ILOILO CITY, Philippines — An Ilonggo teacher bested 30,000 applicants from 173 countries to land as one of the 10 finalists for an international award brings honor not only to Western Visayas but to all Filipinos.
The inclusion of 39-year-old Dr. Jesus Insilada as a top contender for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2018 is also an inspiration for the Department of Education (DepEd) and Indigenous People (IP) learners and teachers to do better.
“We have a lot of teachers who are also members of IP communities. Of course the example of Dr. Insilada will surely inspire them to also give their best and contribute to whatever they can to the furtherance of our aim to implement an inclusive type of learning”, said DepEd 6 Regional Director Gemma Ledesma in an interview on Tuesday.
Insilada was named as among the 10 finalists for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2018 by philanthropist Bill Gates on February 15.
The Varkey Foundation’s award gives out USD1 million to the winner, to be paid in equal installments over 10 years.
Insilada, a member of the Panay Bukidnon IP and principal of the Caninguan National High School in Lambunao, Iloilo has been an educator for 14 years.
In an interview on Tuesday, he said he was happy because his “efforts and innovations were recognized” despite limitations such as lack of textbooks, teaching materials, teaching aids and facilities.
Insilada was nominated by the DepEd for his culture-based teaching where “lessons are contextualized, localized and indigenized”.
“This is in support to the DepEd mandate that teachers should contextualize, localize and indigenize, although there are various initiative when it comes to culture-based teaching,” he added.
Insilada came to realize the need to embrace the concept because the school where he first served – Alcarde Memorial High School in Calinog, Iloilo – is situated in an IP community.
Also, 95 to 100 percent of the population of the Caninguan National High School in Lambunao where he is principal have IP roots. It has only been four months since he started serving as new principal of the school.
Using the culture-based teaching, students feel that they are at the center of what they do inside the classroom, thus boosting their morale and self-esteem, he said.
“We always want to make them feel that they are special,” he said.
The challenge, however, is that low level of awareness of IP children of their roots since they are exposed to new environment brought about by technology and probably no one encourages them to revisit their roots, said Insilada.
Should he be fortunate enough to win, the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2018, it will be his second international recognition for an exemplary performance in the field of teaching.
Insilada was also a recipient of the Princess Maha Chakri Award as Outstanding Educator in Southeast Asia in 2017.
The international recognition aims to honor Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand for her outstanding work in the field of education and improving the quality of life, especially those of the less fortunate.
It also seeks to honor exemplary teachers on Southeast Asia with significant contributions to education and human development.
Insilada said that being a recipient of awards is both an affirmation that what he does indeed create an impact while it is also a challenge to continue, to sustain and more importantly to do more for the welfare of the learners.
He said that he wanted to sustain his advocacy especially in providing quality education should he be fortunate enough to receive the million dollar prize.
He intends to come up with shows and films featuring the uniqueness of the Panayanon IP.
He shared that as a teacher, his advocacy always focuses on quality teaching, cultural awareness and creative writing.
Born in Alibunan, Calinog to farmer parents, Insilada has eight other siblings. He is the sixth child of couple Vicente, 77 and Aurelia, 72.
Due to financial constraint, his elder siblings were discouraged to finish their education. Yet, he was thankful that his parents and siblings saw his potentials and supported his drive to finish education.
He also inspired his younger siblings to persevere.
His efforts did not go unnoticed as he has been reaping awards for doing well in his profession.
In 2013, he was one of the four recipients of “The Many Faces of a Teacher” given by the Bato Balani Foundation.
In 2014, he was declared an “Outstanding Teacher Awardee of the Metrobank Foundation”. He was also recognized by DepEd and the National Culture for Commission and the Arts (NCCA) also in 2014.
He was honored by the City Savings Bank during the occasion of its 50th anniversary and by the East West Rural Bank. He was also a recipient of the Carlos Palanca Foundation.
Insilada is set to fly to Dubai on March 14 where the award will be announced four days later.
As he waits for the verdict during the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai, United Arab Emirates he has this to say to his fellow teachers: “If you really care for your profession and for the Filipino learners, do everything you can to give the kind of education that they deserve.”
He underscored that a big heart for the profession and for the learners is very important.-Perla Lena/PNA