Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Serendipity in my Life, Discoveries in a Square World

“I would like to be an architect, a planner, a builder of buildings, highways and bridges.”
Never during my childhood life did I dream of becoming a teacher. I don’t have the blood of an educator either.
Yet, I can still recall my childhood days in our remote barrio in Pinagbadilan, Libon, Albay when my playmates and I played “titser-titseran” in variation to the usual “bahay-bahayan” and hide-and-seek. I used to play the role of a teacher since I was the most “knowledgeable” of them all. And as the most intelligent among my playmates and cousins, I often said, “I would like to be an architect someday, so I can build my family a beautiful house.”
I was born from a poor farmer’s family, the youngest in the brood of 14. My father’s enthusiasm for sending his children to school diminished when my oldest sister eloped with her boyfriend right after her high school graduation. Life in our barrio was a hand-to-mouth existence then; so out of depression, my father did not allow my remaining brothers and sisters to continue their studies anymore. Some of them left our barrio and tried their luck as servants in the nearby cities and in Manila. My mother used to justify my father’s decision with her long stories of my father’s hardship and complicated ways and means to support my eldest sister’s education. My mother said that she could not contradict hiss will since she was powerless, plain housewife-just my father’s partner in obeying God’s mandate of “Go and multiply”. I have so many questions about that but I always ended up trying to understand them.
The last four siblings (me included) considered ourselves blessed because my older brother (third in the family) was able to work as a construction worker in Saudi Arabia. That brother supported our family by sending a sum of money monthly to support our needs and our education. But my brother got married when I was in Grade 6 and his remittances ended as well. My father at that time relied once again on his usual work of rice and coconut farming. After my elementary graduation, I was sent to my elder sister who was already married and living in Camarines Sur. She promised to support my high school education. I was lucky that I finished my high school studies because of her magnanimous love, patience and kindness. She herself finished college as working student.
After my high school graduation, I was sent to my sister-in-law in Carmona, Cavite. She is the wife of my brother who was working in Saudi. My brother promised to send me to college at that time. Since my sister-in-law is a teacher, she suggested that I take up education course. I was at first reluctant, but with the persuasion of my sister who sent me to high school, I accepted my fate…
Life in college was not easy since it was not the usual house and school routine. I had to wake up at 4 o’clock in the morning to do the marketing for the canteen that my sister-in-law was managing for she was a canteen-teacher in a barangay elementary school in Carmona then. After marketing, I have to prepare all the necessary things in the canteen: washed the fruits and other utensils for food preparation, prepare the ingredients, cook the food to be sold out, attend to the buyers while memorizing my notes for my quizzes and exams. I had limited time to review all my lessons. After lunch was the time to go home and to prepare myself for school. I used to be late at times. My grades suffered because of my schedule; but I thought of more undesirable circumstances if I did not finish my studies. So I patiently put up with that daily routine for four long years; I used to cry in my solitary moments every now and then. I also prayed for more strength so I would be able to bear all the challenges ahead of me.
To make the story short I graduated from college in March 1994 as Best Student Teacher. I regarded that honor as better than Magna or Summa cum Laude since I bested all my classmates in terms of actual teaching. Some teachers who are very good academically cannot teach their students efficiently and effectively. I also passed the Professional Board Exams for Teachers and the Professional Civil Service Board Exams in the same year.

To acquire formal teaching experience, I spent my first year of teaching in a new private school in Carmona, Cavite the school-year after my graduation. My parents wanted me to go back to Bicol but I refused because I knew (and let’s accept it because it’s a reality in some places) that since I was a new applicant and with no influential person to back me up, I would be assigned to a far-flung barrio school somewhere in the seventh mountain.
God answered my prayers when the following year, 1995, I was called to apply in the public school and because of my good credentials, I was hired quickly with a permanent position in the central school. Since then, I have put my heart and soul into teaching even though I was assigned to handle the Grade 1 Section 7 pupils. I gave and shared my knowledge and talents with my pupils and co-teachers. And my fondness to the teaching profession grew tremendously.
After three years, I was assigned as District Guidance Coordinator. In 1999 to 2000 I was chosen as Outstanding Teacher in the District of Carmona and was given the first Hall of Fame Award in 2001. I was recognized twice as “Natatanging Guro ng Bayan ng Carmona” by Carmona “Sorteo” Jaycees in 2000 and 2001 and by the Rotary Club of Carmona in 2003. I was also honored as Outstanding Teacher in English in the Division of Cavite in 2003. Since 1999 up to the present, I am receiving a Perfect 10 rating which is equivalent to Outstanding in my Performance Appraisal System for Teachers (PAST).
My teaching career flourished further when I held the position of school paper adviser of our young pupil-journalists, My pupils won perennially in the division and regional schools press conferences and also qualified for the national level. Our two school papers “The Central Point” (English Publication) and “Centreglipiks” (Filipino Publication) were yearly winners up to the national level competition for the last seven years. Centreglipiks won in the Filipino category in 2004 and 2005 as Best School Papers in the Philippines. Both were also adjudged as finalists in the 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007 Catholic Mass Media Awards. With these divine graces, good fortunes and delightful distinctions, I was invited as a lecturer or a resource speaker in campus journalism in various places in Region IV-A.
What more could I ask for? My more than ten-year teaching experience in the academe has given me more than enough personal satisfaction, tangible and pecuniary blessings, emotional strength, intellectual fulfillment and much rectified personal meaning and identity.
I felt so lucky when I was awarded as region IV-A Outstanding School Paper Adviser, Elementary Level, during the Regional Schools Press Conference at Imus, Cavite in January 2005, and Outstanding School Paper Adviser of the Philippines during the National Schools Press Conference in Surigao City, CARAGA Region last February 2005. The following year, God has given me another blessing when I was chosen one of the finalists in the Metrobank Foundation 2006 Search for Outstanding Teachers and Bato Balani Foundation: Many Faces of A Teacher Search.
At present, I am holding the position of Master Teacher I which I got last July 2005. I am also the District Alternative Learning System (ALS) and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Coordinator. I chose the path of being a Master Teacher even though many said that I am very much qualified for the administrative track. My reason is that I love dealing with pupils than with teachers. I believe that teacher who educated children deserves more honor than parents who merely gave them birth; bare life is given by the parents but the teacher ensures a good life. Teaching young children is an art of awakening the natural curiosity of young minds for the purpose of satisfying it afterwards; the curiosity itself can be vivid and wholesome only in proportion as the mind is contented and happy.

I am happy that I am a teacher, a noble and divine profession. I have to accomplish this task God has assigned to me without regrets and grudges. I love what I am doing now. Though there are some forces enticing me t give up and follow the exodus of teachers who want to work abroad, I have to follow my heart’s desire of serving my own countrymen so that in my own little way I have shared what I have and what I can do as a teacher for the betterment of my society.
The brick road of my teaching profession is long, so I have to continue acquiring knowledge and information for my personal and professional growth and for the totality of my expertise. Reading books, attending seminars, training and workshops and attending higher education courses are only some of them. They are but my armors in my journey and quest of sharing fruitful education.
I may not have reached my dream of becoming an architect, a planner, a builder of buildings, highways and bridges. But God made me a teacher, a planner of “lessons”, a builder of society, a highway of intellect and a bridge between dreams and accomplishment. And I am satisfied.
What a colorful life I discovered in the square world of my classroom!
Serendipity indeed.

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