A day of firsts: Fil-Am teaches in public school

David Lozada

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Pursuing his passion, Kilo Chuidian chooses to teach in Holy Spirit Elementary School instead of getting a high-paying job

MANILA, Philippines – Kilo Chuidian is part of the first cohort of Teach for the Philippines. Instead of being employed by high-paying companies, he chooses to teach in a public school.

David Lozada reports.



It was a day of firsts. For these kids, it’s the first day of class. For Filipino-American Kilo Chuidian, it’s the first day he teaches a class.

A graduate of Boston University, Kilo could have landed a well-paying job anywhere in the world. Instead, he’s here teaching public school at the Holy Spirit Elementary School in the Philippines.

Kilo is one of the fifty-three fellows of Teach for the Philippines deployed in ten public schools in Quezon City. He pledges to teach for two years.

Passionate about education, Kilo initially thought of joining Teach for America. An invitation from his mom to teach in the Philippines instead, changed his plans.

KILO HENARES-CHUIDIAN                                                                                             FELLOW, TEACH FOR THE PHILIPPINES

Why in the Philippines? Because Philippines is a country that for many years I had ignored my ethnicity to. I had figured that it was time to finally go back to my cultural roots and find out what it meant to be Filipino.

After his first class, Kilo says everything turned out as expected.

KILO HENARES-CHUIDIAN                                                                                             FELLOW, TEACH FOR THE PHILIPPINES

I thought I had a six hour lesson plan but it came out to only three. I made me remember that teaching is really about thinking on your feet…and being able to adjust to how quickly your students learn.

Growing up in America, Kilo is not fluent in Filipino. He admits language makes it difficult for him to communicate with his students. He employs a technique to overcome this weakness.

KILO HENARES-CHUIDIAN                                                                                             FELLOW, TEACH FOR THE PHILIPPINES

I guess it’s really interesting considering my students cause half the time we don’t really understand each other. What I have to do is to wait for one of them to finish the talk then tell them, “Okay, you go teach everybody else.” 

Department of Education superintendent Dr. Betty Cavo expects the fellows to bring a new perspective to the public school system.

DR. BETTY CAVO                                                                                                                 DEPED QUEZON CITY SUPERINTENDENT

We wanted to expose our students, give opportunities to our students to be trained under the best teachers. These are not the typical public school teachers. So this is anew experience for our children. As the principal was saying, the students were very excited when they saw their teachers; they were you, full of idealism…

The TFP partner schools scored lowest in last year’s National Achievement Test. As for teacher Kilo, he knows that he is up for an exciting year.

KILO HENARES-CHUIDIAN                                                                                             FELLOW, TEACH FOR THE PHILIPPINES

Also found out that a couple of my students really wanna be doctors and engineers. They’re trying really hard to learn Math and Science. I’m pretty sure I’ll keep reinforcing all the good behaviors I want to see in them throughout the year.

Kilo wants his students to achieve their dreams. This is a dream he shares with the 52 other fellows of Teach for the Philippines.

David Lozada, Rappler Manila. –

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