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In My Eyes

By Edward Antonio

Sometimes, lessons learned in high school books are worth applying.

There is a story about a very little girl named Djeow Seow who was so small his king father often neglected her. Her other brothers and sisters were his father’s apples of his eyes, so she would often eat and play alone. But one day, some wicked conspirators toppled the king and imprisoned him. The story went on to say that in the end, the little girl saved his father and helped him regain the throne.

Since then, she had become his co-ruler.

There goes a little story, fellas, about a little girl who did great things.

The lesson is clear: do not underestimate anybody, anyone, whether great or small.

Then, there goes the story of another little girl.

Her name is Joyce.

I first saw her some 12 years ago—small, frail; she looked sickly. I thought she would not survive the rigors of high school or college life.

In the December 2003 Regional Schools Press Conference, Joyce, then Grade 6, stunned her teachers when she won in Editorial Writing (Filipino) and cruised herself to the national finals in Sta. Cruz, Laguna.

I was then the school paper adviser for both English and Filipino, fellas, and after the contest, I immediately recruited her to my team once she graduated in elementary. When she came to First Year, she joined my Saturday and Sunday training-workshops. She had a very practical way of thinking, analyzing and finding solutions to problems in her writings.

In the 2004 Ilocos Sur Division Schools Press Conference (DSPC), she won the gold which was unprecedented for a First Year student competing against the best editorial writers in the province. The following year until she graduated, she would win the prestigious Individual Highest Pointer (IHP) award two times, went to the regional level and won. She was instrumental in helping our school win its 8th division presscon title.

All throughout her achievements, she had four solid people behind her training – Principal Giovanni Velasco (who had since transferred to Ilocos Sur National High School in 2008), her parents, me and God.

Dr. Velasco always trusted me to train all contestants, fellas, and no one else. His favorite quote was: “Why fix the ship if ain’t broke?” Her parents trusted me. And God was between us.

But something happened when she was about to graduate.

She became the object of hatred by some teachers when, in the 2007 DSPC, she was accused of loyalty to me by writing my name as her coach in her winning events (editorial writing, news writing and copyreading/headline writing). Of course, I was his trainer and coach.

One of the chaperon Filipino teachers, a short, high-blooded, stout and panggalog old teacher said she looked like a “tanga” when Joyce and her fellow Filipino writers wrote my name as their coach. She said, it was she who accompanied and chaperoned them, so, she should have been their official coach!

But I was their trainer-coach throughout the years.  Naturally, I accompanied them to stage to get their medals because it was my name called upon as coach by the emcees. Sensing that she was fuming mad, I approached the emcees and requested them to call on her as the “coach” of some of my winning students.

But that did not appease Ma’am Panggalog. She reported the matter to her newly-promoted head teacher in Filipino who “sued” me to the principal’s office for “usurping” their rightful honor as coach! And so I was vilified as if I was an honor-grabber.

In the end, much to my refusal, I suggested that they train their own Filipino contestants. The new head teacher, thinking probably she had more power than anybody else in school, called on Joyce and gave her a spanking sermon in front of many teachers. The frail, little girl cried. After giving many honors to the school (she was not only a good writer but also a very good mathematician), all she received before graduation was humiliation from the people who were supposed to be their second parents and models of goodness in thought, words and deeds.

We never became a division champion again since then, fellas, although my English team have been doing good in the stat points (the points in English and Filipino are added to deter-mine the school rankings). There was even a time their Filipino individual team got only 1 point, dragging our school rank down to 5th!

But Dr. Velasco was no longer around to turn matters straight. Ma’am Head Teacher was so powerful she was able to rock the press team boat that it sank.

You may ask: What did the new principal do, fellas?

None.

He was simply outpowered.

What did I do? I reported the matter to her mother, a teacher, who almost played rambo in school. Only cooler heads prevented her from doing so. I convinced my new principal to do this and that, which he did. But Ma’am Filipino Head teacher was more powerful than him! Since then, that big wall built by Ma’am Panggalog and her newly-promoted head just got higher.

And so, Joyce, although she brought a lot of honours to the school, graduated with a broken heart. She went on to take up accounting and in October 2012, she texted me to say she had passed her CPA exams. She first worked at a prestigious Makati-based accounting firm then, just recently, she was able to join Purefoods. In a short while, she would be greater than me, greater than the teachers who oppressed her.

Such is the story of this little girl, fellas.

They are the hope of the Fatherland and teachers should treat them as such.#