A day in the life of a public school teacher

Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 05 2019 03:56 AM | Updated as of Oct 05 2019 01:45 PM

Preschool teacher Noel Alicaba’s day usually consists of him waking up, going to a local public school in Malabon to teach his students, giving tutorial lessons, and heading back home. Like most teachers, his job doesn’t stop when the bell rings.

“Usually 9 or 10 p.m. na ako nakakauwi, lalo na pag kumpleto po talaga yung mga tutorial ko.”
(I usually get home at 9 or 10 p.m., especially when all my tutorials are complete.)

For someone who lives at the Artex Compound, a housing community perpetually submerged in water, going home late presents additional challenges. Fortunately, he says, boats ferrying passengers are still available at that time. 

Teacher’s Day

Today however, Teacher Noel as he is fondly called, won’t face his usual routine as the country celebrates World Teacher’s Day. On this day, students give their teachers small gifts such as snacks, flowers, and letters. A reversal of roles where the children take care of the adult, even for just a day. Some teachers take this time to relax and get some well-deserved rest. A welcome respite from the monotony of work

Alicaba though cannot afford this luxury. He knows that if he took time to rest, he won’t be able to bring home any additional income and so, after class, he resumes his routine and goes to his students who need tutoring.

Every day he walks to his students’ houses all over the neighborhood, setting up tutorial schedules beforehand, as a way to augment his income. 

Home fixes

Despite his meager salary, Alicaba still finds a way to put some of it towards house repairs and other necessities. 

On top of his list is getting his room fixed, followed by a new boat.

“Kasi naka ano na rin ako dyan, almost 20k” (I've spent almost P20,000), he says on how much he has spent getting their boat fixed. 

He gets by by saving every peso he has and sometimes getting a loan “pag kailangan na talaga.” (When I really need to.)

He also plans to eventually get their run-down terrace fixed. 

“Nakakahiya, bungad sya, considering na teacher yung nakatira.” (It’s embarrassing because its out front, considering that a teacher lives here.)

He adds, however, that it’s not just about how people perceive him. 

“Delikado rin sa mga bata.” (It’s also dangerous for the kids.)

Wage increase

ACT Teachers Partylist, a political party representing teachers and the education sector, is urging the government to increase the salary of educators to P30,000 to match the increased entry-level salary of soldiers and police officers. 

Alicaba can’t help but agree.

He says that the increase will be enough for them to afford basic commodities. “Kaya nga nilalaban po namin, na mapa-increasan kami.”(That’s why we’re fighting for it.)

He adds half-jokingly, “Ang gusto pa nga po namin P31,000 eh.” (We actually want P31,000.)

The day ends

Today, like any other day, Alicaba arrives home at 9:30 p.m. and shares what his friends said on his way home. 

“Sabi nila ‘yayaman ka na, kasi whole day work; may tutorial tapos gabi ka na makaka-uwi.’”

(They said “You’ll be rich in no time because you work the whole day and you have another job that’s why you get home late at night.”)

Noel Alicaba gets ready and says goodbye to his nieces, as he leaves his home at the Artex Compound in Malabon City. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Alicaba has to ride a boat to work as a public school teacher because of the flood in the compound. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Public school teachers in the Philippines have a basic paygrade of around P20,000. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Students usually give their teachers notes saying how appreciative they are of them and small gifts during Teacher's Day. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Like most teachers, Alicaba's job doesn't end when the bell rings as he usually stays after class to help his students. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Alicaba finds time to spend with his wards during the day. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Like every Teacher's Day, Alicaba receives various gifts from his students. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Aside from teaching, Alicaba also does tidying up in school. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Alicaba is greeted by neighbors after a day's work as they kid him about being rich because he always works so hard. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Alicaba prepares the cake he received as a gift to share with his nieces at their home in Artex. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Alicaba enjoys a midday snack with his nieces before setting out for his tutorial services. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Alicaba sets off again for tutorial services that he fits into his daily schedule. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Alicaba walks to hurriedly to a student's house so as not to be late. He says that his tutorial students can reach as many as six a day. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Alicaba says that his tutorial students can reach as many as six a day. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

A tutorial student looks out the door as Alicaba goes through the lesson. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Alicaba spends some quality time at the home he hopes to get repaired someday before sleeping and repeating the cycle tomorrow. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News