Valuing education & our youth

Why education is a priority to Senators Alan and Pia Cayetano (A Father’s Day Story)
June 14, 2012

“A good name and a good education are the most precious gifts that parents could pass on to their children.” These were the words that Senator ‘Compañero’ Rene L. Cayetano would always tell his kids – daughter Pia and sons Alan, Ren and Lino – when he was still alive.

Heeding their father’s words on the value of honor and education, the Cayetano siblings would go on to finish their studies to become public servants and professionals in their respective fields.

Two of them, Pia and Alan, would even follow in the footsteps of Compañero and get elected as senators. (Note: Senator Pia was elected in 2004 and reelected in 2010, while Senator Alan was elected in 2007.) This marked a first in our political history that siblings would serve simultaneously in the Philippine Senate.

Who is Compañero Rene Cayetano?

As a backgrounder for today’s generation, Rene Cayetano was born to parents of simple means but relied on his good education to finish college, become a successful lawyer, broadcaster and TV host, and Senator of the Republic. His father Pedro was a ‘kutchero’ (‘kalesa’ driver) from Marilao, Bulacan while his mother Julianna was a public school teacher from Pateros.

He endeared himself to the public through the moniker ‘Compañero’ in the highly popular radio and television show, ‘Companero Y Companera.’ The program gave free legal advice on air and helped ordinary citizens understand their rights and obligations under the law. Elected senator in 1998, Compañero worked on various bills on education, environment and addressing flaws in the electoral system and the justice system, to name a few. He was unable to finish his six-year term, however. The elder Cayetano died in 2003 following a long battle with liver cancer. He was 68.

A product of the public school system, Compañero graduated from Pateros Elementary School and Rizal High School in Pasig and earned his degrees in Political Science, Law and three graduate courses – Master of Public Administration, Master of Laws and Doctor of Laws – from the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

He also pursued post-graduate studies at the University of Michigan in the United States, where he would meet his future wife, Sandra Schramm, a pre-school teacher – and an educator just like Companero’s mother Julianna.

Education advocates

Continuing what their father had started, Senators Pia and Alan Peter Cayetano have also prioritized the education sector in their respective legislative work.

Fully aware of education’s crucial role in shaping our youth and charting our nation’s future, both Sens. Pia and Alan have fought for higher salaries and better work conditions for public school teachers. They have pushed for higher allocations for education in the national budget to address perennial shortages in books, classrooms and teachers. Their common advocacies also include making the basic curriculum more relevant and responsive to the changing times, and ensuring that higher learning institutions are up to government-set standards.

Free school supplies distribution

When school year 2012-2013 opened last week, the offices of Senators Pia and Alan initiated the distribution of free school supplies to Grade 1 pupils in various public elementary schools. The program called, ‘Tulong sa Mag-aaral,’ is their way of helping out parents amid the rising cost of education, including school supplies.

Among the initial beneficiaries of the program were pupils from the Rafael Palma Elementary School in Pasay City and Dr. Sixto Antonio Elementary School in Pasig City, who were given school supply packs in simple ceremonies held last week. Each pack contained four notebooks, two pencils, a ruler, a pair of scissors, a box of crayons, and a set of pad paper.

Through Pinay In Action (PIA), Sen. Pia has also initiated a community-based literacy program called ‘Let’s Read.’ Through a series of reading sessions, mothers in poor communities under the program are encouraged to teach their pre-school kids how to read and appreciate the value of reading in preparation for their formal schooling. The program also facilitates the donation of children’s books to community day care centers.

Through their initiatives inside and outside the Senate halls, Sens. Pia and Alan are hopeful that education is given the attention it deserves from the government and, in the words of Compañero, continue to be passed on as a ‘precious gift’ to the young generation of Filipinos. #

Photo: Grade One pupils from Rafael Palma Elementary School in Pasay City receive free school supplies from Senator Pia Cayetano and Senator Alan Peter Cayetano.

See more pictures by clicking HERE!

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