(Note: Pilipino Star Ngayon’s Bituin Ng Pag-Asa series looks back and celebrates viral stories of hope and inspiration this 2020.)
No worker? No problem!
This principal from Aklan wowed netizens after going beyond his official duties to serve his school and students.
Elmer Lumbo, 59, didn’t expect that working overtime and personally completing the construction work at Habana Integrated School (HIS) in the town of Buruanga to meet a Department of Education deadline would generate so much attention last October.
Sir Lumbo, as he is fondly called by students, recalled that last October 28 he was in a seminar when he received at 4 p.m. call from the DepEd Division of Aklan requiring him to present an accomplishment report the next day. The school wouldn’t receive the next tranche of the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) if they failed to submit.
However, the construction work to be included in the report got delayed because of Typhoon Quinta that struck the province a few days earlier. The project involved re-propping work to prevent soil erosion in the area meant for the school stairs, as well as the new playground and study area.
“Dahil nga to be submitted na kinabukasan, umuwi ako nang maaga from the seminar na ‘yun at mabuti naman na naabutan ko ‘yung tatlong kasamahan ko na ‘yung mga talagang worker dito, na mag-o-overtime ho kami,” he told The STAR in an interview.
According to Sir Lumbo, the next tranche of the MOOE was very critical because part of it was for the printing of modular materials for their students. With lack of access to internet and technology, the school has adopted this distance learning approach where printed modules have to be provided to the students.
“Kaya talagang wala na akong magawa at mabuti naman di umulan at di nag-brownout at higit sa lahat nasa high spirit ako talaga nuon na tapusin yun at maipasa kinabukasan,” he said.
While he didn’t have a background in construction, he has been teaching practical arts for years, which includes “industry education” where one learns to use certain building tools. He has done the same in the previous schools he was assigned in.
As the construction lasted well into the evening, he said he decided to let other workers go home because it would be “forced labor” if he didn’t.
While he was busy finishing the job, his fifth son Jose Elvis Michelet Lumbo came to check on him and reminded him to eat his dinner.
Without his knowledge, the proud son took photos of him and shared them online. Little did they know, the post would quickly go viral.
“Wala akong kaalam-alam na may kinunan pala syang picture, ‘yung anak ko na ‘yun. Nagulat ako pag-open ko sa CP ko para malaman ko mga messages ko… Ayun, nabigla ako na, ‘Ba’t nandito ako sa picture na ‘to?’
“So pagkauwi ko sa bahay, tinanong ko siya, ‘Bakit ginawa mo yun? Nakakahiya naman yun, kaliit na bagay, ipost mo pa? Sabi nya, ‘Tay, katuwaan ko lang eh. Good vibes lang.’
“Wala na akong magawa hanggang dumami ng dumami ang komento at likes. Salamat naman. Ganito kasi sa prinsipyo ko po, bilang isang tao, di dapat ipagyabang yun or ipakita sa tao na may ginagawa kang parang extra mile ba. Nakakahiya yun. Pero wala na tayong magawa, andiyan na ho yun.”
Lumbo said that while his six children were ecstatic over their father going viral, he and his wife, most especially, felt embarrassed, explaining that what he did is not unique among his fellow teachers and school administrators.
“Kung ang isang tao gumagawa ng ganyan na labas sa kanyang katungkulan bilang principal, hindi naman yun kataka-taka,” he said.
“Ang pagiging principal parang palamuti sa pangalan ng tao. Kung ikaw ay isang principal, iyong tungkulin ay hindi lang hanggang duon sa loob ng silid paaralan. Hindi lang loob sa compound ng paaralan kundi dapat gawin mo bilang isang modelong Kristiyano ang gumawa ng mabuti sa labas na iyong bahay at community.”
People have wondered why he had to do the construction work himself. Most of them think that he’s doing it for the extra income but in reality, he’s not getting any.
“Marami nga nagtatanong, siguro karagdagang kita ho yun noh? Di nila alam ang ginagawa ko ay pagtulong para matapos na ng maaga at masisiguro maganda ang pagkakagawa dahil pag hindi maganda ang pagkagawa, unang-una naiinis ako or kaya ipaulit ko yan. So, karagdagang gasto, pagsasayang materyales at oras pati na rin karagdagang bayad ko sa manggagawa.”
Sir Lumbo further shared that when he submitted the accomplishment report the following day, some teachers and DepEd officials congratulated him over the viral post. But he said he’s not after the online praise, media attention or even promotion.
He has been a teacher since 1983 and became a head teacher 19 years after in 2004. In 2009, he was promoted to principal of a school in the municipality of Altavas, Aklan. In 2010, he was reassigned to his hometown in Buruanga to be the principal of Habana Integrated School. He’s actually been looking forward to his retirement.
“Hindi ako naghangad na ma-promote pa sa anumang mataas na posisyon. (Yun) yung pagmamahal ko sa paaralan, ‘yung mga oras na ginugugol ko rito mula alas-kwatro ng hapon minsan alas-dos pa ng madaling araw hanggang alas-otso ng gabi.
“So ako’y maligaya na lalabas sa DepEd kung saka-sakali na darating ang panahong ‘yun (retirement). Let the people judge what I have done in school and the people around. ‘Yun lang po.”