Madam Herminia Osting -- MTBMLE Exemplar

I met Madam Herminia Osting in 2011. She was then serving as the School Principal at Lengaoan Elementary School, a small school in the middle of the Mountain Trail of Benguet. She showed me and my students some of the Kankanaey big books she wrote. Since her college life at SLU, Baguio, she developed a strong interest in Cordilleran literature. During our first meeting, we talked about MTBMLE for almost the whole chilly night of February. In the years to come, she sought every opportunity to improve the MTBMLE materials and teaching strategies she has been developing.

More than four years later, I saw her again (now a principal of  Loo Elementary School and PSDS OIC) showing me the fruits of her labor—new big books (a few were published locally), new MTBMLE allies, the newly approved (by the community and the government) Kankanaey orthography…. All these became possible even if Kankanaey (the 13th largest Phil language) was not selected as one of the 19 Philippine languages supported by the central office of DepEd for massive material development

She and her teachers, dipped from their own pockets to produce many more Kankanaey big books (now more than a hundred). Later, the LGU contributed some and when MTBMLE became part of the K-12 Law, they were given the go signal to use their meager MOOE. They wrote fun and captivating stories that young learners in Benguet (and other rural places) would fondly remember----frog friends who discovered a large footprint...the duck who got stuck under the stairs...the cockroach with a pot belly, etc. Some were written to teach the sounds of the alphabet and some for simple enjoyment of their young readers.

According to Madam Osting (who taught grade one for a long time), when English or Tagalog text was used (before the MTBMLE policy came out) pupils would only be able to read in September...now they can read with comprehension in July. In the past, when a question was posed, the pupils would go back to the book to search for the right word that will answer the question.  Now with the story in their language, the pupils would respond spontaneously and would even offer their own interpretation and opinion.

Other teachers from neighboring schools in Benguet have been coming to borrow and photocopy the big books Madam Osting and her teachers wrote. There is indeed a need for an affordable means (an alternative to the traditional publishing) to reproduce these mother tongue big books. I hope these big books would also have a small and portable version that kids can bring home and read on their own. Maybe a digital version that can be downloadable in tablets or mobile phones is one possible solution. IPR is also one issue in MTBMLE (there are horror stories about this).  

I hope that some of these Kankanaey stories, including those written in other Philippine languages would be translated to Tagalog (instead of the usual practice of translating Tagalog stories to other languages). I am aware that our gifted teacher-writers in Bicol, under the leadership of Dr. Opay Tuy, also produced so many stories in some Bicol languages. There are hundreds more that were produced because of the initial funding provided by the K-12 program. I hope DepEd would make an inventory of the big books produced by the teachers and community people the past six years. Maybe they can even organize a big event to display the books in so many languages (about more than 70). Such would make a strong argument for K-12.
It would be great if someday, our children would have access to these books and be able to read and enjoy stories contributed by various ethnolinguistic communities. I hope, too, that someday the many mother tongue story writers like Madam Herminia Osting would be known and inspire the budding mother tongue writers who would come out of our MTBMLE experience.

Ched Arzadon

Madam Hermie Osting at Lengaoan Elementary School taken in February, 2011

May 2015 at Loo Central Elementary School

Some of the books she and her teachers have produced.

One of the Madam Osting's books that was locally published

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