“Big or small, large or short, it’s not the quantity that counts. What matters most is the heart that sparks to extend empathy to those in the frontlines in times of situations like this.

A little help could make a difference” Mrs. Merle Sadiwa, president of the Santiago District Teachers Association (SDTA), expressed as she spearheaded the measure “Alalay sa mga Hero ng Barangay mula sa mga Guro ng Elementarya sa Distrito ng Santiago”.

This measure was conceptualized by the School Heads of the 11 elementary schools of Santiago District, Ilocos Sur as product of the observed pressing situation of the frontlines in the implementation of enhanced community quarantine who look after the safety of every community mate in the said municipality amidst the fight against the pandemic Covid-19.

It started on March 26, 2020 with a message in the group chat of the school heads, suggesting what they can do to help in this kind of crisis and in their discussion, it came the idea of raising fund and all teachers agreed with it.

          The SDTA was able to collect P26, 250 from among the 117 members which include school heads, teachers, and non-teaching staff of Santiago District. According to Sadiwa, the collection wasn’t compulsory but on voluntary basis.

 Out of the collected amount, the association was able to purchase 48 bottles of 150 ml Isopropyl Alcohol which were equally distributed to 24 barangays. Each barangay was given two bottles of alcohol plus cash amounting to P1,000 each to be used for their foods and other necessities.

The Local Government of Santiago, Ilocos Sur through Mayor Josefino Miranda approved this plan of the association upon hearing their action from Dr. Avelina Gatdula, Public Schools District Supervisor of Santiago District. The distribution was done on March 27, 2020 (Friday) through the three school heads of the 11 elementary schools since they are also observing limits of car passengers and social distancing as well.

“The purpose of this action is to help our barangay frontlines for they are our heroes during this time of crisis. This activity mobilizes teachers to spare any amount in order to lend a hand for our frontlines and to help them by providing cash assistance to use in doing their job in this enhanced Community Quarantine” Mrs. Eliza Sumalbag, SDTA Secretary said.

Meanwhile, Santiago National High School, the only public secondary school in the municipality also extended their help to the frontlines of barangay Poblacion Norte, where the school is situated. School Principal Natividad Reyes, provided snacks for the frontlines on March 25, 2020 and cash amounting to P1,500 for their necessities on March 27, 2020. On March 28, 2020, the Supreme Student Government advisers were also tasked to provide merienda for them.

There were also other undocumented acts of kindness manifested by the teachers of Santiago, Ilocos Sur to support the frontlines amidst our fight against Covid-19 such as “Pasopas sa SabES,” “Papansit sa Barangay Pulis,” and others where funds also came from their own pocket.  

By Mark E. Manzano, Planning Officer III-DepEd Ilocos Sur