Letter no. 10: The Walking Monument

by Aries Bayeta
I once dreamt of knowing how to read and write but I was instead taught and molded on how to be read and be written. In this letter, find out what else transformed my life other than the knowledge encrypted on books and words spoken by mouth. And get reminded yourself of how influential education is.

Dear Michael,

Where does a story really begin? In life, we would never know the start of every story until ideas were born. And ideas would never be born or perhaps wouldn’t be known without education. I have known through the years that a story actually starts with letters, then composition of words, progresses to phrases, then a sentence; a judgement that would either declare, exclaim, command or ask. Of it all, I must say we, humans, are made out of questions, where all the ideas sprouted. And our sentences evolve to paragraphs, which the thought is delivered. And after a combination of paragraph or two, one story is born.

A story doesn’t end though with just writing alone. It wouldn’t be meaningful and complete without reading and sharing. And that’s what you are doing now. You are reading after I’ve written. It’s a two way comprehension and understanding. And guess what, it’s just one thing we owe to education.

Let me tell you the story of how I was honed by education. When I was young, I dreamt of knowing how to read and write, which I believe is the first thing we ought to do in school. At first, it was gradual yet tough, like I wouldn’t care at everything else without perfecting my ABC’s. I learned it in an easy way with a song accompaniment. There were hard moments somewhere in between where I would see myself in the brink of quitting. I had no other choice but to go on. Along with that, I learned how to read. It started with easy
words, going complicated by years, to the point that I was hungry for more. I also learned how to understand, knowing every story I read had questions in the end. And it wouldn’t end when a book closes, there were questions that would be stored at some part of my brain. And I would then ask myself, “how did it really happen”. I turned ten, only to find out that reading and writing were just piece of cheesecake.

I thought that life ends with just reading and writing. And I was wrong, I was then introduced to the culture and values of the Philippines when I was eleven. I learned to not only memorize ideas but to apply it at home; I embraced the difference between good and bad, and instilled the goodness far more than badness. I learned how to count, add, subtract, multiply and divide which are the basic objection of numbers; and soon realized that Mathematics is there not to complicate my life but rather make things easy. It taught me that I would know how old am I by subtracting the year today from the year I was born.

Just when I thought that life is enough with just knowing how old I am by the power of Math, I realized I was wrong. Instead, it’s how far could I still go by how old I am. When I was twelve, I was introduced to a more complicated set of lessons- I learned that Science spins the world at some point. I got confused of who created the earth, where we originated, and when the story of the world began. I met God and his biblical theory and met the balding Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution. Somehow, my horizon extended, my limits diverged in a more serious topics, but I managed to be in control by coping with understanding. The reality is, no one actually knows where it all started.

I saw the bigger picture when I learned that the language Filipino that we used to speak isn’t something original. History proclaimed that we were once colonized by Western races which explains the rest of what we are now. And how we react to things as Filipinos depend on the culture we inherited. And in a smaller picture, influenced my behavior as an individual. I was enjoying the ride thinking that the end of knowledge has come. But I was wrong.

I entered highschool which I initially thought was the superlative degree of all I could possibly acquire. I met more personalities and their own set of beliefs. It’s a stage in my life where Descartes, Shakespeare, Newton and Mozart were the famous protagonist of every story. I learned that Mathematics is more than figures but analysis and Philippines is not the only country with a unique culture. I studied literature and cited the famous “I am a Filipino” speech of Carlos P. Romulo, the first Filipino ever associated with the United Nations. I also discovered that even the tiniest thing in this world has no escape from Chemistry, and even those tiny things have their own place and role in this earth. I understood better what gravity is, which justifies why in life we have the so-called ups and downs, and what goes around comes around, hence, what goes up must come down, and I am not talking about Alicia Keys.

It was harder in highschool as there were series of test in every chapter. And it prepared me not only to pass a certain subject but to surpass the problem life had to offer. I learned that life, just like a subject, is not a bed of roses. You got tested in every phase, and when you fail, you grasp the lesson in the end.

I learned the basic economics and knew what logic lies behind money making as the value and faces on the coin change from time to time- thus the manifestation of progress. It wasn’t easy Michael, the world is universally small yet so big, to the point that I didn’t know where all these knowledge were coming from. There were lots of subjects, sub-subjects, field of study, industry and specialty causing some of them to intertwine. I have witnessed myself and can attest to the quarrel of Art against Science, and sometimes against Nudity.

And values expanded as I grew. Ideologies poured here and there that affected my teenage life. I learned that real knowledge only originates in the four corners of the classroom but further it transcends the wall as I got to know my social significance. I mingled with other people. I learned that supremacy is far more different than democracy when I became a president of the school student government. It prepared me to understanding what politics really means and how it affects the lives of Filipino people at large. I joined contests. I expected to win, I failed at times, but won most of the times and I realized that winning isn’t the reliable measurement of intelligence. Indeed, intelligence cannot be measured. Winning is always by chance. You win either because you know the answer by chance or your opponent doesn’t know the answer by any chance. And one more thing, when you don’t have any opponent at all; you win by default.

Winning took me to places I could never afford to go to before. My network expanded and it molded me as a human to appreciate the world. Curiosity imposed me to choose a path the moment highschool graduation approached. And I thought it all ends there. But I was wrong. My experiences in highschool taught me to find my own niche, which I must say I am in right now. I chose to write, to be a writer, to express ideas, to influence people through words, to communicate and above all, to stand by that path I selected. It wasn’t an easy step cause I had to walk through a dim tunnel of depression by reaching the light. And it’s all now.

Now, the picture I just said above is not yet complete. There is a missing link. Knowledge won’t be possible without a teacher, and I am talking about our dearest teacher as the missing link. We won’t be here where we are right now without the teachers who are persistent to instill in us the things the world is made of. Just like how Socrates taught Plato and how Plato taught Aristotle, it’s the passing of wisdom. Before a doctor can heal and an artist can paint, a teacher has taught. Before a singer can sing and a pilot can fly, a teacher has
cried a bucket of tears. Imagine a life without teacher, everything will be pointless.

I wrote this letter to send my appreciation, love and thanks to the teachers I met in my life and who somehow made me as a person. In my heart, I built a monument for you that won’t fade as years go by. My hats are off, my head is bowed and my thumbs are up for all the efforts you exerted. You live to give direction, to hone a mind, to develop emotions and to tighten our hold when we are losing grip of life. Thank you. I would like to give my deepest gratitude and love to the following: Mrs Lourdes Atienza, my highschool principal, for the discipline you reitirated; to Mr Beni Gonzales, who taught me how to mix chemicals; to Mrs Perez, Mrs Maniebo, Ms. Mandigma and Mr Lemuel delMundo, who taught me the meaning of infinity, and that in every negative phase, positive things happen on the other hand; to Mrs Democrita Ocampo, who explained humans as the highest form of animal; to Ms Julie Arcega and Mrs. Bueno, who instilled in us the concept of home; to Mrs. Lanie Villanueva, who introduced me to Rizal’s creation; to Ms Maritess Godoy, who let me travel to the other part of world by just reading; to Mr. Fani Castillo who gave out the best in me in both writing and reitirating the impotance of the universal language, special thanks for being a model; to Ms. Aileen Bool, who was never my teacher but had been there during pressconferences, how I missed writing for Bagwis. Those were just a few among all the teachers I have known in my life. To some other teachers in Pedro S Tolentino Memorial National High School. I am truly blessed to have spent my highschool life there. It was an amazing phase of my life. To my IV Daffodils batchmates, we were the pioneer batch to have been known as Daffodils, you are my teachers too. Thank you for teaching me how to appreciate friendship and cherish memories. I love you all.

Happy teachers month to all mothers who taught their child things they supposed to know the day they were born; to our blind teachers who amaze me with their Braille system, to my parents who taught me how to deal with life; to the newly graduate teachers who have the guts to multiply knowledge; to my college instructors and advisers who delivered me here; to my friends, to the feeling teachers, frustrated teachers, registered teachers and any kind you can possibly imagine- HAPPY TEACHERS MONTH.

Now, to go back, to my question, where does a story really begin? It begins the moment we learn how to make one. And where does a story end? It never ends until there’s life. There might be clearcut endings in every writing, but the truth is, the story goes while the world spins. One of the greatest lessons these teachers have taught me is that, I LEARNED HOW TO TEACH MYSELF, AND THAT WAS SOMETHING THAT’S BEYOND THEIR ROLE. This letter may end, but my writing continues. =)

Lovelots, Coco/ Aries Bayeta

If you got the message and are Michael enough to break the question mark, then share your thoughts of the above letter and be featured as the next response letter. Just send your letters to lettersformike2012@gmail.com and be yourself read by others who have probably got the same thoughts.

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Posted on September 28, 2012, in LETTERS 9-16, LIFE LETTERS and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. rachell santillan

    Hey i like the way u put meaning in every lesson we encountered during high. It’s just amazing how u play with ideas and words. Keep writing and happy teachers day to our dearest teachers out there. Rach.

  2. Funny thing is that, the title of your blog frightened me, because the post you like is actually a letter to a guy also named Mike. I thought he somehow created a WordPress account and was viewing my pages. .

    Lovely blog by the way. 🙂 you now have a new follower

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