IN CELEBRATION of National Teachers Month (Sept. 5- Oct. 5), I have been requested by Metrobank Foundation to write about a teacher—either in my elementary, high school or collegiate years—who has had a great impact on me.
There are two types of teachers that students remember most. The terrors—like our math teacher in high school, who shouted and insulted us when we couldn’t answer the math problems correctly—and those who inspired us to great heights of achievement.
The teacher of the latter type who immediately came to mind was the late professor Ricaredo V. Enriquez, who was also Dean of the Department of Liberal Arts in San Beda College.
That was a long, long time ago; I was in college from 1958 to 1962. Gee, that’s over half a century ago! Yet the memory of Rec, as we called him, lingers on.
There were many things that impressed me about him. The thing I remember most was his encyclopedic knowledge, his superior intelligence and his very logical, systematic and easy-to-understand manner of presenting any subject he was teaching.
I was in his class for a number of subjects we had to take in the Liberal Arts course—English Literature, Journalism, English Composition, Philosophy.
I was fascinated by Philosophy, which unlike English and Journalism, was not offered as a major at that time.
I persuaded professor Enriquez at the end of my sophomore year to offer a major in Philosophy.
He told me that if I could give him at least 15 students willing to major in Philosophy, he would accede to my request.
I think I gave him 30 students. A number of my classmates who enrolled in Philosophy eventually took up Law and became successful liars, I mean, lawyers.
Professor Enriquez would come to class holding only a couple of pieces of chalk and an eraser. There was no white board at the time. He had complete mastery of any subject he taught, such that he needed no lecture notes at all.
He inspired us to appreciate and love the classics, especially William Shakespeare. He persuaded Lamberto Avellana, who was his classmate at the Ateneo, to teach Shakespeare in San Beda.
I couldn’t forget that class. We learned a lot from Avellana about Shakespeare, although he was usually absent because of his work as a film director. I learned later on that our test papers were corrected by his daughter, Ivi Avellana, because he had no time for such a task.
But professor Enriquez also regaled us with his interpretation of such English literature classics as “Beowulf,” the narrative poem “Kublai Khan” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and the “Rubaiyat” of Omar Khayyam, as translated by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
A sense of humor was also something to savor in professor Enriquez. There was never a dull moment in his class. I still remember one joke he told us: A man went to have his haircut in a barbershop. As the customer sat down, the barber asked him, “How would you like your hair cut?” And the man replied, “In silence.”
If he had one fault or weakness as teacher, it was his obvious bias for the bright students. He would give them special attention and extra assignments to challenge them.
These students were called the “Enriquez Boys.” Among those in this circle in my class were ex-seminarian Pablo Trillana III, who later became a lawyer of the Asian Development Bank and noted a Rizalista, and Alejo Villanueva Jr., aside from myself.
The other Enriquez boys during that period that I remember were Alfonso Aguirre, Raul Contreras, Raul Roco and Rene Saguisag.
Rival Catholic school
One particular event that had an impact on me was when we won a difficult debate against a formidable opponent from a rival Catholic school for boys with a strong reputation for being good in English. We were the underdog. They pitted the best debaters they had against our team, composed of Pablo Trillana III and myself.
Professor Enriquez coached us regularly after class. He pounded on our heads the dictum, “Never admit, seldom deny, always distinguish.” That strategy won the debate for San Beda, and I was declared Best Debater. Our opponent got nothing. It was a complete rout in an event held in their own campus in Quezon City. They had to burn the College Newspaper they had prepared ahead of time with the headline that their school won the debate.
The head of the panel of judges was Dean Antonio Molina of University of Santo Tomas Law School. I attributed our victory to the excellent preparation professor Enriquez gave Pablo and me.
He died when I was already long gone from college, and so I didn’t know about his death. I also didn’t know much about his personal life or background except that he was from Bulacan and he studied for the priesthood under the Jesuits. We heard that he was only months from ordination when he quit the seminary and got married. We learned more about St. Ignatius de Loyola than about St. Benedict in his class.
The next Inner Mind Development seminar is on Oct. 8-9, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; the next Soulmates, Karma & Reincarnation seminar is on Oct. 15, 1 p.m.-7 p.m., at Rm. 308 Prince Plaza 1, Legaspi St. Legaspi Village Makati. Call 8107245, 0998-9886292; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.