Dr. Vilma L. Labrador, DepEd Undersecretary, as announced by Napoleon B. Imperial, Deputy Executive Director of the Commission on Higher Education, died at about 10 p.m. Friday, April 5, 2013 (The Feast Day of the Sacred Heart). The cause of death has not as yet been announced.
A brief glimpse into Dr. Labrador’s life can be found in her own Wiki page entitled simply “Vilma L. Labrador.”
“Dr. Vilma Logronio-Labrador – An Educator for Life“, a true inspirational success story which encapsulates Labrador’s life, travails and many accomplishments, was featured in the Feb. 7, 2009 issue of Asian Journal published in Los Angeles, CA.
April 9, 2013 @ 5:30 p.m. — Necrological services at the Loyola Memorial Chapel Commonwealth, Quezon City, attended by current and previous DepEd officials
April 11, 2013 — Internment at Heritage Memorial Park (Taguig) to follow 8:00 a.m. Mass at Loyola Memorial Chapel Commonwealth (Quezon City).
NOTE: Those who wish to send their messages, please email them to CHED Deputy Executive Director Napoleon B. Imperial at email@example.com or leave them as COMMENTS to this Multilingual Philippines post
Back in 2009, Labrador shepherded the drafting and eventual approval/signing by former Education Secretary Jesli A. Lapus of what is now the landmark DepEd Order No. 74, s.2009, otherwise known as “INSTITUTIONALIZING MOTHER TONGUE-BASED MULTILINGUAL EDUCATION (MLE)”, requiring the use of the learner’s First Language (L1) as the primary medium of instruction (MOI) from pre-school until, at least, grade three. During such period, L1 shall be the main vehicle to teach understanding and mastery of all subject areas like Math, Science, Makabayan, and language subjects like Filipino and English. Additionally, the language of instruction (MOI) shall also be the primary language for testing in all regular school-based and system-wide examinations and in all international benchmarking and assessment exercises.
A patron of the arts and former Chairperson of the National Commission of Culture and the Arts (NCCA), Dr. Labrador prepared a wide-ranging report entitled “Culture and the Arts for National Identity and Sustainable Development” (2007-2010).
Playwright Frank Rivera wrote the following poem which was delivered by National Artist Cecile Guidote-Alvarez at the necrological services held at the Loyola Memorial Chapel on April 9, 2013:
KAY ATE VI
Naging guro kita sa laro ng buhay
Sa maraming aral ika’y naging gabay
Sa mga pagsubok, ikaw ang kasabay
Mga pananaw ko’y nagkar’on ng saysay.
Ngayong lumisan kang hindi nagpaalam
Ang ngiti sa labi’y dagli ring naparam
Ang dating maghapon, naging magdamagan
Dumilim ang sindi ng mga ilawan.
Nang magsayaw akong hindi ka kasayaw
Tunog ng musika ay naging malabnaw
Nang kumain akong hindi ka kasabay
Walang lasa lahat pati balaw-balaw.
Likot ang mundo kahit mawala ka
May awit, may sayaw, mayroong musika
At may kakainin kahit walang gana
Ngunit ang puso ko, magkakapilat na.
In his email to MTBMLE supporters and advocates, Dr. Imperial wrote:
It is with much grief and regret that I inform you of the untimely passing of the Great Midwife of Dept. Order 74 yesterday of the cause I have yet to ascertain today.
DO 74 expands and institutionalizes Mother Tongue-based Multi-lingual Education as a priority basic education policy.
Ate Vi or DepEd Undersecretary Vilma Labrador took such a big risk of a presidential ire at that time when people would not dare to move for fear, doubts or simply indifference or lack of political will.
Way back in 2008-2009, even if we already had enough of the needed rhetorics, technical papers and countless meetings and conferences, things would have remained only good intentions and bold advocacies and MTBMLE as an official policy and an initial concrete program would have remained buried in technocratese and bureaucratic mills if USec. Labrador did not agree to sit down with the 3 of us (me from NEDA, Dir. Parah Giron and TEDP/ Talaytayan advocate Ched Arzadon) in that morning of June 5, 2009 at the garden hut of MIMAROPA Regional Office. Without her moral push and promise that day to have it signed despite the odds, we would not have been energized to finalize the long sleeping draft.
With her persuasion of then reluctant Educ. Secretary Jesli A. Lapus, DO 74, to our big surprise was signed on July 16 and its publication in DepEd’s website was unexpectedly texted to me by then Ligao City Supt. (and now Regl. Dir.) Dads San Antonio in the early morning of July 18. From then on, Ate Vi would always make a point of attending the Talaytayan-inspired and led workshop to flesh out and address the initial birth pains on this path-breaking policy.
The following is a brief video retrospective of Dr. Labrador’s journey from being a teacher and through the ranks of DepEd: