Hey, it’s Valentine’s Day! Here in the Philippines, students make this day as a self-proclaimed special non-teaching holiday, you know what I mean when I said “non-teaching”. Most of them will wear read. Nakapang-FAMAS ika nga…FAMASKO. Don’t be surprised if they also prepare dance presentations, that’s almost automatic. Seats are also arranged like that of a Christmas Party, with a matching center table to cater the food the class have prepared. And guess whose table is that, it’s the teacher’s table of course. It’s a common thing in Philippine classroom setups, no biggie about it.
As a teacher, there’s a good a chance that you have received a couple of chocolates, personalized Valentines cards, letters, and a bunch of artificial flowers from your students. Such was not the case for me. I have a different story. Sure I could have received the same stuff that your students gave you, but the thing is, I refused to accept them. And here’s why.
For almost a year, I have already known my students. Their skills, weaknesses, their favorite subjects, and even their family background. Unfortunately, in the community where I’m currently teaching, there’s a high number of broken families. Half of my students were the product of those families. It’s sad.
This morning, we have unintentionally talked about their families while discussing about the meaning of Valentine’s Day. I carefully asked the class on who among them came from broken families and who takes care of them now. Most of them got teary eyed while holding the flowers and chocolates they were about to give me. Nevertheless, each of them willingly shared their stories. Unsurprisingly, many of them told the class that they live under the care of their grandparents, uncles, and aunts while some live with either their mother or their father. I almost got carried away just by knowing how fortunate I am and how I have overlooked their situations whenever they throw tantrums or misbehave inside my class. It’s really heart-breaking to hear those stories first hand.
So I told them that instead of offering me all these gifts and stuff, I requested them to just give the flowers and chocolates to their guardians or parents. I kept their personalized letters, though. I also told them to thank those people who are always there to support them and their studies, no matter who they are. Besides, this day is all about love and I think that children’s love is one of the purest, if not, the purest of all kind of love there is.
It’s a simple gesture and I didn’t mean to reject what they would’ve given me. I just thought that knowing they have something for me already assures me of their affection. But teaching them how to love and be grateful for the people at their own home makes this day even more worthwhile. And that’s what really matters.