Ryan Homan: Finalist to the Global Teacher Prize Awards, Pride of Pinoys
I’m a great fan of superheroes. I love Superman, Batman and Spiderman. I love Darna (Philippine fictional superhero). My insatiable interest for them started way back in 90s during my elementary days when comics rental houses proliferated in our barrio and you can find it in any ‘sari sari’ store. They offer affordable rental fees at PhP1.00 per comics. They say comics is a cheap read but it is where I started my love for reading. I was attracted by the colorful drawings and short lines. I can still memorize the names of our comics, Pinoy, Hiwaga, Aliwan. I admired these superhero characters because of their enduring, lasting love for people.
At this age, I knew already that they don’t exist. But I met people who immortalized the love for people, just like those superheroes. As I’ve mentioned, I would like to feature inspiring Filipinos who have become a little hero in their community, one that has become our pride. I’d like to introduce you to Mr. Ryan Homan, one of the finalists to an internationally prestigious Global Teacher Prize by the Varkey Foundation, that’s awarding $1 million for a Super Special Teacher. Ryan is one of the Outstanding Public Officials and Employees, “Dangal ng Bayan” Award in 2017 by the President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Roa Duterte. He’s literacy projects starting from his school’s reading program caught the attention of the international community through the Global Teacher Prize.
An inspiration to his village
He’s an inspiration to many, the first to have a college degree in this remote community in Donsol, Sorsogon (where the Most Friendly Whalesharks live and thrive). He draws courage and persistence to continue his advocacy from his people. He dreams that they embrace education like what he did as it transforms him completely and alleviated his status. He’s the first teacher from their barrio. His story values hard work, persistence and determination amidst poverty. During his education days, he would ride a banca and walk/trek on the mountains for 2 hours or more daily depending on the weather condition. In college, he had to work extra effort to be able to finish his education, especially that they’re not well-off. His father is an elementary graduate and his mother reached grade 1 only.
A Non-Reader in Grade 4
Ryan never forgets the time when he wasn’t able to read. He felt ashamed in class and had very limited class participation. It was only in grade 4 that he finally learned to read. He wasn’t very good at reading either when in high school and got ashamed when teachers in their school called the attention of their parents to inform them that their child is a slow reader, having difficulty coping up with the lessons. His father remarried when his mother died of giving birth, he was just six years old.
All these hardships and stumbling blocks, he hurdled to finish education.
A Sturdy Bridge
Because of Ryan’s persistence and advocacy, together with his father who’s the head of the village, they were able to be granted with a sturdy, concrete hanging bridge that connects their village to the other side of the mountain. This improved their transportation.
Balsa Basa Program (Reading Program in a Raft)
Ryan popularized the Balsa Basa Program (a Reading Program in a Raft) catering to those who are at-risk of dropping out, living far from the school. During weekends and good weather, he would use the raft to reach-out to these kids. These children are constantly absent from school especially during rainy season and bad weather condition as they have to ride a banca and cross rivers in going to the school. With Ryan’s leadership and the support of Educo, a Spanish INGO working in Bicol, the Project was realized. It has been serving their most indigent learners who are residing far from the schools since 2015. The Program has been instrumental for turning their non-readers to independent readers, some even became tutors to younger learners (see the link for Batang Maestro, an internationally awarded film about his learners turning peer tutors at https://kami.com.ph/71987-batang-maestro-inspiring-story-a-12-year-boy-uses-a-raft-teach-kids-doesnt-r.html). He has been empowering the children to take part actively in promoting literacy in the community. Something that is very much inspiring.
Nanay (Mother) Teachers
One of the factors of poor reading proficiency among learners is the lack of reading habit, especially at home. While the children are at the school for at least 6-7 hours a day, they’re at home for more than 12 hours. Thus, the role of the parents, especially the mothers who are left at home to do household chores is very indispensable. Usually the fathers work as farmers and construction workers. However, not most of the parents are literate. Ryan conducted reading sessions and orientations on how important it is to develop reading habits of children at home. He scouted parents who are readers and let them mentor other parents and struggling readers in their village during weekends. Together with the community, Ryan and his faculty, set-up home reading and learning corners (they provided materials to the learners) and community reading center. These reading and learning centers have been very effective especially this time as learners have access to reference materials even if they’re residing in a very remote village, where there is no internet connection.
Up to now, Ryan is working hard to ensure learning continuity in their village amidst COVID-19 pandemic. He continuously implement the Home Reading and Learning Corners and provides resources to them. Should you wish to support his initiatives, you may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and contacts at 09283851716 and 09452947776. Help him realize his dreams for his small village in Donsol, Sorsogon. He’s a real superhero I met, I personally know him and has believed in his dreams. He’s been the reason our children in the village are smiling and slowly becoming confident in their capacities. Truly, Ryan is a servant leader by heart.
Special thanks to the writer of Mr. Ryan Homan as I incorporated some information from her articles, to Educo, the Spanish INGO I’ve worked for more than 10 years for supporting these projects and to Ryan’s family for believing and supporting his initiatives.