My heroes

Cherrie Mae Aguila
I believe that all of us appreciate the role of teachers, because they have been or are still part of our lives. But how many of us truly hold them in deep respect? I, for one, didn’t have such sincere appreciation for them until I experienced teaching a classroom full of little kids myself.

Once, after 30 minutes of repeating phonetic sounds and making very little impression, I was brought back to the time when I was a grade school pupil. It dawned on me that teaching kids was really not a picnic.

In retrospect, I am amazed at how my teacher in Grade 2 made our very young minds understand that we had to change “y” to “i” and add “es” to some words to make them plural. I shook my head in disbelief at my fourth grade teacher’s ability to persuade us to memorize and help us comprehend the complete list of subject-verb agreement rules that would become so useful in high school, college and beyond. The word “mimicry” will forever be etched in my memory since I learned in Grade 5 that it is one of the protective adaptations used by some animals. And how can I ever forget my teacher who explained to his awkward sixth graders the stage of puberty? I can still remember my seatmate who asked me what “public hair” was. I whispered back that the word was “pubic” and that I thought it was hair that would eventually grow on you-know-where. We both blushed.

Ah, memories of the good, old days in school! That was a time when sweat trickled down our foreheads during flag ceremony, a time when we could experience the distinct smell of pencil and eraser in every classroom, a time when the ringing of the bell told us it was time for recess. Such memories never fail to make one feel nostalgic.

But how can we ever forget our alertness and sense of anticipation about saying, “Present, ma’am!” every morning during roll call, the constant reminder to capitalize the first letter of every sentence and place an appropriate punctuation mark at the end, or the stern look we got every time we attempted to glance sideways during quizzes?

Remembering all these helped me greatly as I grew up and continue to do so as I practice my profession. These experiences inculcated in me the essence of integrity and honesty. They helped me develop the ability to give undivided attention and listen carefully when somebody is speaking. They drove me to strive for excellence and perfection every time I do my work.

My dear grade school teachers, you don’t know how much we owe you. You don’t know how much difference you have made in our lives. You laid strong foundations for our education, although during those times we didn’t really care how much effort you put in because we were too busy with our Chinese garters and marbles. Now let me thank you for going the extra mile when we were still in your classes. Thank you for the persistence in correcting us when we said “tha” apple and not “the” apple. Thank you for drawing hundreds of tiny tennis balls on the green board to help us learn addition and subtraction. Thank you for constantly reminding us to say “please” and “thank you” every time we forgot. You are our unsung heroes.

We can never repay our teachers for their dedication and hard work. But one of the greatest things we can do for them is to emulate the examples they have set and pass on to the younger generation the goodness and lessons we have learned from them.

Cherrie Mae Aguila, 25, is a missionary English teacher in Jeongeup City, South

(First published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer seven years ago. 😊)





“Puhon” is the magic word we often say to ease our concerns about our big and little dreams, assuring us that good things shall arrive at the right time and proper place. A preview of what that word means to Imman as he painstakingly put thoughts  and emotions into wonderful heartfelt phrases for our exchange of vows:


Puhon sa atong kaminyuon,

Kaugmaon ta ako gayud nga pagalantawon;

Kay kun ugani sa kalibutan kita pagalutuson

Sa pamuyo, panapot,  ug pagkaon

O, Cherrie Mae Aguila, sa kaayuhan mo ako manggihunahunaon.


Ug sa matag adlaw natong pagpamukaw

Hinaot lamang dili mo hikalimtan akong pamahaw;

Kay kun ugani sa matag gabie ako makatugaw

Halog mo ayaw lamang ihikaw

O, Cherrie Mae Aguila, bisan sa kakapoy lipayon ko gihapon ikaw.


Kung sa Dios kita lamang kaluy-an

Gagmayng gakamang-kamang kita piyalan

Kalampusan nila pangandaman ko nang daan;

Ang magmatinumanon sa inahan

O, Cherrie Mae Aguila, ako kining paningkamutan.


Ug kung sa Dios kita lamang grasyahan

Kalinaw sa puluy-anan kita pagahatagan,

Ug sa panudlanan kita  pa gani pakapinan;

Gugma, kalinaw, ug panginahanglan

O,Cherrie Mae Aguila, ako kining pagaludhan.


Puhon, kung mahimo, dili ko na paabuton

Mga saad ko, karon pagatumanon;

Responsibilidad isip bana pagapas-anon,

Dili lamang supak sa Dios imong desisyon

O, Cherrie Mae Aguila, ako sa imo magpauyon-uyon.


O, Dios nga akong gisaligan!

Ikaw ug Ikaw ang angay nga pasalamatan;

Isalig ko Kanimo ang tanan, Amahan!

Babaye sa akong atubangan,

O, Cherrie Mae Aguila, gipangayo ko Kaniya sa imo natubag ang tanan.


Ug sa dili pa kita mubiya ning Puting Isla

Giingon ko nang daan sa walay pagduha-duha;

Testigo ang tanan nga mupirma,

Higugmaon  ug pagahigugmaon ka

O, Cherrie Mae Aguila, akong asawa.

Diary of a Whiny Kid

January 13, 2014


This long weekend could’ve been a blast had it not been for the strong winds and unceasing rain that plagued it. Days of staying indoors, instant/canned food, pajamas and sweaters, and fluctuating electricity could actually make one a replica of the weather—cold and gloomy. And lazy, I may add. (I’ve brought home a lot of papers to check and record, but I lack the enthusiasm to do so.)

Sleep becomes a hobby next to food. Books and music are a welcome respite, but after three straight days even the sweet Taylor Swift gets boring. What to do? Daydream—of the sunny days at the beach, of the cable TV back home, of the next feasible recipe to cook. Ah, the simple joys of life. Things that never fail to make me feel comfortable and thankful that a part of the world is still made up of sunshine, beauty, smiles, delicious smell and all that.

And so I think of the good stuff, let my mind wander to some exciting places to take my mind off the weather and all the inconveniences it brought me. But every time I hear a fresh heavy downpour, I’m reminded of something—something lodged at the back of my mind that I could not ignore nor place somewhere else. Images of people with outstretched hands crying for food. They were wet and probably cold, too. Real tears stained their faces. It was painful to look at them. They were left homeless and perhaps with a dead family member. Like me, they were victims of a nasty typhoon. But unlike me, they were not lucky enough to remain under the shelter of their homes. Or even had the chance to think of nice things as they watch the rain wash away their precious possessions.

Now I realize that it is the perfect time to ask myself why I am complaining when what I’m going through is nothing compared to the real “victims.” I guess it is good to feel a little guilt sometimes. It helps me appreciate even the not so encouraging events like this weather now. It keeps me grounded on the truth that this life has more to it than picnics or good music or warm sheets. Most importantly, it urges me to do and be better—rain or shine—for we are truly blessed to be living on borrowed time up until now.

Of Poems and Farewells

Just a few months ago, I’ve come home from a  two-year stay in South Korea. During my short stay there, I’ve accumulated many good friends and some very good ones. The feeling of leaving people behind is overwhelming. I had that very heavy heart weeks before I bid them goodbye.

for blog

I wrote the first poem a week before my flight and has read it to them, strongly fighting the urge to cry at that moment.

Glory Days

When autumn leaves fall like they do now 
My eyes get stung by the wind that carries the green away from my memories 
My heart heaves as though a giant cloud suffocates the good times
All I can think of is the bittersweet moment that is very near

As I take in the laughter,
Hot tears are threatening 
And I’m constantly losing myself in smiles
To not let these rivers run
I’m clearly in pretense this time 
I’m clearly trying so hard to not crack this shell

Time was my friend when we met;
And yes, it is now a foe
But then again, time, as always, has proved to be magical
Its hands would lead us again to a path of sunshine filled with echoes of familiar happiness

I’m moved with everything there was
And I’m still mesmerized by everything there is.
Our past together is an old photograph although not faded yet
And right now is an amazing picture 
Should we miss each other, let’s just walk backwards
On those roads in rosy tones,
Blink back tears,
And smile for that ‘someday’

Life is collective
And friendship is the eternal endorphin 
We still live together although scattered afar
We still thrive in each other’s beckoning arms of comfort

Our glory days would forever remain golden
Though some if them would be vibrant green,
And fiery red,
And bright purple, 
And luminous pink…

I shall keep them fresh in my cellar
And when darkness overwhelms,
When it seems that the rain won’t stop,
Then shall I visit my storage
And take one precious look at them
And I’m sure that would be enough
To bring me back to a state of hope and assurance 
That life is and will always be beautiful 
Because one day, one unexpected day,
I have come to know you…

…and I got another one to bring back home! This was actually for me and my other friend who is also tight with the author.

The Eagle and the Dove

(Melvin Baclay)

I was walking alone one breezy afternoon

The kingly sun peeking behind the withered leaves

Silhouettes of two birds flying, perhaps headed home

The sight stirs a happy memory

That in a not-so-distant past

Once, I had an Eagle and a Dove


(Here we go)


One of them is sexy, the other’s healthy

Which of which, I wouldn’t tell

But this I’d honestly say

Both are pretty pretty


The healthy one loves 이민호

The sexy one loves 이만웰

But you see

They both love their Hormones Family


We saw them dance

We saw them cry

We saw them giggle and wiggle

Then we’d laugh until our jaws crack and our bellies hurt


But, like the changing breeze from warm to cold

And the autumn leaves turning gold

Life once again does its vicious change

For tomorrow when the sun nabs its final ray of light

The Eagle and the Dove will spread their wings and take their flight


Though it hurts as goodbyes do

A slice of hope springs in me

That though distance divides us

These pretty birds who we love

Forget us not and love us still


Should memories dim and feelings fade

Through the raps and slaps of earthly winds

Or the pleasuring touch of life

My only prayer would be

That they will never ever forget

The One who gave them wings

The One who taught them how to fly


His Lullaby


I’m currently staying at an apartment right along the national highway. Boy, how noisy it could get! I really hate it especially when it’s late and I’m about to drift off and suddenly be awakened by those roaring sounds coming from merciless engines of motorbikes and heavy trucks.

But that isn’t the amazing part. The part where I enjoy a calm and restful sleep every night despite the blaring noise outside is!

My situation reminds me of a famous anecdote on how two painters define peace through their respective brushes. One picture was a serene view. It was a perfect description of solitude and silence. One painting however was somewhat radical given that the concept was peace. It was a raging waterfall, very noisy and fearsome. But one feature that stood out and captured the heart of the judges was a lonely branch jutting out from the rocks behind the waterfall. And on that branch was a fragile little nest where a mother bird safely homes her small hatchlings.

I am in the same nest now; I am in the same peace.

Every single day is a constant blur of activities, of mental calculations and miscalculations, of steps and missteps. At the end of a typical day, I’d often be exhausted and be so eager for a good night’s sleep.

I’m glad I have a Provider of that despite the craziness outside. Each night I’m grateful to God for the gift of physical rest. And when my eyelids get heavy, I lay me down to a quiet sleep, confident that not even the loudest honk of a horn would disturb my world. And I’m drifting off, oblivious to the sounds outside my window…I’m drifting to a peaceful place where dreams await me…

Every single day is a constant inner struggle, too—of decisions and wrong decisions, of plans and remedies for failed plans, of circumstances that sometimes turn into predicaments, of views and perspectives, of trudging on or giving up.

I’m glad I have a Father who knows exactly what’s going on and what it is going to be, since I obviously don’t. And because of not being able to understand the craziness outside, turmoil could result inside. But each night I’m grateful to God for the gift of inner peace. And when the world almost weighs me down, I hand it over to Him, confident that not even the biggest storm in life could disturb my world.

And so every night I’m drifting……off……to sleep…..to rest safely, oblivious to the worries outside……I’m drifting off……gently rocked by His soft lullaby.

If You Can’t Beat Them…

I love how opportunities turn into great experiences and how such new encounters provide me with a host of sources of joy, entertainment, deep thinking, and inspiration, among others.

Recently, I’ve started teaching English to college students and I am exhilarated of this experience until now. It isn’t their brilliance or wit; it is neither their diligence nor manners. Oh, no. But I’m thrilled because they never fail to amuse me every day with their outputs—written or spoken. But it isn’t just about their funny lines or reactions. Majority of my students may not be so intellectually challenging, but they can still have an effect that causes me to contemplate about this interesting life.

Most of the time, their examples during lesson discussions or answers in quizzes take my stress away. There would always be bouts of laughter inside the classroom because of their epic failures. We also get to share some life stories tidbit by tidbit. There are times when I get a peek of their lives when I ask them to write essays on topics that could include some real personal issues. Sometimes their immaturity also gets in my nerves, but at the end of the day, everything is always fulfilling.

I love how my students respond to everything that’s happening inside the classroom. They get excited during group activities; they feel bored on difficult grammar lessons; they get upset with tight deadlines; they are depressed when given hard quizzes; they become rowdy and loud when they tease each other, and myriads of other reactions and overreactions.

These typical young people are also very genuine individuals. They are ruthless critics of their classmates, true to their friends, lazy students, shy and clueless teenagers, and a whole lot more.

As their teacher, I’ve learned things from them, too. I’ve become thick-skinned when it comes to sarcasm and not-so-wholesome male humor. I’ve discovered a part of me that is very resilient to harsh reactions. I became firmer in keeping my word. I’ve honed my skill in injecting fun to lesson discussions. I’ve had my share of hurling insults. I don’t flinch now whenever insensitive words are thrown my way. Unconsciously, I’ve become tougher street-wise by their crazy ways. I’ve learned many other things as well, but I guess those mentioned really stand out among the rest.

I never thought I could beat them inside the classroom. Before Day 1, facing them was a mountain. I was nervous and very apprehensive before my classes actually started. But I didn’t know that a couple of weeks is what I only need to get to the top and conquer the mountain. I found out that they are just boys hiding inside big bodies—scared, timid, inferior, and naïve.

We are in the middle of the semester now and I’m about to say goodbye to them. I guess I don’t have much to say but deep inside my heart I’m very grateful for them, for this experience, for this chance of a lifetime to be in touch with people—real people.


As I indulge in this daily grind, I came across different kinds of my fellow called humans. My interaction with and observation of them taught me hundreds of things. Thus, I would gladly share a few for your approval, disagreement, humor, information, or any other purpose that would suit you best. 

Before you read, let me remind you that my surmising could be unfair or biased since it is based only on particular premises rather than a general one. So don’t even bother to feel bad if you fall in any of the categories. It is not you. ^^
But on a lighter note, scattered in the list are some tips on how to deal with these amazing creatures.
Then again, this is just my unique opinion. And since I’m a big fan of free speech, I’d like to say that opinions are worth expressing.
Here’s my unabridged list:
1. Don’t ask them questions if you can help it. Most likely they’ll give you the infamous and grammatically incorrect, “Google it.”
2. In dealing with them, never assume. Ever. This is a deadly move. Been there, done that.
3. Don’t over-analyze them as if you can read their minds. You’ll create problems that aren’t there in the first place.
4. Try to be in their shoes though how impossible it may seem to do so. This is a good way to cut on being judgmental or totally eradicate prejudice.
5. Smile at them whenever and wherever you get the chance to. It’s a little sunshine to their day and a quick facial for you.
6. Listen when they talk to you. And while you’re at it, try to really take in what they’re saying. In short, listen and listen well.
7. Don’t ask them stupid questions. You’ll get equally stupid answers.
8. What you see in them is not always what you get. This could either be a plus or a minus depending on the situation. Be careful.
9. Don’t flatter them–they see right through it. Just appreciate if you really mean it, but if you’re faking it, silence is a much better option.
10. Never underestimate their capacity to make opposite and equal reactions to your every action. Newton said so, and I second the motion.
11. They are endowed with common sense but sadly, many of them fail to use it. Be prepared to get frustrated.
My list is getting quite long and I think I need to stop right here. I got more stuff to rant, but I learned from experience that these humans easily get bored. So I guess I’ll just update my list some other time.