IN TIME for National Teachers' Month, non-profit organization Teach for the Philippines (TFP) celebrates its 10th anniversary with the release of "Kilapsaw," a 30-minute documentary film that features the inspiring stories of public school teachers and students from all over the country, especially during the time of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

The same documentary film was shown at the Negros Museum on Saturday, September 17 attended by prominent personalities in the province.

TFP aims to ensure that no students are left behind through excellent, inclusive and relevant education.

TFP's Fellowship, Ambassadors, and Public School Teacher Pathways programs have deployed more than 300 highly skilled and multi-talented young professionals and leaders across 100 public schools in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Reaching 82,000 public school students in the last 10 years, the organization aims to meet Philippine public schools' concerns and supply the system with more highly trained and skilled teachers.

Anchored on the theme "Ripples of Impact," in honor and recognition of the small contributions that create meaningful and sustained change, "Kilapsaw" pays tribute to the country's education frontliners.

They stressed that teachers who go above and beyond, cross rivers and travel far to give each student access to quality education.

"The documentary hopes to honor the connections that we have built and nurtured throughout our ten-year journey, our teachers and partners who have made a dent in our society to ensure that no student gets left behind," Mavie Ungco, TFP's chief operations officer, said.

She said this project is a token of their deep appreciation for our teachers and the support that we have received from our partners in the past years.

Kilapsaw, which is the Filipino translation of "ripples," was produced by Independent Minds Productions and echoes the experiences and stories of public school teachers and students during the time when learning became difficult and challenging, especially in far flung areas where most students do not have proper access to reliable internet.

The documentary also showed the need to address the learning crisis in the country. However, despite these realities, the film anchored on stories of resilience and gave snippets of hope for a better and reformed educational system in the Philippines.

Stories from the ground

"Kilapsaw" was shot in different TFP partner schools and communities, namely Makati and Quezon City in Metro Manila, Victorias City in Negros Occidental, and the municipality of Del Carmen in Siargao, Surigao del Norte.

"The challenge of education equity and the work of education transformation cannot be solved overnight or even in ten years. It is complex and multi-faceted, and this was compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic," Ungco explained.

But seeing the hard work of our public school teachers, which is the community's partner in growth, and the government partners' in its commitment to positive change, inspires them to push even further and to do our part by reaching more vulnerable children across the country, she said.

The documentary narrated experiences from other former teacher fellows, alumni who went into education policy-making and governance through TFP's ambassadors program, public school teachers, administrators and even local government officials.

Former Teacher Fellow Czarina Nacionales, fondly called by her students as 'Cher Czar, taught in Victorias Elementary School (VES) in Victorias City, Negros Occidental during the onset of the pandemic.

In the documentary, she shared how difficult it was for her to reach students, a time when the modality of learning shifted from face-to-face classes to distance learning.

Teachers at home and in the community

Several parent- and student-beneficiaries of TP's subprograms on community engagement, functional literacy, and life skills development were also featured.

“Nanay Jen,” for instance, is a parent from Del Carmen, Siargao who shared how she juggled being a barangay health worker and tutor for children in the community.

“Nanay Jen” is only one of thousands of parents and guardians whom TFP was able to train and guide on how to teach at home, or in their communities, through the help of contextualized programs before and during the onset of the pandemic.

These capacity-building programs were especially helpful considering millions of Filipino children were forced to stay at home, and their parents taking on the role of being teachers, TFM said in a statement.

Sustainable and informed change

In a span of 10 years, TP's impact can be seen through its partnerships with members of the Philippine public school system. Sustainability and innovation are at the heart of their mission, especially with the onset of the pandemic where they had to pivot and continue to deploy Fellows where they are needed.

TFP's co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Clarissa Delgado emphasized this in the documentary, saying that the organization's network has a very deep understanding of the work that they do and emphasized the need to continue what they have started.

“If we can have a movement of people that has a very nuanced and deeper understanding of change- sustainable and informed change, then we will get where we need to get to," Delgado said.

Delgado emphasized the need to continue providing public school teachers the support that they need to be more effective in guiding Filipino students to achieve their goals and dreams.

"We have our Public School Teacher Pathways (PSTP) program, which to me has always been about returning to our roots from Sa Aklat Sisikat Foundation," she narrated, adding that there is a need to understand deeply that there are excellent teachers already within the system and that we can learn so much from them.

She said that there are assets already in the system that we can benefit from.

The documentary ends with a theme song, composed by former TFP Teacher Fellows and sung by Noel Cabangon, that echoes that the organization's actions are always for the children and for the nation (para sa bata and para sa bayan).

"Kilapsaw" will be available to the public online via TFP's Facebook Page on October 5 at 8 p.m., capping off the National Teachers Month. Ahead of the online premiere, other regional screenings will also be available in select venues in Bacolod, Negros Occidental on September 17 and in Del Carmen, Siargao on September 24.

TFP also collaborated with local clothing company Linya-Linya to initiate a fundraising campaign featuring their limited edition merchandise, which will be available on the Linya-Linya website on October 1.

Similarly, TFP will also open its 2023 Fellowship Program Applications in October, which aims to add even more promising young Filipino leaders to their roster.

The organization is also set to launch an education forum in partnership with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in November, further enriching and continuing its mission to provide excellent, inclusive, and relevant education for all Filipino children.

Through training and experience from the classroom, bringing grassroots expertise to the policy-making level (Alumni Ambassadorship Program), Teach for the Philippines transforms the nation's young leaders into lifetime advocates for education equity.