Chloe's Story: FINAL CHAPTER
Updated: Apr 5
Dahil alam ko na hindi na ako makakagraduate, there’s no point in going to school to see my grades sa other subjects dahil hindi naman na ako makakapag march. You cannot say that it was just a requirement, it’s not because yung libro ang pinaka main requirement namin sa subject naming iyon kay ma’am Fina.
After collecting the tiny bit of pieces of strength left in me, I broke the news to lola. I was basically biting my lower lip when I told her na hindi ako makaka-graduate to keep my sobs at bay.
Sa totoo lang kahit pa man paulit ulit akong sinasampal ng katotohanang ito ay hindi pa rin magawa gawang tanggapin ng sistema ko dahil every time na maalala ko lang siya at banggitin ay mas nayuyupi yung puso ko.
Lola being that person who can sense my pain held my hands and just like what she used to do, she wiped away my tears. She told me she’s going to talk to ma’am Fina especially that she knows her.
My lola was a retired teacher din kasi and ma’am Fina was under her when she was in 2nd year high school. Pero my professor has no heart Leah. Wala siyang sinasanto, ganun katigas ang puso niya. And so I told lola not to, magsasayang lang siya ng energy because talking to my professor is a pointless idea especially when she had already made up her mind.
Call me nega, but walang posi-positive thinking kung ang guro mo ay isang ma’am Fina. Kung ano na yung sinabi niya, yun na yon. And so, I just have to accept that I am not going to march on the stage and receive my college diploma, which I tried so hard to earn in the first place.
Sobrang bigat ng pakiramdam ko noon. Gigising ako na umiiyak at matutulog ng umiiyak pa rin. I didn’t know how will I ever pick myself up again. Si lola, hinayaan akong damdamin yung pain, perhaps because she knows that after this, there will come a light.
How could I ever get back on track when the only thing that could salvage me is education? Sobrang sakit na kung hindi na lang dahil sa anak ko at kay lola, I might have taken my own life. Oo Leah, ganun ako ka-depressed.
But acceptance is the key. Oo, sobrang sakit pero kailangang tanggapin. Kahit nagpuyat ka ng buong semester at kahit pinaghirapan mo lahat, kung siguro hindi para sa’yo, hindi na talaga. Kaya kahit sobrang bigat sa pakiramdam, I just have to accept it.
College is a very crucial stage. You’ll shed tears a thousand times and in just a blink, you could have a delayed graduation. Yes, this happens to many college students, but I started to think na who cares if you don’t graduate on time? Yeah, some people will make a fuss again, and I realized this the hard way, that don’t mind them because what really matters is you still get to wear the best OOTD of your life even after spending extra years in college.
And so I have to stand, and go grab that diploma.
After painful hours of crying and punishing myself, I was able to condition myself to just re-enroll the subject and graduate as a summerian. Kaya lang after a week, pinuntahan ako ng mga kaklase ko sa bahay. They came to tell me about the graduation photoshoot and all our expenses. I smiled bitterly and told them that I won’t be able to join them, mahuhuli ako.
Pero they surprised me with the news na, lahat daw kami makakagraduate. Wala raw naiwan. Lahat daw kami binigyan ng grade ni ma’am Fina.
I reminded them that awful day at school kaya baka lang talaga namalikmata sila o hindi tinignan ng maigi yung list of candidates for graduation o sadyang dala lang ito ng naipong puyat nila dahil sa mga pinapa-require ni ma’am Fina.
But then they told me they’re sure, na lahat daw nakalista kami. Sabi pa nga ng mga iba, kami na raw ang pinakamagaling na batch dahil walang naiwan sa amin.
I stared at them, in hope that they will stop if everything was just a prank. But they didn’t back out, and so they might be telling me the truth. Pero paano? She didn’t accept my book, pinagtatapon pa nga niya. There’s no way she could have given me a grade. It’s very impossible.
My classmates weren’t lying Leah because I was able to graduate. Wala si ma’am Fina nung graduation namin and I haven’t heard from her since the day she refused to accept my book.
Tuwang tuwa si lola when she learned na ga-graduate ako and she even urged me to call my parents and tell them the good news. Pero umiling ako at hindi siya sinunod Leah. Call it pride but I am very much contented with my son and my lola by my side especially on this momentous event.
Oo, hindi tama ang nagtatanim ng sama ng loob, pero I cannot tell kung masama ba talaga ang loob ko o sadyang nasanay lang talaga ako na wala sila sa tabi ko at nasanay nang si lola lang ang magulang ko. Maybe. Sa dinami dami ng nangyari sa buhay ko nang wala sila, I cannot expect them din to be there for me because if they want to be part of every event in my life, then why did they sent me away in the first place?
I am just making things easier for them, saving them from wasting their time in making excuses. So there’s that Leah. Anyway, my lola and my son accompanied me, it was lola who stood beside me as we walk towards the stage while my son was on the bleachers with two of my gay friends.
The moment I held my diploma was just so fulfilling and I felt like eto na yon, nothing will ever stop me. Kaya lang Leah, nagtatanong pa rin ako kung paano ako naka-graduate, but no one could answer my question even the faculty members. Hanggang sa isang araw, one of my teachers came and told me we’re going somewhere.
Hindi ko gusto ang aura ni Sir Rey noon dahil para itong binagsakan ng langit at lupa at yung lungkot sa features niya ay tumatagos sa akin.
Hindi sinabi ni sir kung saan kami pupunta, I just figured it out nung huminto kami sa tapat ng isang hospital. I asked kung sino yung pupuntahan namin but I didn’t get any answer.
Sa ICU kami pumunta and I had to open the door for me to find out as to why we were there. Sir Rey let me open it and the moment I did, bigla akong nanlumo.
Lying in the hospital bed with tubes in her body was…… ma’am Fina. When she saw me, her tears found their way out. She was crying and I could tell she was so desperate to say something but she just can’t because the tube in her mouth won’t allow her.
I was literally frozen. I didn’t know which one to process first. We were at the ICU, ma’am Fina being so weak, and there were tears in her eyes. Yes, she’s crying. I never thought there would come a day I’d see her cry and would look very very frail.
Sir Rey signaled me to go closer to ma’am Fina and when I did, doon ko na rin naramdaman na umiiyak na rin pala ako. I held her right hand and my heart aches over this painfully rare sight of her displayed emotion.
She kept on shaking her hand in the air while staring at me. The gesture was as if shaking my hands, congratulating me. The sob I was desperately trying to hold finally made its way out.
And I didn’t know that was what I needed the most Leah; her appreciation.
Ma’am Fina had a stage 4 lung cancer and sir Rey told me everything. Lagi raw akong kwinekwento ni ma’am Fina, because I do have potentials daw. I just needed to be pushed hard to keep on striving. Kaya double yung pagka strict niya sa akin at lagi niya akong ginigisa because she believes that my potentials need to be awaken.
‘Pag may competitions, she secretly monitors if I won or not. All I thought wala siyang pakialam kasi whenever I gave her my excuse letter, she never honored it. She had always made me feel that I was prioritizing my extracurricular activities even if I wasn’t. But that was just her being her because she still tends to ask for updates daw about me.
And about yung libro ko, yung ginawa niya was her way of disciplining her students. Hindi lang daw ako yung nakaranas ng ganoon, marami kami. So I shouldn’t use it to hold a grudge towards her because she just wants all the best for her students.
While sir Rey was telling these, I was already in tears but what made my sobs come out was when he said; “ma’am Fina is so proud of you.”
For my entire college years, I’ve been working so hard to please her that’s why I always give my best shots in every activities and requirements she asked us to do.
Sobrang talino ni ma’am and I really aspire to be like her someday. She was one of the reasons why I challenged myself to do the things I think I can never do. That’s why I was that heart broken when she didn’t accept my book.
Leah, all this time, she’s always been there for me. Like a shadow, nariyan, pero kadalasan hindi natin napapansin.
I wished nothing but to see the strong ma’am Fina and to hear her intimidating voice again. Kaya lang Leah, after a month, she passed away.
Until now I still couldn’t believe that she’s gone. My system couldn’t accept her passing. It feels like for me she’s still alive.
Being with her was a nightmare. I haven’t slept in four years because of her. I cried thousand times because of her. And I almost gave up because of her.
But you know what, if it wasn’t because of her, I wouldn’t get to learn the best things in college. She’s the most terror and intimidating teacher I have been with. But I wouldn’t be who I am now, if it wasn’t because of her.
She had prepared me for my entrance in this toxic world. She taught me a lot of things. Indeed, behind the feisty demeanor is a loving mentor who wants nothing but to bring out the best in you.
Ngayon, tatlong taon ng wala si ma’am Fina. She may be gone but her teachings remained. Lahat ng natutunan ko sakanya ay tinuturo ko rin sa mga students ko. My son ay nasa grade 1 na at si lola talaga ang very hands on sa pagtuturo sakanya. As for my parents, hindi pa rin kami nag-uusap, same with Larry. I never had a boyfriend after him at hanggang ngayon ay single pa rin ako. My doors are not close but for now, sa trabaho at sa anak ko na muna ako magfo-focus.
Leah, before I end this letter, I just want to say one last thing Leah, this is to all the students out there; you are probably hating your teacher right now because she’s maybe demanding a lot, very strict, and doesn’t give consideration.
That’s college. We really get to encounter professors like ma’am Fina kung saan kailangan mo talagang mag-double effort if you want to survive college and if you want to graduate.
There really is no shortcut to graduation. You have to work hard, stay wide awake for consecutive nights, and sacrifice many things just like your social life because I repeat, that’s college — you really have to undergo a very difficult process to earn your diploma.
On the other hand, meeting a professor or an instructor like ma’am Fina is terrifying. Yung pakiramdam na lagi kang kakabahan sa tuwing siya yung teacher mo at sobrang nakakatakot magkamali. Yung kailangan mo talagang mageffort otherwise hindi ka makakagraduate.
But you know what, an educator like ma’am Fina is a blessing in disguise. Why? Yes being with someone like her for years would really cause you many emotional breakdowns but to tell you honestly, if it wasn’t because of her pushing you to your limits, hindi ka matututo ng bongga.
Keep this in mind that teachers have different teaching styles but certainly they have one goal; that is to educate you and to prepare you for your entrance to the real world. Be thankful when you meet a very strict teacher because he or she just wants to bring out the best in you that’s why he or she is being oh so perfect.
It’s given na maiinis ka minsan at magtatanong kung bakit ganun si ma’am or si sir parang sumosobra na; just always remember to look at the good sides of everything.
Thank you very much for reading my story Leah. Hanggang dito na lang.