A young leader and a teacher by land, air, and water

Young Mindanao leaders support the launch of LeadCom in Cagayan de Oro

The Ayala Foundation team with the Ayala Young Leaders Alumni Association (AYLAA) Cagayan de Oro chapter.

The Ayala Foundation team with the Ayala Young Leaders Alumni Association (AYLAA) Cagayan de Oro chapter.

“I teach in three ways: by land, air, and water,” says 25-year-old Gerum “Germs” Salatan.

 Unconventional as his teaching methods may sound, Germs, as he is fondly called, does teach by land, air, and water. Germs is a mobile teacher with the Department of Education (DepEd) Alternative Learning School program.

 “As a mobile teacher, you have to travel to reach your students,” explains Germs, jokingly adding that he walks by land, swims through the rivers, and jumps from mountain to mountain.

 On a typical teaching day, Germs finds himself in the deepest part of Claveria, Misamis Oriental, about 25 kilometers away from the centro, huddled under a waiting shed and catching up on the day’s lessons with his students.

His students range from out-of-school youths, adults, indigenous people, and school dropouts. For the day’s lessons in English, he has his entire classroom tucked inside his backpack—pens, papers, modules, and other supplies. If somebody comes in with an upset stomach, Germs even has his medicine kit on standby.

As a mobile teacher, Germs spends most of his time on the road. His transportation of choice is his trusty motorcycle, which he uses to travel by land and water (he sometimes crosses shallow creeks with it) to help him reach some far-flung areas in Misamis Oriental.

“There’s no happier feeling than seeing other people happy and empowered after you helped them,” says Germs. This service, he shares, is something he learned from the Ayala Young Leaders Congress (AYLC), which he attended in 2008, while he was still a student.

He adds: “Helping others, now that’s servant leadership. Putting their needs first before yours. AYLC left an impact on me to empower others, and to empower the communities,”

AYLC is an annual leadership program of the Ayala group of companies that gathers 81 of the most promising student leaders from various colleges and universities from all over the country for a four-day leadership program. Over the past years, it has trained a total over 1,205 student leaders just like Germs.

Germs during a house-to-house tutorial session.

Germs during a house-to-house tutorial session.

“A lot of people become happy with what I do as a mobile teacher,” says Germs. “You reach more people that way. In a classroom, you just reach your students, but as a mobile teacher in the community, you reach more people—if you educate the parents, then you are also able to educate the children. After all, it’s the parents who are the first teachers.”

Germs is also the Indigenous People Education Focal Person in his district. He shares he is very happy with the achievements of some of his IP students, which drive him to continue with his work.

“I have no plans of transferring. This is forever,” Germs says happily.

Germs was named as Outstanding Public School Teacher in Misamis Oriental by the Department of Education of Misamis Oriental during the Arawng Parangal last December 2013 all his work as a mobile teacher.

This summer, Germs is organizing a six-day youth camp for the youth organization of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines Misamis Oriental and Camiguin chapter, which he heads.

Germs is just one of the many AYLC alumni in Misamis Oriental who continue to volunteer and help communities grow through their work and volunteer service. He and other AYLC alumni will volunteer in Ayala Foundation’s second run of Leadership Communities, a program designed to actively engage youth organizations in an area.

On March 26, Ayala Foundation will launch the Leadership Communities (LeadCom) program in Cagayan de Oro. LeadCom is a program that aims to build leadership in the youth and a sense of shared responsibility to act on challenges confronted by their community. 

Just as Germs empowers his communities through is teaching, LeadCom in Cagayan de Oro hopes to empower youth leaders in the area to work together and address community needs. The program runs close to one year, with a series of workshops and mentoring sessions that help youth leaders in Cagayan de Oro to identify community problems and work on sustainable solutions.

LeadCom Cagayan de Oro, supported by Mitsubishi Corporation, works with community youth organizations of 10 barangays of Cagayan de Oro in partnership with Balay sa Mindanaw, Inc., the local government of Cagayan de Oro city, and the Junior Jaycees of Cagayan de Oro, the Ayala Young Leaders Alumni Association, and Ayala Business Club.

“What’s important is that we provide the youth the support and guidance they need in implementing the projects that help address their community needs. We are thankful for the support from the various organizations we are working with and our alumni of the Ayala Young Leaders Congress who will serve as mentors to the youth leaders,” says Joseph Anthony Quesada, Youth Leadership program manager of Ayala Foundation.


The Leadership Communities program is a concrete expression of Ayala Foundation’s tagline “As One We Can,” where partners and stakeholders come and work together in the shared vision of helping communities become productive, creative, self-reliant, and proud to be Filipinos.

In celebration of its 53rd anniversary, Ayala Foundation is launching in Cagayan de Oro City projects that encompass its four program pillars—Education, Youth Leadership, Sustainable Livelihood, and Arts and Culture. LeadCom Cagayan de Oro is one of these projects.

To learn more about Leadership Communities or Ayala Foundation, visit www.ayalafoundation.org  or email info@ayalafoundation.org.

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