Living in difficult times due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) crisis must not be a reason to stop dreaming, all the more to strive and rise above the challenge.

Christene Dayap-Villanueva, a teacher of the Mabini Elementary School in a remote village in Tabon-Tabon, Daraga, Albay, said this is her belief which she shares with her students.

“This coronavirus 19 pandemic must not stop my students’ desire to learn and realize their dreams,” she told the Philippines News Agency.

She said “sacrifices, dedication and the willingness to learn” are some of the characteristics of her students that inspire her to teach despite the prevailing health crisis.

“It hounds me really whenever I reminisce of how the faces of my students beam with eagerness to listen to my lectures inside our classrooms,” Villanueva said, recalling the time before the onset of the pandemic.

Top photo: RISING ABOVE CHALLENGES. Christene Dayap-Villanueva is shown in an undated photo together with her former students at the Mabini Elementary School in a remote village in Daraga town, Albay province. She advised learners to not let the health crisis stop them from realizing their dreams. (Photo courtesy of Christene Villanueva)

When Albay was placed under the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) status last June, she immediately repacked and distributed relief goods to her students, along with some reading materials so that they could continue learning. She bought everything using her own savings.

Before the health crisis struck the country, Villanueva needed to take three rides just to report to her school which is 13.5 kilometers away from the Daraga town proper.

She said she had to endure the long travel which took away precious time from attending to the needs of her husband and two children.

But even as the wife of a police front-liner, she said she has managed to support her husband by giving him spiritual comfort despite the constant fear of the virus affecting their family.

“Kaya minsan ako lang nag-aalaga sa mga bata, nakakatakot pa kasi ung risk na mahawaan sila andyan kaya kahit ngayon, safety protocols and proper hygiene sa bahay being observed,” (Most of the time I am the only one taking care of our children. The risk of being infected is there, that’s why until now, we follow health and safety protocols,” she said.

Villanueva is handling Grades 3 and 4 pupils. With the official opening of classes on Monday, Villanueva has started to print out the modules to be distributed to her students.

“Tuesday and Thursday, I have to go house-to-house to help some of my students who are slow readers,” she said.

Villanueva admitted that teaching and learning would be challenging at this time when no face-to-face classes are allowed.

“True enough that teaching is a noble profession, that only those with pure heart can endure. Mag-adjust lahat, teachers, parents lalo na mga estudyante kasi iba pa din kung nasa loob lang sila ng classrooms (Everybody will have to make adjustments, teachers, parents, specially students because it’s still better having them inside the classrooms).

Despite the difficulties, she said she is motivated by the parents of her students who are very supportive and willing to help their children cope with the “new normal”.

Villanueva said constant prayer and the support of her family also provide her with the strength to continue with her tasks as a teacher despite the difficulties brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Naniniwala ako na pag malakas ang pananampalataya mo sa Diyos, hindi ka pababayaan (I believe that when you have strong faith in God, He will not forsake you),” she said. (Connie Calipay, PNA)