Daphne Louise Santillan
Xavier University, Cagayan de Oro City
Padayon lang. A famous Visayan phrase that is translated to English as “just to go forward”
My name is Daphne Louise Santillan and I am currently an 11th Grade student at Xavier University at Ateneo de Cagayan and I am also a Cagayan de Oro National High School Junior High alumna.
It is an honor to be invited to an event with people who are committed to work together for a collective purpose. Allow me to begin by telling you my story. Before, when face-to-face classes were open, I was just like any other student on a school campus. Your typical high school student. My favorite past time was hanging out with my friends and classmates and I was also a studious student who devoted her entire day to academic pursuits throughout the school year. Nonetheless, I also struggled, but having my classmates’ support and encouragement made me feel better because their physical presence helped me: I am not alone. We are not alone.
But almost all of these were taken away by just a single snap of the Marvel villain Thanos because of the COVID 19 virus. Many of us thought that this global issue would be resolved in one or two weeks but it spread like wildfire. Our adversary is hidden and contagious. Therefore, we are all being urged to stay at home by our authorities. Despite my family’s best efforts to stay safe from the enemy, it eventually got the best of us and we were tested positive. I used to be a happy studious student who dedicated her day to scholastic pursuits but, today, I can barely complete one task. Learning at home along with external and internal issues made it difficult for me to set boundaries. That is why I am mostly unmotivated to continue studying.
My story of struggle is just one out of the billions stories other Filipino students have faced. Fortunately, it is an asset to be present in today’s generation because of technology and social media platforms. These things allowed me to witness their own kind of struggle, and some are also struggles I can relate to. Electricity, gadgets, and Internet access are all basic necessities for today’s modern learning approach. However, these are also major problems in a country where many people live in poverty. Some students are organizing a piso project similar to the Piso Para Sa Laptop on various social media platforms in order to generate funds for an online class device.
Students in different fields of studies that require them to be taught physically are likewise concerned about not being able to execute them hands-on. Others are also in financial difficulty as a result of the month-long quarantine lockdown, which has resulted in the loss of work for millions of parents and guardians.
Illiterate parents and guardians are also finding it difficult to teach their kindergarten and grade school children using the module provided. Many people are also struggling with their mental health particularly as a result of bereavement and solitude. Teachers are suffering and I believe that they are doing their best to give high quality education. Our educational system was already beset by issues, nevertheless the academic added additional degree of difficulties. Witnessing their story with faith in the Almighty also fueled my motivation to serve struggling students, like me, also followed. Together with the student government and supportive teachers in my previous school, we were able to implement various student-led programs, just like our kumustahan center which serves as an avenue for students to express their feelings and inspire them to maintain a positive outlook during these trying times without leaving anyone behind. Our workshop with BSP’s Batang Bayani program also instilled in us the belief that the pandemic will not derail us and that we should adapt to the New Normal of schooling while continuing to lead our peers These programs were established because we heard and saw the situation of our peers in school. I was once demotivated but I remember my parents’ sacrifices my life’s dreams and goal and that dream includes helping to improve the situation of our education system a few years from now by speaking to all of you. How are we five or 10 years from today? Have we learned our lesson and corrected them, or did we go blind to the situation? Putting our class on hold until face to face classes resume is not an option. It will just worsen our predicament. However, attempting to make it work is preferable to doing nothing.
Positive COVID 19 cases are still on the rise but a sign of the silver lining that we hope to see is now readily apparent, thanks to vaccines created by our medical professionals. With this, I hope five or 10 years today, we rise to the situation, just like going to face-to-face class setup so that students and teachers would interact more without fear from the virus.
Another is rising to literacy by having more literate students in Mathematics, Science, and Reading. In a period where technology keeps on advancing, I also hope that there would be more students knowledgeable in robotics research. I hope that students will have more access to learning, especially those who live below poverty line so that they will not feel discouraged about having less in their pockets when going to school. According to statistics, there are about two million young Filipinos who are forced to do labor rather than go to school. And I hope to see more children in the classroom than at the work place. I also hope that students in the coming years would be more understanding of others and their mental health. There is still so much to improve but if we all work collectively and acquire the concept of bayanihan among us as Filipinos, then maybe we can become better in our education system day by day, little steps. There is still hope. There is light in every situation.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am Daphne Louise L. Santillan and I stand here, not as one, but as 26 million Filipino students. Learning is a fundamental human right and I believe that leaders can come up with efficient regulations. We’re moving forward but, this time, it’s different. We’re moving forward with the lessons we’ve learned, the tactics we’ve discovered and by, of course, listening to each other. Let us not allow our current situation define who we become tomorrow. Yesterday was about suffering but, today, it is all about recovering. Yesterday was about pain but, today, it’s about feeling. Today marks our new beginning, our healing.