After being an educator for 25 years, Dr. Wilma Soriano, principal of Pinagbuhatan Elementary School in Pasig City, still remembers the time when she was assigned to handle only 27 students. “Akala ko suwerte ako na 27 kids lang. The rest of the teachers had 40 pupils,” she recalled. But that class of 27 Grade 3 students from Section 13 turned out to be her baptism of fire after switching from a private to a public school.
“All of them were non-readers. They couldn’t even identify vowel sounds. Na-culture shock ako,” she said, adding that she even questioned her co-teachers and asked what they had done to help the students, who came from very poor families, learn their alphabet.
Her love for reading drove her to commit and invest her own time and resources to change the lives of the students. She bought story books and allotted extra time on Saturdays to teach them how to read. Dr. Soriano even went above and beyond by giving the students a bath when they needed one or by making sure each student was eating right and leading healthy lives.
“Walang kapantay ang pagiging isang guro dahil wala ring hanggan ang mga batang puwedeng tulungan. For me, learning will not happen with bad nutrition. Kaya importante na properly nourished sila for learning to take place,” she reiterated.
Armed with the belief that nutrition is essential for learning to take place, Dr. Soriano continues to find ways to help feed the minds and bodies of the students. One accomplishment she is proud of is leading Pinagbuhatan Elementary School to become the Nestlé Wellness Campus 2021 Champion School.
Fast-forward to today, the Section 13 students, who are now her Facebook friends, give Dr. Soriano pride and joy as they have all become successful in their own right.
‘Kaya ni Misis’
“Kung kaya ni mister, kaya ni misis,” Andresa Tejano cheerfully answers when asked what it is like to be a coffee farmer in her hometown of New Eden in Pangantucan, Bukidnon. Since 1997, Ate Andring has been leading their community of coffee farmers in learning new and sustainable techniques and improving their overall farming practices to increase their yields annually.
She has even taken the role of Coffee Ambassador for Nescafe Plan, the flagship coffee sustainability program of Nestlé Philippines. With this role, Ate Andring is helping train and pass on her skills and knowledge about coffee farming and inter-cropping to the next generation, especially women coffee farmers, who will continue her legacy.
But this multi-tasker is not yet done inspiring others and making a difference in their town. Not only is she juggling taking care of her household and managing a six-hectare farm with her family, she has also taken an active role as a barangay official in New Eden.
But at the end of the day, Ate Andring goes back to her first love – coffee farming. It’s what her parents taught her growing up and it’s what has helped put her kids through school. Moreso, it’s a profession that allows her to provide a basic need of people – coffee.
“Walang kapantay ang pagiging isang magsasaka dahil umulan man or umaraw, patuloy kaming nakakapagbigay ng mga kailangan ng lahat ng tao sa mundo,” she said.
From farm lands to bodies of water, women are taking charge to preserve our natural resources.
“Walang kapantay ang pagiging isang environmentalist dahil wala ring kapantay ang yamang dagat ng Pilipinas,” emphasized Anna Oposa, Executive Director and “Chief Mermaid” of Save Philippine Seas.
As the daughter of an environmental lawyer, being an advocate of the seas has always been part of Oposa’s lifestyle. At home, she and her siblings practiced recycling, turning off appliances that were not in use, and observed proper waste segregation even at a young age. It became a way of life, she explained, and that she only recognized it as her official career and the beginning of her life’s most important work until much later.
What started out as a passion project on the side has now resulted to a mission of leading a group that protects the country’s coastal and marine resources through information dissemination and community-based projects with various stakeholders. She also spearheads education campaigns and partners with like-minded stakeholders like Nestlé Philippines to further promote proper waste management practices. Oposa admits it was a challenge at first, given that she was always the youngest in the room and often the most inexperienced among peers. This motivated her to work ten times harder to prove her doubters wrong. And it has definitely paid off.
There’s been progress, yes, but there’s a lot more to be done to empower more ‘seatizens’ to save our seas, Oposa reiterated.
Nestlé Philippines salutes these three Kababaihang Kasambuhays for pursuing their passions and being a force for good. Dr. Soriano, Ate Andeng and Anna are just three of millions of Filipinas who have devoted their lives to create a better world for all. Their unwavering commitment to educate and nourish children, uplift communities and care for the environment will surely help Filipinos live happier, healthier lives.