One of the best decisions I ever made in life was to take up English Language Teaching. Having done so, I got the most splendid opportunity to learn about mentoring, the intricacies of the English language and literature, and the challenges of teaching. To a great extent this has done me good...the formation under the best teacher training institution in the Philippines prepared me not only for the teaching profession but also for LIFE.
Exploring Thailand for a weeklong holiday with a visiting former PNU-AC SSG pal Joe Mar Quicos last December of 2011, I learned of the horrible flooding that hit PNU Agusan Campus and the rest of Agusan del Sur province. Over lunch at Siam Paragon he went on to relate to me the concerted effort the Philippine Normal University-Agusan Campus faculty, staff, and students from past to present did to address the crisis situation. An account opened for donations by generous people to be sent and a group of people organized to respond to the crisis by saving things here and there all in the spirit of volunteerism. A magnificent tapestry of the PNU-AC family united under pressure. The aftermath of the flood in particular the extent of damage it brought to the university facilities, I found heart wrenching. Much was lost in that flood. Later that week while travelling down PNU-AC memory lane with my best friend Leilane Manpatilan, she said, “In life cleansing comes every now and then and when it does it can be horrifying at times.” However, we both went on to agree to look at that calamity as a flooding much like a cleansing that had to take place in order for some wonderful, exciting, and new possibilities in PNU-AC to have space.
Our dearest Alma Mater had been tested repeatedly since its year of foundation, through transition whenever it passes from one leadership hand to another, through cuts in academic and administrative budgets brought on by economic constraints in Government funding, through setbacks whenever some institutional blue prints do not work out as anticipated. Most of all there is that recurring test when her graduates move on to the ever evolving teaching field in the Philippines and abroad. On the latter I’d like to go a bit cheeky by pointing out that PNU-AC has done great having produced globe-trotting educators who many are at the top of their craft like Lorenzo Caballes and Leilane Manpatilan in Thailand, Joe Mar Quicos in Indonesia, Ruby Ann Magat in Mexico, Joash Ramoran in Canada, Arriane Balinton and Shilamae Rio in China to name a few. They are PNU-AC graduates who, while carving a niche for their dreams at their best, have put our Alma Mater’s name on different parts of the globe.
What I have pointed above brings to mind that for many of us, the multi-faceted journey as a teacher would never have been possible without those cosy four walled classrooms in the AA building and in the Annex rooms, with wooden chairs well worn from having served many fidgety students, the chalk boards witnesses to our mumblings sometimes tremblings, when it would happen to be a Dr. Langanlangan class, for she had no room for mediocre efforts from students in her classroom. Mind you, I am writing this down with tongue in cheek. With fondness I recall how we did our best making good use of what the university had to offer in terms of our formation and development as future teachers for instance making that long climb up the concrete stairs when approaching the library from the science laboratory or that muddy walk on rainy days when approaching it from the Performing Arts and Academic Centre. And how we groped for words and ideas to convey that we listened, we read, we researched, we analyzed, we weighed, and with much toiling of the mind we understood in spite of the seemingly lack of focus and dedication on our part including our information overload.
Philippine Normal University-Agusan at the moment is under the leadership of Dr. Adelyne Costelo-Abrea. And by God, finally our dear Alma Mater is in the best hands. A few years back, during Dr Nilo Rosas’ time as president of the PNU system, I was asked by him to share a comparison contrast ranking of the candidates for PNU-AC executive director position at that time. I felt humbled by such a request and I found it too daunting believing myself to small for the said task. After several meetings with him, I handed in my viewpoints to the best of my ability. While in his car, I said on hindsight, “If Dr. Adelyne Costelo-Abrea were one of the candidates, I will not hesitate to cast in my vote for her...she will definitely shape the Executive Director position into what it should be and then hone it into something more splendidly.”
Walking in and out of rooms and checking programs and facilities here in Birmingham University, I make a 360 degrees turn in the middle of the university square. Feeling the wooden statue for the college of education with hands that have turned cold like blocks of ice caused by the coldest summer in England to date, I stare in wonder at the arresting aura of the place, the magic of being here, and with a silken trail of sighs I thank God for that 4 years that I studied in PNU-AC. A blessed turning point in my life one sentiment I believe I share with many. Those wondrous years gave me the courage to brave life odds and have brought me here, the English Literature class with Dr. Costelo-Abrea some sort of a foreshadowing. Wishing every happiness for my beloved mentors and success for my fellow PNUans, I write this open letter with the best of hopes for my dear Alma Mater as a centre of excellence for teaching and learning.
Jofabelle Mae L. Jalalon graduated CUM LAUDE at the Philippine Normal University - Agusan Campus with a BSE - English degree. She was the first SSG President from the Agusan branch to become a PNU STUDENT REGENT.
Aside from being a prolific writer and an eloquent speaker, Fabelle who has just moved to UNITED KINGDOM, is also musically gifted and an Arts and Literature enthusiast.
Thanks Fabelle for allowing me to share this inspiring post of yours in here. All the best in your future adventures.