WE SEE them walk in the campus with books and chalks. No more sticks and flying erasers. They bring with them instead a heart full of courage to make sure that at the end of the day the children learn something. They are our unsung heroes, they are called teachers.

Our teachers today remain to live with their vocation -- to teach, to guide, to help. Some say they are the second parents, the guardians, the facilitators. Whatever their roles are, they hold the responsibility of keeping the education system in the country alive.

In Davao Region alone, there are almost 24,000 public school teachers in elementary and high school. These teachers handle approximately 900,000 thousand students. That is approximately one teacher per 37 students.

Each teacher then is like a mother with three dozen children whom she has to tend to all day. She has to make sure she will produce graduates whose abilities are anchored on knowledge, proficiency, and values. She sees to it that while the children continue to embrace their culture, they are also open to new learning to be globally competitive.

This is a teacher. These are our teachers.

They deserve to be recognized for preparing all the lesson plans, for integrating values in their lessons, for walking an extra mile to reach these children and their parents as well. So many stories have been told about teachers who have to cross rivers to get to the school, or teachers who have to use their own resources to cater to the needs of the students. And there are so many heroic stories yet untold.

And so the Department of Education 11, in recognition to our teachers, celebrated Teachers' Month Campaign and World Teachers' Day, which started last September 3 and culminated last October 5. The officials, headed by Regional Director Susana Teresa B. Estigoy, initiated different events for teachers to recognize their abilities and talents.

To raise the level of teachers' dignity and to deepen their pride in being a teacher-parent, the Search for the Outstanding Family of a Teacher-Parent was organized. This is also to inspire the youth of the sacrifices of the teachers and their struggle to perform the dual responsibilities of being a parent and an exemplary teacher.

Mrs. Concepcion R. Jandayan, a teacher of Cogon National High School in the Island Garden City of Samal, won first place. She is also the school's planning officer, records officer, and property custodian. Among her seven children, six are now professionals and one is in college. In spite of her responsibilities in school, she did not fail to raise her children well.

The second placer, Mrs. Julie C. Sabado of Panabo Central Elementary School in Panabo City, is actively involved in the community aside from her regular work as a teacher. She has seven children who are now professionals.

Mrs. Prescilla Garcia of Cambanogoy Central Elementary School in Davao del Norte won third place. She has nine children and some of them are already professionals while some are still in school.

Aside from the search, there was also the "Tiangge Para sa mga Guro", where items for sale were at discounted rate.

The Skills O' Rama showcased their skill in market basket and handicraft-making. The ICT competition challenged the teachers' skills in computer technology.

There was also the evolution of teachers' uniforms, which was a fashion show of sorts showing the teachers' uniforms in the past three decades.

They also had their own Teachers Got Talent where they competed in ethnic dance, doble kara, dramatic dialogue, and comedy in pair.

Winners of different events during Teachers’ day Skills O’ Rama event had two categories: the Market Basket and Handicraft Making. For the Market Basket, Melchor S. Villarin of Davao del Norte division won first place followed by Charmaine M. Balgoma of Tagum City at second, and Ruth O. Sison from Igacos at third.

For handicraft making, Gerson Casane of Davao Oriental division landed first place while Ma. Joy J. Elizan of ComVal division won second place. At close third was Thelma Sanitarius of IGaCoS division.

For the ethnic dance competition, teachers from Davao City division won first place; teachers from divisions of Davao City and Panabo City won second and third place.

For the “doble kara” event, Panabo City teacher-representative won first place followed by representatives from ComVal and Davao City divisions.

Meanwhile, teachers from Tagum City won the first prize in dramatic dialogue. Davao City teachers ranked second while ComVal teachers won third place.

Teachers from ComVal were hailed champion in Comedy in Pair event; Davao City and Davao del Sur teachers came in at second and third place, respectively.

Roger Martinez won first place for the ICT competition for principals through powerpoint presentation. Christine Bagacay was and Nel Boco third. For techno-quiz, Bernard Mallorca got the first place, Marilyn Marcelo second, and Marlito Teofilo third place.

The fashion show on the evolution of teachers’ uniform was divided into two categories. For the male category, Julius D. Taclibon of Tagum City division won first place while Ernesto L. Decio of Davao del Norte and Pelicardo R. Pantaleon Jr. of Davao del Sur won second and third place respectively. For the female category, Eleonor Bantigue got the first prize while Louella Fe Madelo of Davao Oriental came in second place.

Nesylda D. Alpacion of Digos City was declared third place.

For the cheers and chants competition, Digos City division was declared champion; Davao City division was hailed second place while the non-teaching group from Davao City won third place.

“Hataw Na”

The culmination day started with the fun walk “Hataw Na” participated in by both public and private teaching and non-teacher personnel at the People's Park. The teachers were made to 'hataw' as well in the cheering contest that followed.

Though only a few from the private schools participated in the program, Mr. Jimmy-Loe de Vega, Executive Director of Davao Association of Colleges and Schools (DACS), shared the day with the public schools sector. He said he wanted so much that the teachers in private and public schools gather together in events like this.

"Let us unite all teachers whether they come from a private school or a public school. They share the same advocacy," de Vega said.

Our teachers may be called unsung heroes because their contributions to our children's future and to our country are not fully recognized. But our school children regard them as heroes. And to those who believe that they have helped shape our children and our nation, they too are our heroes.