Midlife gratitude

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I REMEMBER when I was young and I told myself to note how it felt like being me at the age of 16 so that I can compare how it felt like to be me at the age of 40. I haven’t reached 40 yet but pretty close. But I think I can answer with a degree of confidence the question I posed to myself a few decades ago.

Despite whatever I may have imagined myself to become, the strange thing is that the lanky dude 22 years ago is essentially the same person 22 years after. The main difference apart from the expanded girth and the thinning hair is that the things that were unknowns as of yet then, have been slowly revealed by time. And it is a privilege to be able to look back at that long journey and smirk about the things that did not happen and be amazed about the things that did.

They have a word for this. Midlife. And I, together with my generation, are right smack in the middle of another one of these demographic traps.


I do not know if my batch mates plus or minus three years below and above perceive this supposedly significant stage in life where we go off-kilter measuring the weight and relevance of our life-choices as we reach the half-way point of the average life-expectancy.

For some people I guess, midlife happens as some sort of a personal crisis when they discover that according to their standards, they have measured their life and find themselves wanting. As for me, I am just glad to have lived this long to be able to note the various twists and turns of this journey called life.

And call this an indication of a midlife crisis which should justify the space I am taking up in this paper, but I would like to indulge myself in thanking publicly special persons who have made a lasting mark in my life without them meaning to or without them knowing to what extent.

First in the list are Mrs. Anita Santos and Ms. Muritz Chu. Excellent English teachers who taught generations of students of our time the facility for the language. One maybe smart but without the eloquence gained through year-in and year-out of sentence diagramming, then that intelligence is practically useless.

Mrs. Leni Gako and Ms. Ading Noro. Nationalist teachers who stood before the class with a mission – that is to expose young minds to the contradictions of Philippine history and society. For these teachers, it was less about dates and names, but about the meaning and relevance of say Rizal’s novels or the Philippine revolution against Spain. And in the Post-Edsa era of my high school days, they always related the lessons to the burning issues of the time. While UP can be faulted for molding me into the subversive that I am, the seeds were definitely planted in that reading assignment of Lualhati Bautista’s Dekada ’70.

Mr. Bong Leuterio and Ms. Venus Guibone. Both did not condescend on our young age by trusting us with profound lessons and dangerous ideas. I still remember Mr. Leuterio, fresh from attaining his philosophy degree from the Ateneo, delivering a lecture about the Velveteen Rabbit and The Little Prince before wide-eyed grade five pupils in his first days of class. Ms. Guibone, on the other hand, while teaching values and religion, approached the subject matter always sensitive to the element of struggle in how it is to be a good Christian and Filipino.

There are many more names to be mentioned but the thanks especially goes to the founders of the school where these teachers taught. We were indeed fortunate to have been under the tutelage of this set of teachers, the best in the City at that time I also wager, that Dr. and Mrs. del Fierro assembled in what was then known as Little Schoolhouse and now Corpus Christi.

I cite these teachers as influential in my life and evidence of their mark is that fact that I have become a teacher myself. And every time I stand before my class or write an article for this paper, whatever nugget of knowledge I impart, I recognize to be the product not just of my own labor and talents, but also the painstaking effort and sense of mission of those that came before me.

So in my midlife, I may still be poor and struggling, but I am proud to belong to a profession that leaves a lasting and hopefully critical influence on people. We may not be producing tangible objects such as buildings or profit but when we finally achieve the nation we deserve in the future, I have no doubt that teachers like them and those that they will inspire in the future just like me will have played the important and crucial role.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 14, 2014.


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