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Surviving the mysterious mountain

Rain, rain, go away

Home for Christmas

Safe from harm

UNICEF is coming to town

Below the poverty line

In the line of fire

Touch me not

Breast of the bunch

Practice what you teach

Starting over

Breastfeeding in Times of Crisis - Caring for Mothers and the Littlest Survivors

Twenty years of the CRC

After the flood

Under pressure

Time for class

Voices of youth

Nurturing children’s creativity in trying times

Jaime's Wish

A true story of a mother’s love

A better future for Filipino children

A UNICEF Champion for Education: Perseveranda So, 1956-2009

The LLK way of promoting health habits in schools

Watching over mothers

Art Baldestoy, the gentle giant of the Grade 2 class

Rochelle Canete, future policewoman

Judy Ann and the perennial flood

Learning to play and playing to learn

The case of the stolen ceiling fans

For whom the bell tolls

More than the ABCs and 123s

Days of Peace in Mindanao: Together, it can be done

Days of Peace in Mindanao: No more bloody wars


The case of the stolen ceiling fans

© UNICEF Philippines/2008/Francia
School officials, Parent Teacher Association officers and Barangay councilors join together to form a band of heroes for Libas Elementary School children.

By Marge Francia

UNICEF believes in the important role of the community in bringing about results for children. In a barangay in Northern Samar, parents, teachers, students and local officials work together to give children a better future. 

In Libas Elementary School in Northern Samar province, 403 students and 11 teachers from preschool to Grade 6 study in dilapidated classrooms, share one comfort room and run the risk of being hit by floods and landslides due to its hilly location.

It is even more baffling therefore that some elements from the community had the gall to steal the classroom’s ceiling fans, one of the few remaining valuables that the school owns. The school principal Maribel Formaran decided that these mysterious disappearances and intrusions on the school premises needed to stop, and called on the expert advice of community members to become heroes and protectors of the school.

The fellowship of the Libas knights

Heading this band of defenders is Rosita Mahinay, the Barangay Captain who heads the community with her deep commitment to children’s well-being. She possesses the power to call for special meetings to discuss matters of great import in the barangay. When she heard that the school will be receiving a new classroom, a new toilet, school furniture, playground and library from UNICEF’s French National Committee, she has vowed her to protect these gifts that will be enjoyed by all children in Libas.

“When people from UNICEF came to visit our school, we were told by the principal that we will be given a new comfort room for the children. She asked for help to give our counterpart to improve the school. We immediately discussed this in a special meeting I convened with the barangay council and agreed that we will support this all the way,” the cheerful grandmother said.

Backing Rosita in this gallant undertaking of being Libas Elementary School’s guardians is Andres Cebreros, Barangay Kagawad. Andres is a businessman who owns a construction supply store and has the ability to travel great distances and contribute much-needed hardware for the school.

“Andres helps us readily and without question. When we have our scouting activity he is the one who takes the children to the camping site with his vehicle, and set up temporary tents to help them learn the ways of the scouts,” Principal Formaran said.

“Libas has a special place in my heart because my two young children are studying here. We in the barangay council know that education is important for the children. All parents would want the best for their children, so I do my part to help them,” the noble kagawad says with passion.

We're all in this together

Another brave hero for education is Parent Teachers Association President Marlou Dela Tonga, who has a child enrolled in Grade 3. Marlou has the gift of persuasion to bring parents to action. Every year before school starts, Marlou and other parents, families, teachers and barangay officials embark on a valiant mission called “bayanihan” or “pintakasi,” where they prepare the school by weeding the school yard, buildings fences, cleaning the rooms and repainting the school structures. They also help teachers in the school feeding and fund raising activities.

“We are ready to help the school in any way we can for the benefit of the students,” she emphasizes.

Principal Formaran considers herself very lucky because of the profound commitment and the great cause that these celebrated Libas men and women had decided to champion in their locale.

“We are very thankful because our community leaders are very cooperative. We just call them once and they come right away. The participation in this community has since increased and we teachers are very happy that we have their support,” she beams with pride.

Bright futures and high hopes 

This brave league of local officials, parents and teachers have made it their personal mission to safeguard the students and their school, and has shown their mettle by forming a strong alliance with the school officials. Barangay Captain Rosita Mahinay put it succinctly:

“We help the school because it is our duty to help each other. We are in constant communication with the teachers because we also believe that education is important to all children because they are the hope of our nation. The future is in their hands,” she said. 

Libas can now look forward to a better and brighter tomorrow for their youth. For as long as this fellowship of school protectors remains strong and devoted to children, Libas Elementary School should never have to worry about stolen ceiling fans ever again.

For more information on what UNICEF Philippines does to improve education in the country, click here.





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