Life Lessons from Teachers

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HER LEGACY
by Reev Robledo

I never understood why she made me do it.

Loud…soft…loud…soft…

One after the other. Week in and week out. This year and the next. What’s the whole point? How will this make me better? Is she a crazy old loon? Only her reputation precedes my revelry and respect for her. What are you teaching me?

Almost two decades had passed and I accidentally chanced upon an obscure announcement in the bulletin board while visiting the university. A legal-sized poster said: Onching Laureola’s remains lie at The Abelardo Hall. Her wake was inside the college’s famed auditorium.

And there she was. Dead. Or “fertilizing daffodils” as John Keating would say. That kind, frail woman had slipped into the afterlife and left a multitude of students, both young and old, with melancholic hearts and a sense of pride as their only comfort.

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Piano recital. College of Music, Abelardo Hall. University of the Philippines, Diliman.

I went up the balcony where a haunting, but nonetheless enchanting, scene provided the ambience. My seat creaked. I began to relive many memories from a distant past. As a string quartet played by her coffin, I began to figure out what she was trying to teach me all along.

It was about being in control. Applying the right kind of pressure to express the right kind of emotion. Heaven’s gift had to be nurtured for it possessed great power. The ability to alter moods, touch hearts and even provide solace, demanded a certain kind of responsibility. Each pupil she had patiently guided was skillful, but only the brave and persistent ones saw the outcome of their mastered craft.

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Every Christmas at my grandparents’ place, we would have a talent showcase. My cousins and I did it for the money.

The quartet played on. Their sorrowful concerto resonated across the walls of the auditorium. While songs of prayer and sympathies were sung in silence.

Loud…soft…loud…soft…

Yes, it finally made sense.

Unlike many years ago, my adult fingers would now hammer those ivory keys with precision and might—though my teacher would have probably frowned at my lack of practice and form. It was one of those exercises that eventually allowed the creation of melodies unthinkable to an adolescent boy relentlessly trying to perfect a beginner’s classical piece. The lessons had been worth it, much more than I could have ever imagined.

However, playing by ear seemed much more fun. Having abandoned the discipline of the classics, I went on to entice my surroundings with familiar tunes that pop culture had brainwashed me with. Song after song. Lyric after lyric. It was a gift that encapsulated my very being and purpose. I must return to my roots and honor my mentor’s wishes.

After almost a hundred writings, several choirs, various scores and recordings through the years, the music played and plays on.  For every recognition, respect and reward I have been blessed with, I honor the Lord Almighty and thank Him for sending an angel in the likeness of an immensely talented woman whom I love and hold in high esteem.

Onching Laureola was my piano teacher. She taught me how to fly.

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At the SM Cinema stage. This was the second musical that I wrote. My teacher should have told me it would be like this.
kamuning
Music, spoken word, poetry, literature. Artists for ALAB.

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Title: Life Lessons From Teachers
Editors: Suzanne Williams, Tracy Ruckman
Publisher: Write Integrity Press
Genre: non-fiction, anthology, biographies, memoirs

Purchase the print or ebook here.

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