EDITORIAL: The plight of teachers

In the Philippines, Teachers’ Month and World Teachers’ Day have become occasions in which we remind ourselves of the plight of educators: their insufficient salary, their heavy workloads, the lack of support from the government in their material or intellectual needs. Despite these struggles, we laud them as the ones with the noblest profession, the shapers of the future, unsung heroes.

Typically, we use the occasions to express our gratitude to our teachers. This year, however, two recent events in Bicol have forced us to reconsider our usual ideation and reassess our ways of celebrating the occasions in light of reality.

One is the slay of 22-year-old Rodora “Roda” Devera Fortes, a public elementary school teacher from Bulusan, Sorsogon. Fortes was found stripped, bruised, her face covered with stones, according to the police. A medico-legal report indicates that she was raped before being killed.

Meanwhile, a teacher named Duran Tirzo y Atienza of Nabua, Camarines Sur, was recently arrested by the PDEA and PNP after being allegedly involved in drug trade. Three sachets of shabu, along with marked money, were found in his possession.

These two cases reveal that the struggle of teachers may be more complex than we probably imagine.
On one hand, the Fortes case brings attention to the lack of respect that they receive despite their noble profession.

On the other, the Tirzo case reminds us of how morals in our society have so tragically degenerated, that even teachers, the so-called second parents of the youth, have succumbed to illegal acts.

It is chillingly ironic that these two events coincide with Teachers’ Month. But if anything may be gleaned from these cases, it is perhaps this: we have a long way to go before we get to the bottom of the plight of our educators. It is perhaps time to stop picturing teachers as stereotypes, and see them as real human beings, with strengths and vulnerabilities that need to be understood, so that their struggles may be truly addressed.