[Mother’s Day] Teacher for life

Benise P. Balaoing
Talk about a like-mother-like-daughter story!

SPICE GIRLS. A strong mom and her equally-strong girl. Photo from Benise Balaoing

MANILA, Philippines – My mom, Maria Rose Pabia Balaoing, is a teacher by profession. A Magna Cum Laude of Bachelor of Science Major in Mathematics at the University of Santo Tomas, she went on to teach at St. Jude Catholic School. She was appointed chairperson of the Math department only 3 years into the job.

But she left afterwards to finish her masters in the University of the Philippines, where she also finished Magna Cum Laude. She then worked at the Ateneo de Manila High School and got promoted to associate teacher only after a year. She was well on her way up. 

But after my brother was born, she resigned and decided to focus on raising us instead.

Dream maker

Much of who I am today is because of my mom. 

When I was 3 years old, I joined Little Miss Philippines, the country’s number one talent search for little girls. Mom patiently trained me to declaim Carlos P. Romulo’s “I Am a Filipino.”

“Allergic si Mama sa mahiyain (Mama’s allergic to shy people),” she used to tell me. This was to encourage me to deliver the piece confidently. Her persistence paid off when I made it to the semi-finals of the competition.

This early experience did 3 things to me: first, it made me love the camera. I loved the feeling of standing in front the camera with everybody listening to me. That’s why I’m determined to be back there someday as a broadcast journalist. 

Second, that was also the beginning of my love affair with public speaking, and it’ really been a great experience expressing myself freely — and sometimes, winning awards for it. 

More importantly, however, was the confidence-boost this exposure gave me. I can perform on stage without getting butterflies in my stomach.

Today, I’m usually the first to volunteer — for dance choreographer, group leader ot floor director.

That’s because the experience taught me that I could be anything I want to be, as long as I set my heart on it.

Pillar of strength

My mom is also my pillar of strength in times of adversity.

When my entire class was against me in second grade — they said “nagsisipsip raw ako sa teacher” (I was a teacher’s pet) — she told me to ignore the teasers and focus on my studies instead. 

When I got teased because of my size, she consoled me and me feel that I was beautiful in my own way. 

She taught me to use my failures to spur me on to greater heights.

Indeed, I have failed many times in life, and this advice from my mom has never failed. It made me challenge myself to do more, exceed my limitations, aspire for — and get — no less than the best.

Role model

My mom taught me to be frank, to speak my mind. She taught me to break the status quo. She taught me to speak up when I see something wrong. 

Most important of all, my mom taught me to stand up for what I believe in.

In a field where trends come and go, where it’s so tempting to side with what’s most popular.

But, because of my mom, I know that what matters is that I stand my ground and fight for what I believe is right. – Rappler.com


(What lessons has your dad taught you? Tell us about them. Send us your story and photos with subject heading WORLD’S BEST DAD to desk@rappler.com. Join us on Father’s Day, June 17, 3 PM, for a live Tweet convo about dads. Add @rapplerdotcom #loveyoudad.)

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