I texted PSLink that I can’t make it to the meeting of Teachers Solidarity tomorrow. I will be traveling with Girlie and Ayen to Lucena City to celebrate the 84th birthday of my father-in-law, Dr. Cesar Villariba.
He is Dean Emeritus of the Graduate School of Enverga University. Although family and friends keep urging him to take life easy and retire, or else just lecture occasionally and write books, “Iba” as we fondly call him, insists on teaching not only graduate students but even an undergrad class.
Some years back, I edited a collection of his articles on education. After some discussion, we chose as book title Teacher for Life. He is that, and more. Perhaps “life long learner” is the other apt description.
Like many young men of his generation, Iba fought with the guerillas during World War II. That was when he met, courted, and married an orphan girl, Flotilda. The marriage produced 13 children, and “Flotie” used to pray fervently that God should give her a priest from among her many sons.
When Girlie and I became partners, she was supposed to have said: “God has finally answered my prayers, though not exactly what I asked for. Instead of a son, it is a son-in-law, and a laicized priest!”
After the war Iba studied at UP Los Banos and went to Columbia University for his doctorate. When I interviewed him for the book, he said that his ideas on education bear the influence of John Dewey who was the leading educational philosopher in Columbia then. In fact Malu Doronilla once said that John Dewey’s ideas may still be the underlying philosophy of the public education system in the Philippines.
His only reservation was that John Dewey declared himself an atheist or agnostic (I don’t recall exactly). He has been an active lay leader and is keenly interested in theology, so he says that he combines Dewey’s ideas with those he learned from some Jesuits.
I lost my father when I was only four years old, and my mother did not re-marry, so Iba is the father-figure available to me. In fact Girlie sometimes teases me that Iba and I share some mannerisms.
Since I have decided on being an “educator” as my identity for the rest of my life, I wonder if I will be as active as he is when I am 80. Genetically, at least, I have a fair chance to reach 80, since my mother is turning 88 next year in February.
When my mother turned 85, one of the ideas I read that resonated with me was this – “people want to live long, and to live well.” I used that idea for her birthday tarpaulin: Pagdiriwang at pasasalamat sa mahabang buhay at makabuluhang buhay.
We don’t need to wait till Iba turns 85 to celebrate and give thanks for his long and meaningful life.