The local office of the Department of Education commemorated its 120th founding anniversary by honoring and recognizing past and present educators for their efforts to improve the quality of education in Palawan in the face of numerous challenges and by unveiling its official march.
With the theme “Matatag at Dakila,” the Tuesday evening gathering saluted “Mga Dakilang Guro” from all over Palawan for their service over the years.
Awards were given to selected elementary and secondary teachers who performed with distinction, with categories including Dakilang Guro, Dakilang Dalub-guro, Dakilang Pinuno ng Paaralan, Dakilang Guro ng Special Education, Dakilang Guro ng Madrasah Education Program, Dakilang Guro ng Indigenous Peoples Education, Dakilang Mananaliksik (for governance, teaching and learning, and human development), Dakilang Kawani, and Dakilang Superbisor.
The Department of Education (DepEd) Palawan acknowledged the top 2022 Brigada Eskwela implementers, with special recognitions to school sites and titling, and national-level recipients in academic and co-curricular activities.
“I just want to appreciate the people and, of course, thank those who have contributed significantly to what and where DepEd Palawan is now,” said Elsie Barrios, Palawan’s schools division superintendent.
DepEd Palawan now oversees 819 schools, including five integrated schools, 175 secondary schools, and 639 primary schools from both mainland and island municipalities, up from 31 when it was established in 1903.
Gretchen Navarro, a Teacher III from Araceli National High School and the Dakilang Guro-Secondary Large Schools award winner, fought back tears during her surprise message.
“Hindi ko talaga ine-expect na ako ang mapipili. Ang gusto ko lamang sabihin ay pagbutihin pa natin kung ano ang nasimulan natin bilang isang guro. Wag tayong susuko kahit anong hirap yung ating dinadanas. Laging may bagong pag-asa — maging motivated tayo lagi, lalung-lalo na para sa ating mga estudyante,” she said.
Felomina Alanis, school head of Roxas National Comprehensive High School (RNCHS) and winner of the Dakilang Punong-Guro, Secondary Schools Large Category, encouraged her fellow school administrators to do the best they could for their students.
“We must try our very best to eradicate dropouts and failures and to promote higher completion rates. Ang RNCHS , for three years now, has zero dropouts, zero failures, and 100% completion rate. Dahil iniisip namin, doon tayo makakatulong sa DepEd. Bawat bata na nasa school, doon sila makakaiwas sa problema as out of school youth,” she stated.
Barrios thanked her predecessors, school heads, administrators, and teachers of the Division of Palawan, most of whom were also present during the ceremony.
“Pinapasalamatan namin kayo, yung paglalakbay niyo sa dagat, sa bukid — you are our role models,” Barrios said. “Can you imagine that? Before we didn’t have the technology that we have right now? We did not have the communication that we have right now.”
Edward Miller established the first school in Palawan in 1902 in Cuyo. However, when the province’s name changed from Paragua to Palawan in 1903, the division office of DepEd Palawan was relocated to Puerto Princesa City.
In 1905, it returned to Cuyo, which at the time had a more established elementary and secondary education system than other parts of the province. Later, Palawan High School moved from Cuyo to Puerto Princesa City, where it has been situated ever since.
Meanwhile, Board Member Rafael Ortega Jr. mentioned in his speech about his ordinance that seeks to provide health services to DepEd Palawan personnel.
He explained that like all professionals, the health and well-being of teachers directly affect their productivity and efficiency. A healthy teacher can be more energetic, focused, and engaged in teaching, which can lead to better student outcomes.
Ortega also mentioned upcoming local ordinances related to education, such as a scholarship for post-graduate studies, compensatory benefits for Palaweño athletes, and free annual vaccines for cervical cancer, flu, and pneumonia for public school teachers.
“Yung provision ordinance na magbibigay ng libreng checkup at libreng laboratory tests sa lahat ng ating mga guro, teaching at non-teaching personnel, yan ay ginawa na nating batas,” he said.
“Kaya kami nandito nila board member [Ferdinand] Zaballa at Aris Arzaga ay dati rin kaming mga guro. Si Ginoong Zaballa po tsaka ako ay elementary teacher, si BM Zaballa ay principal, may doctorate na ata yan,” added Ortega.
The night also marked the debut of the official DepEd Palawan march, as composed by Public Schools District Supervisor Paterno Marquez Jr., with lyrics by Arnaldo Ventura, officer-in-charge of the Office of the Assistant Schools Division Superintendent. Barrios encouraged the teachers to play the song during official school events and flag ceremonies.
DepEd schools are set to start the academic year this August 29.