Beyond the Universe — On the Vast Rewards of Teaching Others by Jace Chiong

“The strongest oak tree in the forest,” wrote Napoleon Hill, “is not the one that is protected from the storm and hidden from the sun. It’s the one that stands in the open where it is compelled to struggle for its existence against the winds and rains and the scorching sun.”

I have always believed that every behind successful individual who wants to makes a difference in society is a teacher.

Recently, our Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray finally had her homecoming. I was elated to know that she wanted to have an intimate dinner with the members of the core team, 22 to be exact that started from 10, where coaching sessions blossomed into friendship.

When we finally met again on a joyful Monday evening, I was welcomed with a long sounding echo in multibeam sweet decibel,

“Tita Jaceeeeeee! It has been a while. It is so great to see you. Thank you for everything!” I responded, “Cat, thanks for the love. I was so ready to see you after your reign, but the universe has conspired for us to see each other again. I am more than happy to be here.” Those words were wrapped with two big enormous hugs and a quadruple beso-beso.

Core Team of Miss Universe 2018, Catriona Elisa Magnayon Gray
Jace with Miss Universe 2018, Catriona Elisa Magnayon Gray during Thanksgiving Dinner

Being a teacher is the greatest thing that can ever happen to all of us. Being a teacher is the greatest thing that ever happened to me. My mother, as a teacher herself with her 1001 life’s little instructions never failed to provide us with nuggets of wisdom. I sometimes find my mom being a pushover, but slowly, I have realized that her words truly have an impact that can change the world.

I dreaded the times when I am being whisked away to train with my coaches for the numerous declamation and oratorical contests that I was forced to join. But the little victories somehow have led me to discover my strengths.

Little did I know that those experiences will nurture me to breeze through DLSU’s Department of Communication, the DLSU Debate Society, and of course, my chosen field of endeavor.

Being a teacher will not only make us see ourselves in the four walls of the classroom, but also will lead us to change the lives of people. My own version of Chicken Soup for the Soul has slowly taken its influence in many of our government organizations.

Being a teacher means working with the mind, heart, and soul, transcending the core of our “being” with impact that extends beyond the world…beyond the universe.

The world’s noblest profession is more than a mission, more than a vocation.

Being a teacher, a great teacher is much more than credentials, experience, and intelligence, it is more about being a builder of dreams, more about kindness, compassion, empathy, inspiration, and positivity.

My choice to become a teacher was not made frivolously.  This decision was a culmination of a process of reflection about what I wanted to do with my life. Even when I started my job in the then ABS-CBN Talent Center, today’s Star Magic, I actually found myself in training and development. Somehow that led me to teaching as well.

Q and A Session with Miss Caloocan 2019

I have chosen a career in education because I believe that it is one of the most important undertakings performed in our culture, with the ability to raise consciousness for everyone to be better.

I believe that teachers independently and cooperatively have the ability to not only change the world, but to develop it.

Within the progression of teaching, I was able to find personal and professional renewal.  Being a part of the most noble profession with the hope of one day making a continued difference in the universe gives me a feeling of unexplainable, beatific, and enraptured fulfillment.

I had never expected to be able to coach a Miss Universe. What I have learned in life is to really know your intentions. The universe ultimate gives us what we give to the universe. What we think, we create. What we feel, we attract. What we imagine, we become. It is said that, “It’s unlimited what the universe can bring when you understand the great secret that thoughts become things.”

Being a teacher gives us that power!

I know that being a teacher would sometimes make us feel overwhelmed. Again, it is all a matter of gratitude. Once we have found ourselves in this profession, we have to embrace it whole heartedly.

The financial rewards may not be instantly gratifying, but the soulful experience makes the journey worthwhile.

As a teacher, YOU are one of a kind. 

You are fortunate enough to have something that makes you different from everyone else.  Make it a habit to embrace your individuality, to realize that self-worth comes from one thing, thinking and believing that you are worthy. 

A teacher should appreciate what it feels like underneath your own skin for you are amazing just the way you are (singing to the tune of Bruno Mars). Too many days are wasted comparing ourselves to others and wishing to be someone or something we aren’t.  Every one of us has our own strengths and weaknesses, and it is only when we accept everything we are, and aren’t, that we will truly find the happiness and fulfillment we seek.

In life, we all have a whole lot to be grateful for.  So at the end of the day before we close our eyes, smile and be happy with where we’ve been and grateful for what we have experienced and overcome. Life is rarely perfect, but it’s always pretty darn good.

Being a teacher is rarely perfect, but it is always best to be one for the power to change the world lies in our hands and our hearts.

I am a teacher. We are teachers. The greatest secret to being a teacher is to embrace the happiness and the peace that comes with our profession and in letting every life situation be what it is, instead of what we think it should be, and then ultimately making the very best of it.

The question that sealed the fate of Catriona in the final round in Miss Universe 2018 was:

“What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your life and how would you apply it to your time as Miss Universe?”

To which Catriona Gray replied:

“I work a lot in the slums of Tondo, Manila and the life there is poor and it’s very sad. And I have always taught myself to look for the beauty in it; to look in the beauty in the faces of the children and to be grateful. And I will bring this aspect as a Miss Universe, to see situations with a silver lining. And to assess where I could give something; where I could provide something as a spokesperson. And if I can teach people to be grateful, we can have an amazing world where negativity cannot grow and foster, and children will have smiles on their faces.”

Truly, behind a successful individual is a teacher.

As teachers, we have to realize that the secret to being grateful is no secret. We choose to be grateful. Then we do it again and again. If we forget, begin again.

In our lives today? Being a teacher is something that we all need to be grateful for and be the strongest oak tree that makes the biggest difference.

Jace Chiong,
LPT September 2018-Secondary English
AB-OCM De La Salle University Manila
MA-Ateneo de Manila University
MA Psy (Clin) California State University, Dominguez Hills
MAEd-Jose Rizal University
EdD-Jose Rizal University


Jonathan Chiong (Jace), a coach for behavior innovation thinking and 2018 September LET-passer, is a soft skills trainer of government agencies and certified trainer of the Civil Service Institute. He also currently teaches university English, literature, foreign language, and psychology. Jace is a graduate of AB-OCM from the De La Salle University Manila, and a lifelong learner with a string of master degrees: a Master of Arts from AdMU, MA Psy-Cal State Univ Dominguez Hills, MAEd-JRU, and EdD-JRU. Coaching beauty queens is a hobby. His passion is to continue helping others by training them—beauty queens and all—to use their voice in advocating values that will transform society.

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