COVER STORY

No white gloves? No problem

For almost a decade, students from a remote Bukidnon school have been resorting to innovation to complete their Citizen Army Training

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 23) — At this time of the year, Grade 10 students (formerly 4th year high school in the old education system) are rehearsing for the annual pass-and-review of their mandatory Citizen Army Training (CAT).

Just like any graduation ceremony, the pass-and-review marks the completion of the cadets' training for a year.

They get to march in their prescribed CAT uniform — white shirt, blue pants and white cotton gloves — while bearing their individual wooden rifles.

It may appear too small for a concern, but CAT cadets from the Jesuit-run St. Isidore High School in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, often face the problem of supply of white gloves.

Located in the remote village of Zamboanguita, it takes about a couple of hours of land travel, around 60 kilometers, to get to Malaybalay's business center.

"Malayo kasi ang siyudad mula dito," Roland Sabote, the school's CAT facilitator explained, "Walang mabili (na white gloves) ang mga estudyante."

It is also a fact, Sabote added, that a sizeable percentage of the school's students live within and below average means, so traveling to downtown to buy a pair of gloves will merely entail costs.

Almost ten years ago, some cadets thought of a novel idea to solve their problem.

Instead of having to buy new gloves, they would paint their hands white — to give the illusion they are wearing white gloves.

cat-students-003_CNNPH.jpg After the rehearsal, the students merely wash off the paint in their hands.  

Practical and cheap

"May pangalawang reason sila kung bakit ginamit nila (ang pintura). Yung paghawak sa rifle, hindi madulas kung paint ang ginamit," Sabote said.

It is not only practical to use, it is also cheaper.

A small container, the size half of a can of sardines, of white "Lotus," a paint being used for the students' art class, costs about P18. About two to three students can use up the paint to color their hands.

School director Fr. Harvey Mateo, SJ, posted Facebook photos of the cadets while on formation, their hands painted in white — perhaps to show how innovative the students are.

The young Jesuit priest said he was not aware of the student' practice, but is more than willing to produce white gloves they can use.

"Makakahanap naman ng (cotton) gloves," Fr. Mateo says. "But if they insist on paint, water-based poster paint na lang," insisting that the paint should also be lead-free and safe for skin contact.

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'Proud of these kids'

CNN Philippines showed to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana copies of the photos.

Lorenzana has been pushing for high school and college students to submit to compulsory military training in schools, as part of the national program to develop patriotism and love for country among young people.

"I am proud of these kids," Lorenzana said in a message, praising the cadets' "initiative and improvisation".

"Nothing can stop them," Lorenzana added, citing the students' determination to learn and be trained under CAT.

"They are our future soldiers, engineers, and whatsoever they want to be. Great to see kids preparing themselves for the challenges they will face as grownups," Lorenzana pointed out.

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Sabote, who also serves as the school's prefect of discipline, said the CAT training as an effective tool in imparting discipline and sense of responsibility among their students, as well as love for country through the Ignatian principle of "Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam" (For the greater glory of God).