I am deeply honored and privileged to lead the celebration of World Teachers’ Day with the very opportune theme, “Gurong Pilipino: Kaakbay sa Progreso.

While progress is often associated with high levels of gross domestic product (GDP), technological advancements and towering infrastructures, the principal measure of a country’s progress and development is still, and will always be, its people. Teachers play a crucial role in raising, nurturing, and honing the citizenry to become holistically developed and equipped with values and competencies needed to contribute to a progressive society.

I am a teacher myself, and I am no stranger to the struggles teachers face and the sacrifices they make.

The Filipino teachers do not only carry out their duties and responsibilities; they always go the extra mile.  They burn the proverbial midnight oil to prepare lessons and materials. As they facilitate classroom instruction, they instill positive discipline and strive to make learning enjoyable. They stay in school beyond work hours to ensure that no learner is left behind. They reach out to stakeholders and accomplish other related tasks to successfully carry out the Department’s reforms in education.No other profession deserves the highest form of gratitude and appreciation than teaching. All of you will agree that more than a profession, teaching is a vocation, a passion, and a calling. It is staying true to the arduous mission to improve the life of every Filipino child entrusted to the teacher’s care through the delivery of quality, accessible, relevant, and liberating basic education for all.

Today, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to one of the country’s most vital and dynamic resources – you, our dear teachers. The education system, and consequently, the future of a developing country like the Philippines can only be as strong as its teaching force. Inasmuch as you are the key to empowering our citizenry, you also need to be empowered. This is why we prioritize institutional capacity building, expand the scope of employee welfare to respond to your various needs, and provide you with opportunities for your personal and professional growth.

To all our teachers, we dedicate this special day to you, and thank you for being the front liners in this crusade to eradicate illiteracy, and thereby end mass poverty, so that we may finally call the Philippines a progressive country.