A WEEK ago I took the licensure examination for nurses at a public elementary school in Manila.

I was in a dirty room with 23 strangers, my rump sore from the wide gaps in the small wooden chair I was sitting in with sweat trickling down my forehead, praying for someone to turn off the novelty songs playing in the distance or for our watcher to stop cutting her nails so I can focus on my exam.

But about 30 minutes into it, staring at the armchair in front of me laden with misspelled profanity, I simply sighed deeply and thought to myself “only in the Philippines.”

The sad state of our country’s public schools is alarming. How can any child be expected to learn effectively in those surroundings? Add to that the fact that the country’s best teachers are leaving in droves.

In a 2007 Senate Press Release, Senator Franklin Drilon said that there is a massive shortage of public school teachers in the country. According to him, the country is “alarmingly education-poor,” and the public school system suffers from a shortage of 20,587 classrooms, 30.6 million textbooks, 16,390 teachers, and 26,282 principals.

Drilon added that most grade six students have the competencies of those in grade 4 and only 20 percent of grade 6 students have the needed competencies of students in their level.

Also, Education Secretary Jesli Lapus said that “For every 100 pupils who entered grade one, only 66 made it to grade six, 58 to first year high school, 43 to fourth year high school, 23 to first year college, and only 14 graduate from college.”

Mixing melodies with prayers

According to Lapus, 200,000 or eight percent of all six-year-olds don’t enter the formal school system at all and that by grade six, a third of the 2.6 million pupils who entered grade one would have quit school.

It’s saddening to think that, despite efforts last year to improve the country’s public school system, not much progress has been made.

And while the government is focusing efforts on lobbying for a reduction in the cost of text messages and voice calls, public school children are enduring mosquito-infested playgrounds, filthy bathrooms, and teacherless classrooms.

One can only hope that more is done for the country’s public school system and that education in general is given more attention before more children have to suffer.


Having been given the opportunity to study in UST’s College of Nursing and at the same time write for the ‘V’ has been an immense honor and privilege. First, I’d like to thank section 4NUR10, most specially my “Powerfriends” Opalyn, Hanna, Vicky, and Pauline and my RLE-mates, for their understanding and support. Thank you for making the past four years bearable.

To Sir Lito, thank you for your guidance and the little quips you give that make the staff roar with laughter.

To my ‘V’ barkada, you know who you are, we don’t need words at this point but thank you for being there to laugh and cry with for the past two years. I would’ve been lost without you.

To my Sci-tech team, Alena, FJ, and Ian, thank you for being the best writers an editor can ask for. I’m so proud of you guys and of what we’ve accomplished together.

Lavish book details La Naval lore and legend

To the rest of the incumbent staff, good luck, work hard, and be happy.

Lastly, to my “weird family”, thank you for your love, support, and for always believing in me.

Once a ‘V’ staffer, always a ‘V’ staffer!


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