Leaving Your Mark Vs. Others Leaving Their Mark

At the beginning of the Fellowship, I have already expected that this experience will involve leaving my mark to the students, school, and the community. But as I journeyed through it, I learned that what’s more important is I lead and enable others to leave their own mark. I have witnessed this when I had the opportunity to coach five (5) pupils for a Science Olympiad – a highlight that has left mark in me.

With only a month of preparation, we were informed that our school was invited to join the Division of Cagayan de Oro Science Quiz Bee. Both excited and hesitant, I accepted the challenge to coach and train five (5) pupils from Grades 3-6. For almost 3 hours a day, under a tree or inside the container van, whether it rained or not, we reviewed past lessons and practiced answering questionnaires. More than having a difficult time, they had determination and eagerness to come after school and still train.

Up until the day of competition, all they had was excitement. They were placed in different rooms were 50+ participants were seated. In one of the rooms, I saw the list of all participating schools – except the Macapaya extension. I almost teared up. I know, not all schools know our campus, but I expected a little from the Division.

Nevertheless, my pupils did well for their first-ever interschool tournament. In the Environmental Science category, my pupil placed fifth (5th). I am extremely and equally proud of them and their enthusiasm. Although they weren’t recognized, I believed that in a way, the students have left their marks and Camaman-an Elementary School – Macapaya Campus has already been put on the map – ready to conquer the Division next time.

All smiles,

Donna, the daydreamer


Fellowship: Make, Break, and Mold

The fellowship makes, breaks, and then molds you.

When you were inducted as a Teacher Fellow, everything was well-planned. The fellowship makes you become so aspirant and idealistic on how you would want to be a teacher inside the classroom. It makes you feel empowered that finally, you are a teacher. You can make a change. You can help the Filipino children dream big.  You can inspire people to do the same as you are doing. But actually, these sentiments you make (or in this case, I made) were also the same reasons you will break.

The fellowship breaks you as you enter the classroom. Your heart breaks as you see kids without books, a school with no budget,  and piles of tasks to do. You do things you want to do. You’re passionate and compassionate. You give your all in and out of the school. But it breaks you because you feel  so unaccomplished. Only a tiny speck of change has happened. Were you really able to impart something to the children? That’s what we’re all hoping for.

And then, fellowship molds you. It molds you to become a changemaker. With all the things you see in front of you, it makes you think of more ways on how you can achieve change.  And as you have become molded with your ideals and the realities of the education in the Philippines, you’ve become bolder, wiser, and fiercer (wow Laida Magtalas ver. 2.0!) with every challenge you face because you know that the Filipino children deserve excellent and relevant education. After all, we’re doing it #ParaSaBata at #ParaSaBayan.


“Munting Alay” ko, namin, para sa’yo



Camaman-an Elementary School – Macapaya Campus Faculty with a parent

Noong nakaraang Disyembre, bilang paggunita sa kapaskuhan, ay napagdesisyunan naming mga guro na mamili ng mga estudyanteng kapus-palad na aming pagbibigyan ng mga munting regalo at handog. Akala ko ay ang mga bata ang matutuwa sa aming sorpresa, subalit kami palang mga guro ang higit na nasiyahan sa aming pag-aalay.

Continue reading

#PUSO: A Short Letter to the Cohort

2017 CohortA_10.jpg

A week has passed since the Summer Institute of Teach for the Philippines ended. Sepanx is creeping in (hence this post) and I’m just gonna lay it all out now:

To the 36 strongest and most passionate people I ever knew,

You’re nuts.

I mean, who in their right mind would take on this challenge and still believe that the education system in our country would change? You’re a bit crazy to commit yourselves and be part of TFP’s advocacy. It could have been a scam or a hoax, and yet you showed faith.

And while you are not in your right mind, I know for sure that you are in your right heart to put your strength and dedication to something as big as this. Ambiguity is the way we’re going but your love is certain enough to conquer this. #PUSO

For the past two months, everytime I see you, you all radiate passion and perseverance. There were times you wanted to give up but still you continued to pour your heart out. It is so ironic how one day you are crying and wanting to quit, then the next day I see you teaching in your classes all so energetic and enthusiastic. You keep on saying things like, “I can’t go on”, “I’m going home” and yet you finished stronger and more resilient than ever before.

And while I was with you in all these events, I too, became nuts.

The two years will be more challenging than what we had for two weeks. When reality hits (and it’ll be on June 5!!!), I know you will still complain about making LP’s and establishing classroom management. It’ll be totally different and difficult more so because no one will be guiding you. But you always have the whole cohort who supports and encourages you every step of the way. We’ve created a bond so solid that even our PTM’s call us clingy (well, we don’t care hahaha).

As you go start your own journey, remember your “why”. After all, you’re doing this #ParaSaBata at #ParaSaBayan. You do it for them. Because whatever you do, you’re already a change maker. So make that change visible and possible for the Filipino children.

Lastly, self-care! You are on your own. You are your best IM. One day sick leave is equivalent to one day of no learning for the kids. You gotta take care of yourself to take care of others as well.

Padayon, Cohort 2017!

All smiles,

Donna, the daydreamer

PS. This also serves as my personal reminder huhu

Photo: © Sarah Co


Batang Katulad Ni Darwin

“Sa mundong hindi ka tanggap at walang naniniwala sa’yo, narito ako upang maging iyong gabay at liwanag patungo sa magandang kinabukasan.”

Bago pa man ako maging bahagi ng Teach for the Philippines, nakilala ko si Darwin sa isang community immersion sa Biñan, Laguna. Nag-aaral siya sa Dela Paz Main Elementary School at nasa ika-limang baitang (noong panahong iyon). Kung aking mailalarawan, si Darwin ay isang pangkaraniwang bata na umaasta ayon sa kanyang baitang. Hindi maituturing na espesyal, pero hindi rin ganun kaordinaryo.

Higit sa kanyang panlabas na anyo ay pumukaw sa akin ang kwento ni ‘Cher Ging na kanyang guro sa pagbabasa. Si Darwin pala ay labing tatlong taong gulang, mas matanda kaysa sa kanyang mga kaklase, at nahihirapan pa rin bumasa. Bihira lamang siya dumalo ng reading remedials kung kaya’t madalas itong bumabagsak. Sa araw na iyon, naroon kami upang kausapin ang mga magulang ni Darwin.

Pagdating namin sa tahanan nila ay malugod kaming sinalubong ng mga kapitbahay at ng kanyang lolo. Sila na lamang ang nagpapalaki kay Darwin. Ipinaalam nila ‘Cher Ging ang sitwasyon ng bata at ang maaari nilang maitulong sa bahay upang makatapos ito ng pag-aaral. Sa halip na suporta at pag-intindi ang aming marinig sa bibig ng matanda, walang hintong pinagsabihan at pinagalitan si Darwin – sa harap namin at ng mga kapitbahay.

Hindi ko lubos maisip ang nararamdaman ni Darwin. Nakayuko lang siya at tila nahihiyang nasa kanya ang atensyon ng lahat. Iniiwas niya ang tingin sa mga nasa paligid at walang magawang nilalaro ang kanyang tenga. Ano nga ba ang mararamdaman ko kung ako ang nakaupo sa silyang iyon? Lamunin na sana ako ng lupa. Hindi dahil ako’y nahihiya kundi dahil ang taong inakala kong naniniwala sa akin ay wala pala talagang pag-aaruga sa akin. Marahil ay maiiyak ako sa ganung sitwasyon.

Ngunit inilagay ko rin ang aking sarili sa pwesto ng kanyang lolo. Hindi ko magagawang magalit sa kanya o sa kanino man na magulang na ninanais lamang na matuto ang kanilang anak. Ang tanging kailangan lamang ay ipaintindi ang kanilang gampanin sa loob ng bahay upang mapagyabong ang pagkatuto ng mga bata.

Kung kaya’t bago ako nagtraining bilang guro, isinapuso ko ang alaala ko kay Darwin. Ang mga batang katulad niya na pinagkaitan ng paniniwala at pagtanggap ang siyang aking naging inspirasyon upang magpatuloy. At iyon pa rin ang aking magiging motibasyon sa darating na pasukan. Bilang guro, pinapangako kong maniniwala ako sa kakayahan ng aking mga estudyante at sa kanilang mga pangarap. Magiging mahirap ngunit ito’y aking paninindigan.

Subalit, sapat na nga ba ang isang taong handang maniwala sa kanila?

All smiles,