Let teachers be heard! Let our demands reverberate throughout the nation!

This article is available in Pilipino

To our fellow teachers,

We are the nurturers of this nation. We have devoted ourselves to the cultivation of knowledge. We are the defenders of education as a birth right for every Filipino regardless of their roots. We have dedicated our intellect, strength and skills to this country’s welfare. Many of has have spent decade after decade selflessly teaching the youth – only asking in return for them to serve the people with the education they had. Some of us had even given their lives in pursuit of this duty.

During the pandemic, we have upped the ante and faced all the obstacles to the utmost of our individual and collective capacities. We have exerted ourselves and have always ensured that we provide the best education we can to the most number of students we can reach. The lack of budget did not hinder us. The lack of classrooms did not stop us. The paltry wages did not slow us down. As we are inclined to say, “problema ka lang, titser kami”.

We are the ones who make sure that no one is left behind. And yet this society, has always put us last.

We are overworked and underpaid. We are deprived of tenure security. We are reduced to machines tasked to overproduce batch after batch of cheap labor. We are divested of our democratic rights. We are constant targets of state fascism and are hunted down just because we stand for what we know is true and is for the common good.

Well, now we have something to say – enough is enough. This Teachers’ Month, let the gravity of our plight be seen and our demands heard. Let our calls resound throughout the nation!

We have the right to be justly compensated for all our hard work and commitment. It is our right to demand significant wage increases, overtime compensations and additional allowances among others. As champions of our youth and the nation’s welfare, it is just for us to demand 6% of our national funds to address learning gaps in the education sector. We must be provided sufficient support to effectively and efficiently face the new class of challenges dealt by the reopening of face-to-face classes amidst the continuing threat of Covid-19. We must not be fed with ridiculous excuses of inadequate funds. It is unbearably appalling and insulting that the government has billions to waste for bombs and bullets but has none for us, teachers.

In the wake of ever injurious witch hunts and fascist attacks, we have the right to be afforded our democratic rights. We must be resolute in demanding this government to stop the attacks against our institution and the whole Filipino nation. We must not be arbitrarily and baselessly criminalized and persecuted just for fulfilling our duties as educators. While this regime tries to revise history, we must not be silent. While the state is so determined to deprive the youth of an undiminished education, we must remain unyielding in our profession and sustain them with genuine knowledge. While this government forces civilization to regress by desperate tactics such as burning academic and progressive books and forbidding critical analyses of the society, we must pursue reason and true scholarship.

Being a teacher is more than a job. We are the moral compasses, the life coaches and the purveyors of wisdom for generation after generation of Filipino youth. It is the state’s mandate to provide and protect all our socioeconomic rights both as educators and as citizens of this supposed democratic country. Its refusal to address our demands once again, must be met with our all-out struggle – from staging mass protests, presenting our calls in dialogues and all available fora and engaging in other forms of protests such as sit-downs and noise barrages. Most importantly, we recognize that aside from these, we can always rely on the people’s democratic revolution as our sole highest recourse to truly attain our rights and interests.

Let us not let this Teacher’s month be a fleeting, hollow busman’s holiday. This must serve as a reminder that we are cognizant of our rights and our place in this society. That we, educators, pledge to fight along with the masses until we achieve the complete fulfillment of all our democratic demands.

Let teachers be heard! Let our demands reverberate throughout the nation!