Her simplicity, welcoming smile, mellow and kind voice, and warm motherly touch and embrace can make every child feel the love at home.
Teacher Anna Chumawar just turned 62 years old in August 22, but her sweet smile, captivating gracefulness and the refreshing outlook is infectious to every person she meets and motivates others to do the same. Despite spending 32 years in service not only as a Child Development Worker but as a second mother to diverse children age three to five years old; she is healthy, enthusiastic, jovial, refresh and fulfilled. These could have been the secret of Teacher Anna for looking younger than her age.
At the center, she did not only become a Day Care Worker teaching the children to identify shapes, things, animals, and colors; making them draw; telling them stories; having to sing with them; persuade them to line up for the Flag Raising Ceremony and come back to the classroom; help them take off and put away their many layers of gear; make them fix and return the toys at its proper places; clean the center; assist them whenever they urinate and/or defecate; convince them to wash their hands and sit calmly at the table, once again; and the lists go on. This already sounds like a lot, but if only it was that simple! You cannot just tell a three-year-old, “Wash your hands.” You have to say “Walk over to the sink, stand on the stool, lift up the faucet handle, push down on the soap dispenser, scrub your hands, rinse your hands, turn off the water, dry your hands, and sit in your chair.” And you have to repeat it several times, sometimes in the form of a song, with hand motions. The day’s job of a Child Development Worker does not end there.
As for Teacher Anna, she becomes an instant mother and a best friend to every child who stepped on the door of the daycare center. She widely opens her arms to cuddle and hush a child who cries every drop off at the center. She fondly responds to a child’s request to be carried and sit on her lap. She patiently talks and stays with a child who is shy, at the same time helps her/him overcome it gradually at her/his own pace. Also, she is a friend whom every child trusted to whisper her/his secrets.
A Secretarial graduate at the Mountain Province College (MPC), now Mountain Province State Polytechnic College (MPSPC); she applied as a Day Care Worker now referred to as Child Development Worker at the Bontoc Municipal Government in 1982 and was appointed a permanent position in 1983.
Teacher Anna recounted her first teaching experience of looking after 150 children aged three to five years who were divided into morning and afternoon session at the Poblacion Day Care Center now referred to as Child Development Center. When asked how she single-handedly managed that number of children, she smiled and responded that children before were obedient and respectful. Thus, she was never stressed and was never burned-out, despite managing her time at home as a solo parent and as a second mother/daycare worker at the Poblacion Day Care Center.
It was during her stay at the Poblacion Day Care Center that the center received a Five Star from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) when accredited as a conducive learning center for children in 1989. Aside from this, children in Poblacion Day Care Center who competed in Singing, Declamation, and Draw and Tell Categories won 1st place during the National Children’s Month Celebration –Provincial Level. As the provincial winner representing Mountain Province in the Regional Singing, Declamation, and Draw and Tell Competitions; her children in Poblacion Day Care Center went home victorious after besting contestants from other provinces in the Cordillera Region.
After her long stint of service at the Poblacion Day Care Center, Teacher Anna was transferred to Gonogon Day Care Center. She traveled early in the morning from Barangay Samoki where she resides going to Barangay Gonogon; a bare four corners of a classroom welcomed her. It was a challenge for her on how to make the center be completed with the four corners of learning namely “Me and Myself”, “Me and My Family”, “Me and My Community”, and “Values”. With enthusiasm and perseverance, she approached officials and parents to solicit their support on how to make the daycare center conducive for children to learn and play; and they responded to her positively. The efforts of Teacher Anna, parents, the barangay officials, and other stakeholders paid off as the center received a Five –Star rating from the DSWD. In her four years of stay at the Gonogon Day Care Center, those whom she trained to represent their center in the Singing, Declamation, and Draw and Tell Competitions, both in the municipal and provincial levels landed as champions. These probably were the reasons that when she was to be transferred to Omfeg Day Care Center, parents and barangay officials refused and would not like to let her go.
There were also memories when she used to teach at the Gonogon Day Care Center that made her smile whenever she reminisced. She gleefully narrated when one heel of her sandals got stuck in the hole of the bridge, leaving her no choice but to go home without its pair. The instances that she walked in a faster pace along the muddy road due to landslide and the times she rode at the bucket of the backhoe as there was no longer transportation going back home to Poblacion, Bontoc in the afternoon. Those for her were the adventure stories that she treasured until now and would fondly tell to her grandchildren and to those would ask about her teaching journey.
When she transferred to Omfeg Day Care Center, children whom she trained and signed up to compete in Singing, Declamation, and Draw and Tell Categories overpowered other contestants, both in municipal and provincial levels. This was always the situation in the three years that Teacher Anna stayed at the Omfeg Day Care Center.
Recognizing her passion, dedication, and efforts in turning a four-barred classroom into a conducive learning facility for children, she was designated as the Day Care Worker of the newly-constructed Mag-eo Child Development Center in Barangay Bontoc Ili. She did not fail the expectations of officials and parents. She untiringly networks with the barangay, municipal and provincial officials for support and assistance in turning the center into a well-equipped learning center. She gently communicated with the parents and requested for their help in terms of manpower. And she never hesitated to do all of these. She was never shy as she wanted the best for the children which became her children too.
Every penny spent, every sweat that dropped and ever time consumed in turning Mag-eo Child Development Center into a conducive learning center for children were not put into waste. The Mag-eo Child Development Center was accredited by the DSWD a Very Satisfactory (Level 2) rating compliance to the standards set in the implementation of the Early Childhood Care and Development Center – Based Program. Thus, the center was declared a “Show Window” by the DSWD. It means that Mag-eo Child Development Center is a learning facility in which it is open for an educational tour or for those who would like to learn and adopt the best practices of the center.
Also, as expected, children from Mag-eo Child Development Center whom Teacher Anna trained and encouraged to compete in the Singing, Declamation, and Draw and Tell Categories, both in the municipal and provincial levels all went home victorious.
When asked by the writer what is her secret in always making her children win in any competitions, she smiled and humbly answered that it was the gift of intelligence given by God Almighty which she selflessly imparts to her children/ learners.
Also, she recognized the talent of every child, help a child unleash her/his potentials at the same time overcome her/his shyness, patiently coach child weeks and days before the competition, and encourage a child to perform at her/his maximum level.
Despite all the victories earned by her children in all the child development centers where Teacher Anna came from, she remained silent about these achievements.
Yet, Teacher Anna’s love of her work; her commitment in taking good care of children at the same time unleashing their God-given gifts; and going beyond her call of duty was recognized by the Bontoc Municipal Government, Provincial Government of Mountain Province and DSWD in the previous years and even this year. Last year, she was also invited to deliver an inspirational message before municipal and provincial leaders and child development workers in Mountain Province.
Recently, Teacher Anna was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation by the DSWD- Regional Office for her outstanding performance and for being a nominee for the Most Active Child Development Worker Award.
She is grateful for the awards given to her and hopes that others would be inspired by her story. Teacher Anna has also a message to all the child development workers and teachers.
“Isnan lufong esang ka yangkay ay mistala wenu mistulo; ngem isnan iskwelam, esang ka ay tokwifi.” (“To the world, you may be just a teacher; but to your students, you are a star.”)
Teacher Anna was right. She was a star, not only to those who have been her children in day care centers; but to everyone inspired by her story. // Alpine L. Killa, Bontoc-LGU