During a “messy” time in my life and career, my former boss, sir Pascual, once told me, “Yen, take a break from teaching and History for a while. Try other things and explore other places. When you think History (and teaching) is really for you, go back to it.”
Fifteen years after he said those wise words — an advice that really helped me a lot — I’ve finally come full circle today, this semester, this school year. I am no longer teaching in USC but I am back as a graduate student of History and finally with the wholehearted choice that History is for me after so many twists and turns, so many delays, lessons learned and mishaps.
I am back in one of sir P.’s classes again and the first day our class met, his lecture reminded me why I have always loved History. I went home inspired after that first session.
In my mind, I was already expecting this weekend trip to Tangub to be “challenging” and “hard” given the fact that going to the place via Dipolog City was something I was not quite familiar with. Somehow I also knew (subconsciously), I would not be reporting but I had set my heart on coming here. I wanted to see the place I once fell in love with the first time I set foot on it. A place that held so many precious memories for me. The thought of staying here even crossed my mind back then, well, only for a minute but the lack of coffee shops back then made me think twice. 😉 I chose to come in spite of the additional expense it would entail because I felt that it was something I had to see and feel: coming full circle to a profession, a school and a department I left because of a broken heart.
When I had my first heartbreak fifteen years ago because of someone I met in the university where I first taught, I mistakenly “personalized” the experience and disassociated everything related to him as something to be shunned, forgotten and left off for good. I stayed away from USC for quite a number of years. And in a sense, I threw away a lot of opportunities in my attempts to forget, move on and make peace with the past. I heard that he is no longer with the university but even then if he still was it would still have been okay. I guess forgiving one’s self and the other person makes it okay. 😉
This year, I knew it would be a different season. The first time I entered USC TC to process my admission, I no longer felt the familiar twitch of pain that often accompanied every visit I had since 2002. I walked up to the 4th floor of the AS building and snapped a photo of the cement road from the entrance gate to ISMED and breathed in the fresh air. Sounds OA I know but I reveled in the fact that I could finally say I’ve moved on. 😊
I only remembered the happy memories I once had in Talamban. Of times spent with students talking with them after classes, of friendships made with co-teachers at the faculty room and of walks I took in TC to the chapel to pray, walks with a “friend” after checking papers at the faculty room and just good old plain memories hanging out in the canteen overlooking the soccer field, of times spent in prayer sitting on the steps leading to the chapel. That place was quiet and far away from the crowd back then. It made for a perfect place to pray and read the Bible.
It feels good to be back, feeling lighter, a lot happier and no longer haunted by past mistakes.
It feels good to make peace with the past — finally.
As I look to the future with expectation (especially this August), I understand how important it is to study History not to be held back by the trauma and mistakes of the unchangeable past but to be enlightened and strengthened by it. I think that is how Philippine history should be taught to students. Not just merely a string of events but a book of lessons and stories, both good and the bad, that makes one a better person, a better nation. The bad should not be covered up or revised but examined with a different set of glasses and a heart ready to learn from one’s mistakes and stand up again after a fall.
Thanks to this rainy, circuitous trip to Tangub, I have finally come full circle and said goodbye to the ghosts of my past. The future looks bright and happy. 🙂