In my mentors’ footsteps
I teach for personal reasons. I want to pay tribute to my mentors who saw to it that I grew in talent and skills in the formative years of my life.
The basic education I received at Dominican College was painted in bright colors of vitality. I began to imagine myself being the best in what I could be with the support of my teachers and classmates. They allowed me to explore my sensibilities as a person and gave me the motivation to discover my inner self and core gifts to stay on the honor roll.
I was not one of those popular students who were mainstays of school programs and other extracurricular activities. Neither did I stand out for wealth or “face value.”
I was just the girl with grades that made it to the cutoff, with nothing extraordinary to offer her classmates except some notes and occasional tutoring during examination season.
But my teachers affirmed my worth as an individual who mattered whenever I felt lonely, insecure or even just dizzy.
I got through that awkward stage of confusion with the help of a few loving teachers who helped me process my emotional hurts as a young person, even as I coped with the academic challenges of schooling.
That left an indelible mark in my mind and cemented my desire to be a teacher, too, one who always seemed to have an answer to every imaginable question and who cared for the learners beyond academic competence.
Joy and passion
I believe that, without the proper guidance of my favorite elementary and high school teachers, I would not have developed a passion for learning and found the joy of knowing one’s purpose in life.
In college, I became an iskolar ng bayan and got involved in several sociocivic activities that exposed me to the stark political realities of Philippine society. Burning with idealism and a passion to serve, I sought out people and organizations that would let me contribute my skills and time to effect radical change.
The University of the Philippines made me aspire for something larger than life. I dealt with issues of feudalism, imperialism and the many evils of capitalism, so overwhelming at my tender age. But I thank God for mentors who helped me find my place in the struggle for reforms.
Now I teach to organize and mobilize. I want to liberate the masses from ignorance, apathy and poverty. I see education as a tool to empower people to make informed choices about their lives and, collectively, as a nation.
Long have I accepted that such change may not happen within my lifetime but I do believe that, through education, I am now able to pursue my purpose one student at a time in a public school in San Juan City.
There is hope in my heart that the kids in my hands would be responsible in their actions and decisions every day of their lives.
I also now teach for spiritual reasons because, in my walk of faith, I have learned to surrender everything to God. No matter how noble my life mission may seem, I am not spared from the trials that beset my profession. There is no divine intervention that magically lifts classroom problems even now that I speak of God’s words. I have my fair share of teaching blues but with my renewed spirituality, courtesy of Brother Bo (Sanchez) and the Light of Jesus Family, teaching has become a way of life, reflective of the gospel and my version of the truth as seen through my lens of faith as a Catholic.
I see kids as my ministry, people I should care for to ensure that they learn to be good stewards of God’s creation, that they make use of their core gifts as means to bless the world or at least the community they live in, that they bring a sense of hope to a land filled with corruption and biases.
You may ask how my anger and disgust toward Janet Lim-Napoles would be reflected in my daily English class? Of course, I cannot bombard my students with the nitty-gritty of the scam because that is for voting adults, like their parents, but I can focus on critical thinking skills that would give them strong, solid decision-making abilities.
Classroom activities should mirror society and prepare students to become productive citizens of the country. These require creativity and a whole lot of patience to produce great results.
That is why I pray for grace to get me going from one lesson to another, so I can remain true to my mission to minister to the kids and be a friend to them, someone who can bring them closer to God while helping them discover their inner selves, be the best they can ever be and contribute to society in any way possible.
As I continue my journey as a teacher, I commit myself to grow in faith and in the profession, so I can be effective in my field and continue to bear fruits that would be good for the country. This is the legacy I want to create as my way of paying back my mentors, including my beloved mother, the late Perlita Bautista, an educator herself, who was my first teacher long before I entered school. They helped shaped me into the person that I am today and defined the reality and the purpose I so lovingly serve.
The author, who has been teaching for 10 years, is a master teacher and the school paper adviser at Kabayanan Elementary School in the City of San Juan.