Gabay Guro – The Grand Tribute to Teachers

Everyday, we entrust our children to the care and able hands of teachers.   For an average of 3 to 9 hours,  our kids are engaged in activities and lessons in school that shape their minds and personalities. Dedicated, overworked and underpaid, teachers take on their daily  responsibilities as second parents and educators.  Sadly, for the work and sacrifice that they put in,  public school teachers get a monthly salary of P18,549 while newly hired private school teachers are paid P20,000.  Both salaries are  below the P30,000 cost of living.

Benevolent Beginnings

The idea for Gabay Guro was conceived over coffee with friends in 2007.  We had just gotten our bonuses and thought of pooling our money to send deserving “would-be-teachers” to school. We all agreed that education was the best way to make a difference. ”  narrates SMART and SUN CFO Chaye Cabal- Revilla. “Dep-Ed told us that the government had its focus on classroom construction. Very little budget was allocated to teacher development and support. “

Regine Velasquez sang Gabay Guro's theme song "Believing in Me."

Regine Velasquez sang Gabay Guro’s theme song “Believing in Me.”

 

Equalizing Opportunities

Shortly after the  inception of Gabay Guro,   the latter was adopted as the education flagship program of the PLDT SMART foundation under the directive of Manuel V. Pangilinan.  Its worthiest contribution? Through the concerted efforts of its founders and volunteers (700 and counting), the group has made a big difference in the lives of many  teachers.  More importantly,  the movement  has improved the level of learning in the country.   “Education is a great equalizer.  Educate a man and he has a much bigger chance at having a happier and better life,” adds Chaye.

Gabay Guro has a sixfold agenda:

Scholarship – There are  currently 1,100 scholars in different state universities.  The  previous 400 graduates are now employed. Last year’s LET (Licensure Examination for Teachers) topnotcher is a Gabay Guro scholar.

Tranings – Over 50,000 scholars have benefitted from tranings that include English proficiency and new teaching methodologies.

Tribute – A special discount card with partner retailers are made available to teachers.  The annual Teacherfest/ Grand Gathering  was brought to  Bohol (after the earthquake) and to Tacloban, Leyte, and Capiz (after super typhoon Yolanda)

Livelihood–  Livelihood training and assistance in microfinancing are provided.

Provision of broadband services and computerization – Computers and computer labs with proper connectivity have been set up in Nueva Ecija and Cebu. Teachers are encouraged to use computers as tools for teaching and research.

Construction of Houses and Educational Facilities- The pilot housing program is in Daet, Camarines Norte.  To date,  48 classrooms have been built and donated by the foundation

A Fitting Tribute

More than 20,000 teachers attended this year's Gabay Guro Teacherfest.

More than 20,000 teachers attended this year’s Gabay Guro Teacherfest.

Last September 27,  Gabay Guro mounted its grandest Teacherfest yet.  The Mall of Asia Arena was filled to the rafters.  About 20,000 teachers from all over the Philippines were treated to performaces from some of the biggest celebrities in local tinseldom.  Hosted by Tim Yap, Pops Fernandez and MJ Lastimosa, the event gathered the likes of Martin Nievera, Gary Valenciano, and Pilita Corrales.  Xian Lim, Christian Bautista and   loveteam James Reid and Nadine Lustre (more popularly known as JaDine) elicited a thunderous welcome from the crowd.

Xian Lim, Gary Valenciano, James Reid and Nadine Lustre performed to the delight of the audience..

Xian Lim, Gary Valenciano, James Reid and Nadine Lustre performed to the delight of the audience..

 

Martin Nievera serenades a tearful teacher.

Martin Nievera serenades one happy teacher.

 

One of the most applauded numbers was that of singers Ariel Rivera and Rak of Aegis star Aicelle Santos.  The two sang with teachers who were chosen from applicants who had submitted demos of their singing prowess.  The teacher-singers were awarded cash prizes after.

The announcement of winners of the night’s top prizes was the most awaited of all.  Two houses and lots, vans, motorcycles and cash were awarded to tearful and thankful teachers.  Laptops and  cellphones were likewise given away  for minimum subscriptions in the Smart and Sun booths.

Gabay Guro Chairman Chaye Cabal-Revilla (with hosts) awards one of the night's top prize -- a house and lot from Amaia.

Gabay Guro Chairman Chaye Cabal-Revilla (with hosts) awards one of the night’s top prize — a house and lot from Amaia.

 

 

Forward and Onward

What’s next?  “We have been invited to bring Gabay Guro internationally. Still on the local front,  trainings on disaster preparedness and  climate change will be conducted in addition to other ongoing programs,” Chaye says finally.

Gabay Guro’ s advocacy is truly admirable. From granting teaching scholarships, to giving financial and livelihood aid to graduates, to providing housing and classrooms, the program has given hope to many Filipinos.  To be able to provide for the family, to be a productive member of society,  to live a decent life – are these not the dreams that we all hope to achieve?

 

With a pocketful of glitter,

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