AMID THE TIME of joy that is the Silliman University Founders’ celebration, a truly saddening event happened that struck the hearts of students and faculty alike.
Our beloved teacher, Mrs. Maria Jocelyn Garcia, passed away last Aug. 23.
In most of her career before her departure, Ma’am Garcia handled the Filipino IV classes in Silliman University High School.
One would be amazed how after years of teaching the same material again and again, she never seemed to be exhausted or unhappy with her work. She had already memorized every chapter, yet her enthusiasm to share with her students the all-too-familiar story of El Filibusterismo never died.
A diverse and open-minded person, she encouraged students not only to strive hard in their studies, but also to enjoy life’s joyous moments.
Ma’am Garcia’s kindness was not restricted to the four walls of the classroom. Beyond her duty as a teacher, she listens to her students’ problems, gives personal advice, and shares experiences and life lessons. At one point, Ma’am Garcia even helped a student convince her parents to allow her to study for college in her dream university.
One of the most significant lessons students would learn from Ma’am Garcia is that every decision leads to something more significant in the future, that starting from the dinner at Kapitan Tiago’s house in Noli me Tangere, to Simoun’s painfully narrated suicide in El Filibusterismo, every single event in the story accumulated and led to its tragically beautiful ending.
But as she assigned her students to reenact their own versions of the story’s conclusion, she had made her students remember that one can always break the wheel of fate, that one can deviate from history even with just a single act of bravery.
Those students who were once fresh from the cliffhanger of Noli me Tangere, once ignorant of the knowledge she would have shared to them later on, have now grown to remember always in their hearts their kindhearted mentor. As shown by the fruits of her labor and the lives she had touched, Ma’am Garcia’s legacy continues to live on.
If Ma’am Garcia’s students could speak to her at this moment, these are the messages they would sincerely impart to her:
“It may be really sad for us who would not see your radiant smile and hear your powerful words again, but in the end we would feel happy for you, Ma’am, because we know what lies ahead of your leaving. You deserve that peaceful rest from all the pain in this world. We know you are with God and nothing else could be happier. Thank you for the significant marks you’ve left.”
-Janna Jhea Gumalo, Batch 2015
“Thank you for all the help, memories, and advice not only to me but also to my other family members. You have taught me that no matter what pain I go through, I should never lose hope. You have taught me to be a better fighter in life’s trials. Most of all, you taught me to beat deadlines with utmost grace.
For all those things you imparted, I will be forever grateful … Overall, you have touched so many lives including myself … God bless up there. We love you, our guardian angel!”
-Jeya Clarize Baylosis, Batch 2015
“Thank you, Ma’am, for teaching us more than just El Fili. Thank you, Ma’am, for inspiring and pushing us to become the best that we can be. Thank you, Ma’am, for simply being a woman that many wish to become one day. One day, you will see us achieve all the goals we told you about, and we hope we’d make you proud. We love you, Ma’am!”
-Ayla Gaudiel, Batch 2016
“Hindi ko man siya nakausap o nakapiling muli matapos ng ako ay lumisan sa Silliman, taos-puso kong pinasasalamatan ang mga gurong tulad niya sa pagbabahagi sa amin ng mga gintong aral ng buhay… Salamat, Ma’am Garcia. Alam kong masaya ka na ngayon sa piling ng Dios. Ikaw ay naging isang biyaya sa Silliman, sa iyong mga kapwa guro, at higit sa lahat, sa iyong mga estudyante.
P.S Ma’am, nakakatulong nga ‘yung payo niyo na manood ako ng maraming teleserye upang mapabuti ang aking pag-Tatagalog.”
-Stacy Danika Alcantara, Batch 2005
“I love you, Ma’am Garcia! The memories we made will always be treasured. At least now, you can finally rest. No more pain, no more sorrow. Thank you for all the lessons you have taught us. From the Junior Sillimanian to Aquino A, you will always be one of my greatest advisers. I will miss you so so much. You are now finally home. Kabalo ko excited kaayo ka sa centennial kay ikapila gyud ka nag-remind nako nga mu adto. Karon, makakita na gyud ka sa centennial celebration with a much better view! Rest in peace, Ma’am. See you soon.”
-Mykaela Maxino, Batch 2013
As your former students, we couldn’t thank you enough for your undying support, your words of encouragement, and your welcoming aura that made the last moments in our high school lives unforgettable.
You cared for us like you were our mother, and for handling several sections in a day, we are truly amazed by how you managed to care for all of us. We would never forget how you uplifted our spirits in our time in your class, and no matter how difficult the activities you assign to us, we always knew that what we were doing was worthwhile, because you were there to support us every step of the way.
Thank you for showing us that we, the youth, are truly the hope of this nation and that we are the ones who could make or break tomorrow’s history.
Though a cloud of sorrow daunted over us the moment we learned of your departure from this world, we soon realized the happiness in the fact that your suffering has been put to a stop. We are still grateful that you are now in good hands with God, and you are now in a better place–up there in Heaven, where your pure spirit truly belongs.
Paalam at maraming salamat po, Ginang Garcia.
-John Carlos Plata, Batch 2015, Andre Joshua Aninon, Batch 2014, Julliene Salboro, Batch 2015.