A hard-working person. My mum took care of all six of us while my father was at work. Although there were six of us, my mum made sure that our house was always clean; our clothes were tidy! My mum would check if we all brushed our teeth and washed our hair. She made sure to fix our hair with Barrettes and ribbons before going to school – all five girls. Every meal, my mum cooked great food for us. She planned our daily meals and made sure that we ate a balanced diet. I hated vegetables, but she continued to encourage us to eat them. My siblings and I did not realize until we became adults that our mum never liked vegetables herself! My mum did not finish a university degree, so she made sure that it will not happen to her children. She and my father valued education so much. They said, “we can not give you any material inheritance, but a great education that will equip you for life.”All of us went to schools that were considered competitive in our city. Our parents moved mountains to send us to private schools from primary grade through university.
My first teacher – My Aunt
Being in a family with six children who are either one or two years apart, my mother was very busy tending to all our needs. My mom’s sister was a first-grade teacher. When I was five, she offered to take me with her so I can join her class just as a visitor. This arrangement meant I would be in a city four hours away from home. Initially, I was scared to be away from my family. However, I felt safe being with my aunt. I went to school with her every day. She allowed me to engage in all the activities her class was doing. On weekends, she would read stories and fables to me and her children. I enjoyed listening to those stories. This experience introduced me to books and the love of reading. After school, I would initiate to practice my writing. She would look at my work, and give me affirmations. With learning not imposed upon me, school work was fun for me. I also liked helping her when she was cooking for dinner. She trusted me to use some kitchen materials, but made sure that I knew how to use them; this was my first learning about fractions and estimations. Rich with everyday experiences, I managed to do well in school. My aunt decided to include me officially in the grade one list. My everyday experiences at school and in my aunt’s home made a positive impact on my outlook on learning.
My Great Uncle
My paternal grand father had a brother who was a bachelor. We called him, Kuya Paquito. Every day, he would stop by our house to pick-up the newspaper that my grandfather finished reading. Kuya Paquito would always find time to chat with me and my siblings about school. He also liked telling us stories about his childhood, especially about the war. His tales always fascinated me as a child. He always answered my questions truthfully within what a young mind could grasp. There were school projects that were difficult to me, and he was the one who patiently helped me, including sewing! I also watched him how he lived an entirely different, but interesting life. In the summer, he would build our clubhouse made of real constructions materials. He would come to visit us in our clubhouse and give us suggestions on what else we can add to it. Kuya Paquito lived with his sister who was a spinster. They both did not choose to take public transportation when going to places. They walked a lot! My great uncle made his slippers out of materials that he found. He ate mainly vegetables and fruits. When he saw things that we were about to throw away, he would pick them up and remind us gently not to be wasteful. He then would fix these things and put them into proper use. I learned a lot about fruit trees from him when he talked about the trees in our orchard. I even knew how to count the age of the tree! The times Kuya Paquito spent with me made me feel special. I learned many life experiences from him, even the frugal use of resources. The memories I had with my great uncle reminded me of my childhood days.
My First Sister
“She is the tough one!” That is what my siblings and I thought. Being the first born in the family, she was always the responsible one. She monitored our school achievements and guided us in the schools where we should apply for in college. As teenagers, she reminded us of the friends we chose, afraid that we would be influenced by other people to do unacceptable things. My first sister was the one who would tell us off when we made insensible decisions. In fact, if any of us got into a silly situation, my mum would say, “You would be in trouble with your “Ate” (meaning big sister). My Ate was a role model to all of us. She did well at school and later on, as she started working. People always mistook her for my mother because she was always there for me, and until now that I have a twenty-year-old daughter, she continues to be around especially when I need her. I do still get “told off” and I know why, she still cares for me.
My Grade 6 Social Studies Teacher
During my time, I was always the youngest in my class since I started early at school. Being young means, emotionally, I also behaved quite immaturely compared to my peers. When the girls in class were beginning to take care of their hair, care about the length of their skirts and talk about boys, I still wanted to play hopscotch and skipping rope. During break times, I ended chatting with my homeroom teacher, Mrs. Altamirano, who was my Social Studies teacher as well. My teacher talked to me about her children, her experiences when she first started teaching (that year, she was about to retire) and the things we learned in class. She also asked me questions about myself, my family and the things that I liked. I felt a sense of warmth and connection with her. When we finished sixth grade, it was a tradition at our school to have a graduation. My teacher gave presents to every child in her homeroom class – all thirty or so of us. Each one received a different present. I thought, she must have thought what we all liked. I still remember the look of the jelly pink purse she gave me. I still remember the hugs and pats on the head during our casual chats. I still miss her!
All these important people have made a mark in my life in one way or another. They have influenced my values, way of thinking and the choices I make now as an adult. My mother has imprinted in my mind how to be a nurturing mother. Being a single parent, the resilience I have seen from my mother inspired me to raise my child even in the midst of adversity. The experiences I had with my aunt, great uncle and teacher have shaped the way I relate to children – how I engage in meaningful and sincere conversations with my students now. My sister, who have taught me to be persistent in my life goals. These individuals have made me the whole person that I am now.