Thursday, September 11, 2014
Halasan, Randy | CITATION
It is a truism that it takes a village to raise a child. But it seems equally true that it takes just one person to launch this collective process of education. In the Philippines, where a public school system has been in place for over a century, many communities remain either unserved or underserved. Where physical access is difficult and dangerous, government’s presence weak and facilities are meager, and people are too poor to even claim an education, the work of public school teachers is nothing less than heroic, and yet largely goes unheralded.
This is the story of thirty-one-year-old Randy Halasan, a teacher in Pegalongan Elementary School, serving the indigenous Matigsalug tribe living in one of the remotest villages in the mountainous hinterland of Davao City. To reach Pegalongan from his family’s home in the city takes Halasan seven hours of travel – two hours by bus, an hour over extremely rough roads by habal-habal motorcycle, four hours of walking, and crossing the waters of two treacherous rivers. When Halasan first arrived in Pegalongan in 2007, he was one of only two teachers in a two-room schoolhouse, teaching multi-grade classes between Grades 1 and 6. There was no electricity, amenities were primitive, and the place was virtually cut off from communication with the outside world. The young novice teacher’s first thought was that he would seek a reassignment out of the place the first chance he could get.
But today, seven years later, he is still in Pegalongan. Moved by compassion for the children who have to walk miles and cross rivers just to get to school, and who often fall asleep in class from hunger and fatigue, and driven by a sense of duty to help the impoverished and defenseless forest tribals against the encroachments of powerful outsiders, Halasan has embraced the Matigsalug community as his own. He has turned down offers for reassignment, and his family often does not see him for many weeks on end.
Assuming as head teacher in 2010, Halasan proactively lobbied with higher authorities to expand the Pegalongan school. What was once a two-room, two-teacher schoolhouse is now a permanent school with nine rooms, eight teachers, and 210 students. Through his representation, a cultural-minority high school has been established, with Halasan as teacher-in-charge. Convinced that education is key to the Matigsalug’s survival in a changing world, he has convinced parents to keep their children in school; discouraged the customary practices of early and arranged marriages; and promoted values of self-help and egalitarianism in the community.
Recognizing that poverty is the community’s fundamental problem, Halasan has taken his advocacy beyond the classroom. He says, “If I only focus on education, nothing will happen; the children will continue to go hungry.” Envisioning a food-sufficient community, he inspired his fellow-teachers to donate seeds and encouraged the villagers to plant fruit trees and vegetables. Working with the Pegalongan Farmers Association, he accessed assistance from private organizations and government agencies. Prodded and encouraged by his leadership, Pegalongan farmers now have a collectively-owned rice-and-corn mill, a seed bank, a cattle dispersal project, and horses for transporting their farm products. The village is also now participating in a government forest rehabilitation program which by 2014 will have a hundred forested hectares, with the Matigsalug of Pegalongan as stewards and beneficiaries. And Halasan’s youthful graduates are helping their elders protect their future and the legal rights to their ancestral domain.
According to oral tradition, the word Pegalongan means ‘the place from which the light shines.’ Because of one highly motivated civil servant, the village has become truly what its name suggests. Explaining his motivation, Halasan says quite simply; “No one got rich out of teaching; it’s your legacy that matters.”
In electing Randy Halasan to receive the 2014 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership, the board of trustees recognizes his purposeful dedication in nurturing his Matigsalug students and their community to transform their lives through quality education and sustainable livelihoods, doing so in ways that respect their uniqueness and preserve their integrity as indigenous peoples in a modernizing Philippines.
Tuesday, September 09, 2014
This year's only Filipino awardee in the Ramon Magsaysay Awards, Mr. Randy H. Halasan, head teacher of Pegalongan Elementary School, visited the Office of Councilor Mabel Sunga Acosta, Sangguniang Panlungsod Bldg. San Pedro St. Davao City. CONGRATULATIONS SIR! MABUHAY KA!
Friday, September 05, 2014
Ramon Magsaysay Awardee
Our very own Randy Halasan, a teacher in Pegalongan Elementary School, was awarded with the Ramon Magsaysay Emergent Leadership award last August 31, 2014.
The Ramon Magsaysay award is given to those individuals who continued the former Philippine president’s legacy. This is to recognize the people who dedicated their lives in serving the minority with compassion. These individuals who strive for change in making this world a better place for the future generation, even in their own little way.
Halasan was assigned in the area last 2007. His first impression of the area is it was deplorable because it was neglected and isolated. The school only has two classrooms and two teachers at that time. He had a hard time adjusting in the area that at some point he wanted to be transferred.
But day by day Halasan fell in love with the community. He saw how the students are determined to go to school and learn, they had to cross streams and walk in dusty roads just to reach the school.
The unforgettable moment for Halasan happened last March 2009, during his first graduation experience in the area. He saw the students together with their family cried out of sheer of joy from seeing a toga.
“They cried because it was their first time to see a toga… they cannot imagine that [their children] could finish elementary,” said Mr. Halasan in an interview.
Randy Halasan, the teacher, also became a beacon of hope to the community. He networked with government and private institutions to provide more classrooms and even agricultural equipment for their economic development as well.
Kris Fatima Conat
AB- Mass Communication
Ateneo de Davao University
Thursday, September 04, 2014
Wednesday, September 03, 2014
17th Council Third Special Session
Series of 2014
A special session was held today, September 3, to give way for the taking of oath of the newly elected chairpersons and members of the committees in the 17th City Council at the Session Hall, SP Building. The oath-taking was led by Presiding Officer and President Pro Tempore, Hon. Karlo S. Bello. The said activity was attended by the councilors, friends from the media, and others. The new officers were elected by the majority of the City Councilors in an executive meeting yesterday.
Tuesday, September 02, 2014
On the 2nd of September, the City Government of Davao City commended “the Voices” for winning several awards in the Singapore International Choral Festival Competition dubbed as Orientale Concentus VII held last July 9-13, 2014 at the School of Arts (SOTA), Singapore.
“The Voices” is composed of talented young girls from Davao City who all share great passion for singing and music. They represented not only Davao City but also the Philippines when they were awarded as the Champion in the Folklore Category and Gold Awardee for the Ensemble Category.
Their beautiful voices serenaded our dear Councilors and other guests present in the session hall.
The awardees were: Abby Salape, Adrianna Salape, Meryll Salape, Rica Penano, Trixia Ebita, Dianne Capuno, Aika Abando and Nemuel Danuco, their Musical Director.
Fellisse Emil D. Comagon
AB Mass Communication
Ateneo de Davao University