QUALITY AND ACCESSIBLE EDUCATION:
An Edgar Chatto Legacy Beyond Sports and Cultural Events
by: Ludwig Bon M. Quirog
In 1980, Edgardo Migriño Chatto — Edgar or Eddie to many — was catapulted from a life as a private citizen and student at the University of the Philippines – Diliman into public service. He became a member of Bohol’s provincial legislative board, representing the youth sector, when he served as president of the Kabataang Barangay (KB), presently called the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK). Education was top priority for him. As a student himself, he empathized with young people in school striving for a chance at a bright future, so he was determined to make sustainable changes that would alleviate the difficulties of those who were living with meager opportunities for learning.
Not long after he took office, the availability of training programs multiplied and regular newsletters became a trend as a way to proliferate relevant information that mainstream newspapers would otherwise not publish. Exciting quiz bowls resounded in radios all over Bohol — encouraging the public to keep themselves consistently informed about current issues and general information. The education scene suddenly took on a new and vibrant life. While all programs were created with a foresight for sustainability, the most notable project of Edgar Chatto during his work with KB was the establishment of Balilihan’s first municipal library in the old town hall. He knew that radio listeners may tire of quizzes; the quality of training programs may vary; and public interest in newsletters may fluctuate, but books live forever and people who are serious about their education will always find sanctuary in a library.
After the end of his stint in the Kabataang Barangay and the Provincial Board, he was elected municipal mayor of Balilihan and served from 1988 through 1995. Among his many projects during this time, he founded the Congressman Pablo Malasarte Memorial High School and established a new campus for Hanopol High School, two major stamps in his track record as an advocate of education.
It was no surprise that when Chatto went on to become Vice-Governor, he launched programs that expanded the reach of the Bohol Provincial Library — first with a project called the Book Mobile Program, granting information access to remote areas in the province that do not have access to books, and the “Build a Library, Build a Future” project, which prioritized the futures of young people by encouraging and providing finances for the building of libraries in strategic places across Bohol. In addition to his penchant for books, he also authored the President Carlos P. Garcia Scholarship Program, which offers scholarships and subsidies to deserving students. The latter endeavor has now produced several professionals since it was created and its number of beneficiaries has only seen a steady increase over the years.
Shortly after he was elected congressman, he took his passion for furthering educational opportunities to the public one step farther by building the Congressional Library beside the Bohol Island State University (BISU) – Balilihan Campus. It is worth noting, perhaps, that this facility is the only national library in Bohol to date. And while we are on the subject of BISU, he was the principal author of the law that created this university, Bohol’s only state university, which now offers free education for students, with both tuition and miscellaneous fees completely subsidized. This includes the BISU – Balilihan Campus, which became his pilot project and the youngest among the six campuses. This supports the aspiration of every Boholano to get tertiary level education. He then built a TESDA skills training center in Balilihan to also accommodate trainees from nearby towns. Likewise, while on his stint at the House of Representatives, he authored the Expanded Program for Employment of Students – otherwise known as the Summer Job Law – an aid for learners who are on break from study. Millions of students nationwide have benefited from this program, including Boholanos, since the provincial capitol implements it every year.
Prior to 2005, Tagbilaran City was part of the larger division of Bohol within the organizational framework of the Department of Education (Dep-Ed), but the growing number of schools in the city called for the creation of a separate division, which he championed along with then City Mayor Joe Torralba. Another noteworthy achievement in the province within the context of Dep-Ed matters is the establishment of the Division of Bohol’s Dynamic Learning Program (DLP), which he was instrumental in. When he became governor, he also concurrently served as the head of the Provincial School Board. Thus, triggered by Bohol’s quandary of having relatively low results in standardized tests, he knew that there was a need for a remedy. And when the DLP was introduced by its authors and pioneers Dr. Christopher Bernido and Dr. Maria Victoria Bernido, he was fully on board .
In 2017, as a supplement to the integration of the global K-12 standard in the Philippine school system, he was instrumental in creating programs that specialized in the industries that are most relevant to Boholanos – tourism and agriculture. In February 2017, he helped launch the Turo-Turismo program in Lourdes National High School, Panglao Island. This offers a hands-on development learning method for students – the opportunity to observe and work with actual professionals in partner resorts that have committed to serve as experiential resources.
In September 2017, he also helped launch the Agri-Eskwela Program in San Pascual National Agricultural High School in the Municipality of Ubay. As the island province largely relies on this industry, agricultural education and development is an imperative. Governor Chatto fully acknowledges the need for further development in this area of study, equipped with information regarding the devastating effects of climate change and research findings for advancement provided by modern science. The program teaches humane methods of farming that respect the land while giving consumers great produce. Both tourism and agriculture education programs are now considered models in the region and the country.
The solid legacy he built with the previous offices he held stands out to this day in several ways. As governor, his school building program and facility enhancement aid continues. He has also committed his unwavering support for Daycare Center Programs all over Bohol, a manifestation of his belief that the most basic formal education children receive will serve as part of the foundation for the kind of citizens and human beings they will become as adults. In addition, he gives out yearly academic and leadership awards to outstanding graduates in elementary, secondary and baccalaureate levels. He also created the Provincial Capitol Education Center under his office – another testament to his passion and commitment to quality education.
Governor Chatto, a lawyer, economist, public administrator and educator is a man who has never stopped learning. His wife, Mayor Pureza Chatto, is a Nurse and BA Communications graduate of UP Diliman, while his daughter, Trisha, a BA European Studies graduate of Ateneo de Manila University, recently received her Juris Doctor from the same institution and subsequently became a lawyer herself, like her father.
Governor Edgar Chatto believes that education is the best resource anyone can have. His programs are strong testaments to this principle and we Boholanos are fortunate to have a leader who believes in investing in the future with education, the most secure form of wealth – one that will surely stay with us for life.
The youth leaders of today have a lot of reasons to be challenged. There are many more programs and projects to initiate beyond sports and cultural events. These certainly hold vital roles in the community, such as providing ethically sound avenues for people to socialize to keep them level-headed and help them maintain the decision to stay away from the lure of vices like alcoholism and substance abuse. Governor Chatto understands this as he authored the provincial ordinance that created the Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Council (PADAC) back when he was vice-governor in 1997, starting an official province-wide campaign. This same ordinance created the Center for Drug Education and Counseling (CEDEC), another endeavor that uses education as a tool, which today is fully operational, with a provincial office supervising different municipal branches.
Sports and cultural activity initiatives are always good. Having a lot of them to choose from is great. However, while providing a plethora of options is ideal, it’s important to remember that there are other social needs to cover. For young leaders, listening to people is key and a creative use of information received is essential so we may use our gifts wisely. After all, like Governor Chatto always says, “Leadership is a gift from God for man to develop and share with others.”