Ilocos Norte

Ilocano teacher to get Princess Maha Chakri Award for education work, charity

Mari-An C. Santos

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

Ilocano teacher to get Princess Maha Chakri Award for education work, charity

LOVE FOR MATH. Teachers help build basic Math skills among students in Ilocos Norte.

courtesy of Jerwin Valencia

The prestigious award is a recognition given to exceptional educators from ASEAN member-countries for their significant contributions to the lives of others

MANILA, Philippines – Math teacher Jerwin Valencia from Dingras, Ilocos Norte, will receive the 2023 Princess Maha Chakri Award this October in Thailand for going out of his way to help students learn and help those in need. 

Valencia, the eleventh child of a housewife and a farmer, conceptualized a project in 2018, which has so far helped 1,200 children learn Math through household chores and tutorial sessions. 

His charity work went beyond students. He initiated a project that helped his needy neighbors build houses, which eventually expanded to help fire and flood survivors.

BEADS AND MATH. Children work on beads to make bracelets which is a part of teacher Jerwin Valencia’s project to help them learn the basics of Mathematics. – courtesy of Jerwin Valencia

On October 17, he will be awarded the PMCA, a biannual recognition given to exceptional educators from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and Timor-Leste, for his significant contributions to the lives of others.

Small beginnings

Valencia had humble beginnings. When he was in second grade, two of his older sisters worked abroad to support their siblings’ education.

He said he always loved studying Math, and participating in various intra- and interschool competitions. He was active in co-curricular activities, including the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) and the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA).

After graduating from the Mariano Marcos State University-College of Teacher Education, Valencia worked for two years at Dingras Faith Academy. Then he applied for work as a Math teacher at the Dingras National High School-Poblacion.

Initially, he was supported by the local school board with a monthly salary of only P6,000. After six months, he became a regular teacher.

Valencia said that while he once taught a maximum of 25 students per class in a private school, now, each section in the public school is composed of 45 to 48 students. This year, he handles one section of Grade 9 students and five sections of Grade 10 students.

“It’s challenging,” he told Rappler. “But if you love teaching and are concerned about your students, then you’ll organize various activities to help them learn to love math and appreciate its relevance to their daily lives.”

Strengthening Math skills

Valencia came up with Project MATH (#MakesATremendousHelp) in response to parents who expressed concern that their children only had time to complete school requirements and nothing else.

To help address this, Valencia created a checklist of household chores for his students, including tending to and beautifying their gardens. Parents verify that the tasks have been completed. Since 2018, approximately 1,200 students have participated in this program.

In addition, the entire Math department conducts tutorial sessions as part of Project ‘Wag MATHakot (Don’t be Afraid of Math). After schools reopened in 2021, they assessed the results of the annual numeracy pre-tests given to Grade 7 students.

Valencia said they identified students who needed help and began providing half-day tutorial sessions during their rest days (at that time, students alternated attending classes twice a week). The sessions were held in a relaxed environment and even included snacks for the students.

Valencia said some people provided funds for learning materials and food, which helped make the project successful.

Now, they conduct the sessions twice a week after classes. As a result, there has been a significant improvement in the students’ performance, with 50 project “graduates” so far.

Beyond school gates

Moved by the plight of students confined to their homes during the pandemic, Valencia initiated Sagut-Ayat Para Iti Arapaap (Gift of Love for a Dream).

With a P1,000 donation, he bought ice cream and cones for 60 children in two nearby villages and delivered them to each student’s home. The simple gesture brought smiles to their faces, Valencia said.

Valencia then collected funds to buy school supplies and snacks. Relatives living in the same area helped pack the donations, which he delivered to 130 students from nursery to high school in seven zones of his village.

Then a fellow member of the International Professional Association of Dingras (IPAD) sent him a balikbayan box from the United States filled with groceries and beads for bracelet-making, and he distributed them to 50 children. 

Valencia organized several bracelet-making events in different houses in Dingras, with children and adults following strict pandemic protocols.

Subsequently, the donor visited Valencia and donated more beads for subsequent bracelet-making sessions.

In 2022, Valencia coordinated a feeding program in partnership with the elementary school principal, serving each student a hot bowl of noodle soup and giving them a health kit.

“These actions reassured the children that people cared about them, particularly during the lockdown days,” Valencia said.

Mobilizing for good

Project AgBALAYgi, which means “success,” was launched in March 2019 by Valencia as a way to celebrate his 29th birthday and raise funds to help three neighbors build simple concrete houses. Balay is the Ilocano for house.

After posting an appeal on social media, he received a total of P75,000, and other donors contributed materials and manual labor. The future homeowners participated in the construction, and each now owns a 16-square-meter house with galvanized roofings.

Since then, members of his network have initiated projects, and Valencia has used the same model to help fire and flood survivors replace their shanties with homes. Neighbors and fellow motorcycle enthusiasts volunteered in the construction work.

In total, they have built homes for 32 families, including 35 children, all over the province, and have helped families short on budget realize their dream of having a roof over their heads.

CONCERTED EFFORT. Volunteers and future homeowners strike a pose at a small house which they helped build together through the AgBALAYgi project. – courtesy of Jerwin Valencia

The Backyard to Kitchen project, now in its second year, is being implemented with IPAD, which provided funds to purchase 10,200 seedlings for vegetables that were distributed to 350 households. Additional seeds from the Urban Gardening project of the BSP benefited almost 100 households.

As the school’s disaster risk reduction management coordinator, Valencia helped organize Project Iligtas and Project Oplan Tulong, which mobilized relief operation efforts during the pandemic and calamities, including in the aftermath of Typhoon Odette (Rai) in 2021.

In 2022, Valencia and his team also helped a 15-year-old student who was over six feet tall – quite tall by Filipino standards – and wore ill-fitting uniforms. 

The student had been bullied, but after being called to the stage during one flag-raising ceremony and given new shoes and sets of uniforms, he became confident, Valencia said. Donors also sent the student vitamins.

Valencia said he hopes that his recognition will inspire others to do good for others without expecting anything in return. He said expressions of gratitude from beneficiaries and words of encouragement, even from strangers, were already fulfilling. –

Mari-An C. Santos is an Aries Rufo Journalism fellow.

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI