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 #14 – Roaming around UP-Diliman

This rainy season is the best time to roam around UP-Diliman. Below is a fail-proof itinerary to enjoy the campus like a true break from life’s bustle.


  • Walking shoes
  • Comfortable shirt and pants
  • Bottle of water
  • Umbrella
  • Friend/s (optional)

1. Start at Philcoa at 4pm. Walk the stretch of the University Avenue. The April sunflowers are already gone with the month, and instead you’ll find verdant weeds waving at you on both sides of the road. Appreciate them.

2. Make a ceremonial gaze at Oble. But don’t take a photo with him as the background; it’s so jologs and in case you enroll in the school, you’ll never graduate on time.

3. Turn right at the Acad Oval. Marvel at the green, green grass and trees. Get lost in nature’s embrace. But be careful not to inhale the jeepneys’ smoke.

4. Once you reach the Sunken Garden and see the acacia trees surrounding it, recite Joyce Kilmer’s “Trees.” Usually you’ll see teenagers play football or Ultimate frisbee — a chill sight. Of course, joggers accompany you around the Oval, so if you feel like giving your bloodstream some excitement, go with them.

Took this two weeks ago, on my way to class. I wanted to free time.

Took this two weeks ago on my way to class: Sunken Garden with weeds.

5. Turn towards Malcolm Hall and perhaps catch some breath and gulp some water on Melchor Hall’s steps, a short distance from Malcome Hall. Trivia: Melchor Hall and Palma Hall (aka AS) are supposed to be mirror images of each other.

6. Continue towards the Carillon. If it’s already 5pm, you’ll catch it pealing for the hour.

7. End in front of Oble. Standing beside him, stretch out your arms and say hasta la vista to the sun.

Tell me what you like best about doing a paseo around UPD. 🙂

Magic #4 – Life at the library

More than five years after graduation, I once again entered the hallowed halls of UP-Diliman’s Main Library, where the real Oble is located and which — rumor has it — stands on rollers to keep it from toppling in case there’s an earthquake.

Still the same smell of old books and faint shellac. Still the same silence punctuated by chairs scraping the floor and the mild whirring of the Xerox machine at the far end of the Social Sciences section.

I was there in the Social Sciences section.

Image from

My visit to the library was almost on a whim. I was planning my day in the morning when suddenly I thought the library could afford me the silence and space (it has vast study halls with individual desks) for an editing job I would bring with me to UP — because I was expecting my request for some certificate at my college would be quick (it was).

So there I was, reliving memories of cramming for some political science exam of years ago, of reviewing notes and clambering to the borrowers’ counter to check out six heavy books. The memories were not exactly good ones, but they produced some sense of security, but I couldn’t grasp exactly why just yet…

Then the guy on the desk in front of me wakes up with a start.

And then it hit me, why all that sense of equilibrium: finding my younger self in the nap-inclined fellow, I knew I was home.