The sun was hazy that morning, I had my brown ribbon tied upon my fixed collar. The plum skirt fitted me still as I stepped on the jeepney’s rack. Humidity came to welcome me and I had my hair tucked behind my ears. Ellipses filled the atmosphere until someone had dared to crack the silence: “Titsir ka?” he uttered while I was watching him draw his fingers in a crooked position. “Nag-aaral pa lang ho.” I shook. Never did I know, that day began to be the beginning of everything. The first page of my life being a teacher and a wife carried by a surname: Circa. It’s a mere realization of this: “TitSirKa (You are a teacher?)” – “Tits [sobriquet from Teresita] Circa”
I had two biological children and a hundred by heart. Every morning I breathe to feed them with necessary lessons and wisdom. Every afternoon I'll make sure that what they have fathomed are words of knowledge and not just pure scientific terms, because in life, success doesn't just come from Science nor Math, it also comes with art and passion.
For at the end of the day, what would education be without passion?
I had half of my life watching how red inks blot on every quiz papers, the cushion of a chalk falling from a teacher's hand and the grace of each page flipping down one's fingers, but none of it satisfies my will as a teacher 'till I laid my profession upon the tables of public schools.. Untidy children run nowhere, greetings arouses, smiles rush up for a flood and with every petty tree I came to see that day, a thought lurks: somehow every student will begin as a sprout, and I as a necessary factor, will be their light towards germination and growth as a tree.
Yes, I am a Teacher.
I thought at first that teaching happens only within the four corners of a room but it's not, it's as vast as the sky and deep as an abyss. I had tried to explore my student's world, walk the path they have walked and feel the road they had just stepped on because in life, not all lessons are book-based, some are also driven by self experiences.
I managed to see lives sewn by poverty, the difficulty of having no money the other day to buy project requirements. I had witnessed the struggle of a girl being a student and a mother to her siblings; I had fathomed their lives that even unsaid words of 'help' are being heard by my ears.
I bear no money, I lift no luxury. But as a teacher, expect for a flood of knowledge and wisdom, expect me to read you lessons for you to understand why are is used for plural and is for singular, expect for a new mother, a friend and a confidante.
Because when you are labeled as a teacher, you are also claimed as a writer, a doctor, a best friend and a parent to students. You're all around. You bring not just the ordinary, but the extraordinary among your second children.
And yes, I am a teacher.
As time passes, everything went running upon my chest, building up certain blocks of feelings and rushing up like a series of waves. I witnessed education to the front and back of public high school, the hardship and laughter exchanged in between of their dreary eyes. I witnessed every student’s determination towards success. I witnessed how they gasp for learning while poverty is constantly drowning them whole. And I was there. I was able to see the lives of my students, and I can’t help but to be more inspired to my profession. It is my passion towards it that lets me connect to every student’s life.
Passion to connect, that’s what I live by.
I teach by heart with art, not just because I am expected to do it. I’m a teacher and that’s what guru does. Teaching has let me experienced how to breathe within chalk dusts and hurdle upon the edges of a book; it lets me travel a new world with certain people I appreciate the most. With art in my heart, I could affect the lives of people, especially my students, to develop their creative minds, and ethical spirits needed to contribute wisdom, compassion and leadership.
I started to dream as a teacher and I do still up to now. A better version perhaps, an ideal one among my students. The teacher who will teach the how’s and why’s of every topic, the teacher who will breathe for education not just a mere conversion of oxygen to carbon dioxide.
To the gray-haired man I’ve met some years ago, I’m proud to say a new answer: “Teacher na ho ako.” To the brown ribbon tied upon my collar, it came to be the red ones and with skirts constantly fitting my thighs, they came to be the decent black slacks. And with every chalk I am once instructed to hold and scribble answers on the board, it came to be my companion as a teacher. Everything changed but my passion still stays. In the name of grade cards and lesson plans, I hereby say: Titsir ako!