Her simplicity, welcoming smile, mellow and kind voice, and warm motherly touch and embrace can make every child feel the love at home.
Teacher Anna Chumawar just turned 62 years old in August 22, but her sweet smile, captivating gracefulness and the refreshing outlook is infectious to every person she meets and motivates others to do the same. Despite spending 32 years in service not only as a child development worker but as a second mother to diverse children age three to five years old, she is still healthy, enthusiastic, jovial, refresh and fulfilled. These could have been the secret of Teacher Anna for looking younger than her age.
At the center, she does not only become a day care worker teaching the children to identify shapes, things, animals, and colors. She makes them draw, tells them stories, sings with them. She persuades them to line up for the flag-raising ceremony then return to the classroom; helps them take off and put away their many layers of gear. She makes them fix and return the toys to their proper places, cleans the center, and assists kids whenever they urinate and/or defecate. She convinces them to wash their hands and sit calmly at the table, and, the list goes on. This already sounds like a lot, but if only it was that simple! You cannot just tell a three-year-old, “Wash your hands.” You have to say “Walk over to the sink, stand on the stool, lift up the faucet handle, push down on the soap dispenser, scrub your hands, rinse your hands, turn off the water, dry your hands, and sit in your chair.” And you have to repeat it several times, sometimes in the form of a song, with hand motions. The day’s job of a child development worker does not end there.
As for Teacher Anna, she becomes an instant mother and a best friend to every child who steps on the door of the daycare center. She widely opens her arms to cuddle and hush a child who cries every drop off at the center. She fondly responds to a child’s request to be carried and sit on her lap. She patiently talks and stays with a child who is shy, at the same time helps her/him overcome it gradually at her/his own pace. Also, she is a friend whom every child trusts to whisper her/his secrets.
A secretarial course graduate at the Mountain Province College (MPC), now Mountain Province State Polytechnic College (MPSPC), she applied as a day care worker, now referred to as child development worker, at the Bontoc Municipal Government in 1982 and was appointed to a permanent position in 1983.
Teacher Anna recounted her first teaching experience of looking after 150 children aged three to five years who were divided into morning and afternoon session at the Poblacion Day Care Center, now called the Child Development Center. When asked how she single-handedly managed that number of children, she smiled and responded that children before were obedient and respectful. Thus, she was never stressed and was never burned-out, despite managing her time at home as a solo parent and as a second mother/daycare worker.
It was during her stay at the Poblacion Day Care Center that the center received a Five Star from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) when accredited as a conducive learning center for children in 1989. Aside from this, children in day care center who competed in Singing, Declamation, and Draw and Tell Categories won 1st place during the National Children’s Month Celebration–Provincial Level. As the provincial winner representing Mountain Province in the Regional Singing, Declamation, and Draw and Tell Competitions, her children in Poblacion Day Care Center went home victorious after besting contestants from other provinces in the Cordillera Region.
After her long stint of service at the Poblacion Day Care Center, Teacher Anna was transferred to Gonogon Day Care Center. She traveled early in the morning from Barangay Samoki where she resides going to Barangay Gonogon. A bare four corners of a classroom welcomed her. It was a challenge for her how to complete the center with the four corners of learning namely “Me and Myself”, “Me and My Family”, “Me and My Community”, and “Values”. With enthusiasm and perseverance, she approached officials and parents to solicit their support on making the daycare center conducive for children to learn and play, and they responded to her positively. The efforts of Teacher Anna, parents, the barangay officials, and other stakeholders paid off as the center received a Five–Star rating from the DSWD. In her four years of stay at the Gonogon Day Care Center, those whom she trained to represent their center in the Singing, Declamation, and Draw and Tell Competitions, both in the municipal and provincial levels landed as champions. These probably were the reasons that when she was to be transferred to Omfeg Day Care Center, parents and barangay officials refused and would not like to let her go.
There were also memories when she used to teach at the Gonogon Day Care Center that made her smile whenever she reminisced. She gleefully narrated when one heel of her sandals got stuck in the hole of the bridge, leaving her no choice but to go home without its pair. The instances that she has to walk fast pace along the muddy road due to a landslide, and the times she rode at the bucket of the backhoe as there was no longer transportation going back home to Poblacion, Bontoc in the afternoon. Those for her were the adventure stories that she treasured until now and would fondly tell to her grandchildren and to those would ask about her teaching journey.
When she transferred to Omfeg Day Care Center, children whom she trained and signed up to compete in Singing, Declamation, and Draw and Tell Categories overpowered other contestants, both in municipal and provincial levels. This was always the situation in the three years that Teacher Anna stayed at the Omfeg Day Care Center.
Recognizing her passion, dedication, and efforts in turning a four-barred classroom into a conducive learning facility for children, she was designated as the child development worker of the newly-constructed Mag-eo Child Development Center in Barangay Bontoc Ili. She did not fail the expectations of officials and parents. She untiringly networks with the barangay, municipal and provincial officials for support and assistance in turning the center into a well-equipped learning center. She gently communicated with the parents and requested for their help in terms of manpower. And she never hesitated to do all of these. She was never shy as she wanted the best for the children which became her children too.
Every penny spent, every sweat that dropped and ever time consumed in turning Mag-eo Child Development Center into a conducive learning center for children were not put to waste. The Mag-eo Child Development Center was accredited by the DSWD a Very Satisfactory (Level 2) rating compliance to the standards set in the implementation of the Early Childhood Care and Development Center – Based Program. Thus, the center was declared a “Show Window” by the DSWD. It means that Mag-eo Child Development Center is a learning facility in which it is open for an educational tour or for those who would like to learn and adopt the best practices of the center.
By Alpine L. Killa