WARTIME. Sixty years ago today, a baby was born somewhere in the mountains between Danao and Carmen. It was wartime then, so the newborn baby’s cries had to be hushed down by her parents, lest the wailing give their location away to the much-feared Kempeitai. Not that they had probably anything to fear from the Japanese invaders in particular, but like much of the shell-shocked populace then, they were not about to take any chances.
Thus it was that this baby was to spend much of her early years until Liberation Day, without making too much fuss, and scarcely attracting a great deal of attention to herself. In fact, well into her growing years, through her adulthood, and to this day, this baby continues to conduct herself with quiet dignity and unobtrusive demeanor, going about her life, generously helping those she can, without calling undue notice to herself in the process.
This baby is my mother, Carmencita Banzon Batuhan, who turns 60 today.
Mom, who has spent most of her life nurturing children during their early formative period, also retires this year from a long career as a public school teacher. Over the years, she has seen her pupils go on to become distinguished professionals, career persons, entrepreneurs and responsible members of our community. Obviously inspired by her unrelenting determination to see them through the conclusion of their education, many of her students—most of whom come from the less fortunate sectors of our community— rewarded her with the greatest gift any teacher could ever wish for—success in their own chosen endeavors.
EDUCATOR. Growing up, I was always amazed at the amount of infectious energy Mom put into her work. Thankless enough as jobs go, hers was made even more difficult by the circumstances in which she taught. Banawa Elementary School, where she spent a good number of years as educator, counts as its pupils children coming mostly from lower middle-class and lower class families. These kids face greater challenges in completing their education than most of us can relate to—everything from lack of money to buy books, to lack of money for snacks at recess time.
Mom would help them out whenever she could. She would loan money to her pupils so they could buy textbooks, purchase clothing and pay for their other educational expenses. To those who were really determined, she would even help to pay for their expenses beyond elementary school. When I was a young boy, it was not unusual for me to see my old shirt or pair of shorts being worn by one of
Mom’s pupils, sometimes to my surprise as I had not quite “retired” a number of them just yet. Mom’s faith in the miracle of education to empower, emancipate and enable all who possessed the determination and drive to succeed did not only inspire those she taught at school, but also her children, who in their own ways have managed to make the most of their individual God-given capacities and abilities.
Totol, Ann, Aleli and I are what we are today, because of the inspiration quietly imparted to us by one humble schoolteacher, who was born 60 years ago in the mountains between Danao and Carmen.
Happy Birthday, Mom, and thank you for everything!
(I will write about more serious issues, starting with Worldcom, next week.)
Published in the Sun Star Daily, Saturday, July 06, 2002 (http://www.sunstar.com.ph/static/ceb/2002/07/06/bus/batuhan.60.years.ago.today.html).