Para sa mga anak ko

You never failed to surprise me. When you tried to speak up when you used to be so shy, when you can’t write but proudly showed me your art. You would run to me during recess and ask for more math problems so you can practice at home. When you would bless me when we met on the streets or hand me the sampaguita you were selling. When you finally aced a subject you were struggling with. There was always something to look forward to.

April 14, 2017 was the day we said goodbye. I left Fairview a few weeks later.

Now and again, I would look at all our pictures and wonder how you are. If your new teacher is kind or if you’re skipping class frequently again. I would read your letters and watch our videos where we sang at the top of our lungs. I always wished that you were all okay.

My life as a teacher has taken a pause and I now find myself seated in an office at the second floor. Work still as valuable but hours I wished could skip. Since the day we parted ways, my heart that had once been so full of love has been punched with holes and it’s slowly leaking itself dry.

You refilled me today.

I found myself staring at this sight again, surrounded by the sounds of children playing and tricycles roaring in the background.

And the very second I entered those gates, I heard your voice. Screaming. Excited.

“SIR KEN!”

You ran and hugged me. You ran to hug me.

I wanted to talk to each and every one of you. I wanted to ask how your studies are going, if you’re still practicing for varsity, or if you finally learned how to speak in Korean. But our time was short and you had to go home. Your service was waiting for you. I watched as each and every one of you left those gates, giving me one last mano, waving me one more goodbye. I just wanted to give you the time that my love for you deserved.

But you didn’t care. You were just happy we shared even just a glimpse of a moment together. You didn’t care if we didn’t get to sit and laugh or that we didn’t play basketball like we used to after class. We met again today and that was more than enough.

“Sir, miss ka na namin. Masaya po kami na bumisita ka.”

You never fail to surprise me. You never fail to patch my heart.

To all my students, thank you for giving me the privilege to be your teacher.

Thank you because as short as our time was together, you showed me the true face of love. We may never meet again or we may some day find ourselves across each other by the jeepney seat. But whatever our life’s circumstances may be, I will never forget the child who I met inside those classroom walls. The child who I swore to serve until the end of my days. The child who taught me what unconditional really meant.

You gave my life real purpose.

And for that, I can never thank you enough.