• Pre-Med Grad Who Became a Public School Teacher: 'It's Not Enough to Be Smart'

    At the recent educator's forum by Kidzania, teacher Sabrina Ongkio talks raising kids with genuine Pinoy pride.
    by Thumby Server-Veloso .
  • August is the time for Philippine schools to celebrate "Buwan Ng Wika" in honor of our country, culture, and people. This is when our children are taught to sing local songs, recite poems, share stories and perform folk dances. While that seems like plenty, there are actually other easy things we can do that can cultivate in our children a deeper affection for our country.

    In "Raising the Next Generation: The Role We Play," an educator’s forum at Kidzania, Sabrina Ongkiko gave a beautiful talk entitled "The Role We Play in Raising Young Patriots by Fostering National Pride." Teacher Sab, whose story has appeared in SmartParenting.com.ph, is a pre-med graduate from Ateneo De Manila who became a public school teacher.

    sabrina ongkiko
    When Teacher Sab speaks, you can see that she has so much love for the Philippines. She says has learned more about life from her students.
    PHOTO BY Vince Coscolluela
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    During her presentation, Teacher Sab brought up to the stage eight of her students from Culiat Elementary School to share examples of how patriotism is taught in their everyday lives.

    Pinoy pride is something we should carry wherever we go.

    Being a patriot by definition is to love and support one’s country. When Filipino go overseas, we cannot help but talk about our favorite Filipino things. But another simple way is to teach pride in our country by example. “Sa isip, salita, at gawa,” Teacher Sab's students had chimed.

    One of Teacher's Sab's students talked about how his mom shared her love for country by cooking dishes from Bicol and other Filipino delicacies. Another student of Teacher Sab's got the audience emotional when he talked with such passion about how his Muslim mother taught him about love and respect for people from all religions.

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    It got me thinking about how our words and actions have the power to make our children love or hate our countrymen. As parents, we need to make a conscious decision to choose which direction we would like our children to take.

    In Teacher Sab’s own experience, she believes her patriotism grew from her dad and his stories, or what she likes to call “his story.” It’s our responsibility to tell children about the experiences we had, both the good and the bad — how we suffered, survived, grew and learned.

    Teacher Sab’s father was an engineer who was involved in many projects like the construction of roads and bridges. She recalled a time when he told her about the huge amount of money he had was not meant for their family to get a bigger home. It was the people’s money for building things they needed to improve their lives.

    It was a lesson that stuck with the young Sab — that need to serve others and help make lives better.

    You can surround your children with friends and relatives who are willing to share their histories. Carefully choose people who can positively influence your children to understand, see the potential, and dream of beautiful things for our motherland.

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    Patriotism is not simply a love for the land, but for the people in it.

    This is a wonderful lesson Teacher Sab's students knew by heart: “Mas magaling ka 'pag nagagagawa mong magaling ang iba.” It's the concept of bayanihan: to help others improve their lives. 

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    Teachers and parents should show children how to focus on compassion and empathy over competition and awards. In Teacher Sab’s words, a great person is someone who is, “Magaling sa isip at sa puso.”

    It’s not enough to be smart — you should also have a good heart.

    One inspirational anecdote was about an honor student from their school, who gathered a group of friends to teach their classmates how to read. When a test was given and one of the students she tutored scored high, they were accused of cheating. The honor student and her “pupil” re-took the test in front of the principal and both almost perfected the test, with her tutee scoring higher than her.

    If we can raise a generation of people that genuinely care about each other, everyone will be treated with dignity and respect, and no one will get left behind.

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    Expose and involve children in volunteer work.

    Our children can be part of so many schools, church and community projects. Being included in a group that serves the community or helps the less fortunate, builds character and develops within our children a sense of responsibility for others, as well as a feeling of pride in what they are able to accomplish.

    More importantly, let them join in discussions where they can look at problems in the community and brainstorm suggestions or solutions. Let their answers shape their dreams. Who knows? Your child may be the next engineer building a transportation system that could bring much progress to our country, the next inventor who will make machines that will bring Filipino farmers into the next century or the next leader who will make laws and policies that protect and improve the lives of everyone.

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    Many of us have forgotten how to express our love for our country and its people. In recent times, we have gotten used to critiquing everything about the Philippines. While some constructive criticism is useful, (especially when used as a starting point for discussions that lead up to what we can do or how we can help), we should also remember that our children are watching and learning from us how we love what our country has to offer, how we help our fellow Filipinos, and how we work to make it a better place.

    Barbara Server-Veloso, known as Teacher Thumby in her preschool, Toddlers Unlimited, and Ms. Thumby in her grade school, Thinkers Unlimited, Alabang. She is also a partner in Spark Discovery Center in Jupiter Street, Makati where she teaches the Baby and Me Class. Thumby has a Masters Degree from the University of the Philippines in Family Life and Child Development. She has been teaching since 1993. She is also the mother of Lucas, 11, and Verena, 7. In her free time, she offers talks on essential oil for mothers and teachers interested in healthy lifestyles.

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