By Maria Gemima C. Valderrama
Our heart bleeds when we see children walking long stretches or crossing rivers to get to school. Do we feel the same to teachers who have to sacrifice their life and face the dangers in the boondocks to teach children when they can choose to stay around in the lowland?
It may not be as despicable as the sight of children but this is the story of Jinglebert P. Collado who was recognized as Best Mobile Teacher in Region XI in 2013, chosen as one among the five teachers all over the Philippines for Bato Balani Foundaton’s Many Faces of the Teachers in 2014, and conferred with the CSC Pag-Asa Award by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) in 2015.
Jinglebert, who considers himself a natural nurturer, has experienced the unimaginable in the name of service. His farthest assignment in Aninipot Elementary School (ES), which is 70 kilometers away from the Municipality of Kapalong in Davao del Norte, made him walk for four hours straight and cross 18 rivers.
In his account, Jinglebert mused on the times when he had to cross a river with high waters after a heavy rain. In fact, his most unforgettable and dangerous experience was the time when he almost drowned because he had to swim to get across the river. He forced himself into the waters because he knew the IP children were waiting for him.
He survived of course, but it was always like this – he was left soaked because he had to swim and he only had the chance to change dry clothes when he reached school. But despite the indescribable risks he had to face, Jinglebert considered his assignment a privilege.
“These IPs need our support. I became more committed every time I see them smile. I came to love them,” he recalled.
Jinglebert said he just didn’t teach them; he lived with them. He came to understand them and their culture and he vowed to bring literacy to these children. He started with the basic writing and reading until the children can be able to read and write.
He was assigned in Aninipot ES for more than three years from 2006 to 2009. During those times he only had the chance to go home once a week to his wife and one-year old baby. It was a real sacrifice for him but he never left his duty as a teacher.
He stayed in one cottage in the school and cooked for himself. In his first two years, he lived alone in the cottage spending nights with the sounds of rain or crickets. In his third year, he had a male teacher companion assigned in the school as the number of learners increased.
Jinglebert has been teaching for 10 years now. His first school assignment in 2003 at Mambago ES made him embrace the culture of the Ata-Manobo tribe. Although at first he was hesitant to walk for one and a half hours to reach the school, Jinglebert, upon seeing the longing of the IP children to be educated, was determined to stay with them.
So even if it was like a baptism of fire for him, Jinglebert made sure he could inspire the children and their parents. It was difficult, as Jinglebert said, to be loving and positive when you deal with people whose environment they grew up with wasn’t particularly uplifting.
“But I was inspired. I began to cultivate a positive attitude among the tribe. They became responsible as parents and members of the community,” Jinglebert remembered.
He spent his weekends with the community and there he witnessed how they changed to become responsible. This is why he considers himself a nurturer that flows naturally.
He thought his world will only revolve in Mambago but his desire to teach more brought him to a farther area in Aninipot ES.
In the speech of President Aquino at the 2015 Search for Outstanding Public Officials and Employees Awards Rites on November 9, 2015, he recognized Jinglebert for increasing the literacy rate of the Ata-Manobo and Dibabawun communities in Davao del Norte.
Jinglebert is an Alternative Learning System (ALS) mobile teacher for five years now assigned at Barangay Sua-on and Gupitan in Kapalong. He conducts learning sessions on basic literacy learners, out of school youths and adults. He also conducts livelihood skills.
Although he is nearer to his home now and he could have the chance to go home every day to be with his 10-year-old son Axcyll and wife Geraldine, his effort to teach people of different ages and travel long and bumpy roads is exceptional.
His efforts were witnessed by many that is why the Department of Education along with local and national award-giving agencies recognized his extraordinariness.
The sight of him walking and crossing rivers may not be as pathetic as the sight of children, but his heart full of commitment and passion makes him a hero. It doesn’t take a man to be in the middle of a battle to be a hero; sometimes it only takes a teacher who thinks more of others than of himself.
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