Magic #21: Why they teach

One of the world’s greatest mysteries is why state university teachers stick it out with their employers.

Is it really the prestige of the university? Is it the company of friends? Is it a perhaps-not-so-naive belief that they are teaching the nation’s future leaders?

Because for sure they’re not there for the salary. I learned it can come late by a few months.

Not are they in for the school’s infrastructure: department offices cramped in the building’s attics, rusty railings, unkempt hedges.

So — why?

Let me hazard some guesses.

Maybe they simply love teaching bright kids whom they think will definitely make a dent in Philippine society.

Maybe they don’t look so much at the bad things these kids might end up doing (hah! there seems to be an equal number of famous and infamous alumni in prestigious, nationalistic state universities), but on the good things that they can surely seek to do. That is, these teachers are realistically optimistic.

Maybe they don’t mind the crappy place, the less-than-professional look of the halls and gardens, but they do mind the seriousness of their responsibility as molders of minds that may be greater than theirs.

Or maybe it’s the prestige after all. Who cares if it’s a low-paying fugly place, but you’re getting the attention of your counterparts from other institutions simply because you teach in this school? Your research is also going to get at least a second look when you submit it for publication, right?

Maybe it’s also circumstances too personal that our imaginative brains cannot be imaginative enough, only because it takes heart and not brain to find out that there simply is a thing as loving…in all its grand, maddening, and multifarious forms.

Seeing the faculty evaluators amused during my teaching demo only bolstered my admiration for them.

I applied for a teaching post in the university. Here’s to madness and to love!


Magic #20 – Fast but not so furious

One of the most amazing things so far with my work with persons with disabilities is meeting a man who drives his motorcycle at 90kph with only one hand. And I’m behind him, holding for dear life for two hours.

Kuya Edison

Kuya Edison is the man. And he likes speed. At 31, he’s been through various leadership positions in his community, including the homeowners’ association, the barangay council, the college he attended, and now his town’s organization of people with disabilities. And, of course, he likes riding his motorcycle, zooming across his native North Cotabato’s idyllic terrains.

I almost freaked out when, while we were skirting the speedometer’s 80 kph mark, Kuya Edison brushed his hair with his impaired right arm (it has nothing beyond the wrist). More than five seconds passed. Like five eternities. I really couldn’t believe it.

Talk about confidence and real awesomeness!

Magic #19 – Writing for kiddos

I remember, when I was in Grade 2, I used to write stories. One of my friends did the same, and I wanted to compete. Sort of. But my literary pursuit was shortlived.

In high school I ventured into writing kids’ stories again — or at least, I remember writing one story and painted illustrations for it. I submitted a sample to a publisher. After some weeks, the well-known local children’s book publisher replied saying they couldn’t publish my work if I was not of their religion (non-Catholic). After telling her about my rejection, my doting tita in the States was furious and said that that publisher didn’t deserve my — in her unprejudiced opinion — good work.


Now I feel like I want to explore doing children’s literature again. I guess it’s a way of sharing my own experience when I was still a child, for which I’m very grateful: being surrounded with colorful books filled with life. I had a picture book of animals (which introduced me to zebras and giraffes and penguins), a slew of fairy tales free in every can of Nido milk, and several second-hand hardbound collections from, again, my tita in the States. If it weren’t for those books, I wouldn’t have gained a hunger to know more and be amazed by life’s simple details.

I’m sorry it’s taking me three paragraphs to say that, really, I’m excited. Here’s to a future Palanca Award! 😛

The stories will be posted here.