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Paano Kita Mapasasalamatan: How Marawi siege survivors became each other’s bastions of hope

All of us have our own battles in life that are certainly difficult to face, but with strength and faith, along with help from other people, we fight every battle for ourselves and for the people we love. In the November 21 episode of Paano Kita Mapasasalamatan, we feature teachers who became each other’s saviors and bastions of hope amid the precarious Marawi siege.

Lordvin Acopio, a Marawi siege hostage survivor, was encouraged by his friends to work as a teacher in a private Christian school in Marawi. He became used to wars between the military and the terrorists. But little did he know that he was going to get into trouble as the terrorists kidnapped him and his companions and took them hostage. It came to a point when the terrorist nearly killed Lordvin. Thankfully, the terrorists changed their minds and he was instead tasked to be their resident doctor. It was beyond challenging for Lordvin because he knew little about the task. But he didn’t give up and didn’t leave the terrorists. He still continued to do his best and served them. When his family knew about his situation, they were still hoping that Lordvin was safe. Then someone extended precious help, his co-teacher Aljo Catedral, who was very lucky to have been able to sneak out from the terrorists’ clutches. Aljo was the one who informed Lordvin’s family about what was happening to him. He gave Lordvin’s family peace of mind. After almost five months, Lordvin gained his freedom. To give thanks to his friend Aljo, he gave him a plant, which symbolizes their friendship and their second life. 

Aljo’s family story was different compared to the rest. His mother didn’t know that his father already had a family before. That’s why his father had to leave them. Another unfortunate event happened in his life as his mother passed away after four years because of cancer. But Aljo was very blessed because his parents’ Chinese employers took care of him. The Lam family treated him just like their own. Although his father tried to make up for all the lost years that they could’ve been together, Aljo still didn’t leave the Lam family, who even supported him when he suffered from a mild stroke when he was 16. However, Aljo reached one of the lowest points of his life when three members of the family passed away, including his foster parent who loved him like a real son. Thankfully, he found another family in his students with the help of a college friend, Michael Brizal, who encouraged him to work as a teacher in Marawi. And it’s when he started teaching that he was able to surround himself with people who made him feel loved and appreciated again after experiencing the traumatic loss of his family members. To show appreciation for Michael, Aljo gave him a key, which symbolizes their friendship.

Michael is also currently working as a teacher. He originally dreamed of being an accountant but because his family couldn’t afford the tuition fee for an accountancy course, he just opted to pursue an education degree and eventually loved the teaching profession. His sister Ruby then asked him if they could grab the opportunity to be teachers in Marawi. At first, Michael was hesitant because of the anticipated danger in the place. But they still continued to fly to the city and became teachers. After three years, Michael went back to Iloilo. He had no idea that his decision to leave would be one of his biggest regrets in life as terrorists had kidnapped Ruby. When his family knew about the ongoing war that time between the terrorists and the military, Michael lied to them that his sister was safe just to give them peace of mind even though he knew what really happened to Ruby. Later on, they weren’t receiving news anymore about what was happening in Marawi that time. What they did was pray for the safety of Ruby. And their prayers were answered when Ruby was finally set free and arrived home. It was a very traumatic experience for Ruby and Michael but they chose to get up and be stronger. Ruby was able to finish her Master’s degree while Michael was able to continue his passion to teach with the help of his friend Jonathan, who helped him in his teaching job in a public school. To thank Jonathan for his huge assistance, Michael gave him a notebook, which he can use for his everyday work in school.

Jonathan Almirante is also an elementary school teacher. He also came from Iloilo and was raised by his father who was a farmer and his mother, a housewife. His eldest sister was the one who shouldered his college studies. However, he wasn’t able to take his preferred course, which was broadcasting, because of financial difficulties. He took an education course instead and after graduating, he was able to work immediately in a private school in Cavite. However, he would eventually choose to teach in a public school. He loved the experience, however, he was challenged by the difficult situation of the institution because of flooding in the area. As a result, there would be long days of class suspensions and thus, the students would fall behind in their lessons. That’s when Jonathan asked help from the authorities to solve the flooding problem. Fortunately, the local government responded to his plea. Now, Jonathan is now part of the Media and Creative team under the Department of Education in Bacoor City. He even writes and contributes for the modules of the whole region IV-A.

Jonathan’s dedication and love for teaching made him help a distressed Michael in continuing his own passion for the profession. This same passion encouraged Michael to support Aljo in finding a new family in his students by also being a teacher. This sense of family then motivated Aljo to reach out to and notify Lordvin’s clan about the latter’s safety that gave them peace of mind.

Such selfless concern and generous action for others are what we feature each week on Paano Kita Mapasasalamatan, hosted by Judy Ann Santos-Agoncillo, every Sunday 6:15pm on Kapamilya Channel, Kapamilya Online Live, and A2Z Channel 11.