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October 12

By
Geoffrey Miles L. Mercado
Written on October 17, 2011
 

            Under a starless sky, I was listening to a wonderful person who constantly amazed me. I met her a few months ago, thinking that she would be another person who I could call a friend. However, she was profoundly different from all the girls I’ve met. She had this something within her that made her to shine; which allowed me to shine as well.

            She is by far one of the few authentic people I know. She isn’t interested with superficiality. Instead, she seeks for what fulfills and nourishes her existence. She’s not concerned about petty issues; she’s concerned about real-life and the personal. She’s real and she engages the world head-on instead of merely hiding from it behind a wall.

            What attracted me to her was her sincerity towards the world and towards herself, and the wealth of experience she has gathered through the years. These traits are reflected in the quality of our conversations, which always touch upon topics close to our very beings. A major contributor to this is our successful way of communicating — we both are sincere in our words and actions towards each other. We don’t beat around the bush, we beat the bush! Also, because of the many similarities that we have in values and dreams, we spend more time relating with each other than with striking compromises. It was a breeze communicating with her because, to begin with, we already knew what the other was thinking or feeling.

            As I sat next to her under that deep and dark sky, I thought of how lucky I was to have a connection with her. I was never a fan of fairy tales because I knew that they were not real. However, seated next to her, I wanted to believe in those fairy tales. Her lips moved gracefully as we engaged in our fruitful conversations about life and living. Knowing that I only had a limited amount of time in my hands, I had to find the courage to reveal to her what I was going through since the time I confessed to her that I found her incredibly interesting, and that I liked her. After proclaiming that it was about time that we went home, I realized that that was my chance!

Hesitantly, I asked, “Can I be honest with you?”

She nodded.

I continued, “For the longest time, I’ve been tempted to kiss you on the lips.”

Right after I uttered the last word, I felt exposed, vulnerable to her reply. The reply that I was waiting for would come much later, for my act of honesty prompted her to share her experiences about other guys.

            This wonderful girl in front of me would never have become the person she is now had she not gone through many hardships and difficulties. Her love-life was no exception. Too many times, she attracted men who treated her with little or no respect, tearing her heart to shreds. Because of this pattern, she wondered if she would eventually end up with a lousy guy. However, ever since I came into the picture, even she wanted to believe that she wasn’t destined for misery. Also, despite the number of guys who were possible partners for her, she has never openly confessed to a guy that she loved him. This was because those words were not superficial for her, they were extremely meaningful.

However, all of these appeared to be a filler to what she was about to reveal to me.

            Her usually articulate voice began to tremble, and her eyes began to glisten. With her fists clenched and her eyes frantically looking around for cues about what words were best to use, my eyes were locked onto hers as I patiently and readily anticipated what she was about to say. She first explained that she could not find anything wrong with me: I treated her respectfully; I was mature enough to not let my issues get in the way; I was articulate; and I was sincere. She knew that she was happy with me — happier than she has ever been with any guy. And yet, in spite of all these, she still is unable to let go of a previous guy whom she has grown an attachment with. That made her feel very guilty because she couldn’t fathom why she couldn’t let go of that person and be truly happy with me. As she verbalized these thoughts, her tears started to stream down her cheeks. Disgusted at this revelation, she told me that it was okay for her if I got angry at her for feeling that way.

I held her hands and told her that I never expected her to be perfect. In fact, I didn’t want her to be perfect — I wanted her to be real. With those words, she began to sob and I could do no more than embrace her, catching her tears on my shoulder.

            After gaining some composure, she told me how lucky she felt to have someone like me. I replied to her that, in fact, I was the one who was lucky to have someone like her. Believe it or not, this person reflects everything that’s best in me and more. Every minute I spend with this person, I am able to see the best and worst in me, along with the kind of person I want to become. She reminds me of the kind of person I’m supposed to be — a good person. Every day is my chance to become a better person, and that was especially because of her. These words made her eyes glisten, but not enough to make her cry. Much of the conversation from then on was filled with laughter. However, time was running, and it was running fast.

            She looked at her watch and decided that it was getting late and that we should be going home already. This was it. This was my chance.

With my heart racing and my mind rushing, I told her, “Last…”

There was a rather long pause.

“Will I ever get the chance to kiss you?”

She simply kept quiet and placed her arms on my shoulders. For a long while we simply stared at each other. Naïve as I was at that moment, I never realized that that was my answer. Upon realizing that, I chuckled and she chuckled along with me. We embraced with disbelief at how naïve I was at that time. After the embrace, we went back to our positions. Just to check if I interpreted the sign accurately, I leaned towards her and she also leaned towards me. I stopped half-way out of shock that, yes, I interpreted it well. We chuckled some more. This time, after we had gained composure, I leaned towards her with my lips hovering over hers. There was no resistance. After a few more moments, we made contact.

            We embraced each other tightly, not wanting to let go. The cards are laid on the table. There was no point in hiding it. I whispered softly in her ear, “I guess there’s no point in hiding this anymore.” I leaned back and looked at her straight in her eyes, “Mahal kita.” That was the biggest secret that I ever had to hide. Her eyes shone with relief, she verbally expressed how, for the longest time, she had waited for me to say those words. And she had been playing in her head exactly how I was going to say it. To my surprise, what she had fantasized in her head was exactly what happened. All the while, I was waiting for a reply.

She looked deep into my eyes and said, “Alam kong hindi ko pa ito nasasabi sa ibang tao, pero mahal na mahal na mahal kita.” From then on, no walls would ever stop us from truly dwelling in each other’s lives.

            I will never look at the night sky the same way again for it now housed a significant moment in my life. It will no longer be simply empty, rather it will have depth. The starless sky that witnessed our profession of love will no longer be the same. It was no longer empty; it was spacious. 

Thank God for GCs!

After checking reflection papers all morning and early afternoon, I decided to go to SM Cubao to buy myself some much needed clothes. Would you believe that the last time I bought clothes was a year ago? I was that busy and broke. Finally, thanks to my employer, I now have mo spending power.

Originally I planned on buying just 1 pair of Khaki pants. But as I browsed through the clothes, I found myself enchanted with the many nice and affordable bottoms and tops! After selecting a few articles of clothing I went to the part of the store thah I’m sure has empty fitting rooms, the men’s office wear area. I’ve only recently subscribed to anchordivision, a men’s fashion website, and it was refreshing to see how my sense of fashion has been influenced by the author of the website. There were a couple of realizations about my weight and body structure but eventually, after an hour and a half of searching and fitting clothes, I produced a shopping bag containing 2 pairs of khakis, 1 dark brown shirt, 1 dark blue polo, 1 denim polo, 2 sets of socks, a belt, and a pair of sun glasses. Good thing I had enough Gift Certificates to cover most of the expenses. I even have enough to pay for a haircut.

I need to pamper myself once in a while. Maybe saving for a rainy day is good but should be done in moderation. Right now, I have more than enough for a rainy month so why not pamper myself a bit, right? Money was also meant to be spent, not kept away.

‘Till my next post!

On Teaching as a “Full”-Time Job

There are certain jobs that can be considered part-time because the tasks are rather simple (writing online articles, composing programs for websites, freelance artistic projects, and many more). However, I don’t think any teaching-related job can ever be considered part-time even if you are officially engaged in it for less than 6 or 4 hours in a day or a week.

When you teach someone, it’s never enough that you simply give part of yourself. It’s not enough that the learner is able to model the skills that needed from the teacher. The teacher can role play all he/she wants but if the teacher is not able to “capture the heart” of the student, all that the teacher is giving is loose change and not the whole learning experience.

What do I mean by “capturing the heart”? Well, it has many interpretations but at least for this post it simply means “winning the students’ trust that whatever you’re going to impart to them is important.” How do we capture their hearts, you say? At least in how I do things, I don’t just impart skill, I impart my WHOLE self in teaching. This includes me talking about my life and using them as examples to better contextualize whatever it is I’m teaching. It also means showing the students’ that you’re not after their grades but their learning. The greatest tragedy that could ever happen to an educational organization or institution is to impart on the learners that they enroll themselves to get the grades. Grades are supposed to be an indication of how much they’ve mastered the expected skills and knowledge and not a cause of identity. But in a world that’s run with numbers, It’s pretty hard to right away change that kind of mindset.

Last and most important, I think the best way to capture their hearts is to make them realize that you are human too, that you are not some distant god-like authority, but you are someone who “came down” from the throne of power and dwelled among them. More concretely, your interactions are not limited with you simply in front. It means you partake in their gossips, in their sharings, in their social networks, in their hallway hang outs, in their religious celebrations, in their lives. If they feel that you are involved in their lives, that it’s not just about them being a student that matters to you, then, I believe, they will start to appreciate all the things you try to teach them and would do their best to not disappoint by performing well. 

However, in this kind of profession, professional distance should never be compromised because it is your human self that you are putting on the table. As ideal and good people are, they are also capable of the most unspeakable evil. That once your image and name is tainted, your being a teacher will only lead you to your detriment. There are no guidebooks as to how to avoid this because there will always be one or two students will see you as “the enemy” or “the prey”, but there will also be others who will see you as their saving grace. We can never really have grace without sin. They’re just the two sides of the coin that we accept when we were given life.

To conclude, this post is merely a perspective on how teaching is never really a “part”- time job. When you only give a part of you, students only learn a part of what they could have learned. No one is ever partly human anyway and this profession needs a whole or a full human to do the task. 

In the end, in this kind of profession, maybe it’s not the explicit skills that are of most importance. Maybe what’s most important is that they’ve met someone who not only changed their lives, but changed them for the better—to be more of themselves, to be more fully who they are supposed to be. Maybe in teaching, you never really just give part of yourself, but your entirety. 

Midnight rambles

What does it mean to be a good person?

I’ve been teaching Christian Living Education for a good 3 months now and I found myself asking this question again. I thought that after I’ve taken my Philosophy of Ethics class back in college, I was good to go; I knew what it being a good person. But, as I started working in the real world and meeting more people, I found my previous understanding of being a good person not as bullet proof as I thought.

I used to think that if I followed a set of rules, I was becoming a good person. I mean, rules are created to serve and protect people. Thus it made sense to follow them because eventually they will make me a better as well. But the more I stayed loyal to the rules or procedures, the more it became burdensome to me. I started asking myself, “How do I respond to you, who needs my help, if the rules forbid me to?” In a sense, I thought that being mabait or being conscientious was the path to being a good man. But somehow, that overly generous response doesn’t seem to be real for me.

Maybe being a good person is not just about being a mabait or being conscientious, but maybe it’s about being mabuti or acting more appropriately to respond to a specific situation. Maybe there are times when its better to be the “bad” person because there’s just no getting through some people.

If only life had manual. Or maybe, life is a manual that’s always being written down.

Christmas Party 12.19.12

Today we spent our school Christmas party in a grand way. Well, I find it grand because when I planned the parties in my previous job, we were rather humble in terms of food and program. This time, everything seemed to be in excess—love and affection, gifts, and food. This has, so far, been the most enjoyable Christmas party I’ve attended.

We started the day with a short interaction with our advisory classes, where I introduced a pass-the-message game with a twist which the students enjoyed alot. After which, we prepared for the Christmas program. Previously, I was commissioned to be one of the Three Kings for the Belen scene because I was Religion teacher. It was fun wearing the Sutana. At least one of my dreams were fulfilled for a couple of hours.

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Joel, DJ, Me.

After the program, we dismissed the kids and we then waited for the faculty and staff lunch to begin. Knowing that it was our beloved Director’s last time to attend the Christmas party, we took advantage and helped ourselves with some pictures with him.

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It was a hearty meal although we had to wait for a while before we lined up. While enjoying the food, there were raffle draws on some minor and major prizes. It was funny how the items being raffled away seem to come from one of the parents’ businesses. Anyway, after some hilarious parlor games between teams from the Central Admin, High School, and Grade school departments, we returned to the faculty to drop off some gifts and giveaways. The rest of the afternoon was spent in the intimate hall where there was some dancing involved. I joined for a bit but the music just didn’t get my dancing shoes on. 

After the program had ended, our Director gave out surprises and finally gave a beloved Jesuit Priests a farewell message. Fr. Guy is a person who just seems to have an unlimited space in his heart for all kinds of people. He needs to leave because he needs to continue his tertianship. Best of luck to him!

 

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As I packed my things home, I realized how heavy the bags were. This got me reflecting because for the past few weeks I’ve been carrying heavy grocery bags, heavy Christmas gifts, and heavy house utilities. But as I carried my heavy bags filled with personalized gifts from students and extra food from the event, I felt light-hearted. It was the first time I was bringing home so many things after a Christmas party.

I’ve been carrying “heavy” bags lately because I’m blessed. I was blessed to be able to afford more than what I need.  I was blessed to have very thoughtful co-teachers and students. I was blessed in making the decision to teach in this school. Maybe I wasn’t just bringing home new things or goodies. Maybe, this time around, I’m bringing home the kind of joy I’ve been searching for a long while. And it feels good.

Till my next post!