[People] Recovery begins with teachers. By Benjo Basas

Recovery begins with teachers
Benjo Basas, TDC Chair
November 20, 2013

Recovery begins with teachers. Photo by TDC

Recovery begins with teachers. Photo by TDC

I remember this was the theme for World Teachers’ Day celebration in October 5, 2010, because that year, the world witnessed some of the worst natural disasters in history. For this year, that theme would still be relevant in our very own country.

File photo by petiburgis.com

File photo by petiburgis.com

Some teachers of Leyte are among those people who left the island to take temporary shelter and solicit help from relatives in Cebu, Metro Manila or other relieving places. Five of those who came to Manila are members of the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) from Leyte, two from Tanauan, one from Jaro, one from MacArthur and another one from Tacloban. They travelled either via C-130 flight or a long bus ride via Maharlika highway or commercial flight from Cebu. All of them have informed me and I was able to meet them in separate instances.

The couple from Tanauan already travelled back to Leyte yesterday carrying much needed goods- medicines, food and other essentials which Sir Lino, the husband said “Para ito sa mga teacher sa lugar namin. Mga teacher kasi ang kawawa sa balyahan pag kumukuha ng relief goods, hindi natin kaya makipagsabayan eh.” He looks very weak, physically and perhaps weaker psychologically. He could not even smile and I understand his predicament, so just I asked him about the situation of my paryentes in Tanauan (because according to a Facebook status of a relative, there are more than 50 casualties from the clan alone and I’m pretty sure she included her maternal relatives in the headcount), he answered, “Masuwerte pa nga ang mga Basas dun sir kasi nasa mas mataas na baryo sila, hindi kagaya naming na nasa tabing-dagat.” He could hardly carry the bag of goods and just drag it to the bus that will travel that night to Tacloban, their trip is scheduled the following morning. It was more painful for us, because what we gave him is just enough for a day or two days consumption of his family, yet he is going to further share it to other teachers.
Another teacher, Sir Danny, the one from Jaro, Leyte left the province with his two children and his mother who needs to take dialysis treatment in Manila. They braved the long queue for 48 hours just to hitch a C-130 flight from Tacloban airport to Manila. Rain, sunlight, thirst, hunger, physical pain and the site and smell of dead bodies in the area make the agony unimaginably painful. At one time he asked his mother to act as if she is so weak so the authorities may prioritize them in which the mother replied, “Anak, hindi ko na kailangang magpanggap na mahina, dahil mahinang-mahina na talaga ako.” He cried when finally, he stepped on the platform of the plane that ensures his ride, “Akala ko nananaginip lang ako, masaya ako na hindi ko maintindihan ang nararamdaman ko.” They are now in Caloocan, in Sta. Quiteria where his relatives reside.

Another group, lead by Mam Lyn, a teacher from MacArthur, Leyte took a temporary refuge in a public school in Taguig where the principal is a supporter of TDC and a personal friend of mine. They met in Leyte during the campaign period, both of them helped the campaign of Ating Guro Partylist. Ma’am Lyn is very friendly and accommodating. I remember when I visited Leyte last December, she fetch me from the airport and brought me to my destination, itinerary actually. She travelled with two daughters, a daughter-in-law and 3 grandchildren. When I visited her in Taguig last Monday, she looks fine despite the stories of devastation, “Masuwerte kayo at hindi kayo nabahaan,” she said why recalling the horrible sites of Leyte towns from McArthur to Tacloban. We handed her what’s left of the goods TDC members brought in our meeting last Saturday- some canned goods, instant noodles and biscuits. She checked the bags and asked “Waray bugas?” She laughs on her own remark. “Salamat Doy kay bugas na lang akong bilihin.” She said in mixed Waray and Tagalog.

Early yesterday, I received a text message from Cristy Diomaro, a master teacher and who teaches mentally gifted children at Sto. Nino SPED Center in Tacloban City. She was in Cebu airport that time and waiting to board on a flight to Manila while I was at the DepEd central office in Pasig. She came all the way from Tacloban via Ormoc and then rode a ferry to Cebu to take a commercial flight to Manila. She called me when she arrived in NAIA and I told her that I will bring her to the House Committee on Basic Education hearing where DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro and I are among the resource persons along with some DepEd officials and disaster management experts. The urgent hearing aimed to tackle the possible legislation of the Disaster Preparedness Bill for public schools initiated by Cong. Kimi Cojuanco, also the committee chair. We took our lunch at the TDC office in Barangay Central, QC, “After two weeks, ngayon lang uli nakakain ng hindi canned goods at instant noodles,” she said laughing, her niece Roxanne who travelled along with her agreed. We left their bags at the office and went all the way to Batasan.

During the hearing, Ma’am Cristy broke in tears every time the Yolanda tragedy is mentioned. She reacts in the audience seat when Sec. Luistro presented the DepEd relief and rehabilitation effort. Seemingly, she is not satisfied with the way the DepEd handle things in the area- far from what the secretary has been reported. She also said the bad politics between the national government and the local officials exacerbated the situation in Tacloban.

When Cong. Kimi Cojuangco asked me for comments, I took the opportunity to introduce Ma’am Cristy to the committee members, the chair recognized her, “We would like to acknowledge the presence of Ms. Cristy Diomaro, a teacher from Tacloban City” she said which further made Ma’am Cristy emotional.

After the meeting, officials flocked her and gave their words of sympathy and encouragement, among them DepEd Undersecretary Dina Ocampo, DepEd Assistant Secretary Lorna Dig-Dino and Bro. Armin Luistro himself. Ms. Gigi Ricafort, the committee secretary spared her little amount and a big hug, both of them and practically all the people left in the hall were crying. The teary-eyed Luistro felt the sacrifices of his teachers as he listens to the narration of Ma’am Cristy. She reiterates, “Sir we need help for us to recover. I love my students so much, matatalino silang mga bata.”

The secretary immediately planned for events, among them the tracking of teachers who left Samar and Leyte and gather them all in DepEd Central office so they could give them the immediate assistance they need. He also asked me to closely coordinate all the data we gather from the field and submit them directly to his office. He then asked me what we can do to help the immediate recovery of the people in typhoon-ravaged areas, I said “Sir we must give them hope and inspiration.” In which, the secretary replied, “Cristy will be the face of hope and inspiration.”

Ma’am Cristy’s day in the lower house ended with the words of assurance from the secretary that immediate help from the DepEd is underway which seemingly gave her a relief and strengthen her. Finally, the secretary gave her an embrace, perhaps the most relieving embrace she ever received. As she bids goodbye to her newly-found comforters, she left a strong words “I believe Tacloban will soon recover and the recovery will begin with our teachers and schools.”

The secretary was impressed by Ma’am Cristy’s courage, passion for her work, resilience and survival- characters that define the teachers of Samar, Leyte and the entire country. Indeed, Tacloban and the rest of the areas devastated by Yolanda will soon rise and our schools will be the source of strength. #

For details: 

Cristy Diomaro-Gallano, Tacloban teacher, 0917-6956331/ 0939-9198894
Benjo Basas, National Chairperson- 09205740241

  • Some teachers of Leyte left the province to solicit help from relatives and friends in Metro Manila and to directly raise the concerns of the public school teachers in storm-ravaged areas
  • One of them is MS Cristy Diomari0, 48 years old and a TDC member and teacher in Sto. Nino SPED center in Tacloban City
  • Cristy brings her horrible story of catastrophe in the House Committee of Basic Education hearing on disaster preparedness last Tuesday where she also able to talk to Secretary Armin Luistro, who assured her that help for teachers is underway
  • With her courage, passion for her work, love for children, resilience and survival, even Sec. Luistro is convinced that Cristy may be the face of hope and inspiration and eventual recovery of Tacloban, Leyte and Samar
  • Attached is the an article of narrative written by Benjo Basas, TDC Chair for further reference
For details:
Cristy Diomaro-Gallano, Tacloban teacher, 0917-6956331/ 0939-9198894
Benjo Basas, National Chairperson- 09205740241

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.