education in the Philippines

Ma. Victoria Carpio-Bernido: The legacy of an innovative educator

Jesha Casenas
Ma. Victoria Carpio-Bernido: The legacy of an innovative educator

TRIBUTE. Ma. Victoria Carpio-Bernido gives a welcome address at the Central Visayan Institute Foundation.

Ma Julie Pearl Baja-Aclan

'When we look back at our experience with Ma'am Marivic, it wasn't just the pedagogy and methods that made us strive for excellence. It was also the unwavering belief she had in our unique, God-given abilities.'

Editor’s Note: Ma. Victoria Carpio-Bernido was an educator, physicist, and a recipient of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2010. She succumbed to cancer on January 6, 2022. She was 60.


When Ma’am Marivic and Sir Chris moved to Jagna, Bohol, and started developing the pedagogical methods in Central Visayan Institute Foundation (CVIF), great news circulated around town and other parts of the province. The news of having the Bernidos in Jagna brought great hopes to parents and inspired students to enroll and experience firsthand the couple’s expertise in the academic world.

This article would come short of the life and works of Ma’am Marivic. In her pursuit – together with Sir Chris – of innovating an effective method of learning, in developing the CVIF Dynamic Learning Program (DLP) and Learning Physics as One Nation, and grounded by core values, she has caused a cosmic shift in the hearts and minds of her students. As we cite some testimonies, may we honor her life’s work and remember how she victoriously tapped into our greatness.

What comes to mind when her former students recall Ma’am Marivic? A plethora of superlatives: exceptional, brilliant, intellectual, compassionate, and a pious educator who embodied elegance and grace with a high caliber for excellence. Her vision for the CVIF was to create a safe space for world-class learning, develop greatness within each student through self-discovery, and cultivate each student to become their best self. All of this, in contribution to family, country, and the greater global community, and founded on integrity and God-driven values.

CLASS PICTURE. Ma’am Marivic with Madelyn Nayga (3rd, lower left).
Empowering

On the surface, Ma’am Marivic was an educator who created a curriculum that served the students instead of the other way around. She methodically equipped each student with values and competencies for further studies and careers while acknowledging the varying roles and responsibilities each student played at home. The DLP curriculum was created to uplift each student from poverty by meeting them where they were socioeconomically – forgoing homeworks to make room for familial responsibilities made each student feel valued, heard, and seen – even matching high-performing students with scholarships so they could keep up with their studies.

“When I was offered to go back to CVIF after transferring to a public school due to financial reasons, it became a turning point in my life. It gave me the dream and hope back – one that almost slipped away when I temporarily stepped out from the school.”

Eligio Sandigan, Class of 2005

Through her leadership, she developed and protected her students’ talents and creativity while guiding us toward the path of the fullest realization of our potential. In her eyes, each one of us mattered.

When we look back at our experience with Ma’am Marivic, it wasn’t just the pedagogy and methods that made us strive for excellence. It was also the unwavering belief she had in our unique, God-given abilities. Much like Michelangelo seeing past a rock boulder and envisioning the statue of David, she saw something in us that sparked curiosity over our own potential, stretching ourselves at lengths to discover what we were capable of doing.

“Ma’am Marivic handed me physics articles she wrote even before I pursued physics. Of course, she didn’t expect me to understand anything but wanted me to see how physics articles looked. I gazed at them and wished that someday, I’d have my name written below a strange-looking title. Seven years later, I published my very first physics article in the Journal of Mathematical Physics and three years thereafter, my first article on the Physical Review Letters.”

Madelynn Nayga, Class of 2009

Her sheer belief in our potential empowered us to push beyond the four walls of a normal, 3rd class municipality in Bohol. When the status quo taught us to play small, she saw our infinite greatness and encouraged us to play a big game.

Holistic

Ma’am Marivic wholeheartedly shared her passion for classical music, ballet, and travel as she exposed our naive minds to different cultures through our school plays.

PASSION. Jeanne D’Arc, a French play produced by Ma’am Marivic, during CVIF Foundation Day 2001.

Not only was she a science and math teacher, she was also our dance instructor. Through her, we learned the fundamental ballet positions, relevé and plié, reminding us to keep the integrity in our posture.

“I could still hear her voice saying, ‘No corners!’ referring to our raised elbows while doing a relevé. We were eager and excited to take her dance lessons then; if she made science and math classes easy for us to understand, she made dance class fun and educational.”

Divine Grace Tadle, Class of 2005

Everything she taught was multilingual, activity-driven, and nothing short of cultural and linguistic research. She taught the etymology of foreign languages as we wrote our own lines and memorized them. Soon enough, we were able to understand Pater Noster or the Lord’s Prayer in Latin.

Through Ma’am Marivic’s implementation of DLP’s “learning by doing,” she unconventionally created a pedagogy that holistically mentored her students, mixing sciences together with humanities, arts, and culture.

Legacy

In her study of theoretical physics, Ma’am Marivic understood how the universe and the vast, dynamic world that we lived in were expanding. She knew that once her students graduate and fly from the CVIF nest, we would be thrown into unimaginable circumstances. Looking back, we now understand why she had us portray the lives of saints for our annual plays. It was an ingenious, clever way to practice embodiment. Not only did she teach us the virtues of saints, but she also took it to the next step and had us embody them through acting.

Successfully navigating unknown situations requires character (a deep understanding of oneself) and the courage to take the leap of faith into the unknown. Ma’am Marivic knew that to create a sustainable change in us, she needed to expand and challenge our minds, as well as guide and trust our agency so that we could carry on with our lives with our values – the ones she had instilled in us – intact.

“Back in the day, we only had simple glasswares (beakers, flasks, thermometers), not even a distillation set up in our chemistry lab. Ma’am Marivic, with her understanding and wisdom, told us, ‘It’s okay, I understand. You see, at CVIF, we trained and empowered you to focus on the fundamentals, not on material things.’ She had taught that greatness does not come from material things but rather from the mind, spirit, and passion. ‘Work hard and let God do the rest.’ She believed that wherever we are in life, we’ll be able to hold courage and solve challenges head on.”

Ronald Lloren, Class of 2005

As we take a step into an unknown world, a world without Ma’am Marivic, we grieve and mourn our loss. We also look back and cherish the precious memories we’d had with her. How she used to graciously glide down the hallways of CVIF with her handkerchief and meter stick in hand; or how she mothered us all, protected our youthful innocence, and sternly fought for our inner child to play with curiosity and wonderment for the world.

Most importantly, we celebrate and honor the seeds she had lovingly sown in each of us. Ma’am Marivic will forever live in our hearts as we strive to continue her legacy. – Ardeille Iris Pielago-Rivera, Divine Grace Tadle, Elegio Sandigan, Mary Madelynn Nayga, Ronald Lloren/Rappler.com