Category: Private Introspection

From Behind the Teacher’s Desk

I was an opinionated student back in college.

As a senior editor in the college paper, I was the type of person who will never stop at anything until I voice out my opinion on matters that affect me, whether directly or indirectly, as a student. 

My professors were never exempt from my rants and tirades. Because I was too young to understand everything, it was easy for me to pass judgment to them. I did not always understand their methods. Some of them were too harsh; some were too inconsiderate; and some were too idealistic in the standards that they impose.

There were professors who, I thought, were bending their standards for the sake of being liked by the students. There were professors that I hated because of their manner of teaching. There was a time when, in my foolishness and vain conceit, I even thought that I know better than one of my instructors.

Sitting down in front of the blackboard, all I saw was my professor who was very committed to make life miserable for us.

But when I was offered a job to teach part-time in a university, my perspective had changed.

Things change when you’re standing from behind the teacher’s desk.

Because from behind the teacher’s desk, what I saw are students with a bright future, if only they would be guided properly towards the right path.

From behind the teacher’s desk, what I saw are students with a destiny. And my job is to unlock their potentials, make them see that they are not just anybody and help them embrace the destiny that God has prepared for them.

From behind that desk, I saw beyond my students’ present selves — lazy at times, uninterested at times, contemptuous at times and easy-go-lucky most of the time — and saw the potential tucked in each of them. 

These students bashed me online, wished me dead just so they won’t have to do the articles I asked them to submit, cursed me during their private conversations and planned to get rid of me in their lives.

It’s ok, though. For them, I was willing to be bashed and misjudged, if that’s what it takes to mold them into the kind of person they are intended to become.

Later on, it was also they who vindicated me. Soon enough they understood that my rod was not meant to punish but to discipline. They understood that the deadlines I set, the numerous articles I asked them to write, and the strict standards I imposed were meant to instruct them, push them to go beyond their comfort zones and teach them not just the lessons in my class but also the lessons of life.

I once told them that, someday, somehow, they will thank me for all the hardships I put them into, because these things are formative and will help them grow their character. I know, because right now, I also thank the professors I had in college who tormented me and made my life difficult as a student. I realized that the things I endured are battle scars that I now proudly show the world. Had they not tormented me, I wouldn’t have become the person I am now.

These students will be graduating this month. They are far from perfect, and they still have much to learn. But I am willing to vouch for them, because I know that, given proper direction, they will be future nation-builders and world-changers. I hope they realized that by now.

This blog is dedicated to these students who also made an impact in my life, and to all my teachers who, in one way or another, have also taught me something about life and about myself.

                                                                        ***

   

   

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My Rhythm and Blues

Something happens when you drink caffeine on a toxic day.

It takes you into another dimension when all you long for are peace and quiet. It takes you to your secret place — your own Fortress of Solitude — and shuts the world out. The only thing you hear is the rhythm of your breathing, in synch with the song on the radio, in harmony with your heartbeat.

Sometimes, some things happen in the midst of a busy day.

You notice the blur of the cars and the crowd. You get drowned in the noise of keyboards typing, buses honking, phones ringing and the sound of your own mind… Zooming.

Suddenly you enjoy the melody of Bluer than Blue on the radio. It gives relief, like a lullaby on a stormy night.

Suddenly, and quite ironically, you’d find the right rhythm to write something, anything, just to squeeze out the stress. You’d find that you can come up with something like this: A cross between poetry and prose, with a hint of rhythm and rhyme, a catharsis for your blues.

Suddenly, you can write about the sound of the wind as it kisses the trees. You can tell about the sensation of the waves gently lapping against the shores — the texture of the sand between your toes, the beauty of the cobalt green seas glinting under the sun, the smell of saline in the air.

Close your eyes and you’re there. You feel the sensations. You taste the salt and touch the sand. Take a deep breath. Inhale. Inhale. Then breathe out.

Something happens when you finally open your eyes. You’re back to where you were, in front of your coffee cup. Welcome back to the grind.

Ladies and gentlemen, my rhythm and blues.

Dear Pope

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

Dear Pope,

I join the millions of Filipinos who warmly welcome you to our country! You probably have heard how much our nation has prepared for your arrival, and I share in my fellow countrymen’s excitement about seeing you grace Philippine streets.

Your plane has just landed about an hour ago. Together with the bells of all Catholic churches and cathedrals across the country, we say “Mabuhay! Welcome to the Philippines Pope Francis!”

Millions of Filipinos are praying for you, and I am one of them.

I pray that you will have an enjoyable stay here. I pray for your safety and protection as you go through your itinerary. May God put a hedge of protection around you, and may He thwart any plan to cause you trouble or harm.

You are a good man, and you have taken the world by surprise because of your extraordinary charm and goodness of heart. Your unconventional stance on critical issues has restored a lot of people’s hope in the church, your humility has inspired not just Catholics but the world, and your compassion for the marginalized has brought the Catholic Church back to its core mission: To extend the love of Christ to the helpless, the poor and the needy.

I pray that through your leadership, millions of people across the globe will know Jesus as the only way to the Father. I pray that through your example, millions of people will be inspired to live like Christ. I pray that you will be a powerful instrument to open the eyes of the world to see Jesus as the author and finisher of our faith, and that no other name should be exalted in Heaven and on Earth other than His name.

Truly, you are one of a kind when you said that Jesus, not you, should be the center of everything. “From now on, enough of Francis, just Jesus,” you said.

I pray that through you, people will understand that all that they are asking for, believing for, praying for and hoping for can be found in God. And that they have direct access to Him through Jesus, without needing any human mediation.

May the LORD bless you and keep you, Dear Pope, as you lead the millions of Catholics across the world to the truth of the Gospel of Christ. May your life be a powerful testimony of the truth of God, before whom we will all give an account when we finally stand before His throne of judgment and grace.

Yours sincerely.

Dogs have a soul

People say that dogs don’t go to heaven when they die because they don’t have a soul. I’m not sure about the former, but I’m pretty sure that dogs have a soul.

Dogs have a soul because they have emotions.

They wag their tail at the slightest sign of their master who had been away for the whole day. They jump around frantically, barking and panting, saying, “I miss you a lot! Where have you been?”

10391575_231660026631_6408091_nDogs get hurt, too, when we yell at them or scold them for being who they are: Dogs. Have you seen a dog cry or heard him whimper after being rejected? It’s because they have feelings, too, and they get hurt when we don’t love them back.

Dogs have a soul because they know how to reciprocate the love that they receive. They are willing to die for you, take care of you, play with you and comfort you because they are grateful for the times that you played with them, fed them and gave them a good bath.

Dogs appreciate your stories, too. They feel loved when we tell them how our day was, and they feel appreciated when we talk with them affectionately.

Dogs have a soul because they know the value of friendship and loyalty. They stick around no matter what, despite being taken for granted, being yelled at or being abandoned at times.

They show the same affection over and over again. They know how to forgive, and they’ll give you the wildest welcome as you arrive home just as usual.

Dogs have a soul because they are capable of loving unconditionally. While humans struggle to show unconditional love towards one another, a dog’s soul is so pure that sometimes I think they know and understand love more than we do.

IMG_11119120884106 Our family’s dog was hit by a motorcycle yesterday. He died on the spot. Perhaps the next most painful thing to losing a loved one is to lose a dog; a dog who was more than just a pet but a friend, a loyal buddy, a faithful companion.

He was one of the best and sweetest dogs I have ever known. If dogs really have a soul, his was a beautiful one, and it would bring a lot of comfort for me to know that he is now in a doggy heaven, stuffing his mouth with all the food that he can grab and enjoying the company of all the good dogs there.

But I miss him terribly, and a lump always forms in my throat each time I call his name like before, as if he still hears my voice.

To you, Zildjian, we love you and we miss you. I’m sorry for what happened to you.

On honoring our parents

I was having a casual conversation with one of my mentors this afternoon as we drove home to Cavite. The convo started with funny stories about his 94-year-old grandmother who, apparently, is exhibiting a strong will to stay alive despite her age. She insists on learning stuff that are too techie for people her age such as texting, Skype-ing and using Facebook.

Along the trail of old-age stories came his story about his mom, who has developed early signs of Alzheimer’s Disease. He told me of instances when he had to stretch his patience, particularly at times when he had to explain the same thing over and over again because she kept on forgetting.

He also told me about how he cared for his dad, who had a stroke and became almost bedridden.

The supposedly light conversation led me to some serious contemplation. We’ve heard a lot about honoring our parents and obeying them, but allow me to write about it now. This topic has been on the back burner of my mind over the last couple of weeks, and the conversation that I had with him was the necessary kick that compelled me to flip open my laptop and write.

I realized that my parents, too, are getting old by the day, and I need to learn to be more patient with them.

When the day comes when I need to repeat the same things over and over again to them, I need to learn how not to snap and patiently help them understand and remember.

When, someday, I would need to carry them to the bathroom, I need to learn how to breathe steadily without showing any sign of irritation. I need to learn not to cringe under any circumstance, and I need to learn the art of saying, “Everything’s okay, don’t worry about me,” without sounding cold or phony.

I need to brace myself to listen to the same stories over and over again without getting bored. And I need to learn to keep myself from interrupting them or not wanting to listen to them anymore.

I need to remember the times when my mom patiently carried me through her arms, took me to the bathroom or listened to my repetitive stories.

I need to remember the times when my parents were teaching me to write, and how patient they had been just to help me learn.

I need to remember all my childish questions that they patiently and thoughtfully answered.

When that day comes, I need to remember that it’s my time to give back.

The fault in our generation today is that we become too impatient with our parents on matters that are as trivial as using a cellular phone or adding a friend on Facebook.

We don’t seek their opinion on important decisions such as choosing a career, applying for a job, falling in love or choosing friends simply because we think we know better than them. Heck, we even think that our friends know better than them.

We forget that had they not taught us to speak, walk or write, we won’t be where we are today.

We forget that it was they who sent us to school, and that whatever knowledge we gained from education should be used not to despise them for their lack of techie skills but to serve them.

A worthy reminder: Don’t get too busy growing up and forget that your parents are slowly getting old.

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:1-3)