A toast to the teachers, nurturers of the future

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - March 7, 2017 - 12:00am

Yesterday, in the airport, I met my senior high school teacher. Coming all the way from San Francisco, USA, she was in a wheelchair. And, surprise of all surprises, when I came up to her and introduced myself, she still remembered me. Barely 93 years old, she still thinks like she is 39. She still has that poignant smile on her face. And lo and behold, an avalanche of memories all came back to me. Most important of all, I remember how important teachers are to humanity. I could not imagine what would happen in life if there were no teachers. My late mom was a teacher in barangay primary schools for more than forty years. So also was my father, who is still living in Seattle and now 92 years young. He has no plan of dying. Old teachers never die. They just stop giving exams.

Indeed, one of the kindest, most positive and inspiring people that I met and interacted with my whole life were teachers. They had given me so much and I felt that they have always been least appreciated and often unsung and unrewarded. In my most tender moments, when I come to reflect on the meaning of life, I always remember how my teachers molded me, helped my parents formed my character. I always recall how they opened my eyes to the tremendous opportunities available to me in life and in the world. My teachers gave me the perspective of a number of options and alternatives, and taught me that I have the power to make a choice. They taught me also that every choice has an array of consequences and implications. And each person should own up to his own decisions and face the results of what he opted for.

I remember that when President Bill Clinton took his oath in his first term as US president, there were three important women that he asked to sit on stage: his mother, his wife and his first grade teacher. Clinton was not an angel but I did admire him for honoring his teachers and, in effect, all the teachers in the world. All of us, from presidents to the most humble clerk or messenger, we need to pay tribute to our mentors, molders of our young personalities. We were like unpolished diamonds when our parents entrusted us to our teachers. Then they worked on us, in us, also with us. They chiseled and hammered our minds, spirit, and soul. They pruned us of our excesses and made us blossom with endless possibilities. Teachers are miracle workers. To pay my tribute to teachers, I decided to be a teacher myself. I started teaching in 1969 SWU Arts and Sciences and then in my alma mater, UV in 1977. From then on, I have been teaching in UE, UST, FEU, CEU, San Sebastian Colleges of Law. I will never retire from this noble calling.

When I was very young, I used to see my mom staying awake beyond midnight, writing her lesson plans and checking test papers, computing pupils' grades and preparing teaching aids. I saw my father guiding boy scouts how to erect a tent and how to tie knots. I saw my parents feeding schoolchildren with chicken broth because many were too poor to have a decent breakfast before reporting to school. I saw my parents expressing their care, concern, understanding, and compassion. First hand, I realized the teachers' tremendous capacity for love. Although they are the most underpaid, overworked, forgotten, exploited and often underrated, unsung heroes of all times in all places. I do salute all the teachers in the world. I would have never been what I am now if not for my parents and my teachers. They're God's best gifts to mankind. I am helping make this gift available to the young. This how we, the baby boomers, are touching the lives of the millennials.



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