‘Bayanihan in action’

Jee Y. Geronimo
Commonwealth Elementary School prepares for the school opening on June 3

 PREPARING FOR JUNE. Volunteers of the Commonwealth elementary school in Quezon City.

MANILA, Philippines – All 4 children of Erlinda Mallari, 65, already finished formal schooling. But for her 3 grandchildren, she was willing to pick up the broom again and make Commonwealth Elementary School (CES) conducive for learning.

On Tuesday, May 21, the second day of the Department of Education’s (DepEd) 2013 National Schools Maintenance Week or Brigada Eskwela, the CES community participated to prepare the school for the opening of schools on June 3.

Brigada, which started in 2003 and now on its 10th year, is a nationwide voluntary effort which encourages the participation of teachers, parents, and the community to do clean up and repairs in public schools. 

The faculty, led by CES Principal Rodolfo Modelo, invited the Philippine Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates Grace Relucio-Princesa, who talked about the Filipino identity in line with this year’s Brigada theme, “Isang Dekada ng Bayanihan sa Paaralan.”

“Filipinos are SRE: strong, resilient, and exceptional. In Tagalog, MMK: malakas, matibay, at kakaiba,” she said.

For her, it was important to know who the Filipino is to fully identify with the goals of the program.

“Brigada Eskwela is bayanihan in action. [But] aside from bayanihan, the Philippines needs love of country and God, discipline, and visionary leadership to succeed,” Princesa said.

She lauded the volunteers who were willing to help the government prepare the classrooms for the opening day.

Hall of famer

With about 10,000 pupils and 290 teachers, Commonwealth Elementary School is the biggest elementary school in Quezon City. Since 2011, the school also holds the top spot among all public schools nationwide for the Brigada program.

Their aim, according to Modelo, is to be champions 3 years in a row, giving them a slot in the Hall of Fame.

“We don’t wait until Brigada Eskwela to [prepare the school]. Little by little, we work together to accomplish the tasks,” Modelo said in Filipino. He added that even Education Undersecretary Lino Rivera noticed the active involvement of the CES community in the program.

CLEAN UP. Parents join the clean up at the Commonwealth Elementary School in Quezon City.

SSESs during Brigada

One of Mallari’s grandchildren is a grade two special science education elementary school (SSES) pupil. SSESs are specialized schools that are science-oriented to align with the government’s plan to groom more Filipino students in pursuit of scientific endeavors.

Rachelle Tuliao, a grade two SSES teacher in CES, said that almost all parents of their pupils help out during Brigada.

“SSES is the highest section. So parents of SSES pupils are very helpful, very generous. But it’s harder when it comes to lower sections. No one shows up [during Brigada], so the teacher is left to provide [the needs of the classroom],” another SSES teacher, Aileen Niverba said in Filipino.

Tuliao added that the classroom she will be teaching in this coming school year is shared with two other classes, with a total of 120 pupils per day. – Rappler.com


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Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.