Typhoon “Ompong” brought about widespread class suspensions in numerous parts of Luzon. In Atimonan, Quezon province, however, one student chose to finish his school work within the confines of his classroom rather than do so in the safety of his home.
It was 7:30 p.m. when senior high school teacher Mark Ortil Pornasdoro of Malusak National High School went back to double check his classroom last Thursday, Sept. 13, in preparation for the then-coming typhoon Ompong. He was surprised to see his student in English, Jeric Reyes, finishing the school work that he was not able to pass at 5 p.m.
“Nauna ko nang sabihin kanina (bago pa man i-anunsyong walang pasok) na maaaring magpasa bukas. Pero ito nga’t binigla ako,” he wrote on Facebook on the same day. His post, which had gone viral, has garnered over 257,000 likes-and-reactions, 1,200 comments and 50,000 shares, as of this writing.
(I already told him ahead, before the cancellation of classes was announced, that he is allowed to pass his school work tomorrow. But here he was, surprising me.)
“Sabi ko’y tama na ‘yan, okay na,” he recounted. “Sabi ko’y nalipasan ka na ng gutom. Sabi n’ya’y kaunti na lang ito ser. Sabi n’ya’y mamaya na kakain. Na para bang kaibigan na ang kalam ng sikmura. Na para bang lagi’t lagi nang sinasanay ng pagtitiis.”
(I told him he should stop, that it’s okay. I said he must be hungry and should eat. He told me, “There are only a few items left, sir.” He told me he’ll eat later. As if he’s already friends with hunger. As if he’s used to bearing these things.)
Reyes was able to finish his school work at 7:38 p.m.
“Dito lang din sa Brgy. Malusak ang kanyang bahay. Walang kuryente,” explained Pornasdoro. “Gasera ang gamit. Kaya hindi na pinakakawalan ang gantong biyaya ng ilaw. Kahit gabihin, kahit gutumin. Makapag-aral. Matuto lang. Marangal.”
(His house is located here in Brgy. Malusak as well. They have no electricity. They only use a gas lamp. That’s why he makes the most of this blessing of electric lights. Nevermind if he gets home late, nevermind if he goes hungry. If only to study. If only to learn. Honorable.)
Pornasdoro noted that Reyes and his students are the reason why he is still pursuing his teaching career: “Dahil sa kabila ng abang kalagayan ng lipunang ito, na lalo pang pinalala ng mga ganid sa kapangyarihan, ang gantong pagsisikap at pagiging patas, lalo na ng mga naghihirap, ang hiblang tumatahi sa pagkilos.”
(Because despite the poor state of this society, made worse by those who are greedy for power, this kind of diligence and fairness, especially by those who are poor, are the threads that bind [and lead to] action.)
“7:41 nang maghiwalay kami,” Pornasdoro stated. “Nakakaluha. Ngunit ngumingiti ang aking kaluluwa. May pag-asa.”
(We parted ways at 7:41 p.m. It makes me tearful. But my soul is smiling. There is hope.)
In a separate post, Pornasdoro uploaded a photo of Reyes reading the comments netizens left on Pornasdoro’s post. He clarified that his post was neither a diversionary tactic nor a means to become popular — rather, his post’s message is faith in humanity, that there is hope.
Hindi namin hangad ang sensasyunalismo o exoticismo; o maging objek ng diskurso para mailihis sa iba pang '…
“Ilusyon lang ang mga personal na ligaya sa gitna ng paghihirap ng marami sa atin,” Pornasdoro told INQUIRER.net. “Napakahirap magpakasaya samantalang nakikita nating lugmok ang iba.”
(The personal joys one has in the midst of other people’s suffering are mere illusions. It is very hard to be happy when we see others suffering.)
He stated that appreciating one’s blessings, particularly because the said blessings come from the sacrifices and hard work of the generations before, is one thing everyone can do to help the Philippines, no matter how small it may seem.
“Magsikap,” he reminded everyone. “Dahil hindi tayo umaasa para lang sarili, dahil hindi ito usapin lang ng personal na kamortalan. Usapin ito ng ambag nating pag-asa sa bayan.“
(Strive. Because we are not only hoping for ourselves; because this is not an issue only of one’s mortality. This is about the hope we can contribute to the nation.) JB