A Name Like No Other
In her barangay, she is usually called Ma’am or Madam. For those more familiar with her, she goes by Ka Melchora. For her students, she is known as Ms. Mel. All her names already hint at the number of roles on the shoulders of Melchora Virgo of Brgy. Juan West, Pilar in Abra.
Melchora with her children
Yet another new name Melchora gained was “Mrs. Virgo”, having just recently married. Having been known as “Ms. Dela Rosa” almost all her life, her married name, according to her, is still something that she is getting used to.
Ma’am Mel listening to the answer of her Grade 5 pupil during their class
Despite being a new bride, Melchora is already used to being a mother, having acted in this capacity to Bgys. Narnara, San Juan East and West pupils since 1996. Patient as she is, she never gets tired preparing her lessons and exams, being able to teach and impart her knowledge, experiences and values to her students.
For Melchora, seeing her pupils smiling, learning, and growing is her biggest accomplishment, especially when she sees that they understand their lessons and apply the values she always gives importance. Her delight in teaching is equalled by the the confidence and security of the children’s parents in the guidance and education with the guidance being provided by her, whom they know as Ms. Mel.
“Diyay anak ko ket mamomotivate ti napintas nga pinangisuro ni Ma’am Mel ket agpapasalamatak kenyana, ti kinagaget na, mains-inspire dagiti isursuro na, kasla ni anak ko (My daughter is motivated to learn more as Ma’am Mel teaches well. I’m very thankful, because through her hard work, she inspires her students like my child)”, said a mother of one of the pupils being taught by Melchora.
Hearing words of gratefulness is priceless for her. According to her, praise like this makes her life worth living, being someone who serves as a second mother to children she considers her own.
Melchora with co-volunteers
Melchora may have passion for teaching, but this is equalled by her enthusiasm for volunteerism, which is why she became involved in the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) Project of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
With Kalahi-CIDSS entering Pilar for the first time in 2012, Ka Melchora, as she is known by her volunteers, and her fellow Brgy. San Juan West residents excitedly worked together and participated in the preparation and planning stages until the conduct of Municipal-Inter Barangay Forum-Participatory Resource Allocation (MIBF-PRA), where all the barangays in the municipality of Pilar will be ranked according to priority.
Unfortunately, Brgy. San Juan West ranked 6th, one spot short of the five barangays that were eventually prioritized during the MIBF-PRA. However, despite not being included as one of the prioritized barangays in their first cycle in Kalahi-CIDSS, Ka Melchora and her fellow residents continued to work as volunteers in their community. As she shared, “Willing kami, situtulong kami latta, ken kinanayon kami nga volunteers ti komyunidad (We are still willing. We continuously help and we will always be community volunteers).” Instead of being disheartened about not being prioritized, they took this as a learning experience in working together as one to reach their goal.
Melchora and her community
Melchora voicing out her hopes and dreams for their community
The lessons they learned as a community eventually came into play when their barangay association, Timpuyog Inanama Mannalon ken Entero Kabaranggayan (TIMEK), was formed in that same year.
Board Member Mel is one of the pioneer members of TIMEK during its October 30, 2012 inception. The association is a conglomeration of representatives from different sectors in Bgy. San Juan West. Its members include the president of Farmer Association, the president of Rural Improvement Club, a former barangay captain, a kagawad, the SK chairman, representatives from the barangay lupon / elder council, the barangay secretary, farmers, housewives, vendors, a day care worker, a teacher, a health worker, and even Pantawid Parent Leaders.
Melchora disclosed that the Kalahi-CIDSS’ principle of empowering local citizens and the community was their inspiration in developing TIMEK . In fact, its members were all volunteers of Kalahi-CIDSS, being part of the different committees in the Project.
She shared TIMEK’s mantra: “Ti timek ti barangay ti kasapulan, tatta tayu ipractice ti naadal tayu (The voice of barangay is needed; we now practice the education we’ve got).”
Being that one of TIMEK’s main goals is cleanliness, as an officer, Board Member Mel leads activities such as cleaning their roads and surroundings of their barangay with other members every second and last week of Sunday of the month.
TIMEK also promotes camaraderie among the residents. With the help of barangay officials, they organized a sports tournament last year, and they are planning on setting up another one this year because of the good feedback the activity has generated from their community. Using the project management lessons they learned in Kalahi-CIDSS, the next plan of the TIMEK members is to promote the various committees of the association, such as education and training, mediation and consultation, ethics, finance and audit, and others.
As one of the board members, Melchora hopes that through their TIMEK, their voice as one community will become a pillar of change towards the progress of Bgy. San Juan West.
Numerous titles, one person
When asked what she can say to her multiple roles in their community, Melchora Virgo smiled and answered, “Uray no maminsan ket makapabannog, sige latta ah, ta pagsayaatan tayo met ammamen (Even though sometimes, it’s tiring, still we do this for the common good to all of us).”