99th Baguio Charter Day Anniversary Issue
     
Supplements
99 thoughts on Baguio's Centennial
Esther someone else like her?
A tribute to those who care for Baguio
A pasture of hope:
Good Shepherd Convent
Through the barriers of silence & isolation
They're loved because they care
The man called morris
Teacher volunteers:
Pathways to Higher Education
My best teacher
Indigenous women and a cooperative
Two Baguio families are local visionaries
Top 10 reasons why getting a Baguio education is worth it
Conversations with Gaia
Winning Photos
99th Baguio Charter Day Cartoon
by: Ye-ann Emingan

“UMALI KAYO AMIN.” This is the welcome note written on the classroom door of Ma’am Cynthia O. Fabella.

Most of her students adore her because of her beauty. She looks younger than her 33 years even if she’s now carrying her third child.

She managed to finish her studies by supporting herself with washing her teacher’s clothes and selling anything of value to her classmates just to earn money for her allowance and needs in school. Her parents couldn’t afford to send her to school because of poverty but young Cynthia did what she could to help herself because of her dream — to become a teacher. As one of her favorite quotes says, “If others can’t make a difference, do it yourself.” As a result, she graduated in 1996 with a major in Filipino and started to teach in the same year at Saint Agnes School — part of the CICM (Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary) in Ilocos. It was the first school where she taught.

'A little push'
Now, she is teaching in the Magsaysay Annex of Pines City National High School here in Baguio. All in all, she spent 12 years of her life teaching and no doubt, that’s not yet the end.

In school activities and contests, she and her students always get the first prize when it comes to cleanliness, landscaping, and creativity. For Ma’am Fabella, cleanliness is very important especially inside the classroom because it affects the quality of learning for the students. For instance, if a student is pressured at home because of family problems — which is common among the students — and comes to school where the classroom is like a playground, how can he concentrate on his studies? He will just get irritated and uncomfortable and that might cause absenteeism.

Ma’am Fabella’s students will not forget how she strictly supervised them during cleaning time. There should not be one particle of dirt to be seen in the classroom and every thing should be in its respective place. Before she starts the lesson, the classroom should be clean and if not, the students will surely hear a “sermon” and then she’d order her students to clean first, which takes 15 to 30 minutes, before the lessons will start. Some students are against her kind of attitude towards cleanliness but Ma’am Fabella said: “How can students learn if you won’t supervise them properly? The generation today is very different from before. The youth of today needs a little push before they will act.”

Changing lives
If you ask Ma’am Fabella’s students about her, they have a similar answer: “She’s very strict when it comes to cleanliness.” In the end, however, they will acknow-ledge that she changed their lives and she even became an inspiration to them in achieving their dreams.

“I’m not doing this because it is one of my roles as a teacher. I’m doing this in order for the students to be motivated to learn and to be inspired to come to school,” says Ma’am Fabella. “What they are learning here in school influences what they do at home.”

“Ma’am helped me a lot when it comes to cleanliness. I am also one of those students who used to get annoyed when she starts questioning us why we didn’t do this or do that. Nevertheless, I noticed that I’m already cleaning my room which my mom would always scold me about before,” one of her former students said.

Most of her former students also said that they have learned to care for their surroundings and to love nature. And that helps a lot in the present situation of Baguio City concerning the garbage problem. “The way you take care of yourself is the same on how you treat your surroundings,” says Ma’am. In other words, your surroundings reflect your personality.

'Grab all opportunities'
It’s not only cleanliness that Ma’am Fabella has imparted to her students. There are a lot more lessons to encourage students to finish their studies, especially those who don’t have enough financial means. “There’s always something to be done, you just have to act,” she said. “Grab all the opportunities that come your way.”

She always makes sure that her students are listening when she’s talking about the importance of education. She said that education is the only gift our parents can give us and that nobody can steal it from us. “It is also you who will benefit from it. Wherever you go, you will surely survive if you have finished your education,” Ma’am says.

She also teaches the value of time. She reminds her students to consider the efforts and sacrifices of their parents just to send them to school. She tells them that they are very lucky because all that they need are ready and easy to use, like the computer. Not like what she experienced in her time.

Ma’am Fabella is really a great teacher, a loving wife and mom, and a very good friend. I hope there will be more teachers like her to inspire students or even change them for their own good.

 
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