Volunteer Teachers are Bringing Hope to the Dumagat Community

Agents of positive change – volunteer teachers help in transforming the future of the community

by Marvin Mayo, MSc.

Finding one’s purpose in life isn’t easy. Some people took almost forever just to realize what they want to do. It appears, it's also a true thing for me. But when I met Teacher Ian and Teacher Iya, I realised that purpose could also be found in the most bizarre way. Ian and Iya both respond to the call of service in the name of fulfilling their newly found purpose. Teacher Iya and Teacher Ian are volunteers in the Faith in Christ Alone Academy – a K3 school administered by the Trigo Para Sa Tribu Org. Inc. (TPST) at the small community of Puray, Rodriguez, Rizal (part of the Sierra Madre Mountains).

Many communities in the Philippines specially the far-flung areas still lack access to basic services such as education. In some rural areas in the country , it is common that some students travel more than three hours everyday -- crossing rivers and trekking a long trail, to educate themselves in a formal school. A first-hand story I learned from my visit in this community tells that “by reaching the fourth grade, the students are “big” enough to cross rivers and reach the public schools downtown” according to Pastor Cris Obelidor, the CEO of TPST.

A Great Future Through Education

Asking the question : what motivates him to do what he do? Ian Robiego gave a simple answer, “ I asked myself about my purpose, and the events in my life led me to volunteer”. Ian holds a degree in Nursing but did not practice on this field. Instead, he joined a BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) company in Manila as a call center agent. While employed, he volunteers at the community by teaching kids aged 6-8 to read and write. Having an innate passion for teaching, Ian felt frustrated knowing that although these kids could recite the alphabet, they couldn’t write their names. Feeling unsatisfied, he quit his job and looked for opportunities. Fast forward a bit, he did not get the job he wanted. But this event did not discourage him, but instead for him, a blessing in disguise. His advance thinking gave him a plan B, that is to volunteer as a teacher in the community.

Ian started his new-found career early this year. Aside from believing that education is crucial, he wants to have these kids learn how to see their potentials and view a great future for them and their families. Teacher Ian said

I want them to know that they can have a great future through education. And that they can change the fate of their family as well.”

Today, Ian continues to become an agent of change creating a positive impact to the future of the community.

Teacher Christian “Ian” Robiego and his students in the Faith in Christ Alone Academy in the Dumagat Community at Brgy. Puray in the Sierra Madre Mountains.


Do not give up on your dreams

Iya Biado, an IT professional, took a pause in her career and joined TPST as a volunteer teacher. Her innate passion for teaching kids led her to take some teaching credits to further her credentials in the field of education. Learning about the situation of the children in the community, she immediately took the chance to volunteer. She understands the opportunity cost of having this decision, but according to Iya, she have peace and faith that God will provide for her.

In her teaching, she emphasizes the value of not giving up in reaching for your dreams. Iya used to work on a side-job while finishing her degree. She believes that anything is possible as long as you persevere, believe, and work hard to reach your dreams. For her, she sees the role education plays for the future of the children, and the community.

Iya understands that her students, once finishing the third grade, will need to trek miles and cross rivers just to reach the next school. When I asked her about what she could wish for the children she said,

“ I hope that they (students) could have a better access to education. A school that will give them at least the basic needs so they would no longer have to travel miles and cross rivers just to reach the next school”.

Teacher Iya has found her purpose – doing what she loves. Teaching and sharing her students how to dream, for her, is an essential part of the formative years of her students. She envisioned that as early as possible, children should learn how to dream and make them know that there is more to life.

Our purpose drives our life

Teacher Lilia “Iya” Biado and her students at the Faith in Christ Alone Academy in the Sierra Madre Mountains.


As I wrote this story, I remember about what I learned from one of my grad school prof, Dr. David Lertzman. In one of his lectures, he related sustainability with a new idea, that is, finding meaning. I learned that “meaning”, or I can synonymously say equivalent to the word “purpose” is a key ingredient for sustainability to reach a deeper and more profound sense. And this is what I saw in the story of Iya and Ian. They have embarked a journey not just by fulfilling their purpose but at the same time becoming an agent of sustainable development.

To give a picture of how heroic our modern-day teachers are in fulfilling their purpose of becoming an agent of change, I have placed this link for an article that features Elizabeth Miranda. She crosses 5 rivers and walk for 2 hours to reach her students in the mountains (story credit to EliteReaders)

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