The long weekend from August 18 – 21 provided me the opportunity to set one day for general house cleaning.
Since we do not have an “angel” to do this for us, duty dictates that I should have the initiative to perform this task.
Came Monday, I started decluttering in our study room. The sight of the piles of paper that were already becoming higher on the table, had me pick them as my first goal for the day. Patiently, I sorted them out after scanning their contents. Then, I looked for a box where I could place all papers for disposal.
Next in line was my Leveret box where I kept some of my vital old files from the previous school where I taught. Opening the cover made me again bump into something which I have kept for the past four years. I held the faded pages which were the result of the 2009 Ondoy flooding in Manila, where we resided for almost 10 years. I reread the title that was manually and creatively scribbled…
Afterglow was the winning essay of a former student of mine when she was in third year high school. She gave this to me as a memento on Teacher’s Day, September 26, 2008, and I had the biggest surprise of my life when I found out that I was her subject.
Allow me to retype the full text of this essay verbatim since the printed letters were already blurred.
I can still remember the day I met her. It was the first day of classes yet I was already sweating all over. I was running late. I arrived just in the nick of time rushing to fit into the line of girls who were standing and waiting patiently for the prayer to start. Then suddenly she arrives – our new class adviser. Her presence soon fills the atmosphere and the chatting comes to a halt. I took one deep breath and braced myself for what I thought will be a roller coaster school year.
I was right; yet fate also had other plans for me though. Time passed and I got to know her better. She is a woman of effortless grace and she moves and speaks with zest. She is a dancer and a lover of the Broadway arts. One thing I know for sure is that she certainly is not your ordinary, boring English school teacher! It can be seen that she’s really passionate about her job by the way she teaches and talks to her students. She is a loving mother and a strict disciplinarian, and people really love her for that. I, myself, do too even though I am unable to show it. I believe that leniency will just lead to the wrong path.
Honestly, I didn’t expect that we’d become friends. It was the last thing on my mind when I was in Grade 6. One thing I’ll never forget would be the beautiful “Desiderata,” the first poem she had taught us. It is undeniably a poem that everyone should put into heart. Try asking every single one of my classmates back then and they’ll all agree that it was because of her that our last year in elementary was a really memorable one. She treated us equally and made
us feel like one big family, something that only a great teacher could do. During failures, she was there to comfort us and show us what we had done and how we could make up for it in the future. During success and happy times, she reminded us that we should enjoy life because it isn’t everyday that you get to share smiles with people you love. Simply, she made us value life even more. She was always there ready to guide and help us all the way. We might not be expressive because of our juvenileness, but we do love her to bits and we are really thankful to have her as our second mom. I say that she really was the person who helped me spread my wings. Having her as a second mother really changed my life. Because of her, I learned to be strong and unafraid to face all trials that come my way.
I graduated elementary with mixed emotions. I was happy to go on a new chapter of my life, yet I was also unhappy because I know I’ll miss being a kid. I miss all the times when we used to share laughs like there was no tomorrow and I also miss the days where we would love to just sit all day and talk about life and how a young girl like me should prepare myself for life’s roller coaster ride. I look up to her not just as a teacher, a mentor, a friend, but also the sole inspiration who made me realize that life isn’t just about how many times you win your games but it’s also how you prove to yourself that you can stand up from all your downfalls and learn from your mistakes. I believe that in that way, you will see the true meaning and beauty of life.
Mrs. Maureen Gines is the first teacher who made a big impact on my being and changed my outlook on life. I can never thank her enough for believing in me and teaching me with patience and most of all, understanding. I’ll never forget all that I have learned from her, despite the fact that we were only together for a short period of time. I’m grateful with all my heart that God had given me Mrs. Gines, a rare and beautiful gift who will forever be part of me as she guides me through life’s journey in her afterglow.
Erika’s character sketch is the only written remembrance from a former student in the basic education which I have kept. Clearly, this is a written testimony by someone who had given me the kind of affirmation that I, as a teacher, have succeeded in achieving my mission in the academe.
I seek your understanding and forgiveness for publishing this essay about me for it may make me a braggart. Being pictured by another person in this manner is a first for me. I never thought that one could be very expressive about her encounter with me. Through Erika’s work, I became more inspired in honing and loving my craft knowing that I have made a difference in someone’s life.
Thank you, my dear “daughter” Erika, for this validation that I made the right choice in dedicating my life to this noble profession.