The cold pre-dawn wind was waning as daylight started to inch slowly into the room. At six in the morning, while others are still getting ready for work, I’m all prepped up for the day’s activities. I stood in the middle of the room and noticed some yawns and smiles; they acknowledged me with their routine greeting and I responded with a sunny Good Morning Class!
Fame, fortune and power; the ingredients of success and happiness, according to a former professor. What she said stuck in me for a while.
Fresh out of college, I was too eager to find my own little spot in the adult world—earning my own money, the top priority. I entered different fields of work and was either quickly bored or totally unhappy. It led me to quitting early. Indeed, I was young, eager but easily jaded.
It was on my 15th month as a corporate slave, the longest I’ve been to in a job, when I woke up one day and burst out crying. It felt like my life was meaningless. It was the turning point, the time I chose freedom and true happiness over money. I left my job with a quest to chase what I was looking for.
After a year of taking units in Education, with help from my mother, I finished my second degree and passed the board examination for teachers. I never dreamt of being one, it was a suggestion from my mom as she felt that I may find what I was looking for in the field of teaching.
It was a struggle at first; the workload itself and the expectations from other people as to why I left a promising career just to teach in a public school. I never did explain my side to them nor even react negatively, I simply give them my biggest smile ‘coz there are some things that don’t need reasons.
I believe that basic education is the microcosm of adult life. Students learn how to adapt and survive on their environment with the help of the school community. I teach arts, and more than the curriculum, I believe that my role is to unleash my students’ potentials so that they would be equipped with the right tool in life, whatever path they choose. It may be too beauty pageant-ish, but I suppose that’s the essence of education.
Every year, I manage 300 young souls for 10 months, 2,400 in eight years altogether. I am so privileged and blessed to have been given the opportunity to hold and mold their innocent minds even just for a moment. I am happy where I am right now. And it’s not just a temporary high, but pure bliss.
My shift starts at six in the morning and ends at twelve noon every day. We have summer breaks and Christmas breaks aside from the regular holidays. It was the convenience of having so much time to travel that lured me into teaching at first. But after a while, I had shifted from that idea. A deeper sense in teaching changed the way I see.
Not to say that traveling has no value at all. During my trips, I use my DSLR camera to capture images and relate it to my lessons, which focuses on Philippine Arts and Music. I would capture local culture—their arts, their tradition, their way of life—on each place I visit and go back and share it with my students—transferring the images one at a time to my phone and letting them pass it around. It is a tedious task, but well worth it.
My photos and videos transport them to where I went and it let them experience what I have experienced. They listen fervently as I take them to wonderland and recount every notable detail of my stories.
And with the advent of advanced imaging technologies coming in, a smartphone like the new Huawei P9 with its 12-megapixel Leica camera and huge 5.2-inch screen makes it possible for me to seamlessly share my stories to my students.
There is innocence, there is love, there is forgiveness, there is compassion, there is goodness in everything. I see how to live my life freely and happily. I learned to change the way I see happiness by looking in their eyes.
I come to class every day as prepared as my students for the day’s lessons, them hearing what I would say and me seizing that chance to experience life, the way it should be. Those innocent look in their eyes, those laughter from the most irrelevant of things, the grief for someone’s loss, the happiness from the simplest triumph, the purity of their hearts and the abundant love they could give.
In a field that I didn’t choose for myself, I’m actually having the best time of my life.
Good bye and thank you, Ma’am Carla! Thank you for teaching us today…