MY TEACHER, MY SANTA CLAUS. Roselle del Rosario Mananggit, a Grade 2 teacher of Mangino Elementary School in Gapan City, Nueva Ecija, plays Santa Claus to her pupils as a way of rewarding them for diligently answering their learning modules. She said she wants the children to feel the spirit of Christmas amid the Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo courtesy of Roselle del Rosario Mananggit)

GAPAN CITY, Nueva Ecija – Bringing joy to others can still be done this yuletide season despite the movement restrictions due to coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

An elementary teacher in this city proved this, not thinking twice about sharing her blessings and putting a smile into children’s faces.

Dressed up as Santa Claus with a face mask and face shield, Roselle del Rosario Mananggit, a Grade 2 teacher of Mangino Elementary School here, made house-to-house visits to her pupils and brought them some goodies as early Christmas treat.

Since there are no face-to-face classes due to the Covid-19 crisis, Mananggit decided to personally hand over her Christmas gifts as rewards to her pupils “for being diligent in doing their learning modules and at the same time, to let them feel the spirit of Christmas despite the pandemic.”

Mananggit has been giving small presents to her pupils during Christmas season for the past several years.

But this was the first time that she wore a Santa Claus costume to let her pupils feel the spirit of Christmas. Children are not allowed to go out of their homes during the community quarantine to stem the spread of Covid-19.

Gapan City is currently under a modified general community quarantine status.

“Gusto kong ma-feel ng mga bata ang spirit ng Pasko (I want the children to feel the spirit of Christmas) even in a simple way,” Mananggit said in an interview.

Citing a quote of the late British actress Audrey Hepburn, she said “the most important thing is to enjoy your life, to be happy. It's all that matters.” Mananggit said sharing her blessings to others brings her happiness.

“Wish ko po yun nung birthday ko. Thank God at natupad (It was my wish on my birthday. Thank God and it was fulfilled), said the teacher, who celebrated her 48th birthday last Nov. 4.

She thanked her husband and son, who are both teachers like her, as well as her relatives, co-teachers and friends for the support given to her in fulfilling her charitable acts.

Some of Mananggit's pupils and their families have taken their appreciation of the treats they received to social media and posted about her deeds tagging her as “Teacher Santa of Gapan City.”

Pinky Aguilar Policarpio of Barangay San Lorenzo, this city said “a good example of strong and good teacher with a heart. Pandemic Christmas house to house. Proud of you Ma’am Roselle.”

“Ang aga mamigay ng pamasko ni Santa. Thank you so much po ma'am Roselle del Rosario Mananggit naa-appreciate po namin lahat ng effort na ginagawa nyo para sa mga bata (Santa gave his Christmas presents early. Thank you so much Ma’am Roselle del Rosario Mananggit. We appreciate all the efforts you have been doing to the children,” said Ivanna Faith Villar Juanta, mother of one of the pupils.

Even her former students felt proud and inspired by Mananggit's gift-giving especially during this time of a pandemic.

“Wow naman, Ma’am. Nakaka proud po, sana tularan po kayo ng iba. Kaya favorite teacher ko kayo noon hanggang ngayon. At nakaka-proud po kasi isa ako sa mga batang naturuan ninyo noon at nakita ang kabaitan and kabusilakan ng inyong puso (Wow, ma’am. I feel so proud and I hope others will emulate you. You are my favorite teacher before and until now. I feel so proud because I was one of children you taught before and I saw your kindness and the purity of your heart),” Kathleen Salaysay said.

“Wala na akong masasabi kay Ma’am Roselle. Kungdi isa po syang mabait, mapagmahal, maalalahanin and responsible. Lagi po syang nandyan para suportahan ang lahat ng mag-aaral. Higit sa lahat hindi po sya nakakalimot, kahit po kami ay magkalayo at kahit siya'y maraming ginagawa hindi pa rin niya nakakalimutan ang mga estudyante niya (I have nothing more to say to Ma’am Roselle except that she is kind, loving, thoughtful, and responsible. She is always there to support her students. Most of all, she does not forget, even if we are far apart and even though she is busy, she never forgets her students),” Alliana Khate Constantino Catacutan, also a former student of Mananggit who is now a Grade 7 pupil at the Sta. Cruz National High School.

Mananggit has been known to be generous and supportive to her pupils not only during Christmas time.

Catacutan disclosed that her former teacher brought her a cake during her last birthday.

“Isa siyang huwarang guro. Katulad na lamang nung kaarawan ko dinalhan niya po ako ng rainbow cake. Na-appreciate ko po ang lahat ng ginagawa ni ma'am Roselle. Siya ang the best na teacher para sa akin. We love you po ma’am. Miss you po (She is a model teacher. Like on my birthday, she brought me a rainbow cake. Ma’am Roselle, I appreciate all of what you have been doing. For me, she is the best teacher. We love you, ma’am. We miss you),” she said.

Beauty salon owner Irene Reyes said Mananggit had even sponsored the hair rebond treatment of some of her students.

“Ang turing nya sa mga estudyante ay parang mga anak. Noon walang pandemic, dinadala niya dito sa parlor yung mga estudyante niya at pinapa-rebond treatment niya bilang reward dun sa mga deserving ones (She treats her students like her children. Before the pandemic, she brought here for free hair rebond treatment those deserving ones as their reward),” Reyes said.

It was also learned that when the lockdown was imposed due to Covid-19, the teacher distributed milk for babies in this city.

For Mananggit, teaching is not her only passion but also sharing her blessings with others. (PNA)