My Teachers, My Heroes Inside of Me (Tribute for the celebration of Teacher’s Month by Jane Santos)
Our National Heroes gave their lives to our nation, our teachers devoted their lives to fulfill the dreams of our National Heroes. Without the teachers, we won’t be having Lapu-Lapu, Dr. Jose P.Rizal, Juan Luna, Manuel L Quezon, Carlos P Romulo, to name some. Without these people, we wont have our freedom.
And how would I be if not with my teachers?
Our home as my first classroom taught me so many things: to talk, to walk, to eat by myself, to cook and to sing as well. My mom is my very first teacher. She is very good cook and singer too. I remember she used to join amateur singing contest during fiestas in her youth without her dads’ knowledge because she knew he would get angry because for him joining a singing contest was such a foolish thing to do. But it didn’t stop her dream, and she passed it on to us. All of us, four siblings are into music. I play guitar and piano, my eldest sister plays the bass guitar, my elder brother is on drums while our youngest sister plays the flute a little. But what we all have in common is that we all sing well.
She also taught me how to cook. I was the one always assisting her in preparing our meals everyday. She taught me the proper way of slicing the vegetables in different kinds of dishes. Even from marketing, picking the right and fresh vegetables, the right part of the meat, and especially how to get those things in cheaper price J “ tawaran po ba.” In doing the laundry, my mom is also the expert. We sometimes make a joke on her that she should be having her own business, the LLS which stands for Laura’s Laundry Shop. She taught us how to do laundry in a right way, separating the clothes by color, by fabric, which is which to be done by hand wash and not, to be bleach or not. Even in using the right hangers with the right clothing. Even in ironing as well, what part of the clothes be ironed first and in what proper direction.
When I was eight (8) years old, I started going with her in doing the laundry to our neighbors, sometimes with our relatives as well just to add income with my dad’s who is a fisherman. “Namasukan po kami” in short housemaid. In weekend, I used to come with her. When I was in Grade 6, I was so shy to help her because, the house she was working to was my classmate’s parents. But still, I didn’t want her to do all the household chores, so I still did come. I just kept on my mind that this was a noble deed that we are doing for the sake of the family.
When Dad was lucky to catch so many crabs and fish in the morning, me and mom were going to some subdivisions in Las Pinas, in Southland, Moonwalk and Golden Gate. We started walking, shouting and selling what my dad had caught for the day. I used to bring the weighing scale, my mom brings the pale of the catch and we shout under the heat of the sun or sometimes in the rain, “Alimasag, Isda, Hipon! Alimasag, Isda, Hipon!” And if we were lucky enough we got home at least before six in the evening,sold out. And had a delicious dinner with “adobong manok” or hotdogs, or fried fish with ripe mango. If Dad didn’t have any catch, we just contented having rice with salt and water or rice with soy sauce. I always remember the ripe mango, we are 6 in the family, mom would just have 2 mangoes and it was being cut unto three and the middle was always being left for me and dad. While about the rice, me and dad always being left with the “tutong”, the bottom part of the cooked rice. So it became my favorite since then, prefer the rice cooked in the wood rather than in the range or electric rice cooker.
Mom is my teacher of encouragement. She used to scold us when we get lower grades in the exams even in quizzes. She always wanted us to get higher grades or even a perfect one. She always say, “Grade six lang tinapos ko. Kaya mag-aral kayong mabuti. Para di kayo matulad sa amin.” I used to rebel against my mom because I was the one always beside her but still I was not exempted in her anger. I wont forget the time when my elder brother and youngest sister had their commencement exercise at the same date and time. Both of them had awards and recognition. They went up on the stage and mom proudly put their medals on. As they went down after my elder brother, she said to me, “Ayan, tignan mo, ikaw lang ang hindi nakaakyat ng stage.” So I cried on my sit feeling discriminated, unloved. When the program was finished, I stood and went up the stage and went back to my place and told my mom,”O ayan po Nay, nakaakyat din ako.” Then I cried. You know what, those words from my mom motivated me to study harder, to achieve more, (but admittedly with anger inside me) so that one day she would be proud of me too. So when I was in highshcool, I used to be in the top 10 students of the class, one of the representatives of our school in inter-school competitions in Mathemetics with our trainors Mr Noel Arbas, Engr Edgardo Ocampo and Mr Victa (Sirs, I don’t know how to thank you enough), included in the school choral which we competed also In different schools and won different categories with our pianist conductor Mr. Teofilo Nario ( I salute you sir! The melody is still in my heart! I know you are in God’s haven now and singing with His angels), finished the Naval Officer Candidate Course (NOCC) and given the rank of Corps Commander or Captain by our Commandant Cpt Saulog and Assistant Commandant Sgt Ronald Salonga and her wife Mam Cherryl Salonga (No words can express my deepest gratitude to you for I become stronger inside though still the crying thing cant be removed at all), one of the staff in our Messenger, the school organ with my trainor in logic and writings Ms Rose (thank you ma’am for the unwavering support and teaching the importance of a missing dot for letter “i” and an uncrossed letter “t” meant so much in term paper or exam) and with other achievements, I graduated as First Honorable Mention in our class. And I could say that mom was really proud of me. And I thanked her because if she didn’t tell what she had said I might wont achieved these. She just challenged me that I could do better. And she was right.
My dad is also my greatest teacher of patience. He taught me that great things comes to those who wait but while waiting you have to do what is proper. So the right attitude while waiting is necessary as well. Dad taught me that life is so simple but not easy. We could eat three times a day and it is so easy to eat, but how you could you have those food on the table is the hardest part I saw his life and how he did cross dangers just to make us lived. Being a fisherman is not an easy job. Its also like the half of your soul is sold to the devil. My dad used to say,”Sa laot, di namin alam ang panahon kung saan kami dadalin. Pag-alis namin ng bahay para mamalakaya, at kalmada, hindi namin alam na pag nasa gitna na kami ay biglang darating na unos at malalaking alon ay hahampas. At kung minsan ay may mga pirata pang magnanakaw ng iyong mga lambat , motor at bangka.” He is right, that is why we always pray to God to keep him safe even without a catch as long as he comes back home alive and well. Many of his friends experienced being robbed at the sea. And he had also rescued some of them, alive and floating in the water.
He also taught me to be happy and be positive and brave in the imperfection of things. That no matter how hard life might put us, we still have to smile and think that there are other people who are suffering more than that we are having. And I believed. That no matter how they break you, rate you, shake you, you will still stand to the test and believe on yourself that you’ve done no wrong. That they may put you down but still your feet on the ground. If your enemy will stain your name, let them be, the people around you won’t believe because these people are not dumb, deaf and blind to know the truth because it is what we do that defines who we are. Thank you dad for you are always there for me.
My eldest sister taught me the beauty of art. Through her skills in drawing I was inspired and learned to sketch and letterings. I remember I was awarded Best in Art in my Kindergarten Graduation. I drew Bugs Bunny and my teacher Ms Eva praised me and gave me that award. Since then I began participating in On the Spot painting contest in our school.
Fr. Wilfred Ruazol, who was a deacon then assigned in our parish, awakened the artist in music in me when I was in my 16. He was my mentor in playing the guitar. I won’t forget you and music became my life. I owe my Paulinian education to our former Mayor Lito Miranda (deceased). He made me realized that it is not possible for a poor child to be in an exclusive school. He gave me full scholarship based on my grades. And maintained it till I finished. Though my tuitions were free, I still had to shoulder my fare from Cavite to Manila, vice versa and my food as well. So there were times that I had to bring packed lunch just to save some of my allowance to cope with school projects. I was called KJ or killjoy of my rich classmates. When they asked me to go with them to Glorietta or Ayala Mall in Makati when we have broken time, I always refused and said, “Sa library nalang ako, mag-aaral pa ako” But the real reason, I had no extra money even for fare going to those malls. Sometimes, during recess, I just stayed in the room while my classmates were all in the canteen having their food. I just study for the next lesson instead. Like in the highschool days, no recess, none at all, and that was when my migraine started. It triggers more often in my college days. I had to study hard and maintain my grades not lower than 88% in all subjects, I was too afraid to lose my scholarship. My father couldn’t support the four of us studying at the same time. My eldest sister was in PUP Sta Mesa, My elder brother in PMMS Las Pinas, and our youngest in De La Salle Dasma as scholars too. With God’s grace and with the endless love of our parents, we had our different lives now, fulfilled in each line of expertise.
Since I was a Paulinian, I had an adviser Sis. Lourdes, and she was very supportive and a great councilor and a motivator. She told me that “you can still help others even when you also have problems” . Just look at Jesus, he was mocked, suffered, died on the cross, but he helped others and save them so to us in a way, we could still help others and share what we have in our own way, even if we also need help. She said we can draw good out of evil. And she also taught me the Sacrament of the Now. That we shouldn’t wait for tomorrow what we can do today.
Bro Andrew Letade, a missionary from Solomon Islands of Melanesian Brotherhood, is my friend for almost 20 years now. He taught me the vow of humility and acceptance. He came here to embrace the Filipino culture and put up a missions in Palawan for the lowly. He taught me that the Son of God was born in a manger and so for us has no reason to complain. He also taught me the vow of poverty and that God will provide if He knows we need it most.
To those who I didn’t mention, the words “Thank you” are just ain’t enough. Your respective legacies live on because you are my heroes inside me.
Ooops added up before I end my tribute, thank you too the creator of Facebook, for I’ve met different kinds of people, some became my friends, my true friends. Many have stayed, a few didn’t. Some are my judges but it made me stronger and keep my patience more longer or should I say round. “Di ba po bilog ang pasencia” So it is endless. I’ve learned so many things in this world of social media networking. That life itself is a teacher. And there is nothings constant in this world except change. And for me the most important thing, life is too short so live, love and smile and the whole world smiles with you. J