In far-flung towns like Bongao, Tawi-Tawi, the challenge of daily commute is not traffic jams but
crossing rivers in unpredictable weather. Teachers and students in the capital of the country’s
southernmost province are proving that geographical circumstances need not be a hindrance to
getting an education.
“Seven out of 10 children can read,” Mayor Jimuel Que proudly says, as a result of a community
reading program launched three years ago. Multicabs have also been deployed to the different
districts to ease the daily travel to school.
For these and other initiatives, Bongao was awarded, for the third consecutive year, the Seal of
Good Education Governance by Synergeia Foundation (Synergeia), a coalition of organizations
promoting quality education, and the United States Agency for International Development
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Up north, Bacnotan, La Union, was awarded for a program that teams up teachers with
barangay officials in improving child literacy. The on-ground learning series proves that one
doesn’t necessarily have to be a teacher to champion quality education.
Eighteen other cities and municipalities were recognized for promoting and sustaining good
education for their citizens — Agoo, La Union; Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental; Datu
Paglas, Maguindanao; Diffun, Quirino; Kayapa, Nueva Viscaya; Lambunao, Iloilo; Mambusao,
Capiz; Mina, Iloilo; Navotas, NCR; Padre Garcia, Batangas; San Gabriel, La Union; Simunul,
Tawi Tawi; Solano, Nueva Viscaya; Taraka, Lanao Del Sur; Tuba, Benguet; Upi, Maguindanao;
Valenzuela, NCR; and Vigan City, Ilocos Sur.
They all received a seal marker and P100,000 worth of call, text, and data services from digital
services provider PLDT and its wireless unit, Smart Communications. The package is intended
to provide communications support to LGUs in the conduct of their education initiatives, said
PLDT-Smart Public Affairs Group Head Ramon R. Isberto.
“PLDT-Smart’s partnership with Synergeia is in line with our commitment to help bridge the
technological digital divide,” Isberto said. “With all the major stakeholders working together,
more innovative solutions will be made to have every child enjoy his right to good quality
education,” he said.
Mayor Toby Tiangco, another Seal awardee from Navotas, said technology enables people to
accomplish more, and the Seal initiative provides local government units with the opportunity to
“You get to hear about best practices that you can adopt in your community,” he said. Navotas
sustains educational programs that address lack of teachers and training, child literacy,
insufficient school facilities. The city’s programs include scholarships for both students and
“If people are willing to cooperate with one another in promoting education, the result will be a
stronger community,” said Bacnotan Mayor Francis Fontanilla.