SCAR TISSUE: Love, pray, teach

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There is a certain kind of anger in social media right now.

Apparently, a couple of broadcasters have earned the ire and outrage of teachers – particularly public school teachers – who were offended by the commentaries against them.

I’m not here to fuel that hatred, or to demand a public apology (though I am a teacher myself). An opinion is an opinion, no matter how we hate it. Price of democracy.

What I write is what I know.

We know of sordid tales if teachers who sell all sorts of things – from longganisa, to underwear.

But how many of us know the tale of Teacher Sara, who had to cross a mountain and three streams (no exaggeration – areas in the highlands can sometimes be inaccessible to public transport, so teachers have to go ON FOOT to reach a pupil’s home) just to check on one child, how said child is doing, and why said child no longer goes to school.

We know of sordid tales of teachers whose salaries are already paid to local usurers, painting an ugly picture na si ma’am utangera.

But we how many of us know of Teacher Tess, who spent her allowance buying three large electric fans (her summer vacation had to wait) so that her students would not be frying under the heat, magnified by rusting corrugated roofs? How many of us know of Teacher Ben who had to shell out his personal money to replace the broken doorknob, the hole in the roof, the leak in the faucet, the ornamental plants dying because the requested budget has not arrived yet?

We know of sordid tales of teachers who punish erring students and humiliate them in front of the class.

But have we known the story of Teacher Mylene, who frets and fusses over little Clara who is developing a fever? Or of Teacher Jess who decided to give up the lunch his wife prepared – adobong baboy – because seven-year-old Marcelino is crying, upset that his lunch – salt – is gone, when he swears he remembers sprinkling it on top of his hot rice that morning.

We know of sordid tales of teachers who continue receiving pay even on vacation.

But do we know of the tale of Teacher Bella, who has to juggle between attending seminars, calling a local carpenter to fix the broken path walk, worry over the grades of an absentee pupil who is endangering her parent’s 4Ps subsidy, and make tons of paper work assessing the behavior of every single pupil under her care?

These tales I know because I have been given the honor of meeting some of them, and I have seen first-hand the conditions of their institutions.

To think that teachers only prepare lessons, check papers, and give quizzes is barely scratching the surface of what they actually do. Summer is no vacation for them; they have tons of work to do.

And if they get paid without working, should we begrudge them of their luxury?

The teachers – especially in public schools – are not perfect. They have flaws. They are humans, after all.

But there is more to being a teacher than teaching. As one of them told me, “Miss, we are the DOH, DPWH, DOF, DSWD combined.” He said it half in jest, but I was overwhelmed by the truth behind his words.

Teachers are so much more than lecturers. They mold young minds. They act as second parents. And they hurt and bleed for every student who hurts and bleeds.

I respect the opinion of the broadcasters.

But this is mine.

To my counterparts in the public school system, salute! You will forever have my respect.

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