By Deedee M. Siytangco
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others better than yourself.” —Philippians 2:3
It was National Teacher’s Day last week and we were asked to write about our favorite teacher and why? And what we think an ideal teacher should be by our friend Chito Sobrepeña, president of the Metrobank Foundation.
The foundation, you see, has a program that honor and reward outstanding teachers. I have met some of them and their selection process is really meticulous and has produced exemplary models among teachers’ ranks, (As well, as policemen and soldiers.)
Anyway, I had favorites among my teachers in Maryknoll College (before it was renamed Miriam College) and the ones who terrorized me most too. But I owe Sister John Charles who taught literature in my two years of college in Maryknoll (for my Associate in Arts) the awakening of my interest in writing. Under her I wrote essays, short stories, and feature articles for our college publication, the Chi Rho. Some of them won awards and that inspired me to seriously look at writing as a possible career. Before that I wanted to be a lawyer or an agriculturist! Thank you, Sister John Charles and the sisters who guided me and inspired me with their dedication to make us Catholic women for the world, “Christ for the World and the World for Christ!”
My three sisters, Cielo Rivera, Lita Esteban, and Ma. Paz Weigand, were all teachers, (Maryknoll graduates too) and judging from the love still shown them by their former students, they were very effective mentors. I substituted for Cielo once in a while but teaching wasn’t my cup of tea. So I let the trio make their mark in the educators’ field. Lita and Ma. Paz taught in Paco Catholic High School, Cielo taught in National University, earned a PhD, and opened her own pre-school. It is continued today by her daughter, lawyer Magda Victorino.
Transferring to the Lyceum of the Philippines after my A’A, I fell under the spell of the charismatic Jose Lansang, my father’s good friend (yes, the communist leader) who taught us that “I can’t teach you writing. Either you can write or you can’t, but read, read, everything you can lay your hands on.” Well, I didn’t turn communist, only a bit “pink” and became politically aware, shedding off my “colegiala” mentality.
I think a teacher should not only be intelligent, an expert on the subjects she chooses to teach, but caring, sensitive, and able to respect and to relate to her students She should be able to inspire and motivate her students to learn and grow mentally and emotionally under her guidance.
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In another field, Senator Cynthia Villar shrugs off the tempest on social media created by a naughty blogger bashing the seven senators who “did not sign” the resolution concerning minors and crime.
She told the members of Bulong Pulungan that her staff did not see the email but that it didn’t matter as she is against criminalizing minors’ misdemeanors anyway and lowering the age cap. Although, she pointed out, she would be for punishing parents who use minors to commit crimes. But she admitted she felt hurt by the reported malicious innuendoes against them supposedly from two senators.
“We all belong to one senate,” she lamented.” We see each other every day. We can talk to each other. We should not be against each other.”
She also doused speculations about former senator Manny Villar or her running for the top post in Manila. The rumors might have started when Manny constructed a small building on the land they used to rent before, Cynthia explained. It was sold to him and Manny decided to build something there with living quarters on the top floor.
It could also have escalated when they went to help out in Baseco, where 10,000 informal settler families live. Cynthia has many laudable projects for this densely-populated area and these include more schools, livelihood projects, and better road and facilities to help them manage their solid waste and give them toilets! As it is, Manila Bay is their toilet!
The Philippines is also the third biggest plastic pollutant, Villar reported. With her water lily project in her area, Cynthia also gathers plastic sachets, bags, etc. These are recycled and made into school desks.
Environmental issues affect agriculture, Cynthia loves to point out, which is why she has taken to heart the farm schools she started and helps out. Cynthia has two on-going farm schools that are run with the help of TESDA and these are thriving under VillarSipag. We went to the one at the border of Las Piñas and Bacoor a while ago and it was inspiring to see the trainees in the field and in the classrooms. They are farmers, would-be farmers, and those who want to be trainors. There is another Farm School in Bulacan and they don’t lack students.
The senadora dreams of a farm school for every municipality in the country, and the dream, she knows is reachable with the help of like-minded individuals and committed government agencies. There are at present 930 farm schools, sustainable farms that are also tourist destinations, and other training centers catering to farming needs.
This is also why she champions bamboo farming too as she has seen how other Asian countries have commercial farms that give jobs and materials for livelihood projects.
If farmers or fisher folks can learn more technology and better farming and fishing methods, their production will improve and so will their incomes. “Sipag at tiyaga” after all, is the Villars’ business mantra! The regular income of ordinary farmers is roughly R1,500. This can go up to R10,000 a month, calculates this astute senator. She may not be directly involved with her family’s many businesses now, but she still shares her common sense advice and bits of wisdom when she feels the need to do so.
The wetlands project in Las Piñas is another project pursued by the senator. She pointed out that the wetlands is one of the remaining wetlands in the country, thus it is vital that it be preserved as a safe habitat for migratory birds. A park is being developed in the area and it won’t be long now when there will be boat cruises there.
My wish is, that the wetlands attract fireflies and we can have magical evenings cruising amidst twinkling “stars!”