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January 30 - February 5, 2016

Our real heroes
By ANTONIO M. REYES

I’ve always believed our real heroes were our men and women who stayed here despite the hardships they had to contend with. At the forefront of these extraordinary people are our public school teachers who according to the United Nations Development Report were overworked, underpaid, and unappreciated by the members of the community they serve. In last week’s issue of SLT writer Joe Mancera, in his column titled “the Sad Plight of Public School Teachers” mentioned some of the hardships they had to endure each day just to be able to practice their profession.

Foremost among them was their assignment to schools far from their homes and loved ones which could only be reached by habal-habals driven by strangers through dark, isolated dirt roads, ideal for mischief or worse.

Mancera cited the recent case of Angelica Miole, a 21-year old elementary school teacher, who was murdered in front of her horrified students by a mad-man at the school she was assigned to many kilometers from her home.

Several years ago, I wrote a column on the awesome responsibilities of our public school teachers, which were noted in the United Nation’s Development Report. Among these were 10 non-academic monthly reports which they had to complete and submit to their superiors at their District Offices. And of course the 5 or 6 different classes comprised of up to 40 students each they had to mentor each day.

Yet their main complaint, according to the UN Report, wasn’t their workload or low pay, but the lack of support they received from members of their community who they felt ostracized them for not having chosen a more “lucrative” vocation.

This reminded me of the statement of Marco Rubio, one of this year’s Republican candidates for president of the United States, who said: “The major reason for America’s past greatness was that every generation was led by responsible people, who were good role models, who strove to leave behind a country their children could be proud of.”

If we really want the best education for our children, we the leaders of our communities must (a) give our teachers the respect they deserve, (b) convince our elected officials to raise their pay, and (c) become the role models our children and countrymen can be proud of.

January 23 - 29, 2016

Images of America

My first Image of the United States was the John F. Kennedy Airport, and I’m afraid, it wasn’t a very good one.

The immigration checkpoints were badly undermanned because of the Christmas holidays. While getting transport from the airport to Park Central where we had reservations for a week’s stay, was also a far cry from the Cebu International Airport’s well-organized taxi queuing system.

It was around 7 a.m. when we arrived at our hotel so I bought coffee from a nearby bakery. Everyone walking on the sidewalk seemed in a hurry to get some place and were walking three times as fast as we’re used to in Maasin. Everyone also had a steaming cup of coffee, and I later learned, that young women there bought them for protection against perverts and muggers.

We had a great time in “the city that never sleeps” and met some very interesting people. And it’s probably true that, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere! My son Wowie and his wife Sheila were very impressed by the city, and claimed it was the most memorable place they had been to while in the US.

Our next stop was Oklahoma where my daughter Apolonia lives with her family. Oklahoma proved to be the greatest surprise of our visit because the people there were even friendlier than Colorado’s. And would you believe that the small town of Edmund where my daughter resides has three beautiful public golf courses which are managed by the town’s officials?

We then proceeded to Fort Worth, Texas, a 3-hour drive, to visit Engineer Edmund Markines (Gloria’s brother) who is planning to retire in Thailand, his wife’s hometown, as soon as he manages to sell his house in Texas. My image of Texas is of its people who are very outspoken and proud of their state, and they have a right to be, because of its rich history.

Our next stop was Colorado and the family reunion we all looked forward to. It snowed during our visit there, and the weather was really cold. Colorado is home to the mighty “Rocky Mountains” immortalized by American singer John Denver who died in a plane crash over the same mountains about a decade ago. People here are very conservative but very polite and hospitable.

I was beginning to get homesick, for in the final analysis – there is really no place like home!

We just have to take better care of it.

Antonio M. Reyes is the publisher and editor of the Southern Leyte Times the largest circulating newspaper & website in Southern Leyte.


January 30 - February 5, 2016

Maasin's marine reserve?

It comprises a total area of 1,124.23 hectares including a no-take zone of 188.85 hectares and a mangrove area of 286.57 hectares. The barangays cited as marine reserve areas include Pasay, Lib-og, Badiang, Mahayahay, Manhilo and Santo Rosario. This information you can read in Maasin City’s Ordinance No. 2015-075 which was enacted and approved on June 23, 2015.

What is sad and disconcerting about the ordinance is that it obviously excludes the coral and mangrove areas within the jurisdiction of barangays Combado and Tunga-Tunga. It must be emphasized here that the marine areas in said barangays contain the most critical and seriously threatened corals of many varieties, tidal flats, tidal fronts, seaweeds and seagrass. Barangay Combado contains a massive array of mangroves, called bakhaw and pagatpat. Both barangays have rivers that provide bio-diversity.

To reclaim the marine areas of these two barangays would mean serious and massive destruction of marine resources and create a great imbalance in the marine life. Try to ask fishermen from Combado and Tagnipa and they will reply with apparent anger.

The exclusion of the two barangays is most ironic because in these areas are found very attractive dive sites quite suitable for eco-tourism purposes. I am very familiar with the diversity and colour of marine life in these areas. There are countless coral colonies and marine biodiversity is beyond imagination. Spearfishers (mamana-ay) can attest to this. I myself do because I frequent these areas when I go fishing with hook, line and sinker. SLT’s publisher Tony Reyes personally knows this because we went fishing once on my skiff.

Maasinhons should know that Maasin City is among the cities in Leyte and Cebu which agreed to the covenant of protecting and conserving Danajon Double Barrier Reef, the only one in the Philippines among six in the world. To reclaim the marine areas of Tunga-tunga and Combado would create very serious imbalance in our marine resources, highly contrary to the purposes of the said ordinance which in part reads: “To achieve food security as the overriding consideration…” “To ensure ecological balance and quality of the environment…” Maasin City then would renege on its Danajon Reef pledge.

The ordinance is entitled “The Marine Reserve Ordinance of Maasin City, Southern Leyte.” In Article V, Section 4, item b, a portion reads “The marine reserve shall situate in the waters… and from boundary of Combado and Lib-og…” This very clearly excludes barangay Combado from the established reserve area.

The revised Philippine Fisheries Code clearly prohibits the reclamation of mangrove areas. And this column asks Maasinhons:

“Mosugot ba mo sa plano pagreclaim na pod?!” Art Siga is a living witness to what a high official from Ombudsman-Visayas said: “Kutob ra dinhi, ha…” She was referring to the existing Combado reclamation site which violated many provisions in its Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC).

January 23 - 29, 2016

The Sad Plight of Public School Teachers

In real life, public school teachers are the most battered souls in our educational system. They scamper for their early morning ride to hinterland barangays to have their pupils arranged for flag ceremony. To have their lessons conform to their lesson plans. To make up for wellness in physical exercises. To plan for tomorrow. And worst of all, to do hectic preparations for Mr. Supervisor’s visit.

These, plus the critical role they play during election time when devilish politicians pressure them to do magic with voting results, under fear of unjust transfer or assignments. And the Comelec would just tell them: “Give the ballot boxes willingly in case goons demand to save your life.”

The last turnover of command at Deped Maasin City Division, in barangay Libertad, was an eye opener for supervisors. They personally experienced why teachers sometimes come late at morning classes, notably in distant barangays.

Transportation is often scanty and risky. Their common mode of transport is the lowly “habal-habal” or they personally spend for gas for their own motorbikes.

They don’t have security guards to protect them from criminal elements.

Many schools are located far from the barangay centers and the isolation speaks loudly of the risk of physical harm teachers are exposed to, especially the ladies.

Such was the case of the late Angelica Miole whose pathetic, brutal death was the clarion note on how great the risk teachers face in molding our children to become good citizens in isolated communities.The noblest profession teaching, indeed, is. And the perfect word most fit for such mentors is nothing less than heroism.






 

 

 

   

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EDITORIAL

Our real heroes

Images of America

Maasin's marine reserve?

The Sad Plight of Public School Teachers

ZOOM LENS

Looming Crisis at IPHO?

Coco's priorities

POLICE REPORT

Illegal drug user nabbed

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FEEDBACK

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