Ms. Daisy Salaveria-Manahan has been a Filipino teacher for 25 years at Northern Luzon State University, where she first started teaching upon graduating. Even if she was not exceptionally bright during her college days, she instantly won over everyone because she has been open to feedback and warm towards everyone. She has also been widely respected by her colleagues in the Filipino Department, where she is the current chairperson, because she has never refused to help anyone in need, whether that person was a student or a fellow teacher.
One day, as she was about to get in her car after her classes, the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences- Dr. Josefino Medina- called for her.
“Dr. Manahan,” Dr. Medina politely began. “May I please speak with you for a moment, if you don’t mind?”
“Yes, Dr. Medina,” Daisy said. “Is something the matter, sir?”
“None, actually,” the CAS dean replied tersely. He added, “You’ll be having a student soon. You need to take extra care of him. He’ll be starting school tomorrow.”
Daisy beamed, said her goodbyes to the dean, and got in her Kia Avella hatchback.
While on the road, the 45-year-old college professor was puzzled as to what Dr. Medina had said, she decided to keep her hopes high and to welcome that student.
The next day, Daisy was enthusiastic and energetic as usual. Never one to forsake any student, she came to her class and saw a man in his mid-30s. He was the first in the classroom, being an hour early.
“Good morning, sir,” the professor greeted the visitor. “Are you the parent of one of my students?”
Daisy was pleasantly shocked as the man introduced himself.
“I am Ronald Guillermo,” the brown-skinned, muscular man softly spoke.
“I’m a new student here, majoring in Filipino.”
“So, you’re the student Dr. Medina told me about,” Daisy enthused.
“Welcome to my class, Mr. Guillermo!”
An hour later, students came in droves, some of them with not a care in the world. But once Daisy started her classes, everyone toed the line and began listening to her as she oriented everyone on the course.
“Class,” she began, “we will be having a new classmate. Please treat him well. He will introduce himself to you soon.”
When Ronald introduced himself, there were mixed reactions. Some of the students looked at him with contempt and disgust while the others saw him as either an older brother or a father. Despite feeling that he did not belong, the 35-year-old man was determined to give himself a chance to succeed despite his dark, grim past.
Meanwhile, as her classes ended, Daisy went into the faculty room and heard some of her colleagues spreading rumors.
“Hey, isn’t that the man who killed three people at the factory where he used to work,” said a teacher to another. “I cannot fathom why Dr. Medina decided to accept that man as a student at our university.”
“I agree, Dr. Pastrana,” another teacher whispered. “I don’t think that he would succeed in school. He’ll give up once the whole campus learns about his past.”
Daisy shook her head in disbelief. She then told her colleagues to cut it out.
For several months, Ronald struggled with his classes but he never gave up.
Even if some of his classmates and other teachers were very icy towards him, he gained friends in the persons of Richard, Henry, and Louie, who instantly accepted him as their friend and big brother. They assisted him with the lessons of the day and, in return, he taught them how to repair motorcycles and cars, since Ronald was working as a mechanic right after his classes. He also repaired car bodies and made exhaust pipes for additional income.
One time, Daisy noticed that Ronald was alone at the roadside eatery where he and his three younger classmates would eat halo-halo and study. Richard and the two other friends went home since they had to help their parents with household chores.
The professor decided to talk to Ronald alone.
“Ronald,” asked Daisy. “Is it true that you’re an ex-convict? I heard from somewhere that you were, but I want you to be honest with me.”
Ronald was not able to give a straight answer but he eventually spilled the beans after being prodded by his teacher.
“Yes, Ms. Manahan,” he admitted, with tears in his eyes. “I killed three burglars in self-defense. I saw the security guard of our factory being shot. Since Mang Deo was my friend, I had to protect him. But I was not able to protect him fully since he died from his injuries. Even if I was shot myself, I killed the three because they also attempted to burn the factory. The owner of the company did not bother to assist me with my legal problems, so I was sentenced to 15 to 20 years in prison. I was lucky because I was eventually acquitted since what I did was self-defense. In my ten years in prison, my family abandoned me and my girlfriend married another man. Even if I was losing hope, I decided to study inside prison how to be a mechanic. And when I was released, my neighbor Mang Carlos decided to take me in and make me his assistant.”
Daisy felt compassion towards her student.
“Ronald,” she assured him, “I am here for you. Even if there are those who still condemn you for your past, I don’t. And Henry, Richard, and Louie also believe in you. I am sure that Mang Carlos does, too.”
“Thank you very much for being good to me, Dr. Manahan.”
“Do you know that you’ve been a good influence to them and to your other classmates? You’ve been a good student.”
Ronald could not believe what Daisy revealed to him.
“Just do not pity me, please, Ms. Manahan,” the bachelor pleaded. He asserted, “I want to prove to myself that I can be a very successful teacher. And I am going to be one because you’ve never stopped teaching me.”
Daisy smiled and then patted Ronald on the back.
“Believe me that you can. And you will…be better than I am.”
Ronald felt a surge of energy in him and then left for Mang Carlos’ repair shop.
One day, as some of Ronald’s classmates were waiting for a ride, two men on a motorcycle did a stickup and snatched their phones and bags. They also threatened the girls with fan knives.
Ronald, who was about to ride a tricycle, ran after the two men and got into fisticuffs with them. Richard, Henry, and Louie, who saw what had happened, pummeled the hooligans together with their Kuya Roland and then handed them over to the police officers who came to the scene.
“Sir, these two men tried to rob my classmates,” Ronald muttered. “I did what I had to do.”
“They tried to hurt our classmates,” said Louie. “It’s a good thing that we were there.”
“Thank you, sirs,” one of the police officers said. “You’re model citizens.”
Irish, one of the classmates who initially snubbed Ronald, apologized to him along with her friends Wendy and Sarah.
“Kuya Ronald, please forgive us for being mean to you,” said Wendy. “Thank you for helping us.”
“No problem, Wendy,” Ronald said as he nursed his bruises and scrapes. “If others were in my shoes, they would’ve done the same thing.”
“I hope that you all have learned your lesson,” said Henry to the girls.
“Never judge a book by its cover.”
“Thank you again, Kuya,” said Irish as she and her friends accompanied him to the nearby hospital. Richard and his friends did not leave Ronald’s side.
From then on, Irish and her friends, as well as the other students, welcomed Ronald with open arms and became his friends. Daisy was especially very proud of her student, no matter how dark his past was.
Ronald proved to be a model student because he was consistently in the dean’s list. Daisy never stopped mentoring him because she saw in him a very good man who was ready to face the world. She also rooted for him when he took over Mang Carlos’ repair shop after the old man died due to liver cancer. Ronald’s fortunes turned for the better ever since he and his friends saved Irish and her friends’ lives.
“I am so proud of you, Ronald,” said Daisy as she visited Ronald’s repair shop one day. “You’ve never stopped reaching for your dreams.”
“It’s because you’ve been a mentor,” replied Ronald, “and a friend, too, Dr. Manahan. Thank you for being my first friend at school.”
Four years later, Ronald graduated with a degree in education, major in Filipino, cum laude. He was very happy because, for the first time in ten years, his parents were there to accompany him on stage. The young man proceeded to pursue masters’ and doctoral studies and finished both with flying colors. As for Daisy, she was promoted to dean since Dr. Medina relocated to New Jersey to teach there.
Soon, Ronald admitted to Daisy that he had loved her. She agreed to be his girlfriend and then they got married, since Ronald was not only a well-respected college professor but also a successful mechanic/businessman.
Daisy’s two children accepted him as their new father and grew to love him because he loved them back immensely.#