PASSION FOR MISSION: A quiet Monday at the elementary school of Kangko 

MALITA, Davao Occidental (MindaNews / 30 November) — Wilma Garcia and I trekked to Kangko for a wedding last Monday, 28 November 2022. Since the community chapel was just adjacent to the elementary school, I found it odd that the school was quiet on the first day of the week. The classrooms and school grounds were empty and I did not see a single child in uniform. After the wedding, I asked people why the school was eerily quiet for a Monday. I was candidly told that the teachers had not yet arrived. 

We walked to the home of the newly wedded couple, which was a short walk up another hill from the chapel. As we walked, I asked other people of the community how the school was doing. All of them were nostalgic about the days when the school was still under the care of the Catholic mission and when their teachers were Tagakolu. They mentioned that nowadays the teachers would come to school on Monday afternoons and classes would only start on Tuesdays. That somehow explained why the school was quiet that day. 

Although the first school in Kangko had been started by the Catholic mission, it had been turned over to the government many years ago and has been under the Department of Education ever since. Together with the families of the couple, we took our meal together with the other guests and members of the community of Kangko and Danao. 

After the sumptuous meal and some rest, we trekked down the hill at around two in the afternoon together with some other guests who were also heading home. A few hundred meters just before the paved road, our group crossed paths with a group of women who were heading uphill and who were taking a breather beside the foot trail. I heard one of them greet me and I greeted her back. One of the men who was heading back to his home not far from where we met the women told me later that the ladies were the teachers who were on their way to the Elementary School of Kangko. If this is the practice of these teachers, then the children of Kangko lose a day each week because their teachers report to work only on Monday afternoons.

I salute the many teachers who sacrifice life and limb to be able to teach children from Monday to Friday in remote communities. The current teachers in Kangko could learn a thing or two from these colleagues of theirs. I have heard many stories of this malpractice of the teachers in Kangko but thought that they were just stories. Having heard from the people themselves and chancing upon the teachers that afternoon still on their way to work, now I know that those stories had a fair amount of truth.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Fr. Joey Gánio Evangelista, MJ, heads the Malita Tagakaulo Mission of the Diocese of Digos. The mission is based in Malita, Davao Occidental)