Featured Teachers’ Month Special Story of the Week: It Pays to Be Persistent, Patient, and Positive

Mr. Levy Nebrida, a college teacher at one of the major universities in Manila, has been teaching for 20 years now. He began as a part-time instructor at Metropolitan University and slowly rose from the ranks. Despite having a doctorate in economics and being promoted to associate professor, Mr. Nebrida has remained as humble, kind, and persistent as he was when he began his career. Ever since his wife and child perished in a tragic plane crash, he has dug himself so deep into his work. Never one to forsake his achievements, Mr. Nebrida also has a training business that he established with his girlfriend Glenda, a tax specialist and a consultant to various multinational companies. The two met while they were attending a conference in Chicago five years ago.

On one occasion, during his class in business mathematics, he encountered Julian, one of his students who was having great difficulty in his course. The young man was also insecure and timid, avoiding any contact with his peers for he kept a huge secret: he was dyslexic and was considered a failure both in elementary and high school.

Because Julian was the eldest and he caused his family a great deal of shame, his parents blew their top and drove him away from their home. Though Julian’s family has been known as one of the richest clans up north, he quietly slipped away from the family abode and became a working student with the help of Mang Larry, his former family driver who was so fond of him and treated him like a son, and now took the young man into his home in Sta. Cruz, Manila.

Even if his family looked down on workers such as janitors, service crew members, and other rank-and-file employees, Julian decided to take on the challenge by being a call center agent at night and studying during the day.
After class, Mr. Nebrida summoned Julian and requested him to meet up at the faculty consultation room.

“Mr. Montemayor,” Mr. Nebrida firmly said, “you have been underperforming in my course. I am sorry but I have to tell you this. Don’t you have any ambitions in life?”

“Not that, Dr. Nebrida,” replied Julian, who had a gloomy look on his face and seemed losing his hope and his sanity. “I do not know if you would understand me…”

“What would I not understand,” Mr. Nebrida shot back. “If it’s laziness, I do not tolerate it at all. Come and tell me what’s bothering you right now, Julian.”

Because he was feeling comfortable even bit by bit, the 19-year-old sophomore finally confessed that he has dyslexia and has been working at a call center in the evenings.

Instead of giving the young man a hard time, Mr. Nebrida struck up a deal with him.

“I am willing to tutor you for free on Saturdays,” the 43-year-old professor said. “You do not need to pay me; just do well and believe in yourself. And as for your condition, I am going to refer you to my friend Dr. Saldivar. He’s a developmental psychologist and you will like him. I suggest that you resign and then work at my firm as an executive assistant so that I can tutor you.”

“Why are you helping me, sir?”

“Because I was once like you. My late teacher Mrs. Limjoco encouraged me to excel and did not give up on me. I see a lot of promise in you. But please, Julian, when you succeed, please help others and never give up on those who struggle.”

“Yes, Dr. Nebrida. I promise.”

Julian eventually resigned as a call center agent and, with his savings, went on to become a financial educator and to work as Mr. Nebrida’s executive assistant. He also rented a condominium unit in Binondo together with his college friends.

Mr. Nebrida stuck to his guns and challenged Julian with many worksheets and exercises. Because the professor tutored Julian during the afternoons at the office, the young man felt more comfortable and started to believe in himself, though bit by bit. Dr. Saldivar also helped Julian to deal with his dyslexia and advised him to prove to his parents that he could be somebody.

The Montemayor scion proved to be a hardworking, trustworthy, and humble worker and as a result, the Nebrida brothers’ other employees grew to like him a lot. Even if he was born with a silver spoon, he never shirked his responsibilities and helped his colleagues in any way he could.

When Mr. Nebrida saw that Julian was performing much better in his class and in his other classes, the former decided to be there for the latter not as a tutor but as a mentor. He served as some sort of a second father to Julian and encouraged him to be consistent in being in the dean’s list.

One day, as Julian was set to graduate with Latin honors, he received a call from his mother. He was at work and was helping Mr. Nebrida to organize a major seminar.

“How did you get my number, Mommy,” Julian asked, aghast and bewildered.

“Mang Aldo gave it to me,” Mrs. Montemayor said. “Your Daddy and I are sorry for everything. We actually knew that you were staying with Mang Aldo and his family.”

“Just call me later, please. I’m at work. Sorry.”

Though he was resentful on the outside, Julian was longing for his family deep inside and he could no longer deny it anymore. When Glenda saw the now-20-year-old sobbing, he comforted the latter.

“I heard everything, Julian,” said Glenda. “Please have a heart for your family. Forgive them. You have been a good employee and student, so please be a good son this time.”

“But Tita Glenda,” Julian said, “it’s hard to forgive them. You may not know it, but I have been promising myself never to return unless I become somebody.”

Mr. Nebrida butted in.

“Be somebody. Be somebody who is loving and kind. That is what you are. Your Tita Glenda is right. And be persistent in showing your love to your parents.”

A day before his graduation, Julian was surprised when he saw his parents by the gate of his school. They hugged him tightly and sought his forgiveness.

On his very special day, Julian was very happy when both his parents went up the stage as he was declared magna cum laude.Mr. Nebrida and Glenda were very proud that their protégé was happy at last.

Julian eventually went on to succeed his father as head of the Montemayor Group of Companies and proved to become a very competent and compassionate leader. He also proved to be charitable, though in secret, and was widely respected in his native Ilocos Norte. He finally got married to his fiancé Pamela,who was his childhood sweetheart and best friend.

As for Mr. Nebrida, he became even more successful in his teaching and business careers, became the dean of the College of Business and Finance, and finally married Glenda and adopted her four children by her late husband. He eventually retired as a professor after 15 years to concentrate on his and Glenda’s businesses.#