Usually, one who has just passed the Bar will eagerly plunge into law practice after years of hard work in school.
But this is not the case with new lawyer Aina Sania Alauya-Bayanan.
Aina, 30, is from Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.
She is also a displaced resident because of the ongoing fight now on its 11th week between soldiers and the Maute Group, an Islamic State-linked terrorist band.
While taking up law, Aina was a full-time science teacher at Marawi City National High School.
Although she can now find another job suited to her new profession, she chose to continue teaching in one of the makeshift schools in Saguiaran for evacuees from Marawi.
“It’s very challenging, but it’s rewarding,” Aina said.
Saguiaran, a town 11 kilometers away from Marawi, is one of the municipalities hosting thousands of internally displaced persons.
Aina took her oath before Supreme Court magistrates on May 22, a day before the siege.
“I was happy then, since finally I had become lawyer, my efforts and sacrifices have finally borne fruit,” she said.
The next day, while still in Manila, Aina couldn’t explain the mixed emotions she felt after knowing that a group of armed men was sowing terror in Marawi.
Two days after the conflict started, she signed the Roll of Attorneys at the Office of the Bar Confidant in Manila.
“It was not easy to stay happy in that kind of situation, where my parents were left in Marawi. It was really hard,” Aina said.
She recalled that she can’t even smile knowing her family is in danger and her hometown is at war.
“It was good that two of my kids were with me when I went to Manila,” Aina said.
“Since classes have resumed, we can be deployed to Iligan City [Lanao del Norte] but I opted to be in Saguiaran to teach since they need more of our services,” the new Marawi lawyer said.
Parents in times of crisis are said to still make the education of their children a priority, as it will help not only their learning skills but also improve the prospects of recovery.
In the neighboring municipalities of Marawi, challenges in school include overcrowded classrooms and lack of teachers.
The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s (ARMM) Education department headed by Regional Secretary John Magno continues to exert efforts to help displaced learners by expediting the delivery of education.
It operates 11 temporary learning spaces as alternative schools in six municipalities with 3,289 school children and 122 teachers.
Teaching over law profession
Aina admitted that to stay being a teacher at this time is difficult but believes it is also rewarding.
“I love my law degree but for now, in this kind of situation, the students need me more, that’s why I could not just abandon them,” she said.
“It’s absolutely the right thing to do,” Aina added.
Lawyer Aina was a scholar of the ARMM’s scholarship program dubbed as Empowering the Bangsamoro Region through Active Community Engagements.
She was among the first batch that took the three-day Teachers Assessment and Competency Examination given by the ARMM’s Education department in 2014 and got her item as secondary school Teacher I in 2015.
When asked if she would resign as a teacher and pursue her law profession, she said, “For now, I would rather choose the teaching profession, I will not yet resign since my students need me,” Aina said.
She added that it is more fulfilling to help her town mates.
“My being a lawyer would just be there, it can wait. But as of now, I could not just abandon my being a teacher,” Aina said.
Aina is now teaching four classes in Saguiaran National High School with about 60 students per class.
”Although the salary is very minimal, it is just okay with me, since I am also one of the victims. Hence, I do understand the situation in Marawi,” she pointed out.
Aina said this time it is harder to teach students because they are among the most affected by the conflict.
”I’ll try to create an environment where my students can feel comfortable and happy, since right inside the classroom my students are telling me that life for them is really hard since they have no more houses to go back to and live again,” she added.
The newly sworn lawyer continues her teaching profession amid the conflict in Marawi, saying the classroom is a place where children learn how to live together in peace and harmony.