Dr. Onofre Pagsanghan: Commitment to Teaching

Hi, guys! Good morning! This is Mr. Pagsi.

Our topic for reflection today is “Commitment to Teaching”. Why Mr. Pagsi for this particular topic? Perhaps because I am 87 years old; and perhaps because I have been teaching here for 63 years. The question I am frequently asked is “when will you retire?” My answer, “why will I retire, I’m still having a wonderful time.” The next question, of course, will be. “How do you keep your energy, your enthusiasm, and your passion alive?” I echo the question in song, “How do you keep the music playing? How do you make it last? How do you keep the song from fading too fast?” Yes, I love music. We are a music-loving people. Therefore let us ask four musicians to help us draw insights for our reflection on “Commitment to Teaching.”

Our first musician is a concert violinist – Fritz Kriesler.

He finds a gem of a violin in an antique shop. He plays the violin and he is mesmerized by the astonishing beauty of its sound he did not have enough money then but he vowed to come back and buy the vintage violin. When he comes back, the violin has already been bought by a rich collector of the choicest antiques. The next time the concert violinist sees the amazing violin it is already locked and silenced in a glass cabinet in the rich man’s elegant collection. The violinist pleads to play the violin one last time and the violin sings with such stirring beauty that tears well up in the rich man’s eyes and he exclaims, “Go, take the violin! I have no right to keep such a gem locked up and silenced in a glass case for my selfish satisfaction. Go, take it to the world and let it sing for thousands who have much need for a moment of magnificence in their drab lives.”

And now we reflect:

God has given us so many valuable gifts: talents, education, opportunities. Do we lock up these gifts unused and wasted? Do we use them for the self alone? These gifts have been entrusted to us to be developed to the fullest and then shared selflessly with those who have so much less. We have been given so much. How much do we give back?

Our second musician is a concert pianist – Ignacy Paderewski.

A mother and her 5 year old son buy tickets to the piano concert. They arrive early at the concert hall. The mother sees a dear friend and they get engrossed in deep conversation. The 5 year-old boy wanders off, goes up the concert stage, and begins to tinker with the grand piano. “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”. The house lights dim. The stage lights go up a hit. The great Paderewski enters quietly. He motions the audience to stay still. He walks behind the 5 year old absorbed with his one-finger Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”. The maestro whispers softly, “Keep playing, son.” Then the great pianist extends his left hand and his fingers play the bass accompaniment. Then his right hand reaches out and his agile fingers fly in running cadenzas. And the 5 year-old’s “Twinkle” transforms into a stunning concert piece. The audience gives the great Padewarski and his 5 year-old accomplice a standing ovation. Twinkle, twinkle, little star.

Mr PagsiTime to reflect:

Amazing what happens when the maestro helps the 5 year-old at the piano. Amazing too what happens when Christ helps the teacher teach. The teacher’s insecurity transforms into confidence. The teacher’s floundering morphs into inspiration. Amazing how a teachers moments of boring “Blah” can morph into moments of illuminating “Aha!” When the teacher team-teaches with Christ, amazing grace indeed. The teacher with Christ – awesome!

Our third musician is a concert cellist, Pablo Casals.

A newspaper columnist interviews the 90 year-old cellist. “Mr. Casals,” he begins, “you are reputedly the best cellist in the world. Why do you still have to practice 5 hours a day? The humble Mr. Casals is quiet for a while. Then he answers very simple? “I am improving.” Time to reflect: 90 year-old Pablo Casals, the world best cellist, still practices 5 hours a day. He still prepares for his concerts. He still strives to give his audience the best that he can give. This is his vocation. It is the meaning if his life. The teacher has been teaching for ten year, 20 years, 50 years. He still writes his lesson plans. He still prepares for class. He is still improving. He still strives to give the students God will bring to his classroom, the very best that he can give. This is his vocation. It is the meaning of his life.

Our fourth and last musician is a composer, Fr. Manoling Francisco, S.J.

In one of the best faculty retreats I have made in my 63 years here, my retreat master was a former First Year student who became a Jesuit.
Fr. Manoling Francisco, S.J. Yes, the one who composed “Hindi Kita Malilimutan” and “Tanging Yaman” and “I Will Sing Forever of Your Love O Lord” and many other songs. We, teachers, were asking then the same questions we are asking now. How do we remain faithful to God? How do we keep our COMMITMENT to TEACHING? Again, the song…”How do you keep the music playing? How do you make it last?”

I took down Fr. Manoling’s answer VERBATIM. I wrote it down, word for word. He said and I wrote. “How do I make my commitment to God last? Despite the fragility of promises and the impermanence of emotions? We re-commit, we re-dedicate. We make a decision and we renew our decision day after day, moment after moment. We re-commit, we re-dedicate, we re-consecrate day after day. Moment after moments.”
Let us pray.
Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.

+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Here I am, Lord.
Is it I, Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night.
I will go, Lord,
If You lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.

Here I am, Lord. Amen.

+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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