We, teachers, also reach out to the community to better understand the social factors that influence the lives of our students and to initiate a change once ideated. In doing so, we engage ourselves in various community extension programs and activities that bring either short-term or long-term benefits to the members of the community. While in college, we were already engaged in such community immersions as part of our program curriculum. Since I joined STI College Ortigas-Cainta, I have been involved in two major community extension programs – a teacher volunteer in our Alternative Learning System (ALS) sessions, and an active member of Educate and Support Paluan Mangyans, an outreach program for underprivileged and impoverished indigenous people in Occidental Mindoro.
Early this year, I was invited by our Alternative Learning System (ALS) school coordinator to be their guest teacher for a brief lecture on Elements of a Story (Fiction). I had Saturday classes then so we scheduled it in my break. It was a rewarding experience as I observed the eagerness of the out-of-school youth (OSY) to learn new things. Also, I have been regularly tapped by the coordinator for supplementary activities, assessment tools, and even for checking the learners’ written outputs in English. Before the current batch of ALS learners however, I was also then extending help to the former coordinator in checking and marking outputs like essays, simple communication letters, and others.
Together with my other colleagues, I have been an active member as well of a biannual charity outreach program for two years now. Educate and Support Paluan Mangyans, as we call it, is a nonprofit civic organization comprised of kindhearted individuals, mostly teachers and students of STI College Ortigas-Cainta, who pursue a humanitarian cause of improving the quality of life of indigenous and underprivileged Mangyan people in Paluan, Occidental Mindoro through our active solicitation and delivery of goods, as well as educational, health, and livelihood services. For around five years of continuous pursuit of this cause, it has already served as a trustworthy partner of our generous sponsors from various walks of life. More than these in-kind donations however, the program has also advocated and demonstrated a more profound cause that entails forging of a more welcoming social relationship with the once-secluded Mangyan communities.
In December 2017 when I first joined the team in a biannual community visit, I realized that many of us are still unaware that far from our busy and quite progressive cities are remote and mountainous areas where indigent ethnic people remain traditional in their practices, and hence do not enjoy access to the quality of life, particularly the necessities such as food, clothing, education, and health services. We had to travel for around seven hours by both land and sea and even climb the mountains and forests to reach the small Mangyan communities and distribute our solicited goods and other services.
Recently after a year, I was with the same team again. We had to dedicate one whole weekend for the visit – i.e., left school on a Friday night with all the packed goods, arrived in Occidental Mindoro at Saturday noon, visited the Mangyan communities for goods distribution the remaining afternoon hours until noon of the next day, and rushed for the last trip to Batangas on the Sunday evening. In this way, we would not miss our Monday classes. Notwithstanding this sacrifice, we find it tremendously fulfilling. Based on the observations, there has been so far a development in these communities since the launch of the program five years ago. Knowing this, it has already become my annual commitment to find time to participate in the program and other advocacies in my own ways. After all, I have always been tapped to write solicitation and sponsorship letters for various fund-raising campaigns —Marc Kenneth Marquez, Service to the Community (Teacher Regularization Portfolio).