Press Release
October 13, 2018

Dispatch from Crame No. 399:
Sen. Leila M. de Lima's Statement on the Tragic Heroism of a Bicolana Teacher


The words "hero" and "idol" have become over - and too loosely used. Yet, what do you call a person who chose to become a teacher - one of the most demanding and often under-appreciated professions in our society? Who then accepted a post 44km away from her home, being away from her own two kids as she had to settle for sleeping in the principal's office of her school because the travel time was nearly impossible to manage otherwise? Who, after making the daily sacrifices that an educator in her circumstances had to make, ended up sacrificing even more, that is, her very own life in order to protect two of her students from a violent attack?

If there is anyone who deserves to be called a "hero" and an "idol", it is Teacher MYLENE VERAS-DURANTE.

She's a hero and someone to look up to, not because of the manner of her death, but because of the choices she made in life. She chose to be a teacher, and a public school teacher at that, educating our Bicolano youth that they may have a chance at a bright future. She chose to continue to serve as a teacher to the students of Oringon Elementary School in Pio Duran in Albay, despite how far it is from her own home, family and own children. And in the moment of the ultimate test of humanity, she chose to protect and shield two of her students from an attacker, than flee and save herself.

She exemplifies, too, what it is to be a Filipino. Ika nga ng ating Pambansang Awit, "ang mamatay ng dahil sa'yo." With all due respect to those who think that line needs to be changed because it seems defeatist, I beg to disagree.

Mylene was not defeated by her death. She succeeded in saving two children. She succeeded in shedding light to the hardships endured by teachers, especially young ones who are the most prone to being sent far away from home. She succeeded in drawing attention to what needs to be improved in order to protect and promote the welfare of our educators.

She did not choose to die. In fact, she chose to fight. To fight for her calling. To fight for her students.

That is the essence of that penultimate line in our national anthem. We choose to fight because there are some things that are worth fighting for - even at the expense of our own lives. That is the true test of patriotism and love for our country and fellowmen.

And Mylene should be honored for living up to that vow. She will always be in my mind, as I myself vow to do my best to make sure that her sacrifice will not be for nothing. Changes need to be made.

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