Many of my students last year keep on coming back to our Grade III building just to take my hand and put it on their foreheads. In Filipino, that sign of respect is what we call the act of pagmamano. When I was a student, I never did that to any of my teachers. Whenever I would pass by one, I would bow down my head and say my greeting.
As time passed by, this pagmamano essentially turned into hugs. I didn’t know how it started and why, but many of my students would hug me after a tiring day, which brushed all the exhaustion away. Of course I didn’t hug them back; it’s under Child Protection Policy that we’re not allowed to do that. However, these students were already contented by the mere fact that I allowed them to embrace me (because I could not push them away).
Yesterday was surprising though. I had this student named Kenli. His name was so attractive that I even made it as a basis for the name of my fictional character. He was one of my disruptive students at the beginning of the school last year, but at the end he even won my “Most Inquisitive” award for asking questions like “Teacher, bakit hindi nababasa yung payong? Parang tumatalbog lang yung ulan?” and “Paano nagkakaroon ng rainbow?”
He visited me yesterday, and surprised me with a ‘boo’. When he was about to say goodbye, he stole a kiss on my cheek.
I felt teary-eyed. I missed my kids last year. They were my pride of my first experience as a public school teacher. The whole thing was like a 20-unit subject of parenting, and I could even say that I’m at least half-prepared to have my first born.
It has been a month… There are things that I wanted to let go, but they wouldn’t just let me. And I quote from Agot Isidro in GMA News TV’s Titser, “Iyan na nga bang problema sa aming mga titser. Yung nararamdaman niyo, kayong mga magulang… Yung lungkot at yung saya kapag dating sa kanila… Nararamdaman din namin.”