In consonance with UNESCO's World Teachers' Day celebration on October 5, 2010, let me share with you Sir Peter's personal accounts about teaching. This is a tribute to all Filipino teachers in Thailand who have the tenacity, fighting spirit, and determination to work in this country to help the family back home.
When Peter was 12, during their work education class in antiques, they were planting trees to celebrate Arbor Day. In a casual conversation with his best friend, he confided, "Someday, I will be a teacher so that I can be the best teacher who will treat my students with fairness, understanding, love, care and not beat them." He confessed this to him because he took pity on him the fact that every time his best friend made trivial mistakes in the class, his mother, who was their teacher, would hit his best friend with a stick, an eraser, a book or anything she could get hold of.
Peter's parents were illiterate. They were both victims of poverty. His father was orphaned at a very young age and had to work as a helper for a rich family in town so that his brother and sister could go to school. His mother was orphaned too before the age of 6 and her cruel aunt deprived her of education.
In Peter's family of 11, (5 boys and 4 girls) 2 of his siblings became professionals. Two of his brothers finished only Grade 3 and Grade 5 respectively while the others fortunately finished Grade 6. His father explained that during the 1950's or even earlier than that, parents in his home town and in other towns, never valued education that much. They treasured and valued "the family" more. It mattered less to the parents whether their children finished a high education or not. Worse of all, even if they would only eat salt with rice, it was acceptable already to the family as long as they were all together.
Since Peter graduated valedictorian in Grade 6, his brothers and sisters saw a great potential in him and they were convinced that he could have a promising future. So they worked on menial jobs and put their little earnings together to support Peter's studies. In return, our hero took it upon himself the gargantuan task to prepare his future of becoming a teacher because during his time, students never went to teaching but to courses leading to white collar jobs. After all, he was convinced too that it would be easy for him to get a job if he finished education.
In Manila, after graduation from high school, there was a twist in his ambition. He was at a loss on what to take up in college, although in his childhood days he dreamed of becoming a teacher. He couldn't blame himself. Time changed, people changed, and his interest changed. In that moment of indecisiveness, he wanted to take up a degree in agriculture in order to help his father improve their small farm, but he had no idea where to enroll. Perhaps, because of fate and what he was meant to be, he found himself enrolled at a leading institution for teachers and became a full-fledged teacher.
After graduation in college, it didn't take a long time to get a job because his baseball coach recommended him to work in a school where his coach's nephew was the principal... That's how Peter began to fall in love with his chosen career.
For 38 years of teaching contentedly he said he loves teaching because it is the best profession he has ever experienced. He said, "If I have to be born again, I would choose still to be a teacher." So far, the teaching profession has given me the rarest privilege to inspire children of my country...." He added, "It is where, although the pay is little, the intrinsic rewards of being called," Sir," are obtained. I have all the opportunity to hear music as angels lift his spirit each day when they address him. It is where he can make boys and girls happy though they have many problems at home, it's an opportune time where he has transformed the most unlovable student in the class to be happy , it's where he has made the naughtiest boy keep still and get involved in interesting activities, it's where the bully stops pestering the classmates because he has certain responsibilities to do, it's where a deprived child gets genuine and special attention, it's where a potential leader is honed to become one of the country's leaders, it's where he serves as a talent scout to unravel hidden talents and bring them to the open for nurturing, it's where he can make little Rosy and Adam come out of their shells, it's where he can tame a timid child to speak and overcome a phobia of something..."
In addition to this, he explained with a smile and a sense of pride, "I love teaching because in the bus or jeepney and even in a taxi (not only once, twice, thrice, or several times) someone I don't know would pay for me or refuse payment for my ride because he/she would say was once my student. Oh, I love to teach because I feel so great to see my students winning in sports and art. And they are proudly saying that I was their first teacher in these fields." After a short pause, he continued, "Truly, I am, without any shadow of doubt, inspired to teach because even in the "Friendster" and "face book", one former student tells me, "Sir, you're my best teacher." "Oh, yes, I love teaching because I don't only teach English but I teach students who hunger for knowledge, guidance, compassion, and attention. Indeed! I love teaching because it has enabled me to work in the United Nations, traveled to London and Paris as a "mere teacher". Definitely, I love teaching because it has made me grow professionally and became a textbook writer. Absolutely, I love teaching because it afforded me the chance to meet parents and work with them in molding their children."
Peter's career was not all loaves and fishes. Despite his intense love for teaching, he did leave his profession just like other great men and women. His friends advised, "It's a suicidal decision. How can you give up your cup of tea? Anyway, he made up his mind and the die was cast. As the old saying goes, "Once a teacher, always a teacher." Alas! After 3 months of disappointments he came back to teaching, and through it earned his bread and butter once more. Otherwise, if he didn't have a change of heart, his family would have starved to death. Peter then realized that he was a teacher yesterday (a very good teacher according to his students) he will be a teacher today, and will be a teacher tomorrow. Surprisingly, he swore that as long as there is an opportunity to teach, he would do it. In fact it is his ardent wish that even if he were age 70 and is capable of teaching, he would still teach. "It may sound incredible but don't you know that most of my dreams in sleep," he said, "are all about teaching?" Finally, when asked, "What will you do, when you retire?" He answered, "I will teach. I will teach. I will teach and I will teach for I love teaching." That's teacher Peter.
Kudos, Teacher Peter. Happy Teachers' Day!