It was an ordinary trip back home for me from my work in Alabang. I caught the last bus for Lawton, with 20 more minutes of waiting time before it was filled up. I was about to plug in my earphones to drown out the blaring horns when I realized I was seated next to my former teacher in elementary.
It was Mr. Lozanto de Lara Jr., more popularly known to our class and to the school as “Sir Jun.” He was also homebound, and I excitedly greeted him.
The trip became worthwhile as I got to know my old teacher well, rather than simply somebody who used to teach us the rudiments of art. To my big surprise, he is now a high school Social Studies teacher, teaching Philippine history, being a Political Science graduate. He’s been in my school for almost 19 years, and still seems to enjoy working with my other esteemed teachers there.
When asked what keeps him busy aside from teaching, Sir Jun told me he is still very much active in the school’s union, which he founded. I noticed how happy he sounded at the forthcoming projects for the benefit of my beloved alma mater, and for the welfare of all the employees there.
Incidentally, he has been the president of the union for 12 years, since he founded it, and I marveled at the length of his presidency. He must have been one heck of a leader for most of my teachers and other employees to continue voting for him that long. When I arrived home and checked my Facebook in search of my teacher’s page, I saw evidence why.
There, I proudly saw my old teachers actively participating in Red Cross’ blood-letting campaign. Another set of pictures and posts indicate that Sir Jun is busy with educational seminars, the latest being the campaign for a national Magna Carta for Private Schools. He also participated in several fund runs for the Red Cross and “Takbo Para sa Iskolar.”
Seeming to also have an environmental advocacy, Sir Jun also posted an awareness campaign, “No to Mining in Palawan.” On the more fun side, he also coaches a basketball team composed of faculty members and employees of my school that compete with other schools in a league.
Truly, my teacher embodies what he taught us in elementary, not just in our art classes but beyond the classroom—to be of passionate and selfless service to others, to live life to the fullest, to be a person who is Christian in principle, Benedictine in orientation, and Filipino in character.
Tomorrow it will be his birthday. Before, I had no means to give my old teacher any Christmas gift, as my savings would only allow me extra for my adviser’s gift. Embarrassed, he even insisted on paying for my bus ride home. Maybe letting him know on his birthday that he was one of my favorite teachers, and being able to emulate him and follow in his example as a servant leader, is more than enough of a token of a lifetime of appreciation and inspiration.
Sir Jun, from all your previous students and from your San Beda family: Happy Birthday!