longer to go back to school, and calls for #LigtasNaBalikEskwela have only grown stronger. However, are Filipino students prepared enough?

While enthusiasm arises with recent news of the return of face-to-face classes for school year 2022 to 2023, fear also looms with the resurgence of COVID-19 cases.

We asked our Rappler readers what makes them anxious or excited about the upcoming return of in-person classes. Here are some of their answers.

Responsibilities first!

At school, the main goals are to study and learn, so students have the responsibility to perform well in their subjects. Now that the remote setup won’t be a hindrance to learning anymore, some students are feeling extra pressured (or pumped) to excel once again.

Reader Alex Dela Cruz thought about the possible difficulties of audiovisual production courses. On the other hand, she also recognizes that field work will be exciting when face-to-face activities will finally be allowed.

Meanwhile, another reader, Maria Leonor, said that time management will be challenging for her as a full-time student and full-time call center agent.

When schools transitioned into online distance learning, working part-time became more possible. While some students chose to work to earn money for their personal wants, most students had to find jobs to buy gadgets and avail of internet data to participate in the online classes (Whew! Kudos to all working students)!

Responsibilities aside, reader Lis Fortun hoped school administrators won’t expect too much from students, professors, and staff. She noted that the two years of online class have placed burdens on everyone’s physical, mental, and psychological health.

Commuting: The never-ending traffic jam

In 2019, Metro Manila was reported in the TomTom Traffic Index to have the second worst traffic congestion in the world. Although the Philippines improved and only ranked 18th in 2021, it’s safe to say that traffic jams still plague Filipinos, as this is one of the most common worries they’ve mentioned about the return of in-person classes.

The hike no one wants: Fare hikes

Another problem related to transportation is the increase in fares due to continuously increasing oil prices.

Some readers also expressed concerns related to the fare hike such as struggling with budgeting their allowance and stressing about commuting with the new routes and time schedules.

The introverts within

After two years of social distancing and months in and out quarantine, it’s no wonder many have become comfortable just enjoying their own company.

Some of our readers mentioned finding it difficult to socialize and communicate with other people since the pandemic started. One of them also hoped that she could overcome being socially awkward once she goes to university.

While introversion became more common in the time of the pandemic, other readers shared that they were looking forward to interacting with their friends once again.

Reader Mika Salvador shared that she was excited to see her friends in her university and organizations. She also probably missed physical contact, as she mentioned missing random handshakes and hugs.

Some readers were also quick to say “baon” as one of their motivations for going back to school. Who could blame them, when getting weekly allowances again also meant the possibility of eating out with friends?

Of course, there were some readers who were giddy about school because they would finally get the chance to see their crushes in real life – and probably gossip about them later. No more drooling over Zoom meetings for them!

A gentle reminder: COVID is still here

Filipino students may be excited to go back to school, but they still have a lot to worry about, with the existence of the pandemic as a major factor. 

Amidst this opportunity to socialize with people again, the threat of the virus still lingers, and people should be reminded to abide by health protocols.

It is still uncertain if the return of in-person classes will be a success, so Filipino students can only hope for the best when things finally go back to “normal.” – with reports from Elle Guison/

Elle Guison is a Rappler intern.

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