In finding a job in the Philippines, many feel that the palaksan system always prevails: it’s not what you know, but whom you know. But I have come to learn that sometimes, things can come in their own time. As Kuya Kim on TV says: “Ang buhay ay weather-weather lang.”
In the summer of 1997, I applied for a job at the Department of Education in Agusan del Norte. After the competitive exam, the interviews, and the teaching demonstration, I emerged sixth among the more than two hundred applicants from the entire province.
Three months later, I still didn’t get a position while those who ranked lower than me had already been assigned as substitutes in our own town, Nasipit. My co-applicant, a neighbor of mine, said knowingly: “Bisan unsa pa ka kataas sa ranking ba ug wala’y lakas, ‘la man jud.” No matter how high you rank in the exam, if you don’t know anyone, it will all come to naught.
I was so frustrated and disappointed that I decided to go to Lanao del Norte to apply for the same job. There, at least, I had my mother’s friend to back me up. That gave me more confidence. I underwent the same screening and teaching demonstration in September 3, 1997, and looked forward to the assurance of a permanent posting the coming month to replace a retiring teacher.
The night after the screening, however, a note from the office of the Schools Division Superintendent of Agusan del Norte arrived. They asked me to report to the division. I was to be a substitute for one month. My co-applicants, however, had already been assigned as permanent teachers.
Less than six months later, in February 4, 1998, I was blessed to be appointed regular-permanent teacher. That blessing turned out to be mixed: I was caught between conflicting orders. The division order specified a school of assignment but the district supervisor detained me at the office to wait for a teacher from a very remote area to transfer to the nearer station; I would then assume in his post in the vacated school. It was very frustrating! I shed a cup of tears. I said to myself: “I’m happy that I’ve been appointed but I’m a victim of palakasan again!”
One day a memo from the Schools Division Superintendent to the district supervisors came: all newly hired teachers who had been assigned in their own districts would be reassigned to other districts. Reassignment would be based on the ranking, so all of us were moved back to Carment District. I would be stationed in the nearest school and the next in rank be assigned in the next school, and so on. It was really my time!
The joy of being a permanent teacher overwhelmed me. I performed well in the school where I was assigned. We participated in different activities and contests, and I became familiar to school heads. Six months after, my request to transfer from my station to my own town was granted. Two years after, my request for transfer from the Division of Agusan del Norte to the Division of Agusan del Sur was granted. That was January 17, 2000.
I realized that it was not really a palakasan system. I did not know anyone fron the division office. I understood that there were just reasons and considerations that the heads of offices take in choosing and hiring, and sometimes they become subjective. Ang buhay ay talagang weather-weather lang. But it doesn’t mean that one can sit and wait for prosperity to come. Instead, one has to do the best that one can so that when the time comes, one is ready. It will come in due time. It was really my time.
On the third year of my service in Agusan del Sur, the Schools Division Superintendent paid an on-the-spot visit. He found that there were no non-readers in my Grade 1 class of 45 pupils, none of whom had undergone pre-school education. A month after that visit, I was named Outstanding Grade 1 Teacher in the Division of Agusan del Sur by the Superintendent during the Teacher’s Congress of the provice on December 2003.
This little recognition and fame that I achieved as fruit of my endeavors served as channel of blessing between me, my work, and the persons from the higher office. There I say “It’s due time!” It’s really my time.
In October 2004, I requested a transfer from my remote station to the town proper of Bayugan. It was granted after a series of interviews and presentation of pertinent papers. In the present school where I am, in Bucac Elementary School, I still maintain the same work attitude I had in my first assignment. I established a pleasant relationship with my colleagues. I never said “no” to my superior when fored to do additional work, even though it cost me time, effort, and money at my own expense. Who knows? Another time, another opportunity comes, and life will change.
In May 2007, I reaped what I sowed when the new Superintendent chose me to attend seminars at the national level. I attended the seminar-workshop on Early Childhood Education at Philippine Normal University in Manila. In May 2009, I was again sent for a national level convention, the National Summit on Early Childhood Education in Baguio City, all at the agency’s expense. At present, I am one of the Agusan del Sur Provincial Scholars.
Around me, I hear some murmurs: “malakas siya, o duol sa luwag.” But looking at the past, considering those experiences I have had, now that I received this gift of time, could they still say that this is palakasan? Or is it really my time?
I strongly believe that one only need to do the best that one can to pave the way while waiting for the right time to come. If it comes, one is already fit for that chance. Then one can say that there is no palaksan, just that the due time has arrived.