On the hot summer afternoon of April 3, the Pasong Tamo Elementary School (PTES) in Quezon City will be seeing another batch of Grade 6 students out of its halls of education as the school prepares for the students’ graduation rites. At the same time on this day, the Tzu Chi Foundation holds its annual dictionary distribution event for the graduating batch of students.
With each dictionary distributed to the student during the ceremony comes a wish from Tzu Chi: to spread the seeds of goodness starting with oneself.
The event started by introducing each section’s homeroom teachers, along with a brief discussion of Tzu Chi’s values and life lessons that the students can bring along with them to teach and influence other individuals that they meet.
A meaningful tea ceremony session also highlighted the distribution activity. During which, a select group of students read out the letters they wrote to express their gratitude to their teachers. The students offered a red pen to their teachers as a symbol of the latter’s constant reminder to keep improving their young minds. The teachers in turn offered the students a pencil, as a reminder that everything is a learning process and that the students should never stop improving themselves wherever they end up.
Reynard John Rabanal, chose to dedicate his letter to his homeroom adviser, Teacher Jaime Mejia, Jr.
“While I know that the members of our class haven’t been on our best behavior, we’re all very thankful for Teacher Jaime for shaping and disciplining us the way that he does. Despite the disagreements we may have with him from time to time, we know that he means well when he’s being serious,” Reynard shares.
The ceremony made Teacher Adelfa Lara emotional especially when the students began approaching her hugging her at the end of the event.
“I wasn’t expecting so many students to come up to me and express what was on their minds. Because of that, I couldn’t help but cry,” she states.
“Most of the students are afraid of me because I’m very strict with them. But now that they’re about to leave the halls of Pasong Tamo, I’m very happy to see that they don’t take it against me, because they understand that I mean well when I discipline them whenever they misbehave in my class,” Teacher Adelfa adds.
For the teacher of the star section, Teacher Jaime Mejia Jr., he is happy, yet at the same time sad because another batch of students that he’d helped shape is leaving his care.
“I regret nothing when I chose to become a teacher. For the past five years I’ve spent teaching Mathematics here at the Pasong Tamo Elementary School, I’m very happy to see that the students I take under my wing learn so much, and that I help shape them into individuals that will proudly represent our school once they graduate from its halls,” he says.
PTES Principal Arsenio Honrejas Jr. believes that the ceremony organized by Tzu Chi holds significant meaning for the students and their teachers. In his parting address, he has some reminders for the students.
“I hope that they will bring with them the discipline that we have been imparting. Hopefully, they will continue to be a proper example to other students that they will meet once they ascend to the halls of higher learning,” he shares.
A total of 959 Grade 6 students received English dictionaries during the distribution. Each of the dictionary feature Jing Si aphorisms, or words of wisdom by Master Cheng Yen to guide the students to grow not only in knowledge but in wisdom as well.
The batch valedictorian Abelicah Zafe is excited at the prospect of being an example once she reaches high school.
“With the dictionary I’ve received, not only will I be able to learn new words once I reach high school; I can also show it to my classmates and teach them about Tzu Chi’s values and life lessons. Not only that, I can also pass down the dictionary to my younger siblings once they’re old enough as well,” she shares.
Prior to the start of the program, Tzu Chi volunteers get busy with fixing up the venue, aligning chairs into neat rows for the students to sit down on once the event begins.【Photo by Erin Uy】
Before the event begins at 1 in the afternoon, the students from the graduating Grade 6 class file into the venue in neat, straight lines before taking their seat.【Photo by Erin Uy】
Students from the star section of VI – Mejia respectfully receive their dictionary from a Tzu Chi volunteer. Waiting along the receiving line is their homeroom adviser, Teacher Jaime Mejia Jr., who hands each student a pencil case.【Photo by Erin Uy】
On the other side of the venue, a student receives their dictionary from a Tzu Chi volunteer with a smile on their face and a respectful hand gesture.【Photo by Erin Uy】
After the dictionary distribution part of the event has been completed, Tzu Chi volunteer Lerma Pedro shares more words of wisdom to the assembled students.【Photo by Erin Uy】
Reynard John Rabanal (left) holds the handwritten letter he’d made for his homeroom adviser, Teacher Jaime Mejia Jr. (seated, right), moments before the tea ceremony part of the event takes place.【Photo by Erin Uy】
In a surprise twist for Teacher Jaime, Reynard John is one of the chosen students who reads out the contents of their letter for everyone to hear.【Photo by Erin Uy】
PTES principal Arsenio Honrejas Jr. takes a few moments to deliver his parting speech to the graduating batch of students, reminding them to practice the discipline that they have imparted on them as they go on to the halls of higher learning.【Photo by Erin Uy】
At the end of the program, Teacher Jaime is approached by the members of his class as they express their feelings with a tight embrace and a smile on their faces.【Photo by Erin Uy】
Teacher Adelfa Lara, who is known among the Grade-6 student population of the PTES as one of the strictest teachers, is emotional as groups of students approach her and express their sentiments with a hug.【Photo by Erin Uy】