By Christian U. Burgos

Living in a home

I ONCE had this class with 16 pupils. We were having in the Science 6 Class lesson about “animals in their ecosystem.” I started with a review lesson asking them to enumerate species of animals they learned.

“Cat”, the most bravo pupil shouted. And followed by dog and cow and carabao. Then, all of a sudden, everybody was reciting in a chorus form; so, I managed to silence them with a booming “Quiet!”

As my learners hushed in silence, I said, “okay, let’s all recite. Let’s begin with you Chedeng.”

Mercedes or Chedeng as the class fondly calls her was at the left corner of the front row — the brightest in the class. “Horse, sir,” she said. We applauded her and the class continued their recitation in a monotonic queue.

Then came the last row. Michael said lion and he was followed by a tiger from his seatmate.

The 15th pupil can’t recite. As if his classmates had told the class all the animals in the world. “All of the above,” his eyes lit. “Now your a joker, that’s my line,” I said.

“Ok I forgive you. I was still chuckling when I turned to the last pupil, Marlon.

And the more Marlon can’t give me anything. He said, “Nasabi na nila lahat ng naiisip ko, sir (they all recited what I had in mind, sir).”

“Come on Marlon, you can think one more,” I encouraged him. He was absent yesterday because his father wanted him to help in the rice field. After about a minute of silence, he whispered, “Marlon, sir.”

“Marlon?! That’s your name…”

“But, sir… Nung minsan ayokong pumunta sa bukid, sabi ng tatay ko, animal ka, Marlon, tamad!” (When I don’t want to go to the field, my father told me, you’re an animal Marlon, lazy!)

It seemed like a joke to me. (As I know for myself, I always inject humor in teaching. My co-teachers even say my class is a cartoon network.) But Marlon’s recitation gave me these reflections:

Words, especially the words from the people we interact the most, affect us. If Marlon can’t get enough kind words at home, I think he should get enough appreciation in school.

One could say a person is an animal, the highest of its kind, as it reasons out. But the difference between a child to an animal is that a child still do what a father summons (in a booming voice) but a young animal tends to go away once roared upon.

Children are still children. Vulnerable. A teacher may not know how children feel at home. But we, teachers, could always show them that in school, they are loved. Teachers can inspire children the way Wiliam Arthur Ward said, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”

A parent is a child’s first teacher. But a teacher can greatly affect the learning and values of a child. Alexander the Great once said, “I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well.”

The recitation of Marlon will always remind me of Henry Adams, “A teacher affects eternity.”

I am now teaching in another school, about 30 km. away from Marlon’s place. I never heard of him for the last 20 years. I am just hoping he is okay now. He may have become a farmer or another else. I pray that he is doing good in his life. He is a father now that I’m sure. I hope he is treating well his offspring like a kind father who lives in a home and not in a barnyard.


• Born on May 22.1980

• Bidduang Elementary School, 1993, Valedictorian

• Bidduang National High School, 1997, Valedictorian,

• Awarded sports writer in high school

• Cagayan State University, Sanchez Mira, Cagayan, 2001, Cum Laude

• Leadership Awardee and Journalist of the Year Awardee in College

• Master Of Arts in Educational Management 2004, soon to graduate PhD this 2019

• Teacher for 17 years

• Currently, he is Master Teacher 1 and Teacher-In-Charge of Magdalena Elementary School, Claveria East District, Division of Cagayan.