One of the privileges of getting old is having a treasure of memories. We do not just remember the past but we relive our experiences. We are transported to the past and experience the same emotions and sensation. We see a parade of faces, hear the same sounds, and go through the same feelings even if they happened 20 years or more ago.
It is always a pleasant experience to relive how we were taught by our teachers. Our memories are so vivid and our feelings are so real. I could see my Grade one teacher Ms. Correa teaching me to read “Pepe and Pilar” and solve problems in “Arithmetic.” She was a bit disappointed that I did not have a penmanship that was as beautiful as hers. But what I lacked in penmanship I made up in oral communications. She was so proud that I won a Gold medal when I declaimed “Oh Captain, My Captain” and gifted me my first story book, “Cinderella.” It was Ms. Correa who developed my love for reading.
My love for reading and writing was further honed by Ms. Vivar and Ms. Acuna, our high school teachers in English and Literature. Through diagramming, we learned our parts of speech. We learned that adjectives describe nouns and adverbs should agree with verbs. Our trouble spots were prepositions which up to today, I never seem to get right. They both expanded our vocabulary by familiarizing us with clichés. They required us to learn five new expressions every day, write book reports every month, and write compositions about “How I spent my Christmas vacation.” I will always be grateful for how they made us love poetry like “A Psalm of Life” by Longfellow. They introduced us to the classics as we commiserated with Silas Marner for his loss of gold, and hated Scrooge for his selfishness. We imagined the tall and lanky Ichabod Crane and felt his fear of the Headless Horseman. We cried with Evangeline when she was separated from Gabriel on their wedding day. We imagined the horrors of war as we read “I Walked with Heroes” by Carlos P. Romulo.
I remember Ms. Sabangan, our History teacher as he regaled us with the victories of Julius Caesar. I literally heard the sound of chariots and the speech of Marc Anthony when I visited the Forum in Rome. Mr. Sabangan taught us the meaning of coup d’états which I understood more fully when martial law was proclaimed.
My favorite teacher in College was Prof. Salandanan. She was a vibrant teacher and was always full of life. She started our class with a quiz which forced us to do our readings every day. She made us explain phenomena using basic language like “why is the sky blue” and “what is a mirage.”
And then I progressed to graduate studies. Then PNU President Dr. Sibayan warned that I would not graduate unless I got the best Filipino mathematician Fr. Ben Nebres, SJ as thesis adviser. He was then the Dean of Ateneo and how I got him to work with a public school student was mission impossible. Fr. Nebres did not just oblige. My version of Tom Cruise patiently worked with me every Saturday by reading and reviewing my work. The questions he raised were out of this world and pushed me to do more research and analysis.
I remember with great affection, Dr. Bernie Villegas who was my teacher in Economics. He explained theories with such simplicity and inspired me to do the same. He challenged us to breathe life into our essays so that they can be of interest to laymen. But most of all, Dr. Villegas taught that a Grade school teacher like me could learn Economics if we put our hearts into it.
And there was Prof. Cedric Sanford who lifted me from depression from a failing mark in my first assessed essay. Understanding how difficult it was for a foreigner to adjust to British discipline, he took me under his tutelage. He taught me the rudiments of the VAT and income tax which proved invaluable in my years of work at the DOF. The Christmas spent with him listening to Christmas poems in front of a fireplace continues to warm my heart.
Teachers must be angels. They do not only develop our skills but develop our character. It was from them where we first learned to stand tall, sit up straight, and walk with grace. They open a world of wonders by developing our reading skills. They hone our capacities to think logically through our Math exercises. We learned to sing songs through rote and recite poetry though inspiration. They develop our habits of cleanliness, politeness and helping others. They inspire us to believe in ourselves and overcome whatever we perceive as our limitations. They enable us to fly high and provide us with tools that enable us to fulfill our mission in life.
We remember our teachers today with reverence and gratitude.
We have become what we are because we had good teachers.
Thank you dear Teachers. You are our Heroes.