Arrived at my niece and nephew’s high school around 6:30 am. Went up to my nephew Sharwen’s classroom to see if the instructor that had taken his 840 peso change for a new school t-shirt had arrived yet. She hadn’t. I wanted to have a chat with the Iloilo City high school teacher that tried to cheat my nephew. I wasn’t in the best mood. My asawa had stayed at home. She knew I was on a mission and there was no stopping me.
Walked into the Administration Office. Principal was gone that day. Conference at the Sarabia Hotel. I would wait for the officer-in-charge of the day who would arrive at 7:30. As I waited and watched the teachers electronically “punch the clock” for the day, I wondered if any of them were my nephew’s advisor that had refused to give his change back. Had never met her before.
A bus of South Korean students from a local evangelistic church were on the school grounds singing as they readied for a program they would present to the students at this public high school. No separation of church and state in the Philippines.
I nodded to the Filipino pastor leading the group and informed him the officer-in-charge, whom he also wanted to speak to, would be in at 7:30. So I waited. And waited some more.
An office employee approached me and asked if I had a “concern.” “Do I have a concern? Yes, I have a concern!” and explained the situation regarding my nephew Sharwen.
The worker took my information, along with the teacher’s name, and I could see her chatting with her fellow coworkers and letting them know what was going on. It’s not everyday an irate “kano” comes to visit their school. I wanted to make sure everyone in that public high school in Iloilo knew about this “teacher.”
Shortly after 7:30 am, the officer-in-charge arrived. Before I could approach her, the pastor with the South Korean gospel group got to her.
When the in-charge person took off with the pastor to start their religious program for the school, I realized I was left to wait some more. And honestly, after an hour of waiting, I had reached the end of my limited patience.
I dialed my asawa and loudly announced to her that I was being brushed off, the principal was gone, and the officer-in-charge had completely ignored me.
Within 30 seconds after ending my call, one of the administrative employees informed me that the “Kommadant,” head of security and department head of the teacher that took my nephew’s money, would see me about my concern. And yes, “Kommandant” stood in bold letters in a sign above his door as I was escorted in.
I shook hands with the “Kommandant,” a middle-aged Filipino man with a firm grip. Explained the situation regarding my nephew.
“Sir,” he began, “I have already contacted that teacher and asked her why she is causing me so much trouble so early in the morning.”
“I will personally give you the 840 pesos in change out of my own pocket if she does not come to school today with the money,” he assured me. “Please come back at 2 pm this afternoon and I will have the money for you then.”
I stood up, looked the “Kommandant” in the eye, and said “Salamat, po (thank you, sir.) I will be back this afternoon.”
I had no doubt the “Kommandant” was telling me the truth and was a man of his word.
Hopped back on the jeepney and returned home. Told my asawa what had happened. Decided to have our nephew Sharwen go to the security head’s office and pick up the money. I had no doubt the change would be there.
Sharwen went that afternoon at the appointed time. The change was given to him. His teacher finally had arrived at school. I discovered later that the teacher had turned the money over to the “Kommandant.”
My sister-in-law, Marjorie, works hard in Kuwait to support her daughter and nephew that we take care of. P840, 19 US Dollars, is almost 1/5 of the support money she sends us on a fairly regular basis now.
Again, it’s a matter of principle. It’s not about P840. The teacher is still employed at this Iloilo High School. To my understanding, she has not been disciplined in any way. But as a “teacher,” she has set a bad example to my nephew and my niece who now attend school in Guimaras.
(The t-shirt never arrived in time for Sharwen to use it. We have arranged for it to be given to one of Sharwen’s classmates who could not afford to purchase it.)