Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Tale about Teachers. (Sipsip Konti..)

A few days ago, I got a sweet message from a former high school teacher.  I haven't seen her for quite some time.  She was making lambing to me.  If I'm not so busy... why don't I write something about Teachers.  It will be Teachers' Day by October 7.

Does she realize what she's making me do? I'm the vocal-type.  If I like something, I can be effusive with my compliments. But if I hate an experience, I can be vicious in my commentaries.  Let's face it. Our experiences with teachers belong to extreme polarities.  Many are really good, that you sometimes, treat your teachers better than you treat your parents. But there are also horrible experiences, that haunt you until this day.

"Madam, Is there any particular thought, you want me to pursue?"  None. It's up to you.
"Ok. Since you've given me free reins, I'll exercise my Freedom of Expression."

This is just a personal tale about the many kinds of teachers I've encountered in all my 15 years of formal education.  As a former news writer, I'd like to think I write objectively.  Thus,  I will tell you  both favorable and unfavorable experiences.

I will omit names of those who made my student life-- hell, but I will try to mention names of those whom I can still remember and made an impact in my life.  Those whom I will miss mentioning --- forgive me.  Blame Epidural.  I have 3 kids that warranted it.  

My first introduction to school was Katon.  It's the old version of nursery in public schools.  In my hometown,  Aroroy, Masbate; my first teacher was Ma'am Chong.  I can still distinctly remember her face, Chinese features but morena, she has a permanent smile on her face.  We go to her house and sit on her wooden floor to listen to Cathechism.  She lives near the church.  

After a while, I vaguely remember that we moved to a formal classroom in our street.  Ma'am Chong is a very religious person and she makes Saints tangible to kids.  Do you know that Lorenzo Ruiz was a mischievous sacristan?  He used to place frogs in the Holy Water at the church entrance, and wait for the women churchgoers to dip their fingers on the font.

I could never forget that story because when I moved to Manila for my formal schooling,  my parents enrolled me in a Chinese school in Ongpin, and the school's name is,  Lorenzo Ruiz Academy!

I have Chinese blood and it is a desire of every Fil-Chi parents that their kids learn Chinese. And so, even if I was just 8years old, they shipped me out to Manila to study.

Now, I don't have any remarkable memories about my English teachers, but  my Chinese Teachers came from a different class altogether. 

They're stern, rigorous, severe. I will not mince words here... They're Draconian.  At that time, Chinese schools still practice Canning.  For those uninitiated, Canning or "Palo" is a traditional Chinese discipline for disobedient kids.  I guess, if your parents do it, it might be OK for some.  "Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child" school of thought, right?  

However, in Chinese schools, at that time,  the parents give authority to schools or do not question the practice of hitting kids when they see fit.  And those times include... being rowdy during class, PE or Recess, not submitting homework,   Getting Failing Marks on tests,  and No parents' Signature on forms.

I can still recall my Chinese teachers, with their gray skirt, pink blouse and white stockings,  as they move from class to class, bringing a box of chalk, eraser and a long stick or ruler.  Ms. Rose. Mrs. Wang. Mr. Lim....

Now, I came from the province with minuscule knowledge in Chinese.  We rarely speak it at home.  You can just imagine how lost & helpless I was.  I get hit almost every after tests results. I get hits on my hands, on my behind, pingot on my ears.

You might ask, why didn't I study? I do study! As a matter of fact,  I have a Chinese tutor during lunch break. But still,  it's so damn difficult, because the teachers do not translate in English. I just learn everything by memory without understanding a thing. How will I go about Essay Writing? How will I answer questions about stories?  Plus, the teachers do not care whether one student there, is just a zombie. I was just a number.  Student No. # alphabetized.

I should have framed my Chinese Class Card before I left that school.  They're all in Red Marks. I was supposed to repeat Grade 5 Chinese before I left.

With that horrific experience, I deduced that  harsh, authoritarian, and impersonal teachers will not make students learn.  Fear will probably make them pass exams, but there will be no lifelong learnings.  Only lifelong scars and bad memories.

Years ago, I talked to former grade school mates.  The school apparently abolished Canning and the Chinese subjects are now Conversational Mandarin, where translation is standard. Thank God!

What works for me, Might not work for You.   There are students who probably flourish well under the cloak of Fear & Punishment.  On one hand, teachers might say, we have to be strict so you will learn.   But definitely, not me... and  this is my personal story.  

Around Grade 5, when I was really failing my Chinese & my English subjects were so-so,  my parents hearing stories that I was starting to have crushes, making telebabad all the time, skipping a few classes, going to the Malls. They decided to ship me back to Aroroy, Masbate where they can keep an eye on me.

They enrolled me at Andres Soriano Jr. Memorial School (ASJMS), a private school subsidized by the local mining company, supervised by De La Salle brothers, and the teachers are "imported" from Cebu City and then in the latter years, Bicol.

The school is in the boondocks, 4KM from where we live, we travel 15-20mins. daily via a coaster through rough, pot-holed, dusty roads, and withstood typhoons to get to the school. Masbate is in the typhoon-belt.  Ironically, this is, the kind of school environment, where I blossomed.

photo credits : ariel sevilleno
It's a small school where everybody knows everybody.  The teachers know who our parents are, where we live, and what my folks do for a living.  The teachers know what my talents are, what I'm weakest at, and they gave me so many opportunities to hone my skills.  As a result, I developed self-confidence and love of learning.

Just to share some of my memorable teachers in the school.  There are so many, I'll just mention the few that impacted me greatly.

photo credits :  jovelyn heyrosa

I remember being asked to represent ASJMS in a Spelling Bee.  My coach then was Mrs. Carmen Quiokeles, who unfortunately could not accompany  me because of health concerns.  Mrs. Quiokeles grilled me spelling words every afternoon, on top of her usual class loads. Mrs. Fonie Limosnero, grade school asst. principal, was my chaperone.  I slept at her house, so I can be early for the trip to Masbate.  (Can you imagine, teachers opening their homes to students?  It's unheard of where I came from).

During the trip to Masbate, we were riding with some guests of the Mining company.  Mrs. Fonie Limosnero kept a steady conversation with the foreigner-consultant throughout the 3hour land trip. The foreigner was so thankful for her conversations;  before we parted ways, he gave her his Watch.  He said, I don't have anything else to give you, but you can have my watch. Thank You for your time.

This little girl was awe-struck.  How did you do that madam?  How did you carry-on a 3hr. conversation & had the man eating at your hands?  Here's madam's wisdom.  "Dewie, When you talk to people; focus the conversation on them, what their interests are, what they like.  Bring them out.  Forget about yourself. Learn from them." At the end of the day, "People will forget what you say, what you did... but they will never forget how you made them feel."

Those words stayed with my heart until now.  When I matured and had some readings, i realized she was quoting me wisdom from Dale Carnegie and Maya Angelou.  You will never imbibe those lessons just by reading, you have to see them in action~ Love it!

(Btw, yes I brought home the bacon,  I was Spelling Bee Champion).

So many wonderful memories.  We joined Bible Quiz in Manila (with Meti Migallos  & Eric Laurio) our coach was Lew Neo, our Christian Living teacher.  Lew was a new teacher & he tries his best to be a great coach, but what I really like in him, he knows to balance, studying & enjoying.  We went around Manila, met with Tico & Tina Maristela, we showed Meti, Luneta Park. We met Lew's sisters & brothers.  We passed until 2nd round of the Contest but we didn't win. However, I became close with Lew's sister Vi, she became my dentist (when I was in college), & his pamangkin used to call me up in college, asking for advises what to pursue etc. etc.

photo credits : dzo jumao-as
photo by ariel sevilleno

We had a really strict teacher, Mr. Lorie Makinano.  His wrath is legendary. I think even his fellow teachers quiver when he disciplines the class.  I remember one time, he was so pissed-off, he tore down the whole Christmas decorations in his homeroom.  There was a Best Xmas Decor Contest.  It was a pity because he did the beautiful fireplace himself, he was creative as he was an articulate Filipino teacher. He also handles the dramatics class. He's a good actor himself.  We staged Ibong Adarna, Florante at Laura. As quick he is to anger, he is also quick to compliment whenever you did a great job.  "Magaling!" that snappy word, made me giddy all the time!

There were two subjects that I consider my waterloo.  Not fail, per se. I just keep my head above the water.  In short, laging Pasang-Awa.  Math and Music.  Consequently, I fear the teachers handling these subjects.

photo credits : dzo jumao-as

Mrs. Rebecca Ramas, was my Math teacher. She's strict, tough and no nonsense.  I know that she tries her best to explain concepts slowly for my part, so I can keep up. I really appreciate that. I'm bad at Math, but I help run our business in Aroroy.  People always wonder, you're Chinese, why aren't you good in Math?  Well, our business runs only in the concept of profit and loss. We have none of those crazy trigo, calculus and geometry :))  In college I took up Mass Comm, I only had Math 101. Thank God!

Mrs. Ruth Almacen, until now, her name sends shivers to my spine. She teaches music and her voice reverberates into Fortissimo crescendo whenever she's mad.  I honestly can no longer remember what makes her mad all the time. Probably those naughty boys disturbing the class or glee club practice. I didn't go into glee club. I'm into Dramatics.  I'm so frustrated with the music subject, probably I'm tone-deaf?  I can't understand why you need to write on top & below those 6 lines. The flats whatever. I cannot distinguish the differences of the black keys on the piano.  They just look black & white, that's it.

Imagine this, my grades are extremes.  Almost all  subjects are Outstanding, 90++ but my music is 76.  Passing. That's how worse I was. She probably just pity me.  Oh, yeah! One time, she told the class, if anyone of you needs to pull-up their grades,  I need extra work.  There's a singing contest, you will earn extra grade if you audition.

This was before I discovered the joy of Videoke.  This was the era of Karaoke.  I swallowed my shame,  because I know I needed passing grades in Music, to pull-up my Averages.  I sang "The Greatest Love of All."  I don't care whether I was out-of-tune. It's the effort. Until now, the song stirs weird memories for me. :))

People comment on how they love my stage confidence, extensive vocabulary and my English articulation. I didn't learn them during college in UP.  It started in the boondocks of Masbate.  I give credit to three of my school teachers,  Mrs. Merien Esber,  Mrs. Tiosejo and Mrs. Macrina Ybarsabal

Mrs. Merien Esber, was a former newscaster in the local TV in Masbate.  She's often asked to emcee programs  & shows of the mining company.  I'm always awestruck on how she can ad lib and think on her feet. Pretty soon, I'm doing my own emceeing, too. Really,  I'm just a poor imitation of her.

Mrs. Tiosejo introduced us to love of reading.  One book a Week. Mark Twain. Charles Dickens. Jules Verne.  You have to tell the class about what you learned.  She made us write our own little adventures stories.

Mrs. Macrina Ybarsabal, she introduced us to the enthralling and intriguing world of English Literature, Shakespeare, Chaucer and my favorite of all, Greek Mythology.  She tweaked my writings skills, as I'm always submitting the longest Theme paper.  She made me join Essay-writing, News writing and Declamation Contests in the province.  More often than not, we reach up to Regional levels.

I devour books, and two of my favorite people in school were the school librarian, Mrs. Esther Albarastine and her assistant, Ms. Sally Pagon.  I really appreciate it that they stay in school during lunch  break, so they can accommodate us (we were the kids who eat in school, others go home).  Ms. Pagon, when Mrs. Albarastine turns her back, allows me to borrow in the Teachers' Only Section.  (Eric Seagal, Jeffrey Archer, Robert Ludlum....)  ;)

Early on, I know my strength lies in speaking and writing well.  This was the field that I wanted to pursue in college. But what to write about?  My Social Studies teacher, Ms. Dorothy Loresto taught me Critical Thinking in history and current events.  Our school is in the mountains, we get newspapers one-week delayed, but our knowledge of current events is updated and we can discuss national issues, as if they're happening just around the corner.   I love current events so much, after college, earning my Mass Comm degree, I pursued  News Writing as a career.  I want to be where history happens.

I have lesser love for the sciences than my love for literature & history.  But my Chemistry teacher, Mrs. Angeles Violango made the subject interesting for me, a right brain thinker.  She always bring it down to "hawakable" level.  Everything here in this world, your favorite coca-cola, the pain reliever you take, are just combo mixes   from that one-page Elements of the Periodic Table.

Our school principal, Mrs. Irenea Amores, I haven't been under her tutelage but her influence cascades into the kind of education that I was getting in the school.  She was strict, tough and she sets a high standard for everyone.  She doesn't settle for "ok na yan." It's always quest for perfection, be it teaching, practicing or performing.  She was the Axis that turns our little world.  I can always feel her  support whenever we go out and represent our school. Her energy is boundless.  Together with her daughter, my classmate Angel, she took us to Cebu City to take our Entrance Exams in UP.  The rest is history...

Educators we Emulate

There are times, when I get pensive about life (must be the age...) I'm very thankful how I've developed as a person.  We have skills to make earn a living, Sustain our families.

I try to look back, during those days, when I was just this insecure,  little kid, whose world is just home-school-home.

If not for our teachers, who spent time nurturing us, molding us... we wouldn't be who we are.  They have their plusses and faults.  But there's no debate with their Best Intentions.

(The biggest compliment that I think, I get from people is... You Inspire Me.  You made a Difference in my Life.)

And... I throw it all back to you ---with much reverence --

Thanks for Inspiring me. 
Thanks for Making a Difference in my Life..

Happy Teachers' Day!

I didn't include my college teachers.  Most of them are impersonal who can't even remember me if we ran across the grocery.   High School Life is the Best Life.  Best friends. Best Teachers.



butterfly said...

AWESOME! one of the best "memory lane" blog i've read. galing naman,all those memories and names.
yeah i guess we somehow owe a lot from our teachers. they help us be creative and learn so much about life (malupit man o hindi ang experiences).

Numbers are my weakest points too. My dad majors in Math subjects: Trigo, Algebra, Physics, etc. as far i can remember, he teaches in high school with only chalk, eraser and some notes. minsan walang book. it's all in his mind. bakit ba hindi ako nagmana sa dad ko sa math. but i guess we all got the strongest points sa writing nya. we all can write naman. unfortunately, yung bunso lang namin na Computer Engineer ang magaling sa math. hahaha. anyway, i got 78 too sa math during high school freshmen years at Maryhill Academy (Lucena City). malufet dun.
I don't regret transferring to Lucban Academy (Mom needs to go abroad kasi) and i'm the eldest, so i need to at least help take care of other siblings. My high school life is so much fun naman back home. That includes yung nagpapaiyak ng mga teachers, nagiging teacher ako madalas sa english, kasi ako ang laging perfect ang research, so ako rin gumagawa ng quiz. I love Miss Padua (our english teacher):D

from my experiences now, mas nareremember ako ng teachers ko. my daycare teacher Ms. Pineda whispered to me, way back 2011, "uy, miss maaliw, ikaw yung first honor ko sa daycare sa me kalye luwal." She was the one who gave us seminar for our marriage contract! nakakatuwa naman. I love my elementary teachers. They still recognized me. Siguro kasi lagi akong headline sa PTA magazine dati hahaha. Laging winner sa painting contest kasi. i can still feel how they put me up and cheered after flag ceremony each time i bagged a medal. those memories were still clear to me. i should have blogged about my elemntary days specifically. masaya. but of course, the best years are the high school years. no school years can beat that. =)

butterfly said...

kalurky, haba ng comment ko pala, hahaha. =D

butterfly said...

AY CORRECTION: my daycare teacher Ms. Pineda whispered to me, way back 2001

RipeMango said...

hi buttefly,
thanks for also opening your heart in your comments.
that's the thing with people like us who have a good command of words.. me, sometimes, i don't know when to stop!
funny you have a father whose a math teachers, yet you are averse to it. In born ata yung mahina na math :)
Parehas talaga tayo. i just border on 75-78, masaya na ako pag 80s.
so, galing ka palang lucena... pero, talaga in my experience mas ok sa province mag aral. challenge syempre schools in the province are sometimes late sa technology, etc. pero, when it comes to inculcating values -- simple life, perseverance, integrity. Mas ok yung mga schools sa province. Besides less temptations for the students di ba.
day care teachers i think are the most unforgettable. earliest memory that we can remember :)
kung may technology noon na blogging, parang theme paper writing din lang at diary :) mas creative lang dahil we can post pics, and immediately share to the public our creative works.

thanks butterfly............

butterfly said...

yup, masarap talagang magsulat and mag heart-all talk. mas masarap din if maraming readers sana, na hindi lang basta nagbabasa kundi nag cocoment pa. pero oks lang, one day, meron tayong something to read and smile about. wala sila nun. winner tayo! =)

RipeMango said...


actually, i started a blog because i fear alzheimer's.
just in case na dumating ang panahon na mawalan ako ng memory, i have something to look back to.
not for anything else, but a personal diary.
outlet also for my creativity...
bonus na lang if friends would appreciate :)

marie lynn balicanta said...

OMG u made me cry! Maybe bcoz most of them were my friends.It really brought back happy memories of Asjms. Maam Chong was also JB's katon teacher.But really it was how you've written it. Galing galing! I'm a big fan na talaga. :-)

Roy Sta Cruz said...

Hi this is Romeo Sta Cruz, brother of Mishell Sta Cruz, Mevelyn Sta Cruz and Metoshilla Sta Cruz. You made me cry as I read the story. I really miss masbate, I miss ASJMS, I miss my teachers and lastly I miss home like a PARADISE!! :)