NOTED NCR RoadTrip (First of Four Parts)

Grace (unmerited favor) is the only explanation I could think of for the joy that we all felt throughout our very first NOTED NCR road trip, which took place against all odds.

The Network of Outstanding Teachers and Educators (NOTED) is the society of winners of the Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Teacher Award, and the main task of NOTED’s NCR chapter is to strengthen ties among its members and promote the award, especially among teacher and school administrators who might have difficulty hearing about it (e.g., those in rural areas).

In line with NOTED NCR’s objectives, a small group of NOTED NCR officers and members went last April 25-29 on a road trip around northern Luzon (Manila – Bulacan – Nueva Ecija – Nueva Vizcaya – Isabela – Cagayan – Ilocos Norte – Ilocos Sur – La Union – Pangasinan – Tarlac – Bulacan – Manila). The trip had two objectives: bonding and outreach. For the outreach part, we donated books to, and fellowshipped with teachers and administrators of rural schools.

Unloading sacks and boxes of books for San Vicente Elementary School in Jones, Isabela.

We left Manila at 10:00 PM of April 25 and reached our first major stop (Jones, Isabela) at around 7:00 AM of April 26. We were treated to a warm welcome and breakfast (coffee, hot arroz caldo with native chicken, and special bibingka) by the principal and teachers of San Vicente Elementary School at the charming house (see photo below) of the former principal, Mrs. Fe Pastor.

A charming house in Jones, Isabela. Notice the vintage second storey sitting quaintly atop a relatively modern first storey.

After breakfast, we went to the school to distribute books and then travelled through through rough dirt road to get to Minuri Elementary School, where we also distributed books, fellowshipped with the teachers over a sumptuous Ilocano lunch, and visited some classrooms (see photos below).

On my first plate I heaped some piniling red rice (grown in the region), diningdig with countless local vegetables (my favorite), tilapia caught from the carayan (river) nearby, and native chicken. Yum!
In the fourth grade classroom of Teacher Glenn of Minuri Elementary School in Jones, Isabela. I was surprised to find a comfort room inside this and every classroom in the schools that we visited! I was also happy to find a “spiritual corner,” featuring our Lord Jesus Christ. In the photo are Teacher Glenn, Teacher Prexie (from San Vicente Elementary School), and a happy student.

We then went back to San Vicente Elementary School, cleaned up (we were happily covered with dust — my companions told me I looked like espasol — because we had to use a jeepney, which was better suited than our city van to the rough dirt road), drank without straw from freshly harvested coconut, said goodbye to our kind hosts, and then drove to the next province, Cagayan, stopping on the way to donate some college books to the Philippine National University – Alicia branch.

Next: Piat and Cagayan

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