Hope As They Know It

Teach them hope, as you knew hope.

In a small town in Antique, a young girl wanted to embark on a new journey from what was left of her after coming from an overwhelming series of ill-fated events. The cheerful home she once knew was swiftly distorted with her mother leaving, and her father getting sick. Desperately putting on a happy expression, she strived to provide for her siblings as she was the only one they can depend on.

College seemed impossible with her family’s financial difficulties. Her dad, whose main and only livelihood was to sell balot, barely provided them with food on the table. But Glendi would not give her dream up without a fight. With the little amount of money she saved up from selling peanuts and prepaid load to her friends, and working at her relatives’ restaurant, she threw all her faith in applying to West Visayas State University, known to be an excellent university for teacher education in Iloilo City. She thought to herself that if she is to pursue her dream of teaching, it has to be in the best university, and true enough, she got it. But more obstacles await.

Having the same dream as Glendi, Fredmar began aspiring to be a teacher since childhood. Seeing his mother as an educator, there had always been a great zeal in him to follow her footsteps. It became even stronger as he went his way through elementary and high school, where his teachers helped even more to confirm the career and mission he wanted to pursue. However, like Glendi, his dreams were plagued by financial difficulties.

“I was able to withstand and outcast all of the obstacles, challenges, problems, failures, adversities and negativities. I would say I’m resilient because I am able to bounce back and continue my way of life as a whole,” Fredmar said, as he described his journey. Both he and Glendi felt a glimmer of hope when they were successfully accepted in a program called Scholarships for Teacher Education Programs to Upgrade Teacher Quality in the Philippines (STEP UP).

Glendi’s teaching experience was quite remarkable. “My first three months at work were never easy,” she explained. “I realized that adulthood was even harder than life in college. I was almost about to give up, but I survived. I needed to survive because my siblings depend on me, and it has always been my dream for them to stay with me.” Her love for teaching and the fruits of it allowed her to keep going, and she became stronger in her profession and as an individual as time went by.

It was not only the finances that enabled them to go to college, but the holistic support of the program. They would always highlight the impact of the mentoring sessions, which they deemed extremely helpful, as they fought the battles in their chosen field of career, even life outside the world of teaching. The mentoring program connects each of the STEP UP scholars to school mentors, who would provide support in their academic life, and at times, their personal dilemmas. STEP UP believes that in order to produce quality teachers, they have to complement financial support with psychosocial support through mentoring. In the middle of sleepless nights, weariness, and discouragements, the mentors became for them a safe haven to whom they could load off their minds and realign their composure.

Teachers, like Glendi and Fredmar, who rally the cause of education, are our heroes, the kind who inspires students to learn as effectively as they can.

Glendi has just been a Special Education teacher for a few months, and she knows just from her brief experience that it is not an easy job, but she only sees it as a bigger opportunity to help differently-abled learners to find hope too, in education, the way that she did. She is now in her second year of her Master’s in Special Education. Fredmar, who currently teaches at the senior high school of his alma mater, Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan, enjoys living his dream. He is hoping that soon, he can do so too as a public school teacher.

Dreams never come easy. Glendi had to live with all the brokenness, Fredmar with unfortunate luck, but they both remained strong and hopeful through the tides. When you ask them what makes them get up and face their respective classes everyday -- they’ll say it’s the smiles that reflect the joy of learning, the laughter that echoes the sound of amusement, and the greetings that resonate the sound of gratitude.

In a nation that is dying to know hope and succeed in a competitive world, we are grateful for people like Glendi and Fredmar who chose to inspire such optimism among the youth through teaching.

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