By: Vanessa Vicente, ALS Mobile Teacher of Mahinog District, and Bazil Sabacajan, Education Program Supervisor for ALS (Camiguin Division, Region X)
Jonathan V. Bacong, the Alternative Learning System (ALS) Coordinator of Guinsiliban District, Division of Camiguin, personifies the spirit of volunteerism. Prior to gaining regular employment as a public school teacher in 2007, he served as an ALS volunteer teacher for six years.
When he became a Teacher I at Sixto Abao National High School (formerly Mahinog National High School) in Mahinog, Camiguin, Teacher Jonathan voluntarily spearheaded various programs and projects on top of his classroom initiatives.
He authored the Lambo Kakahuyan Program in response to the calls to combat climate change and advocate environmental protection. He spearheaded reforestation efforts, and integrated environmental concepts in his lessons, all of which were recognized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in their region.
To instill civic responsibility in the hearts of his students, he also organized the Student Police and Traffic Command, a student organization consists of learners who were trained to serve as “student police,” ensuring their fellow students’ adherence to traffic rules and other laws.
Disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM), meanwhile, may be considered as one of Teacher Jonathan’s specializations. In coordination with their local Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), he trained students on fire safety, who then formed the School Fire Marshall. He also set up the School Volcanology Team, and School Tsunami Team to be mobilized during emergencies. His school-based DRRM program served as a model to their entire division.
He likewise instituted the School Liturgical Committee to uplift the students’ spiritual selves. Meanwhile, as a Boy Scout of the Philippines (BSP) Merit Badge Counselor and Course Instructor, he handed down his skills on Morse Code, Semaphore, and Conventional Signs to his students.
Teacher Jonathan also recognized the importance of skills training for the holistic development of learners. As such, he led special sessions on shielded metal arc welding and basic electricity – skills which he acquired himself before he became a teacher.
In September 2014, he was commissioned as a mobile teacher under the Abot-Alam Program of the Department of Education’s (DepEd) ALS, and helped provide out-of-school youth and adults (OSYAs) with skills training such as massage therapy, motorcycle repair, and bartending, in coordination with Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
For this 44-year-old indefatigable educator, his most important venture was the construction of the first ever Community Learning Center in Brgy. Pontod, which houses various ALS activities and learning sessions. Because of his commitment and dedication, and admirable leadership qualities, he was designated as the ALS Coordinator of Guinsiliban District in June 2016. Through reaching out to various stakeholders including the barangay, habal-habal groups, and farmers, among many others, Teacher Jonathan contributed significantly to the revitalization of ALS programs and projects in their area.
The non-formal system of education reinvigorated his spirit even more. As an ALS implementer, he created the District Blind Center to cater to persons with disabilities (PWDs), parolees, probationers, and drug surrenderers enrolled in ALS. He shared the knowledge and skills he gained from the training led by the Resources for the Blind in Davao.
Because he has gone above and beyond the call of duty, Teacher Jonathan was awarded as the Division’s Most Outstanding ALS Teacher in 2016, and as the Regional Most Outstanding ALS Mobile Teacher in 2017.
When asked why he teaches and does volunteer work, he shared that he wants to affect positive change in the lives of his learners. “Education will change one’s life forever,” he added.
“A teacher must play the role of a counselor, a surrogate parent, and someone who has the best interest of the child at heart,” he relayed with utmost enthusiasm.