A Tribute to Our First TeacherPosted: July 20, 2011
A lot of people would call us a family of achievers. Modesty aside, all three of us were able to send ourselves to college through scholarships. I was a working scholar, my brother belonged to Rhine’s top ten, while my sister got hers from Aboitiz. We never missed any recognition day when we were elementary and high school, and save for me, my brother was cum laude and my sister a magna when they graduated from college.
Yes, we worked hard for all of them. We burned midnight oil, gone through sleepless nights, burrowed our heads through the voluminous pages of our textbooks, and carried hundreds-of-pages accounting books all the way to the third floor of USC. But the biggest sacrifice–and the highest reward–belonged to our mother.
She was literally our first teacher. She was the first one who taught me not only to read but also to appreciate stories. I remember before my brother and I would go to sleep, she would tell us tales of Jack and the Beanstalk, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Rapunzel, to name a few. We hardly had any books then, but we were filled with so much learning. She was always patient, even when she’s heavy with third child, to answer my questions even when it’s already midnight.
My parents brought me nursery rhymes and children’s tapes, which I would play over and over, and never did my mom interfere. I have a huge feeling it got on her nerves several times, but then she simply allowed me to immerse myself to more stories, to rhymes, and eventually to poetry.
We were fortunate enough to be sent to a school that gave away books before classes started, and my mother would try her darn best to buy them for us so we could spend all summer flipping through them. And so even before June came, I’d already read them from cover to cover.
She implemented no TV hours on me from grade 1 until grade 4–and she repeated that to my siblings. It simply meant when the clock hand turned seven, I should be on the table, reading all my notes and making my assignments. By 9, she would be sitting across me, reading the same books and checking the same notes. Then, she would quiz me, ask me all the questions the answers of which I should already know if I studied really well. As if these weren’t enough, she would create quizzes and long exams written in yellow paper to prepare me for periodicals.
It wasn’t really easy. For four painstaking years, I cried buckets of tears, especially when it came to math. And yes, there were times when I wished I would already be in grade 5 so she’d stop torturing me. But now, more than 10 years later, I suddenly missed it.
My mother was one of our greatest cheerers. She listened attentively when I recited to them my first-ever poem about farm animals. She scanned through “tabloids” I made when I was in elementary and was very proud when I learned how to use the typewriter at grade 5. And she never discouraged me to go on and finish college even if I was disheartened, flanking a number of my major subjects.
She was there when my brother felt so down and lost when he was in high school, when he had to battle it out with a few people who didn’t believe in him, including a teacher. When my sister was in nursery, my mother waited for her every day; and she relearned her ABCs, numbers, and shapes because she felt her third child was lagging behind.
I had not given her anything last Mother’s Day except for a dinner treat not because I forgot or I didn’t want to. I just wanted to offer her the best. And perhaps letting the entire world know how much she worked hard to make us learned and refined individuals is the most ideal.
We love you, Ma!