EIGHT public school teachers from the elementary and secondary levels emerged as this year’s winners in the Metrobank Foundation Search for Outstanding Teachers.

Two of the winners, the Department of Education (DepEd) said, were professors at the state-run University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City and the De La Salle University (DLSU).

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In this 26th year of the Search, Mlang, Cotabato, Calauag, Quezon and Kabasalan, Zamboanga Sibugay produced their Outstanding Teacher awardees for the first time, the DepEd and the Metrobank Foundation said.

The awardees for the elementary category are Grace Salvatus of Municipal Sector Elementary School (Calauag, Quezon); Miladith Polutan of Oroquieta City Central Elementary School (Oroquieta City); Conchita Ibarondo of San Antonio Elementary School (Iriga City); and Nancy Aquino of Mlang Pilot Elementary School (Mlang, Cotabato).

For the secondary category, the winners are Janeth Morata-Fuentes of Philippine Science High School-Eastern Visayas Campus (Palo, Leyte); Mercidita Villamayor of Bukidnon State University-Secondary School Lab (Malaybalay City); Estrelita Peña of Kabasalan National High School (Kabasalan, Zamboanga Sibugay); and Mercelita Labial of Xavier University High School (Cagayan de Oro City).

While Dr. Rowena Cristina Guevara of the University of the Philippines-Diliman and Dr. Raymund Sison of De La Salle University are the awardees for the higher education category.

“The Metrobank Foundation believes that by giving recognition to the outstanding qualities, achievements and contributions of our beloved educators, we promote a sense of pride in and provide inspiration to the teaching profession and to the rest of the society,” Metrobank Foundation president Aniceto Sobrepena in announcing this year’s awardees.

“For over 26 years, we have envisioned our awardees to serve as infrastructure for continuing excellence and to provide greater impact on their respective spheres of influence,” he added.

The winners were selected from 156 nominees coming from various public and private educational institutions nationwide, of which 40 qualified as regional finalists.

The regional finalists underwent interviews and teaching demonstrations before the members of the preliminary board of judges identified for each category.

Twenty national finalists then were selected to become the national finalists.

Sobrepena said the national finalists faced the Final Board of Judges for this year’s Search co-chaired by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri and Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Eduardo Nachura.

Also serving as judges were Civil Service Commission (CSC) Chairman Francisco Duque III; Australian Ambassador to the Philippines His Excellency Rod Smith, San Beda College President Rev. Fr. Aloysius Ma. Maranan and Shell Companies in the Philippines Country Chairman Edgar Chua.

This year’s Outstanding Teachers will be conferred with gold medallions by His Excellency President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III in Malacañang.

They will also be presented with plaques and cash amounting to P300,000 each during the formal awarding ceremonies at Metrobank Plaza in Makati, which will serve as the highlight of the 48th anniversary celebration of the Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company on September 3, 2010.

This year’s winners will join the rank of 286 outstanding teachers, who have been honored by the Foundation since 1985.

The winners automatically become members of the Network of Outstanding Teachers and Educators or NOTED, an honor society of outstanding teachers committed to nurturing a culture of excellence and service among educators through professional development, publications, research, and advocacy in active partnership with government and non-government organizations.

Recently, the Search has been awarded the Grand Anvil, the highest recognition during the 45th Anvil Awards given by the Public Relations Society of the Philippines (PRSP).

The Metrobank Foundation, the corporate social responsibility arm of the Metrobank Group, was established by its chairman Dr. George S.K. Ty in 1979.

Aside from the Search for Outstanding Teachers, the Foundation is also engaged in similar programs such as the Metrobank Art and Design Excellence (MADE), the Search for The Outstanding Philippine Soldiers (TOPS), Country’s Outstanding Policemen in Service (COPS), the Metrobank Math Challenge (MMC), and College Scholarship Program (CSP). (AH/Sunnex)