In Remembrance Of Manay Edna
(click photo to view Teachers’ Gallery)
They were Manay Edna’s faithful daily companions in her work as a teacher to our young Tagabulans- her teaching colleagues in the Bulan North Central School. We visited them one day in their school which is just across the street where our Manay Edna had lived.
Listening to their stories (of how they have reacted upon hearing what happened to their beloved co-teacher with whom they were working and exchanging jokes just 4 or 5 days ago) and recollections about Manay Edna and also their concerns as teachers made me feel so much in touch with the noblest und human side of Bulan. In truth, at this very moment I’d wished that all the people of Bulan were teachers. I was awed at how they were carefully attending to their newly-organized and very modest library, with meager quantity of books and materials- and how proud they were with the computer they have with Internet connection.
This moment was a revelation for me of how the world is really unequal or unfair. I mean the unequal distribution of resources, materials, wealth and opportunities that are in this planet Earth: One computer and only a handful of reference books for the whole school while I have in my high-tech home office four computers with router and wireless Internet with complete peripheries. And books? I have a bigger library than this school, with many other books already shipped home and still boxes of books and magazines at the cellar waiting for the verdict- be shipped or be given away.
Abundant in materials, yet I felt humbly poor in the presence of Manay Edna’s co- teachers for I didn’t have their feeling of excitement over such a modest number of office materials-and their desire to have a better library with more books. I”ve sensed the opposite trend in me which is dismantling my library, disposing away my books and other materials I now consider more as a burden- a burden?, indeed a shameful thought in front of these teachers; and of how living in a materially rich society can rob you of your senses for the simplest things and disconnects you from your past, although I thought that I had never changed. But surely, time and circumstance can change your perception without you even noticing it.
Be that as it may. However, this meeting with the teachers reminded me of one of the best moments in my elementary years- the distribution of new books at the beginning of each school year, how I carried them home with such care and excitement and how Manay Edna would help me cover each book with kartolina or even pages of her of old magazines. I still recall vividly these two favorite books in Grade 2 under Mrs. Britanico- WeWork And Play and Fun At Home And Away.
Those were indeed happy years of learning to read and write in Bulan. Thus, this meeting with the teachers reminded me of my beginning, of the virtue of simplicity, perseverance and the importance to have a dream that propels your life which in turn helps you endure the hardship and kakulangan (material deficiency) that a simple life brings with it. For although we tend to have a romantic understanding of a simple life, it is not that simple to be a teacher if you have children to feed and send to school while you receive a meager salary, and life is surely not easy to be one among the eight children of a teacher.
But over and above these life’s situations, it is of remaining human and dignified that counts in the end in the face of poverty- or even richness, and the quality of your person and the memories you left to the people you have known the time when you were still part of the rhythm of life. The memories and retrospection I’ve heard from Manay Edna’s co-teachers (and countless pupils!) have shown me how my sister has been loved and treasured. For like them, my sister Edna also lived a very simple life.
Yes, life goes on in Canipaan if you would just look at the faces of Manay Edna’s co-teachers- the faces of Hope.