Pass it on, pay it forward | Inquirer Opinion

Pass it on, pay it forward

People often ask me, “You could have chosen another profession; why [just] teach?” I answer them with the question, “Why not teach?”

For me, teaching is the “most” and “noblest” profession. Yes, the most and the noblest, because it is not just a profession but a vocation. Not everyone is called to teach, only those who have the conviction to nurture young lives to become better persons and those willing to take the yoke to endure and reap the rewards of teaching. This sacrificial yet fulfilling mission all starts with a spark.


“It only takes a spark to get a fire glowing…”

Teachers have impacted my life greatly to the point that I desire to be like them. Many of my teachers throughout my education have become my heroes and role models. In elementary school, I was always transferred from one section to another. I found no friends and was described as timid and quiet. Not until my teacher gave me tasks that eventually helped me find friends and enjoy schooling. Every time I finished a task, their simple compliments gave me the courage to do my best. Those star stamps were like rocket boosters, making my self-confidence go beyond the stars.


My teachers started choosing me to participate in school competitions, as they saw my eagerness to learn. From then on, I began receiving recognition. Oftentimes, when my parents couldn’t attend the ceremony, my teachers would be there by my side onstage, congratulating me.

My teachers were not only there in my simple successes, but also in times when I stumbled. I often got zero in spelling and math. My teachers were so patient. They devoted their time to give remediation. Those terrifying fractions and spelling words became my friends.

Then one of the most devastating events of my life happened. It horribly broke my heart. I even questioned God—silently praying and crying to him. I lost my mother. I had been absent from school for weeks. My teacher got the news and discovered that my mother had passed away. She and my classmates visited me. She spoke to me as if my mom were alive talking to me. My teacher comforted me through grief and bereavement.

They say high school is what you make it. It is considered one of the best years of life, but also the time when we start to value important things and get influenced by people surrounding us. This is how teachers have impacted my life tremendously. I consider them as my second parents. They are good sources of advice for the student to weigh important life decisions. I look to them as mentors with knowledge and experience. They not only fed my mind with knowledge, but also instilled the important qualities of humanity and goodness.

As a student, I have been through many life challenges. I struggled mentally, emotionally, physically, and financially. My teachers supported me in every aspect of my life. They helped me in every way they could. I couldn’t be more grateful for all the support and help I received from them.

I remember the time when I needed to apply for college. One teacher offered to pay for the entrance exam. I was so shocked, at the same time grateful. I told my teacher that I would return the money once I had it. But my teacher answered, “Instead, pay it forward to some other who needs it, so that there will be an endless cycle of good deeds.” Truly, teachers are angels from God.

This line has echoed in my heart. I reflected and decided to finally pursue teaching. Those words have encouraged me to follow the road taken by a few who are willing to take the challenge to mold the young minds of tomorrow. I pursue education with the hope of touching others, too—to inspire the next generation.


Now, I’m in an educational setting. I want to live out the principle of paying it forward. I am now working as a public teacher in my alma mater. No one can ever imagine the life of a teacher unless he/she becomes one. I think highly of teachers; they are like superheroes. They can lift a mountain and stop bullets. But like superheroes, they also have weaknesses, too. They live like two-faced coins. They only show one side to their students—the side where they have no blemishes. Meanwhile, the other side is covered with worries, problems, and anxiety. I have experienced those. There were times when exhaustion made me question whether the things I was working on would pay off. Teachers are often underestimated and underappreciated. Despite this, we, teachers, should play for an audience of One. He knows how we work hard and serve others with His love.

Teachers will always be remembered by the students, just as I remember them. Teachers are catalysts, and their influence affects eternity. The good things you have received from your teachers, make them known, pass them on! So that many will be inspired. The kindness you have received from your teacher, pay it forward! Through this, your teachers would have already received their greatest reward.


Julie Ann P. Ruiz, 26, is a public school teacher in Mandaluyong City, and currently taking a master’s degree at Philippine Normal University.

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