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Brigada Eskwela: Modern Bayanihan



By Solomon R. Sales

Bayanihan is a vital principle of the Filipino culture. It is helping out one’s neighbour as a community, and doing a task together, thus lessening the workload and making the job easier. Historically, the concept of Bayanihan is traced back to in our country’s old tradition which can be observed in rural areas. Although bayanihan can manifest itself in many forms, it is impressively displayed in the old tradition wherein the village’s people were asked especially the men to lend a hand to a family who will move into a new place by carrying the whole house, and literally moving it to its new location. At the end of the day, the moving family expresses their gratitude by hosting a small feast for the volunteers. According to BayanihanProject.com, “Bayanihan is derived from a Filipino word ‘bayan’, which means nation, town or community, this the term bayanihan itself literally means ‘being in a bayan’, which refers to the spirit of communal unity, work and cooperation to achieve a particular goal.”

Today, it is also in this spirit of communal unity, work and cooperation that the Department of Education (DepEd) initiated a nationwide campaign for the voluntary convergence resources, efforts of teachers, parents, students, community officials and non-government organizations to prepare the public schools for the coming school year, dubbed as the National Schools’ Maintenance Week or popularly known as the “Brigada Eskwela.” It is an annual campaign of the department wherein all voluntary stakeholders give donations and jointly conduct minor repair and clean ups on their respective schools.

Brigada Eskwela literally means to us as “Bayanihan para sa Paaralan (Working Together for Schools)” which added a new meaning to the Filipino concept of unity, work and cooperation. Brigada Eskwela is undoubtedly the modern version of bayanihan – from the splendid image of volunteer villagers carrying together a bahay kubo on their shoulders to a grand picture of people from different sectors of society donation school supplies and books, repainting walls and blackboards, sweeping school grounds, cutting grasses, cleaning windows and doors, and repairing comfort rooms and fences.

As an example, at Don Manuel I. Abella Central School where I serve as school principal, we are doing various maintenance works such as minor plumbing, repairing of damaged doors, windows, ceilings boards and furniture, the repainting of walls and balusters and repairing electrical connections. We worked it together with the community officials, parents, pupils, and other volunteers. This modern bayanihan encourages people to share their time, effort and even donate materials which could be used by the teachers and for minor repairs.

I strongly believe than in order to make a country great again, the value of Bayanihan must be redefined and reaffirmed. It may not be possible to lift houses on men’s shoulders anymore; instead lifting each other up on their shoulders, in effect, lifting the country’s status, hopes and dreams. The value of Bayanihan is within each Filipino and it’s only a matter of resurrecting it to its former glory in this contemporary society.

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