Teachers just like students come in different packages, shapes, temperaments, and seasons. Some of our teachers come and go with the passing of each school year, each semester, and each course. But others leave an imprint in our lives, a challenge to work for, and a light burning in us. One such teacher is Professor Mabuhay Alonzo of the UP College of Education — Sir Buhay to most of his students.
Professor Mabuhay Alonzo of the UP College of Education was an atypical teacher by university standards by the manner he conducts his lessons in history, the challenges he gives his students in class, the relationships he nurtures with others, and the good feelings he leaves behind in the lives of those he related with. He was an authentic teacher who taught with his life, through himself, beyond the classroom.
And, as if for a purpose, three former students at UP (now teachers) who’ve interacted briefly with him at different times in his life share this three-part Teachers Month tribute from the MindGym family to a teacher-hero: Sir Buhay Alonzo.
Forced to Good
by Edleen Guanko
”The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.” Khalil Gibran
I was a delinquent student back in college. I always exceeded the number of absences allowed, and because I was rarely in class I never really got to know my classmates or professors very well.
During my third year, after repeatedly failing Math 17, I shifted my major to Special Education and my minor to Social Studies. I wasn’t particularly interested in these fields but most of my friends were taking them so I said, hey, what the heck.
He was my Social Studies professor, and those who had taken his classes said that you either love him or hate him. There’s no middle ground.
The truth was: I only wanted to take his subjects because my friends said it’s easy to get a passing grade from him. I signed up for one class and then he practically forced me to cancel my other Social Studies subject (taught by a different professor) and sign up for his other one. The reason: his classes were in danger of being dissolved unless he comes up with a decent number of students. Still, there were only four of us in one class and six in the other.
His classes weren’t dissolved; indeed, he fought the college tooth and nail to stay afloat. And it wasn’t because he would lose his job, but because he truly believed that Social Studies is key to instilling patriotism in the Filipino youth. His passion for our country was infectious, and his unconventional teaching methods made our classes feel like having coffee with a friend while discussing national affairs.
His biggest source of frustration and anger during that time was the Revised Basic Education Curriculum (RBEC). RBEC combined Social Studies with other subjects (H.E., Music, Art, P.E., and G.M.R.C.) into one big subject called Makabayan. He fought the DepEd on this, and at one point we were asked to form a rally in front of the DepEd office to voice our opposition.
Passionate as he was, though, our discussions in class weren’t always serious. He injected anecdotes, sometimes relevant to the topic being discussed, sometimes not. My favorite one was about his wife. He said, before he married her she was a sweet lamb. After he married her she turned into a crouching tiger, hidden dragon. But it was pretty obvious he was smitten with her.
All in all, I took three of his classes. I couldn’t remember reading any textbook for the assignments he gave… all we needed was the newspaper, a critical mind, our fervent love for our country, and a desire to change things for the better.
If he was still alive, I doubt he’d remember me. But it doesn’t matter. What matters is that I remember him, and the things I learned from him, and I hope and pray that all of his students would remember him and honor his memory by loving this country and trying to make a difference.
Goodbye, Sir. And thank you.
Edleen Guanko is a graduate of the University of the Philippines College of Education, awaiting release of the results of the September 2010 Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET), major in Values Education. MindGym Philippines is hopeful that Edz gets a flying mark in the LET though she belonged to the “delinquent maroons” group of the LET review batch. She wrote this tribute on August 20, 2009 in her multiply blog when she learned about the passing away of Prof. Alonzo.