Monday, June 09, 2008

My Own Trip to Planet Biyo

Last week, I've read about Planet Biyo - the very noble life lived by a rural teacher who has been recognized as world-class. She is Professor Josette Biyo. I've heard about her back in high school. News spread about naming a minor planet in honor of a Filipino Science teacher. I haven't known until last week about what she really has done to the academe and to our country. She is indeed noble.

Last Saturday, June 7, I met another Biyo. It was when my colleagues in Bayantrade and I were hurrying to Makati for our Berlitz language training. We had to take the next bus, even if it meant standing for thirty minutes on it from the tenement in Taguig. So I stood, tried to finish my sandwich breakfast and tried to balance on the moving bus, with my two hands holding the sanwich and a Sparkle drink. Then someone from my left tapped my elbow. She offered a seat. The left bus seats can only accommodate three adults. There were already three of them seated. However, the lady insisted that I sit down. So I did. But when i tried to fit just one butt, the next lady said something. I didn't clearly get what she said but I was sure that she complained. I think I heard her also say "di na nga kasya..." Then the kind lady politely replied "share na lang tayong lahat...hindi naman atin itong bus. " The other lady didn't answer back anymore.

For thirty minutes inside the bus, I listened to the kind lady story-telling me about how a person will be blessed if he knew to share his blessings also. She told me how lucky she was. She had six children - four of them were nurses, an engineer and a seaman working abroad. The two younger children still study nursing. Her husband was a barangay chairman in their place in Cagayan Valley. She was a teacher there. She went to Manila to look at her daughter's three-storey house in Taguig who had been working in London for eight years. She also told me that she was sending a godchild to school which according to her "para rin guminhawa ang buhay niya at ng pamilya nila..." Her generosity also benefited their neighborhood kids who found it veyr difficult to buy new notebooks and other supplies for the incoming school opening. She offered to buy for them in Manila. She only shared how meager her salary as a teacher was. I then concluded that she was perhaps in a public school because she only got 8,000 Php as her net pay from her 15,000 salary. There were times that she had to use her own money to compensate for materials and the needs inside the classroom. I answered to her the story of Professor Biyo - how noble, passionate and selfless she was as a teacher. She also recalled about her trip to Hongkong with her family. She also kept repeating about being kind and sharing to others. She even gave me words which I should always tell myself - that I should ask God to open my heart, that He is the only one who knows and blesses the people, that He is great.

Yes, He is great because I've met that lady who have made me realize my capabilities of being able to share what I have to others. The next day will be her travel back to the province, bringing along with her the promise she has given to the hopeful kids.

As the bus stopped in Ayala station, I had to bid her goodbye. It was only then that she asked for my name. I gave my first name, but she also asked what my surname was. She also gave hers. She was Monica Tominao.

I'm not even sure if i heard her surname correctly. Yet, I will never forget the face and lessons I learned from the stranger who offered a seat to me.

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