Students from Barangay Mahagnao, Burauen in Leyte have to walk for hours just to get mobile signal during this time of blended learning set-up. (ROEL T. AMAZONA)

TACLOBAN CITY – As blended method of learning is now being implemented in the country in the aftermath of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, students either will take the modular method or online class.
But while modular learning has been adopted among schools in the region, students have still to go online in some instances.
In Barangay Mahagnao, about 20 kilometers away from the town proper of Burauen, Leyte, secondary students need to walk for about 30 minutes to its nearby village of Lanawan, which is part of MacArthur town, just to have mobile phone signal when they need to ask some clarifications from their teacher.
Although there is a spot in the village which could catch a signal, but this only work to old model of mobile phones and students have to wait until midnight to receive a signal.
This is why at least twice a week, students would hike up to the village of Lanawan which is about three to four kilometers away if they need some clarification on their lessons.
Aside from the cellphone signal, there is also one particular spot in Lanawan near the primary school campus where they can access mobile data and research their topic in the internet and access the messenger where they can view the discussion in their class group chat.
The students would sometime stay there for two to three hours depending on how quick their teachers are in answering their messages. Before they go to the village, questions that they wanted to ask to their teachers are all written in a piece of paper.
Friza Joy Agrava, 15, a Grade 10 student of Burauen National High School (BNHS), said that they are lucky if they will get an immediate reply from their teachers, they can go home early, but if not, they need to wait, even for hours.
Friza Joy, together with her cousins Jaymaima Banzale, Bethzaida Mae Paza, both 15, Pearly Ann Agrava, 16, and Jaira Crystal Paza, 17, with other high school students in the village would leave their house at around 100 pm to Lanawan, and would go home before 3:00 pm, or sometimes before 5:00 pm.
It is a tiring walk to Lanawan according to her because of its uphill slope but with her cousins and friends joining her, travel become easy.
“Our classmates are lucky that they live in places with a good signal. But for us, obtaining signal is a big sacrifice,” said Pearly Ann, who also studies at the BHNS.
The cousins added that although, the new mode of learning had saved their family P600 a month on fare for each of them, they still prefer the face-to-face education because it allows them to understand their lessons easily and they have actual conversation and interaction with their teachers when they wanted to make some clarification on their lessons that they do not understand.
“We have to deal with the modular now because of COVID-19. This is the only way that we can continue our studies and to make sure that we are safe from being infected by it,” Jaymaima said who studies at Atty. Roque A. Marcos Memorial School (ARAMMS) in La Paz town. (ROEL T. AMAZONA)