Xavier Ateneo formator Jerome “Jett” Torres was named Regional Winner in the 15th Gawad Geny Lopez Jr Bayaning Pilipino Awards, held at ABS-CBN Cebu City on June 1.

Torres has been previously nominated for his advocacy and service to the XU Night School under the individual category. 

The XU Night School saw 18 of its 24 learners (75%) pass the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E) Test — four from the elementary level and 14 from the secondary level. While they will not be offering elementary classes this year, eligible learners are still able to enroll for secondary classes.

Torres is one of the people behind the story of perseverance of one of the A&E Elementary Level passers, Ronnel Maghilom, who plans to continue pursuing the succeeding levels. Together with the learners of Batch 4, Maghilom is currently studying secondary-level Filipino, Culture and the Arts, Science, English, and Math (beginning with Basic Algebra) in preparation for the next A&E test. After finishing his studies, he plans to pursue a career as a seaman or businessman.

Torres also shares that the main objective is to focus on the learners’ personal development. He cites his former student BS Development Communication graduate Rusty Quintana as an example. Quintana was an Alternative Learning System (ALS) passer who struggled at the beginning of his formal education. This sparked the need to change the narrative — if they were going to hone the learners’ academic capabilities, they should follow a more holistic approach.

In addition to the cognitive exercises, the students are also inclined to participate in sports and other activities such as theatre and musical performances. By tapping into their talents and showcasing their creativity, the learners are gradually increasing their confidence and self-esteem levels. As a result, they grow to become more appreciative of the value of education. They are being prepared for formal schooling.

At present, an ALS passer is admitted as a freshman in the BS Biology program of Xavier University. Though Torres envisions more passers to enroll, they are still bound by DepED’s schedule in releasing results. Consequently, they are left to wait for the incoming semesters before applying for scholarships. Torres suggests that the city government and other scholarship offices allot slots for ALS so that they can receive an equal opportunity at education. 

He also invites the community to contribute to the advocacy and upholding the principle of serving “the least, the lost, and the last.” 

Torres was one of the five national finalists from a pool of 40 nominees nationwide. The Gawad Geny Lopez Jr Bayaning Pilipino Award annually recognizes modern-day Filipino heroes who exemplify Filipino values in pursuit of public service.

Report by Winona Serra || Photo by Kris Buntag

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