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3 facts about teaching in the Philippines, why I didn’t become one

Full disclosure: The author of this article is a teacher’s son. Both parents teach at a Philippine public school.

I grew up in a family of educators. My parents are both public school teachers. They have taught thousands of children since they started out in their careers in the summer of 1990. It’s also in that same elementary school located in the mountains of Nueva Vizcaya where they met and why I am born into this world.

So, if I am to write an article about teachers, believe me, I know the joys, pain and struggles they go through, and which also I experienced first hard.

My friends in the medical profession usually have parents who are physicians. Same is true with most of my friends in business, their parents are also business people. I chose not to become a teacher.

As fate would have it, I’m currently doing business. I cover over 15 countries for my work. I crisscross the globe from Dubai to Dusseldorf, Singapore, Yangon dropping by Seoul and landing in the tropical city of Jakarta for a meeting then catching up with a business partner in Bangkok – all in a week! 

Having ventured into the risky world of entrepreneurship, I own several businesses and a small social enterprise which is particularly engaged in supporting teachers and their children like myself. Thanks to my parents who molded me with values and work ethics that made me who I am now.

Going to the gist of why I wrote this article, why I didn’t become a teacher myself (and my confession that I initially wanted to be one), I want to share about my parent’s journey being teachers and the current state of all other educators in the Philippines, if I may speak on their behalf.

#1. Filipino teachers take care of hundreds of children in a day yet pay is still meager, scanty, insufficient

There are several articles that took rounds on social media recently which are seemingly click baits! Yes, I mean it. Everyone in social media talks about ‘salary increase’ yet when I asked my parents, they don’t seem to feel any of the said ‘increase’ being implemented.

The publicity doesn’t seem to reach my parents’ payslip.

#2. Filipino teachers study hard to become teachers, submit hundreds of reports yet support from DepEd fails to consider that teachers are ‘humans’ who need ‘motivation’

What would happen if in a factory’s assembly line, workers are asked to increase output more than what they can normally produce?  Workers complain. Some quit.

I am not an education expert but if there’s one thing that I know about, it’s being human. Human beings have limitations. Human beings are emotional. Not robots.

In the premise of a factory, workers who perform well and produce beyond expected outputs are given incentives. Yes, motivation works. But in DepEd’s case, any promised incentive fails to compare vs what they expect from teachers. It’s a classic example of human motivation, expectations vs rewards and employer to employee relationships. In principle, every extra work done should be compensated accordingly.

In the Philippines, when a teacher works extra hours and days in school during weekends to fulfill DepEd requirements, no financial incentive is provided as compensation. Teachers are still expected to ‘volunteer’ their time.

#3. Filipino teachers give their best to everyone’s children, yet public and private banks and institutions and even seemingly good businesses prey on them

Have you ever met a Filipino teacher without a loan from GSIS, Landbank or your friendly rural bank?  When you meet one, you should bow down.

To provide a shelter for me and my siblings, my father had to bite into a high-interest loan from a government-owned lender. It took him decades to pay the loan and being a teacher by profession, the only way he can pay back is by working for the same government who loaned the money (plus the exorbitant interest) similar to what a shark lender offers.

Call it a reality in life, but if one day you meet your child’s teacher and they are doing side business like selling phone load/credit in class, maybe you need to understand why.

Of course, that’s because teachers have families to feed and support. In my parent’s case, they have 3 children who depend on them for tuition money and daily food. So, if you bring to school several complaints, maybe you should also understand the circumstances of being a teacher.

We can do something about it, let’s begin by acknowledging and appreciating our teachers. Filipinos and our government value our children, the youth, we should start to take care of our teachers, at the very least.

BONUS: Yes, more than thanking a teacher, I started a Facebook group called Education PH. You can join, just like our page. I want to provide motivation and in some cases assistance to teachers and everyone who wants to make the education system in the Philippines better.


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