Cebu City, Philippines –“Gidamgo na nako’ng lugara, third year college pako.”
Who would have thought that a place she used to dream of would eventually be the place where she’d find her purpose.
Annalie Gantuangco, 45, a teacher, a church volunteer, and a servant has dedicated her life to serving the people of Barangay Caraatan, a hillside area of Carcar City, which has a population of around 500.
She’s been teaching for 21 years now. She was first assigned in Barangay Caraatan and later reassigned to Barangay Tuyom in Carcar City.
Growing up to a family that is used to serving others, she has always dreamed to serve too. Her first choice was to take up Criminology, but due to financial constraints and safety concerns, she pursued teaching.
During his first visit to Caraatan, she felt it was Deja Vu. She felt like she has been there before. She felt she belonged there.
Later did she realize that this was the place she was dreaming of back during her junior year in college.
Going to the village every day is not easy.
“Musaka ka’g bungtod, manaog ka’g sapa, musaka nasad ka’g bungtod.”
(You’d have to go up a hill, down to cross a creek, then back up to another hill.)
But from then on, the place became her sanctuary.
After serving 21 years in Barangay Tuyom, she was promoted as a Master Teacher 1. She was reassigned to two other places before she finally got back to Caraatan.
Going back to Caraatan Elementary School after 21 years was totally a challenge for her.
For one, she didn’t have her own room that she could use to teach her 14 students. Her room before she left last 1999 was destroyed, the things she left were shared over the various classes and left her with nothing. But she did not lose hope. Rather, she persevered.
Hence, she pursued the construction of her room using her own salary. Last February, she started her project with her own money. Later, her families, friends, and relatives also donated an amount to support her project. Because of her dedication, the parents also inspired and encouraged to have their monthly pledge wherein they will give any amount they could afford.
The construction started last February, she is now expecting the building to be functional at the end of March.
“Wala koy struggles kay giconsider nako silag mga challenge. Bisag unsa kalisod, ganahan kay ko, kahibaw ko nga kamao ko mu overcome.”
(I don’t have struggles because I consider them as challenges. No matter how hard, I like to do it, and I know I can overcome it.)
“Love man gud nako ang lugar, maong bisag unsa ka pait, di nako siya nga struggle kay love man nako ang lugar. Makakita ra ko’g paagi, makakita ra ko og inspirasyon nga muanha ko.”
(I love the place, that’s why despite all the difficulties, I don’t see it as a struggle because I love the place. I can find ways. I can always find inspiration to go back there.)
Truly, she says, there’s no excuse for not achieving what you are passionate about.
As of now, she is planning on how she can start building a bridge (made of wood) connecting Barangay Caraatan and Barangay Tubod to further encourage additional enrollees. This is because Caraatan is stationed at a plateau, and it’s difficult for the nearby barangays to study there.
Annalie has six scholars wherein two of them already graduated as teachers. The remaining four are currently taking Criminology, her dream career back then. She also is a church decorator and currently training the youth not only in Carcar but also in Alcoy.
For this year’s Women’s Month, she advises the younger teachers to love the service.
“When you love your profession, no matter how difficult it is, mapangita-an ra gyud og paagi.”
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