A 90-YEAR-OLD Guimarasnon was the oldest passer of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) of the Department of Education (DepEd) in the Philippines.
Mr. Jose Gandecela of Barangay Dolores in the town of Nueva Valencia finished the 10-month curriculum last October 2017 and passed the examination given last March 11, 2018.
In October this year, DepEd confirmed that Gandecela passed the ALS.
DepEd-Guimaras ALS coordinator Jessie Gamalanga explained that they need to send Gandecela's birth certificate to DepEd central office before declaring him an ALS passer.
ALS is a parallel learning system in the Philippines that provides a practical option to the existing formal instruction. DepEd said that if one does not have or cannot access formal education in schools, ALS is an alternate or a substitute. It includes both the non-formal and informal sources of knowledge and skills.
FROM CRADLE TO GRAVE
Now a high school graduate, the nonagenarian would like to continue his bachelor's degree if he has the physical strength.
Gandecela disclosed that it was his children, grandchildren, and late wife Francesca A. Gandecela, who encouraged him to study under ALS.
"Challenge man to. Siling bala nila nga ang edukasyon wala sang limit. Ang limit lang kun patay na ang isa ka tawo. Amo na ang ginasiling nila nga education begins at the cradle and ends at the grave. Kun patay na ang isa ka tawo wala na. Pero mentras buhi, wala naga-untat ang kinaalam nga mahibaluan," Gandecela said.
Engulfed with emotions, "Tatay Jose" as he is fondly called, shared that while he was preparing to take the exam, his wife was laid in state due to colon cancer.
But this did not stop him from taking the ALS exam.
Beaming with pride, Gandecela said that he would frame his certificate and hang it on the wall as this is the testament of his hardships.
He shared that no matter how he wanted to study when he was young, his parents cannot afford to send him to school.
World War II and the absence of secondary institutions in the province of Guimaras were some of the factors that prevented him in finishing his education.
The former barangay captain hopes that this accomplishment would inspire today's youth and a challenge for his fellow ALS learners to strive hard.
It is better to use the brain than your shoulders while earning a living, Tatay Jose added.
"Tinguha-on man nila (the out-of-school youth) tani nga mag-eskwela nga kung pwede lang nga asta college kung makalambot sila. Kay budlay man kung wala nahibaluan. Syempre mag-apply sila ubra, ila abaga ang gamiton imbes nga ulo. Kinahanglan magtuon sila maayo," he added.
Gandecela also devoted his life serving his constituents in the village of Dolores.
He was appointed Teniente del Barrio during the time of former President Diosdado Macapagal and served as village chief for 29 years without salary.
However, Gandecela recalled that Congress passed Republic At 2370 that grants autonomy to the barrios, thus the head of the village should be elected.
Republic Act 3590 otherwise known as the Revised Barrio Charter was then enacted, changing the title of the village chief to Barangay Captain from Teniente del Barrio.
Tatay Jose was the first elected barangay captain of Dolores, Nueva Valencia.
It was in 1989 that Gandecela decided to take a rest from public service.
Gandecela will serve as an inspirational speaker on his graduation on November and will also speak in front of his fellow elders during the Senior Citizens Week celebration of the province on October 31.