Tuesday, May 27, 2008


With the government's plan to broadcast satellite-based education to children in the rural and remote areas of the Philippines having been cancelled (see timeline of ZTE-NBN deal), newly-appointed Armed Forces chief Gen Alexander Yano has received a directive from President Arroyo to send soldiers to teach.

The president argues that many members of the military forces are college graduates; thus, qualified to bring education to children in the country's remote villages. In essence, our soldiers will now be tasked to protect our children's mind as well.

According to a nephew who was once with the Philippine Air Force, local employment opportunities have been so bleak for many recent college graduates that they have started opting for a career in the military. He was one of them.

And with such influx, recruitment officials have raised the bar; favoring those with college diplomas over mere high school graduates. I met some of my nephew's military colleagues; they all seemed to be fine young people who are capable of teaching our children.

Nonetheless, however wonderful this soldier-teacher program appears to be, I couldn't help but be concerned for their safety as they are sent to far-flung communities.

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posted by Señor Enrique at 8:51 AM


Blogger nutart said...

this is a very interesting concept, Eric! Being of the boondocks literally, I have some personal observations about the attitude of civilian teachers in town---they abhor and even laugh at the idea of being assigned upland. It takes a certain attitude for a teacher to say "hey, I'm a teacher first and foremost!"

Soldiers are the ideal people to go to these areas to teach as well just because they are rigorously trained to withstand marching and hiking through mountainous terrains but the qualification can stop to this...
A lot of people in the remote areas lack confidence just because they miss out the opportunity to finish their elementary years. Usually the reason is that the school is far, far away and transportation money is far too hard to have. Thus the root of the "poor" mentality. They are wary of so many types of people they consider "aliens" or those who won't understand their plights---moreso soldiers.
We have a detachment of soldiers hereabouts posted to counter the so-called insurgency problem. There is rampant illegal logging here, but they don't move a muscle it seems because they are supposed to be on orders to get at the insurgents...The "insurgents" however, have somehow gained the confidence of the locals here because they teach the ABC's as well as inculcate the ideology of justice for all. I heard years ago that they also help investigate certain crimes (like for instance, having a carabao stolen) made to these locals and deal with it justly. A carabao can cost as much as a second- hand motorbike! As compared with the inconvenient process of reporting to the police (who, to my direct experience, subtly insult one's ignorance of spelling, for instance) and then go to another bayan to file with the fiscal's office just to be told that maybe a warrant of arrest would be in action if the fiscal finds it valid. After the warrant of arrest is issued, bahala na if the police will act on it. In the meantime, much time and energy is and was lost from making a daily living.
I tell you of this because if a soldier becomes a teacher to the rural folks who may have been subject to much discrimination of both the military and civilian government in the past, then instead of being the teacher, the soldier will be "taught" instead.
Kaya, I don't really blame those rebel soldiers like Faeldon.

Ideals are taught in school yet they can be severely tested when it comes to the harsh realities hereabouts.

May 27, 2008 12:16 PM  

Anonymous rhodora said...

Know what? I once dreamed of being assigned to a remote place to teach. No kidding. I like challenges and adventures. But then, with my own kids to raise, this remained to be just a dream. :)

May 27, 2008 5:25 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Notwithstanding, Bernadette, isn't that why many of our young people in those remote upland villages are won over by the rebels with Maoist teachings. Due to poverty and lack of dedicated public school personnel, they must truly feel isolated and so far removed from the mainstream Filipino society.

As for the soldiers going in to those remote places to man the schools as teachers, won't they inevitably become vulnerable to attack by some rebels in the area?

May 28, 2008 5:11 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Didn't actually see the movie, but wasn't there a movie by Gil Portes a few years ago about a school teacher in some remote village, Rhoda? That reminds me of your dream. If anything such teachers could and should be deemed "heroes" for such dedication.

May 28, 2008 5:15 AM  

Blogger nutart said...

To answer you question, Eric...I can only answer it from my personal experience here in the island. Life here is actually peaceful. The times when we had actual encounters between the rebels and the government soldiers were...interesting. We could hear shots even somewhere down below our valley. The Manila newspapers wrote like we had some civil war here ala Cuba which made my parents phone us to get back to Manila. But, really it was still peaceful. The sympathizers of the rebels here are actually peace-loving individuals with lots of concern for their communities. One was executed as a warning for the rest. That event was the saddest in my whole stay here. The rebels here want a better life for the marginalized and they were able to somehow "persuade" the rich here to grant scholarships to a certain number of young people.
I have the movie of Gil Portes "Munting Pangarap" or something. It still is a bit simple way of showing the problems and travails of public schools in remote areas to my thinking.

May 28, 2008 9:33 AM  

Blogger BW said...

It is a real novel idea when you think that the military has nothing much to do in time of peace, plus the fact that people in the far flung areas get to be protected by the presence of soldiers. I would also think that there is a great amount of respect for soldiers so perhaps the people will take their teaching seriously :)

May 28, 2008 9:49 AM  

Blogger armovil said...

Mabuhay kaming mga teachers! The unsung heroes of the Philippines. Molding the youth and inculcating the mind of the students here in America and the Philippines.

May 28, 2008 12:28 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I see, and that may be why Pangulong Gloria had no trepidation in issuing orders to send our soldiers as teachers to those upland areas. Thanks for sharing with us a glimpse of rural life, Bernadette :)

May 29, 2008 7:06 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

And those young soldiers we have, BW, most certainly will also gain valuable experience and insight as they help our children far removed from the mainstream. As I've mentioned, those whom I've met through my nephew were all fine and well educated folks :)

May 29, 2008 7:09 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I believe I've said if before, Arlan, that I'm humbled by the continued efforts of our dedicated teachers in shaping the minds of our young people.

I tip my hat off to you all. Teaching is no easy task!

BTW, it's my sixth grade teacher in Bonifacio Elementary School in Tayuman, Manila, whom I give immense credit for giving me the confidence with my writing skills.

May 29, 2008 7:12 AM  

Blogger luna miranda said...

This is not a new concept. I have a childhood friend in the army who organized a classroom for kids in far flung areas of Kalinga-Apayao when he was assigned there. And not only children, they also taught adults, mostly farmers, how to read and write. I believe it's part of the AFP's community relations program. I'm sure the soldiers/teachers would be sent out as a team...one is teaching, the rest of the team is maintaning peace and order.:)

May 29, 2008 3:23 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Wow! Glad to know that there are existing programs of this nature, Luna. Thanks for sharing!

I'm sure many of our soldiers would also appreciate the experience of helping our young and old folks with expanding their knowledge instead of just whiling away their time literally bored to tears :)

May 30, 2008 7:46 AM  

Blogger reyd said...

That's a very good idea and these fine soldiers would have the experience of civic actions and social interventions right away.
Masarap magturo lalo na makikita mo yung mga tinuruan mo na lumagay sa mabuting buhay pagkaraan ng kanilang sikap sa pag-aaral.
O' kaya, masarap batukan yung mga tinuruan mo pag nakita mong nag iinuman lang sa tapat ng tindahan :lol:

June 02, 2008 1:25 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Lol ... tama ka nga, Reyd!

But the "interested" ones -- both young and old alike, I'm sure are a joy to teach :)

June 02, 2008 1:42 PM  

OpenID juleste said...

One more late comment :-)

Can we have one of those in your photo to teach in our school?

With five teachers out of the service [two retired, two went to Dubai and another one to the US to seek greener pasture] we, in our grade level, is literally code red because they've got no replacements/substitute.

And we are requested to recruit! Di ko ma-imagine na mangyayari ang ganito sa school namin..

Anyway, a soldier with a teacher's heart is always welcome in the classroom. And if one comes our school, I'll be easy on lesson plans :-) when I check it.

July 15, 2008 10:07 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

"Can we have one of those in your photo to teach in our school?"

Sure, Juleste, go ahead by all means.

I had no idea that some of our local schools are now having problems with recruiting teachers.

I tip my hat off to our teachers, by the way. It's not an easy job especially with our kids of today.

July 16, 2008 6:43 AM  

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