Sunday, May 20, 2018

Teacher on Center Stage: Annie Lee Masongsong of DepEd Oriental Mindoro

Teacher Annie shares her takeaways from the workshop.
The blog's Teacher in Center Stage is Ms. Annie Lee Masongsong who teaches Mangyan children in Labo Elementary School, Oriental Mindoro. She narrates how she learned the Mangyan language and the long travel she takes regularly to teach them.

I met her during the K-3 teacher training in Mindoro early this month. Her story as teacher to Mangyan children in Labo, Bacud Oriental Mindoro is inspirational. She writes stories for her students in Mangyan language so that she can further teach them how to read and write in level 2 language.

Read on and get to know her more!

If not a teacher today, what would you be?

If I am not a teacher surely I am a social worker or a founder of a foundation that supports and takes care of the children, like orphans.
What do you teach the Mangyans and describe your experience being with them in their community?

To become a teacher of the Mangyans is not easy.

It was a culture shock for me actually. Before one reaches the place where they live, one would need to walk for four to five hours on mountains and cross sixteen raging rivers. No cellphone signal. Going home before the sunset is not really possible because of the distance. The language used by my pupils is really alien to me. It is difficult to stand in front of them when I talk a lot in teaching lessons and in giving them activities that none of them would get the correct answer because of the language barrier. One thing more, most of them attended the class with an empty stomach.

There are times when I cannot eat well because I am thinking of them. Giving up to this kind of work came to my mind. I cried every night because I felt useless. Then one afternoon when I was about to give up, my pupils came around me and said they want to play with me. They held my hands and said, "Madam eglaro tam isna sa baskebolan ". It means I have to play with them in the playground. From then on, I realized that I have a mission in Labo and in the life of each child in the community.

Teacher Annie reaches her destination at mid-morning after crossing rivers and climbing mountains.

The next time I ascended, I brought food for the Mangyan kids and we cooked them simple food for lunch. We do this now every day. I started to solicit food from my friends, school supplies and used clothes for them. I studied their language and used them in my everyday teaching with the kids. I was happy with the result because I am in the stage of winning the battle. I am really happy to be with my students.
How did you learn the language of the Mangyans?

I learned their language by interviewing the adults of the community. I have a notebook of words and its translation in their native language and of course I used their mother tongue in school. It really works!
Now, I am writing stories just for them. It is written in their mother tongue with Filipino subtitle. I am communicating to one of my possible donors for a library. Honestly I just want to have published story books so that it would be my legacy to them when the time calls me to leave that place.

Teacher Annie (far right) with cultural workers in the Mangyan village at Labo, Bacud Oriental Mindoro
Do you wish to help Teacher Annie in providing books and reading materials for her students in Labo Elementary School? Post a comment or get in touch with me via email: I am organizing a book drive for the Mangyans in Mindoro!

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