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BLIND SPOT: Month of merriment for maestros and maestras

One important lesson – when a superior sends information for you to come see him in his office, go immediately. So, I found myself en route to Legaspi with a company of uniformly colored tops while I was the ridiculous odd man out, a helpless photo bummer with a dissenting color; because I received directions less than 3 hours from departure time. Oh well. The National Teachers Month was initiated with a regional kick off program last September 5 at Legazpi City with attendance of teacher representatives from DepEd Region V divisions – provinces of Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate and Sorsogon and cities of Iriga, Naga, Ligao, Legaspi, Tabaco, Sorsogon and Masbate. DepEd Undersecretary Tony Umali was keynote speaker. In attendance were DepEd Region V Director Ramon Fiel G. Abcede, Legaspi City Mayor Noel Rosal, DILG Region V Director Elouisa Pastor and a representative of the CHED Regional Office. As the name suggests, National Teachers Month as it has been launched last September 5 will be a month long celebration which would culminate on October 5. (Having taken kindergarten to secondary education in a Chinese school, I grew up with the annual Teacher’s Day on September 27 because it was purportedly the date of birth of Confucius.) “UNESCO proclaimed October 5 to be World Teachers’ Day in 1994, celebrating the great step made for teachers on 5 October 1966, when a special intergovernmental conference convened by UNESCO in Paris adopted the UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers, in cooperation with the ILO.” “This recommendation sets forth the rights and responsibilities of teachers as well as international standards for their initial preparation and further education, recruitment, employment, teaching and learning conditions. Since its adoption, the Recommendation has been considered an important set of guidelines to promote teachers’ status in the interest of quality educati on.” ( The recommendations are “concerned to ensure that teachers enjoy the status commensurate” with their role in “educational advancement and the development of man and modern society”. It also intended to “to supplement existing standards by provisions relating to problems of peculiar concern to teachers and to remedy the problems of teacher shortage”. ( “The National Teachers’ Month is an initiative to reaffirm the essential role of teachers in mentoring the Filipino youth. It was conceived by Education Secretary Br. Armin Luistro, FSC, then De La Salle University president, who approached the Metrobank Foundation with the idea of a monthlong observation to heighten public consciousness of and participation in the annual World Teachers’ Day on Oct. 5.” ( In 1948, after the Holocaust and other war crimes in World War 2, there came the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1960, in the height of racial discrimination and the rise of the civil rights movement in the United States, there came the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education. In related response, there came the International Covenant on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in 1965. In the wave of women’s liberation movements, there came the Conventionon the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 1979. Taking into account that UN declarations are convened and promulgated in response to pressing global concerns, it can be inferred that at least before 1966, there was need to promote the status of teachers who (by implication) were not enjoying a status commensurate to thheir inarguably important role in social advancement. The declaration also implies that many UN member nations had their share of peculiar injustices towards teachers, and there was a significant shortage of teachers that it warranted a joint convention of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the International Labor Organization. “During the turbulent period of political and economic instability of the early 1980s, Metrobank founder and Group Chair Dr. George S. K. Ty was disheartened to see teachers among those who were marching in the streets for better work conditions.” ( ) (As a newly hired regular permanent teacher, I remember in my initial months, we were called to participate in a rally marching downtown to the local city square, with banners and wrist bands for higher wages and to rant against ill practices; or so I remember; I didn’t go. It just didn’t feel right. In a teachers’ association meeting, the seniors recollect and esteem with honor and dignity how previous leaders made conquests in protest for rights to allowances, to the extent of demonstrations in the nation’s capital.) So this was the teacher in the 20th century? A sector I a league with Holocaust victims, segregated people with African descent, and discriminated women? I am extremely glad that the caricature of the public school teacher selling longganisa in the classroom, has long gone.) In celebration of this month, let me reiterate that “maestro” is the Spanish word for “master”. I would like to focus on Kung Fu Tze (Confucius), a Chinese educator who was and has become a source of wisdom, on Aristotle who was teacher to Socrates who was teacher to Plato who was teacher to Alexander the Great who conquered Europe to South Asia. “one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor” Galatians 6:6

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