The Mentor Who Changed My Life

Image of Gab smiling and text.

by Charles Gabriel Allana

Mentoring is an effective method of helping inexperienced individuals develop and progress in their life.
Merriam Webster dictionary defines mentor as a trusted counsellor or guide. Who helps and guides another individual’s development.
This two verses also define mentoring:
Proverbs 27:17 iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
Romans 15:14 I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, knowledge and competent to instruct one another.
Now let’s define a special kind of mentoring. Biblical mentoring, a kind of mentoring that entails more than passing on knowledge about God. It involves showing people how to love and serve God. This is the kind of mentoring that changed my life.
Before, I was the kind of teenager who’s selfish, arrogant, and playful. My early days were full of negativity. But that changed when I joined Christ the True Foundation (CTF).
Limwell Rodil, our church drummer, became my mentor. He was a generous, proactive, responsible, and a humble person. He taught me how to speak with humility and how to react to people who discriminated me.
We had a once a week studying of the word of God and once a month evaluation of our progress. He told me to focus on my ability and skills rather than my impairment. He boosted my self-confidence, He was always there to guide me in all aspects of life.
He introduced me to the church worship team where I learned how to interact and work with other people. Bro. Limwell saw a potential in me as a leader. He encouraged me to stay in the worship team.
After a few years, the technical team needed a new member and I volunteered to be part of it. I was not confident enough about my capabilities but he supported me. Bro. Limwell taught me how to dream and make those dreams come true.
With his mentorship, he made me become the best version of myself. He is the reason why I keep trying no matter how many times I failed. With this I am truly grateful for this mentor who changed my life.

The Values My Teacher Taught Me

Image of Ms. Joyce smiling and text.

by Joyce Ann Vivas

A quote says, “The aim of education is the knowledge, not of facts but of values.” This was the lesson I’ve learned from the teacher who changed my life.
It was on my second year high-school when I met this teacher, Mrs. Liwanag she was my Values Education teacher then. That time I was wondering if she was really fit to be my teacher in that subject because of how she approached me in class.
I remembered how she made fun of me in front of my classmates whenever she gives her activities. Mrs. Liwanag used to give us drawing activities. I know I should not exclude myself and not do them so I really try my best to accomplish the task. But instead of being considerate because of my condition, she made fun of my work in front of my classmates.
Another instance was when we had our major examination. The school assigned two faculty members to see the class during the exam. One time Mrs. Liwanag together with her co-teacher Ms. Gallanoza handled our class. Ms. Gallanoza showed her sympathy towards me and offered to dictate what is written on the questionnaire. But Mrs. Liwanag argued with her and told her that this was not part of their work.
That moment I can’t stop my tears from falling and at the back of my mind I questioned her. Yes, it was not part of her work and she will not be compensated, but does that mean she will not care for her students? I cannot understand why is it so hard for her to give me her consideration.
However, those circumstances didn’t lessen my respect for her and even strived harder to show her that I’m differently able but that didn’t mean that I’m not entitled for an equal opportunity for education.
There was a saying that you can’t please everybody so don’t expect that everybody will sympathize with your situation.
So instead of using my energy in dwelling with this unwanted circumstances, I use this life events and challenge myself to prove to others that the most significant values in life is not the one that is taught in school, it’s the values that you learn and apply with your approach towards life.

A Gatekeeper Who Directed Me to Finest Roads Of Life

Image of Mr. Justin smiling and text.

by John Sebastian Procoro Masbad

Being a school teacher is a great and critical profession. They have the ability to influence, lead the next generation’s literacy rate, and shape the mind of an innocent child. I naturally disregard annoying and exasperating teachers. We have our own favorite teacher and let me share you my special teacher — Mr. Touch.

Mr. Touch was my class adviser in elementary. Most of the time, people see him as an academic staff that only shares his knowledge inside the classroom, but for me, I treated him as a closest buddy inside and outside the learning area.

He introduced me to the different indoor games for the blind. The first one was the chess for the blind which was the first time that I played it with him as an opponent. I enjoyed mastering it until I joined a simple tournament in Phil Sports Arena.

Scrabble is another thing that he introduced to me which I also played with him. Until now, scrabble and chess for the blind is one of the games I play the most.

He is also a non-bookish-type of teacher. He was able to explain every lesson in a simplest way based on his collective knowledge.

He helped me to contact American institutions for the blind to receive free braille subscriptions of Reader’s Digest, Science News Weekly, The washington Post, The Popular Mechanics and PC World.

Academic factor in studying is only a tip of the iceberg of a childhood learning. Mr. Touch helped me to live with confidence especially when he encouraged me to join in the different outdoor and indoor tournaments. I can never forget such volleyball, tennis, showdown and goalball for the blind.

I always remember when he told me some piece of advice: “You must have a professional career in life but you have always to keep in mind the common sense of everything.” That is my motivation in heading up to make a blog site that will explain the reasons behind the product designs and its features.

Yes, Mr. Touch did not turned my blindness in to complete sight, but he became a gatekeeper who directed me to finest roads Of life and changed my life by helping me to make it colorful through wisdom, fun and excitement. I am not able to see the things afar, but I am able to touch, feel, perceive and think everything through my being.

A Teacher Who Learned a Lesson

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by Nerikka Escario

They say that Experience is the best teacher. Well, I guess I have to say that teachers can also learn from experience. Do you want to know how?

It was my prelim examination on my third year college, when my vision started to deteriorate, and the ophthalmologist advised me to take a rest for a month. Because of that, I was not able to take my exams and I asked the help of my classmates to request my professors to give me a special examination on my behalf. I really thought that everything would be alright, but I was wrong.

It was the day of our intramurals, and I expected all of my professors have already considered giving me a special exam… except for one. Mrs. Ramos, a professor on one of my major subjects, Assessment I, refused to accommodate the consideration I requested for.

I went to her and personally asked her in a polite manner, “Ma’am, would you reconsider giving me a special exam?”

Then she answered like a wicked witch who was casting a spell on me, “Hindi Ikaw ang masusunod, ako ang teacher at estudyante ka lang!”

I was so shocked of her reaction, and I did not have a chance to defend myself. I was humiliated in front of my classmates and the only thing I did was to cry.

But because of what happened, I did not stop asking her to give me exam. I was determined to take exam, and I never got tired of pursuing her, until she would finally say yes to me.

After 4 months of convincing and chasing her, she finally gave me a special exam. That time, she approached me with kindness, and even asked apologies for what she told me and how she treated me then. She explained to me that it was her first time to handle student with disability like me, and she had no idea on how to assist me.

Through that encounter, my teacher gave me the worst yet best experience that I will never forget. In contrast, my teacher also learned a lesson from me, the awareness and the willingness to provide considerations possible to those who’s in need of it.

Remember that learning is not just for students, but for teachers as well. It should be a continuous and a two-way process to practice inclusion and also to build an harmonious classroom relationship.

Someone Who Believed in Me

Image contain Ms. Michelle and text.

Teachers could influence their students in countless ways. They may either bring a positive effect or a negative effect on them.

Even at a very young age, it was evident that I already had the passion and inclination in music. I had been dreaming to become a singer since then.

My mom attempted to enroll me in some music schools several times and she also tried to hire a voice teacher who could train me to become a better singer. To no luck, those schools and teachers my mom approached were not ready to accept a blind student in the class, not even for a one on one session.

That did not stop me from performing.

In search of a mentor

I still participated in different competitions and other opportunities where I can show my talent. A part of me knew that it wasn’t enough. I knew that I could do better if someone who has the expertise would willingly share his knowledge with me.

Until that time came when I had another opportunity to join a competition for vocal solo and I was chosen as the representative of our school. Once again, my mom tried to look for a voice coach who would help me prepare for the competition.

And once again, we failed.

So even without having a coach, I still decided to join the competition. Fortunately, I won in the first round but then, I did not make it to the next level of the competition. That moment, I cried so hard. I felt like I almost want to stop singing. I told my mom that If only there would be at least one teacher who would take the time to attend to my needs. Someone who has the willingness to teach blind people like me, I will really give my best and prove that I can do better than what they were expecting of me.

A teacher who took a chance

Two years later, I was blessed to have the opportunity to participate in a training program for the youth servants of our parish. That was when I met my very first voice teacher, Professor Armin Comon.

When I introduced myself to him, I found out that he wasn’t aware of my blindness. Later on, I asked him if it would be fine with him having a blind student in his class. I was really surprised by his answer. He said, “It’s okay. That wouldn’t be a problem. You may be blind but you have the talent and most importantly, you know how to listen. Your listening skills will be your greatest advantage in this class.”

That was the first time I heard a voice teacher who showed his willingness to teach a blind student. And he has proven it. He patiently taught me in every session. He truly inspired me to keep on singing. He even told me before the training ends that he was looking forward to seeing me as a successful singer someday.

Eleven years after, I can say that the goal that my teacher and I had was fulfilled. I am now a part of different performing groups, not only of Bulacan, but in other parts of the country. I also received several awards and had won in different competitions as a solo performer. And the best thing that happened was that experience brought a different perspective in other music teachers’ point of view of having a blind student.

At first, I was just asking for only one teacher who would find time to teach me but now I have many of them. Now I’m sharing the knowledge I learned from my mentors to the new members of our groups and with the other musicians I meet as I go on with my journey.

A teacher who believed in me

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Have you ever felt like you don’t belong in a certain place? Or ever doubted your abilities because of how society sees you?

I have, but that changed when I met her. The woman who believed in me more than I believe in myself.

It was the first day of my class in high school. I was in the faculty room, talking with my teachers about some arrangements during the class. They asked me how I read and write, how I answer my exams before, and how I take notes. I explained everything to them but they still seem to hesitate in accepting me.

They told me that they were not ready to accept students with visual impairment and that I should go to a school for the blind. I considered the idea but those schools are not accessible for me in terms of transportation. They kept on explaining why they cannot accept me.

I was about to just leave and let things that way when another teacher joined the conversation. She told the other teachers that she is willing to accommodate me in her class since she was also teaching first-year students. One thing that stuck in my mind was when she said that she believes in me.

The idea of someone, who doesn’t even know my name, believing in me made me so happy. She might have seen the determination in my eyes and the eagerness in my face to be accepted. Because of her, my exciting high school life began.

A Thank You

Three years later, there was a card-making contest in our school. As a kid, I love making cards for my loved ones but my self-doubt started crawling in again.

What if they won’t accept my entry because of my impairment? What if my card would be the ugliest card in the contest?

I did my best to stop the negativity in me. I inhaled, exhaled, and had a little pep talk with myself. Why do I keep doing this? Why can’t I just believe in my capabilities for once? With all my questions, the most important one eventually had to be answered: Who am I writing to, anyway?

The memory of my first-day high came and that’s when I decided–I will write this letter to the person who taught me how to believe in myself.

I picked up a piece of pink colored paper from a pile of art materials, got my pen from one of the pockets of my backpack, and started writing, “To my dearest teacher…”

The day of the awarding ceremony came. I was nervous but at the same time excited. I was contented just to be able to make the card. All I wanted was to give it to her. I was ecstatic when I learned that I got the third-place! I didn’t waste any time and gave that same card to my dearest teacher. The smile in her face was worth my every effort. I was happy to be able to appreciate the teacher who changed my life in my own simple way.

extraordinary blessing to be cherish

Image of Ms. Yvette smiling and text.

Short-tempered, uncautious of the words coming out of my mouth, and immediately reacting to everything with defensive or offensive words. These describe who I was before knowing him, my mentor. A Korean Pastor and a founder of an organization that ministers Filipino blind.

Finding a Blessing

“ I want to be a blessing to everybody, not a burden.” These were his answer when I asked him why his name is Blessing. Meeting and knowing someone like him was really a blessing for me! Staying in their ministry for a year had changed me. My knowledge and understanding about the Word of God were broadened and deepened. I was really amazed because of his heart and dedication in helping Filipino blind to become productive and successful.

Being in his position and situation, he can’t avoid receiving negative comments and sometimes disrespectful behavior from other people. Observing him on how he handles these, I can’t help but ask why he keeps calm, why he speaks only a few words instead of defending and explaining himself. These questions came popping out in my mind every time he’s in a difficult situation but these remained unspoken until I had a short but life-changing conversation with him.

Becoming a Blessing

It was during a time when I had conflicts with my co-blind. Feeling depressed and angry, I went to him and told about it. After hearing all my sentiments and offensive words to the person whom I had a conflict with, He advised,”Be calm. Give time and let Jesus Christ work in you. In your heart.”

Upon hearing these, I suddenly kept quiet and waited for his next words. He continued saying, ”All those reactions coming from you right now are worldly behavior. If all of us will be like this, we won’t be honoring God. We should live as Jesus Christ did to the best that we can. If you don’t, you’ll worsen the situation. Keeping quiet doesn’t mean defeat, mostly you win.”

From that time, I became aware and I understood why he kept calm whenever he’s criticized and attacked. No need to be always defensive. No need to be offensive and react to every negative thing and words from other people.

Truly, my mentor is a blessing not just by name but also by deed.

My Most Treasured Rosary

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It is undeniable that here in our country, we give so much importance to education. Our parents would always remind us how finishing school will have a great impact on our future. Of course, one of the important factors of a great education is the teacher. I’m sure that everyone here has their own story about their teachers, but for now, let me share mine.

In my early years as a student, I’m not really the type who actively participates in a class discussion. I just simply went to school for the sake of just being in school. It’s also a normal scene for me seeing my adviser having favorites in our class. And most of the time, it’s because of their overly-friendly parents who seemed giving gifts to our class adviser were a part of their monthly budget. But this all change in my 4th grade, when I met Ms. Rosario Rivera, our class adviser. At first, I thought she’s no different from the others until one day, she did something that those teachers never did. She called out my name, and asked my idea about the topic that we were discussing. Maybe you’re wondering what’s so special about it, but for me, this is something new. Aside from the fact that most of the known smart kids in our class had already given their answers, I’m already used to of being unnoticed so her action really took me by surprise. It made me feel that finally, a teacher saw me as one of her students and not just a part of her class. Shyly, I stood up and told her my answer. After hearing my thoughts, she complimented me and told the class that it was the answer that she’d been looking for. It was the first time that I had been acknowledged in my class and it felt remarkable. After that incident, I became more active in our class and gave more focus on my studies.

Looking back, I realized that Ms. Rivera had not only affected me on that day but from that day onwards. Just like her name “Rosario”, she has been like a rosary to me that guides me. If not for her, maybe I’m still the same timid girl that I used to be. Maybe I’m still afraid of trusting myself. Maybe I’m not even here to where I am now. That’s why I’m so thankful to her. Thankful for her being different. Thankful for her helping me see my abilities and lastly, thankful for her being an exceptional teacher of mine.

My Small & Wengcredible Teacher

Image of Mr. Remir and Ms. Rowena

Charles F. Glassman once said, “A genuine teacher does not seek to impress you with their greatness, but instead to impress upon you that you possess the skills to discover your own”

Amidst the excitement and shrills of the crowd, this thought came to mind.

I was inside a jam-packed auditorium, not for anything else, but to watch the ALTA Media Icon Awards – the awarding of the students’ choice personalities in the field of television, radio, movies, social media, and music, featuring four short life documentaries, which included mine.

Just before my story was played on the video wall, one of the awardees for tv, dedicated his trophy to all the teachers. It was World Teacher’s Day that Friday. Then, it dawned me…

Oh my…. How could I ever forget the teacher who changed my life? The same person why my story is being featured that time!

Rowena Gregorio-Morta, now concurrent Communication Arts Department head and ALTACOMM Manager, wasn’t just an ordinary teacher to me. She was first my Editor-in-Chief when I joined the student publication. The same person who gave me the baptism of fire to write sports – where I was not good at, back in High School campus journalism. How could I forget it – running after the varsity team, waking up early in the morning to jog with them. My sports assignment actually made me sign up for the track and field team.

Thanks to the small but terrible Wengkie, as we fondly call her, the four sports articles she gave me and two news beat, became my stepping stone to broaden my writing. The next time I knew, I was already doing more than half of the sports page, with some news and feature write-ups in my first two semesters in college.

When she graduated that school year, I found myself appointed by the student publication adviser as Weng’s replacement as EIC for the next three school terms.

But it wasn’t the last time she would guide me. On my sophomore, she became the student publication adviser. And under her supervision, we were able to make some layout changes and active campus journalism. Not only that, I remember then Ms. Gregorio, assigning to me beats for “S – The Southpaper”, the community newspaper owned by the school president where she mans the desk. She was also instrumental in my Philippine Daily Inquirer stint Metro page, where I had the privileged to cover the Vizconde Massacre trial case.

Wengkie also became my teacher in several major subjects – like Script Writing, Communication Research, and more.

The funny, yet unforgettable memory I had with her, however, was not about academics, campus journalism, or our part-time newspaper work. It happened in my very first NCAA coverage with her in July of 1994.

How could anyone miss that scene, when after the coverage, we, along five others, went window-shopping from Araneta Coliseum to Alimall to SM Cubao – and for some reason, she with three other senior staff, intentionally or unintentionally left me and two other junior reporters, one after the other. And just like a lost sheep for the first time in an unfamiliar place. I had to learn how to go home on my own from Cubao to Las Piñas through the largest parking lot in the country – traffic-congested EDSA!

Thanks again to Ma’am Gregorio. And because she meant so much to me as a friend and teacher – I formally made our ties closer when I made her godmother to my eldest son. And what is the best place to do the reception? SM Cubao, of course – where she left but “taught” me to commute six cities away from Las Piñas!

What an odd time to be reminded of this… The Teacher who changed my life… Thank you Wengkie!

Prof. Miranda, my Chemistry Professor

college graduation photo of Carol Catacutan

It was 9:30 Am and I am 30 minutes early for my Chemistry class. I was already a graduating student of AB European languages from the University of the Philippines but I needed to complete my general education subjects in Science.

I did not go straight to my classroom on the second floor. Instead, I went straight to Prof. Bienvenido Miranda’s room on the ground floor of the Science Faculty Center.

One step ahead

Prof Miranda, already in his late 60s, was already in his room waiting for me. His wife, also a UP Professor, readily assisted me and led me to a chair. After I was comfortably seated, Prof. Miranda led my hand to touch several steel wires and different sizes of plastic balls arranged on top of a wooden board. He carefully led my hand to touch each set of plastic balls connected by wires. In between the plastic balls were lumps of cotton. The balls, wires, and cotton represent the four patterns of electron configuration namely S, P, D, and F. At the center of the board was the biggest ball representing the nucleus of an atom. Around the nucleus were smaller balls representing the protons and the same number of still smaller balls represent the electrons.

As my fingers trailed on the different plastic balls, Prof. Miranda patiently showed me the different patterns on how the electrons were arranged around the nucleus while the cotton represent the energy that binds one electron to another. He patiently showed me the S pattern, the P, Pattern, the D pattern and finally, the F pattern. All the electron configuration models were especially designed and customized for me by Prof. Miranda.

At 10:00 AM, my best friend, Jessica, picked me up from Prof. Miranda’s office and we went upstairs to our Chemistry class where we sat at the back. Minutes after, Prof. Miranda arrived in our room and started his lecture on the four types of electron configuration. As he pointed at every single pattern on the board, I already have the images inside my head. I need not strain my neck to look at the board because my eyes would not see them anyway. Only my hands can read the drawings because I’m totally blind.

Prof. Miranda went out of his way to teach me chemistry in a manner that I would understand. He invested an additional 30 minutes for each class just to show me in tactile form the various protons, neutrons and electrons of an atom. He did not provide me with the extra hours because the Science Department ordered him to do so. He did not spend extra time and money to construct all the models just because he had plenty of time to waste. Prof. Miranda went out of his way to ensure that a blind person would understand Chemistry because he wanted his students to learn.

Going an extra mile

On our mid-term exam, I was instructed to take my exam in Prof. Miranda’s room. Prof. Miranda prepared a pen and blue book for me. The blue book is laid on a wooden board with spikes on either side. Across the board was a plastic strip with two holes at either end for the spikes to pass through. As I move the plastic strip downward from spike to spike, the strip corresponds to every line on the blue book. Then, I took the pen. Prof. Miranda’s wife started reading the test questions to me. After each question, I wrote my answer on the blue book using a pen. As I write the letters, I trail my left hand on the plastic strip to ensure that my writing remains on a straight line. After one and a half hours, I finished my mid-term exam.

On the next meeting, Prof. Miranda announced the results of the mid-term exam. He said that the top scorer got 100 points. Oohs and Ahs filled the room. Then Prof. Miranda called Miss Catacutan. Everybody looked around, trying to identify who that was. I timidly stood up and Prof. Miranda said that I was the top scorer. At the end of the semester, I got a flat 1 for my Chemistry subject not because I’m a science genius but because of a teacher, a Prof. Miranda who embraced me as his student—not a student with limitation but as a person with potential.