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Helpers see LET as key to their teaching ambition

14 October 2019

Aspiring teachers (from left) Lorna Escropulo, Mercedes Tesoro and Marlyn Bautista after the teachers exam. 

By Vir B. Lumicao

Nothing beats being a teacher imparting knowledge to young students in her own country. This is according to former school teachers who are now aspiring to return to the classrooms from their current domestic jobs in Hong Kong.

Year after year, this seems to be the general view of those who take the Licensure Examination for Teachers administered annually by the Professional Regulation Commission for Hong Kong-based OFWs.

On Sept 29, about 470 education degree holders sat for the LET at Delia Memorial School-Hip Wo in Kwun Tong, placing their hope in the exam as their way to fulfilling that dream.

Mercedes Tesoro, Gemma Musni and Juliet Pedida, who sat on a park bench to have their late lunch after taking the examination for elementary teachers, said they would return to Philippine classrooms to teach again once they pass and secure a professional license.

Tesoro, 48, a kindergarten teacher for eight years before she came to Hong Kong in 2017, said she was forced by circumstance to come and work here as she could no longer teach in a public school because she didn’t have a professional license.

Since 2015, the Department of Education has required all kindergarten teachers to be board passers, so she was the 28th in her town to lose her job. 

Tesoro would not say how many times she took the licensure exam, just “madami na po”, and this year was her second try in Hong Kong. But she expected to pass this year, given the ease with which she finished the General Education component. 


Musni, 38, came here two years ago after teaching for several years also in kindergarten in Pampanga. Like Tesoro, she was hit by the need to pass the board. This was her first time to take the exam and she was looking forward to hurdle it and return to her family.

She said she was forced to work abroad as she could no longer bear to see her children crying everyday, asking for PhP5 for their “baon”, a small amount she could not afford to give when she could no longer teach.

“Mga pinsan may kinakain, ako lang talaga ang walang maibigay. Napakahirap talaga ang loobin ng ina. Nakakaawa,” she said.

Juliet Pedida, a 34-year-old woman from Leyte, came to Hong Kong after graduating from college almost 10 years ago. She said she envied neighbors who had OFW family members. Now she is ready to go home and teach depending on the results of the exam.


So is Evelyn Ison, 46, a farmer’s wife who has been in Hong Kong for nearly five years. The BS Elementary Education graduate said she has no teaching experience.

Her determination to return home and teach is fueled by her desire to be with her two children, a 6-year-old boy and a girl, 4.

For Lorna Escropulo, 43, this was her third time to sit for the exam, hoping to take advantage of the government’s SPIMS program, or Sa Pinas Ikaw ang Ma’am/Sir, that offers teaching jobs for OFWs who pass the LET.

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Another domestic worker who dreams of returning to the classroom is 38-year-old Marlyn Bautista from Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija, who will be teaching high school students if she hurdles this year’s exam. Before coming to Hong Kong in 2010, she taught in kindergarten for two years.

The desire to go home and teach also consumes Pema Tema, a former private elementary teacher for several years before she decided to go abroad and work as a domestic helper.

In the first place, Tepan said her leaving the teaching job was not primarily due to the meager salary but, she admits, because of her insecurities and professional rivalry with her husband, who is also a teacher.

This time, if she passes the LET, she promises to go back to teaching.

Early beneficiaries of SPIMS, a joint program of the Department of Education and Culture, Department of Labor and Employment and Philippine Normal University, have successfully reintegrated into the local workforce by returning to the teaching job. 

One of them, Grace Shiela Padua, is now happily teaching and looking after her two young sons in Camarines Sur, after saying goodbye to her domestic work in Hong Kong in October 2016. Hundreds more in this city are expected to follow in her footsteps.
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