MANILA, Philippines - In his State of the Nation Address last July 25, President Aquino urged the people to take the time to say “thank you” to those who render service and perform their duties faithfully with no fanfare or recognition. Among those he cited were teachers, as he acknowledged his Filipino teacher at the Ateneo, Nenita Escasa, who even taught Filipino in China under a special exchange program before she retired.

One foundation has been giving just recognition to teachers for the last 27 years, and this year the Metrobank Foundation Inc. (MBFI) adds ten more distinguished and dedicated educators to an honored group of 296 outstanding teachers committed to “nurturing a culture of excellence and service among educators through professional development, publications, research and advocacy in active partnership with government and non-government organizations.”

This year’s winners were chosen from 175 nominees from various public and private educational institutions in the country. Regionalfinalists numbering 40 were selected, and they underwent interviews and teaching demonstrations before a panel of preliminary judges. From among them, 20 national finalists were named, and they faced rigorous screening by the final board of judges co-chaired by Sen. Loren Legarda and Supreme Court Associate Justice Martin Villarama Jr. Also serving as judges were Quezon Rep. Lorenzo Tañada III, Leyte Gov. Jericho Petilla, Singaporean Ambassador A Selverajah, Far Eastern University president Lydia Echauz, and broadcast journalist Veronica Baluyut-Jimenez.

“Humbling is the discovery, year upon year of the search, of the selfless commitment and courage of these exemplary educators to withstand challenges in order to nurture the minds and the hearts of our young students,” said MBFI president Aniceto Sobrepeña.

In fulfilling their vocation as teachers, many of the awardees have displayed their resourcefulness and innovativeness.

Marcela Jingco, an English teacher at Angeles Elementary School, Angeles City, is one of these creative teachers who makes her teaching materials out of recylable materials, which in turn encourages her students and co-teachers to think of practical ways to preserve the environment.

Another resourceful teacher is Dr. Teodora Conde of Andres Bonifacio Elementary School, Manila. Though she is the most senior awardee of this year’s batch, she is also one of the most innovative, with homemade Science teaching aids including cotton-stuffed stockings sewn together to form a brain model; a water wheel made of plastic spoons; and an improvised rocket model made of discarded plastic bottles.

As a Math teacher, Lora Añar of Bukidnon State University in Malaybalay City employs fun and interactive activities like music, poetry, and games, to teach the often difficult subject. Her strategies have proven effective as many of her students have reaped medals in national competitions. Añar has also developed materials and modules not only for her own classes, but as helpful references for teachers and future educators at their university.

Likewise, Djhoane Aguilar of Panabo Central Elementary School, has been an active figure in implementing Basic Education Assistance for Mindanao (BEAM), a project of the Department of Education funded by the Australian government. Through her work with BEAM, she has trained English teachers in Mindanao in creatively developing their lessons.

Secondary level competition winners have all harnessed the power of technology to make their lessons both interesting and accessible to students.

Dr. Chelo Tangan initiated the set-up of a functional audio-visual room in Cagayan National High School, Tuguegarao City, a facility that has greatly enhanced the students’ learning process. A Social Studies teacher, she has served as coach of Team Philippines, the champions at the 4th ASEAN Quiz Regional Competition.

Buenaventura Luces of Lusacan National High School in Tiaong, Quezon, invented a teaching device called “Math Checker” (available athttp://www.mathchecker.weebly.com). The multifunction teaching aid can be used in classroom instruction, as intervention material for learners having difficulties in Math, and as a game or competition. It is now being widely used by the Quezon DepEd division.

Maricel Franco of Nueva Vizcaya General Comprehensive High School has developed many Physics instructional materials including the web-enhanced learning activities – an online treasure hunt and web-quest game. She also serves as a national trainer for the Intel Teach Program, which enables her to extend her reach as an education as far as Batanes.

Vilma Ambat of Baguio City National High School has been become internationally-recognized for “Mobile Learning Anytime, Anywhere” a project geared towards students who are active in the arts and have to miss class for rehearsals and performances. With the project, students can download learning materials onto their MP3 players and mobile phones and continue to study even when not in the classroom. Because of her work, Ambat was one of the 25 finalists in the Worldwide Innovative Educators Forum in Cape Town, South Africa, a winner in the Asia Pacific Regional Educators Forum in Singapore, and one of the top four winners in the 5th Innovative Teachers Leadership Awards.

In the higher education category, two outstanding professors have garnered this year’s honors.

Dr. Jericho Thaddeus Luna of the University of the Philippines-Manila has taught medical students, residents in Obsetrics and Gynecology, fellows in Gynecologic Oncology and colleagues all over the country. An advocate of the prevention and management of postpartum hemorrhage, the leading cause of maternal morbidity and mortality in the country, Luna has also conducted trainings for doctors, midwives and nurses in Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA). VIA was eventually adopted by the Department of Health as a national cervical cancer screening tool.

Dr. Allan de Guzman of the University of Santo Tomas, College of Nursing, pioneered the introduction of the “thesis-by-article” format, which has enabled thesis writers to publish their findings in various international journals. Revolutionizing the way both undergraduate and graduate theses are carried out, the format’s success has manifested in the improvement of UST’s standing in the QS Top 200 Universities in Asia. De Guzman has also been involved in the Education for Peace Network in Pagadian, Zamboanga del Sur, where he contributed to the professional development of teachers in the city as a vital way in attaining peace.

This year’s outstanding teachers will be conferred with gold medals and plaques by President Aquino. They will also be presented at a formal awarding ceremony during Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company’s anniversary celebration on September 5. -By Dina Sta. Maria (The Philippine Star) Updated August 14, 2011

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