DIVISION OF CATBALOGAN CITY REOPENS DOORS

“The long wait is over!” These were the first words uttered by Nimfa Sol Muñoz, a teacher from the Samar National School and the Mistress of Ceremony, the moment that the program started. The statement had immediately set the prevalent theme for the occasion which, from the messages that were given to the intermission song numbers, was clearly about overcoming hardships and trials in order to revive a key agency.

In this case, that key agency was the Division of Catbalogan City (DCC), which pushed through with its soft launching last April 16, 2012 around 3:30 in the afternoon. It will be remembered that the DCC was first established in 2008 to comply with the requirements of RA 9391, which converted the then Municipality of Catbalogan into a component city. However, the said status was reverted back into that of a municipality a year later due to pressures from the League of Cities. The subsequent decrease in the Internal Revenue Allotment  led to inability to sustain operations and the eventual closing of the City Division.

Adding significance to the event were the presence of top officials from the Department of Education (Dep. Ed.)-Regional Office led by Regional Director Luisa Bautista Yu, who formally installed Dr. Edita S. De Veyra to the post of Officer-in-Charge (OIC) City Schools Division Superintendent. De Veyra previously held the post of OIC Assistant Division Schools Superintendent of Dep. Ed. Samar and will be holding her new post in an OIC capacity while awaiting a formal appointment from the central office.

The other Dep. Ed. officials who graced the affair were Atty. Alberto Escobarte, Assistant Regional Director and Dr. Thelma C. Quitalig, Samar Division Schools Superintendent. City officials who were present were City Mayor Coefredo T. Uy, City Vice Mayor Art Sherwin Gabon and Honorable Councilors Stephany Uy-Tan, Ernesto Arcales, Maximo Pescos, Teodoro Ilagan and Joselito Mendoza.  School supervisors, principals and teachers of schools that will be under the supervision of the new division were also there.

The newly-reactivated Division of Catbalogan City will consist of 11 education supervisors, 1 cashier and 1 bookkeeper, all of whom were designates from the Samar Division. The rest are Job Order employees that were hired by the City Government. The designates from the Samar Division have yet to receive their direct special order from the regional office.

Speaking in behalf of the mayor who was suffering from a sorethroat at that time, Councilor Uy-Tan welcomed back the old and new employees and urged them to work with the City Government to revive the office’s earlier reputation of being instrumental in the growth of sports, arts and culture and academic excellence in the city.  “I am confident that with your passion determination and strong sense of purpose we will be able to bring back its past glory”, she said.

For her part, Director Bautista-Yu likened the division’s relaunching to a wedding with its four main ingredients: something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. “Transitions always call for something old”, Dir. Yu said as she explained why the DCC will be manned by employees from the Samar Division who will man the new office. She said that experience will be required in implementing Dep. Ed. programs in a newly-opened division. On the other hand,  ‘something blue’ refers to the employees who will be saddened because they will be left behind in the Samar Division.

The culture of Dep. Ed. which will be adapted by the new DCC is what ‘something borrowed’ is all about. “Let us not compete but let us build upon each other”, she said concerning this. However, Yu also wished that new work ethics will be brought to the new office to put the new division on the right track. “The competency, skills and attitude should match the new building”, she added.

With this new beginning came new plans. Yu disclosed plans of putting up the Eastern Visayas Regional Science High School in Catbalogan. Towards the end of the program, Mayor Uy also shared that a subsidy of 2 kilos of rice for teachers every two months are also in the works. In the past, the DCC played a hand in organizing activities that involved the schools’ participation especially during the month-long fiesta celebration. It was also under their supervision that a Catbalogan City Athletics Association Meet was held and the first time that Catbalogan City took part in the Eastern Visayas Regional Athletics Association (EVRAA) Meet as a separate division.

The occasion ended with an acknowledgement message by City Budget Officer Adelaida Lamadrid, wherein she made special mention of the individuals who were involved in making the DCC’s reactivation a possibility. Lamadrid was the one tasked by Mayor Uy to see to the details involved in the reopening of the DCC. According to her, the legal basis was one of the matters that they prioritized to ensure that the services to schools will be continuous this time. She also gave an amusing account of the ordeal that came with the said task, providing laughter in the final hours of a very momentous occasion.

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