Hard choices for teachers after Yolanda

Classes in Tacloban City will resume on Monday, December 2, and teachers who just left the city will now have to go back again to teach

SEPARATE WAYS. Corazon will be heading back to Tacloban City on her own for the opening of classes on December 2. Her husband and daughter will stay behind in Manila. Photo by Jee Geronimo/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – If Corazon Maglinte had her way, Tacloban City will have one less teacher when classes resume on Monday, December 2. (READ: Yolanda damaged 3,171 schools – DepEd)

Maglinte, 27, has been a teacher for 3 years in Tacloban. This school year, she is an adviser of a Grade 6 class in Bolante Elementary School where she also teaches English and MSEP (Musika, Sining, at Edukasyong Pampalakas) subjects to Grades 4 and 5 pupils.

Teaching is what she does best, she said, and what she still wants to do – even in another city, another town.

Last Thursday, November 21, Maglinte, her husband Gerardo, and their one-year-old daughter Shalani, traveled two days to reach Metro Manila. They left their roofless home in Tacloban for the sake of the little girl, bringing nothing but a few of Shalani’s things.

They arrived in Manila on Friday, November 22, and here is where the couple wants to start over again. They already have a plan in mind: Gerardo will look for a job, and he said that as long he’s hardworking, he’ll be able to find one. They will also put up a sari-sari store for additional income.

As for Maglinte, she will request to be transferred to a school in Quezon City, where they now live with her husband’s mother. She wants to stay in Quezon City where her family is. They may have lost everything after the typhoon, but at least they have each other.

The plan is flawless, if only Maglinte had the guts to ask.

But before she even went around asking, Education Secretary Br Armin Luistro already dropped hints for all teachers who left the Visayas to go back and help the department in the resumption of classes on Monday.

Pinadapa ni Yolanda ang Tacloban, Samar, at Leyte, pero hindi si Yolanda ang huling salita. Ako, si teacher, babalik ako sa aking pinanggalingan…Babalik at babalik tayo, ipapakita natin na kung saan tayo itinatak, dun din tayo tatayo,” Luistro tells 245 affected teachers in a gathering on Monday, November 26, at the central office of the Department of Education (DepEd). (READ: Dear Teachers: Stand tall – not for ourselves, but for others)

(Yolanda may have destroyed Tacloban, Samar and Leyte, but Yolanda is not the last word. As a teacher, I will go back to where I came from. We will go back, and we will show them that where we were planted, there we will stand again.)

While Luistro was speaking, Maglinte’s husband whispered to her: “Hindi ka ‘ata papayagang mag-transfer (I don’t think they’ll let you transfer).”

NOTHING LEFT. The view of Gerardo and Corazon's house after Yolanda. Photo by Gerardo Maglinte

Reluctant

Sa ibang disasters, minsan bumababa ang enrollment. So on a case-to-case basis, depending on the need also, then we will find out if some of them [teachers] can be assisted [in transferring]. But at this time, we’re preparing for the reopening of classes, we may need them. Pero most of them, nakausap namin, gustong bumalik naman e. Naghahanap lang sila ng kasiguraduhan na…meron silang babalikan,” Luistro said. (READ: Schools told: Accept students affected by Yolanda ASAP)

(In other disasters, sometimes enrollment drops. So on a case-to-case basis, depending on the need also, then we will find out if some of them [teachers] can be assisted [in transferring]. But at this time, we’re preparing for the reopening of classes, we may need them. But most of them who we’ve talked to wants to go back to. They just want an assurance they have somewhere to go back to.)

Maglinte is reluctant to return to Tacloban. (READ: Back to basics: Leaving notes, finding people)

“It’s all I can do – teach. But how do we go back there? How do we start teaching when the damage is so great? And that’s the question, too: Will kids go back to school when they have nowhere to live in and nothing to eat?” she said in Filipino.

Luistro said going back to school would show children that things are slowly going back to normal, especially the 886,256 kids in areas affected by Yolanda. Of this number, 52,251 students hail from Corazon’s city, Tacloban.

But how about teachers like Maglinte, who will now have to leave families behind to return to work? 

Still, duty calls. And Maglinte has no choice but to go back and tend to kids not her own. – Rappler.com

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