PHNOM PHEN, Cambodia–She is a faculty member of Panasastra University of Cambodia, a private institution of learning, ranking number one in this country, and headed by U.S. educated Dr. Kol Peng.

There is more about Dr. Gloria Baguingan, originally a native of Natonin, Mt. Province, who came here after her retirement as a professor at the prestigious St. Mary’s University in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya.

“I see a breakthrough here,” she said. “The education ministry is even kinder to me than the education department in the Philippines.”

She disclosed that Cambodia’s education ministry is printing seven, initially at 5,000 copies each, of the more than 22 bilingual–English and the Khmer language books– she has written.

“They see the books as relevant, contextualized in a Cambodia setting, with lessons built like a ladder to heaven and they (the learners) see the beginning until the end,” she said. “I use a specific methodology, which the ministry has observed to be unique.”

In getting the right to publish the books, she beat other publishers from Singapore, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

Dr. Baguingan, who obtained her doctorate degree in English and linguistics at the St. Louis Unversity in  Baguio, is also a member of a think tank group of another university here, a volunteer professor at Monks University and adviser to an international school, also in Cambodia.

She also revealed that she is writing world favorite fairy tales, writing them in the simplest English that even her Balangao kids (In Kalinga) will understand as long as “they learn through my Phonics books, which I also produce here.”

It was learned that she has written and published a series of Phonics books that are excellent for learning with respect to “beginning reading.” When the kids are done with these books, they can read any book,” she said.

She has applied the so-called spiral strategy, embedded in the lessons, that is to say, anything that has to do with the English language.

In fact, the strategy was also used in her Ilokano books that were reading materials in the grades in Nueva Vizcaya at that time. The book was “Adalen ti Agbasa ken Agsurat,” which was published by the province at a cost of P300,000.

She is proud of the fact that she met some of the parents of these kids, who expressed gratitude to her for their children’s achievements in reading and speaking in English. “Thanks for your book, madam,” a parent told her in  Ilokano at a market in Solano town. “My child is good at reading in Ilokano and in English.”

It takes just a month and a half for the teacher to make Grade 1 pupils read in Ilokano, one of the Philippines biggest languages in terms of the number of speakers.

In a similar vein, she wants to achieve this for the children of Cambodia: proficiency in the English language.”I will stay here until I have made most rural Cambodia child read, speak and write in good English,” she said.

Well said by the lady who during her younger years usually walked two days from her remote village in the mountains for transportation to take her to “civilization,” to a higher level school.

What the Philippines lost was Cambodia’s gain: A person who likes working quietly, because she happens, in her own words, to recognize her own self-worth, without having to assert it.–Peter La. Julian/Northbound Philippines News (to be continued)