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cecile s. yumul
cecile s yumul SINCE THE sudden demise in a vehicular accident of my next of kin (two aunts, one uncle, and two nephews), living each ticking second of the clock has never been quite the same for me.

Before, I always looked forward to birthdays (of a friend, a relative, or a person I knew) as plain reasons for celebration and thanksgiving. After the accident, I now especially anticipate birthdays as grand occasions to hold close to my heart and let each celebrant know just how much his or her presence meant in my life. I give thanks for their goodness and caring and just for their being there.

January 20, was one such occasion for me to visit a mentor and friend, who is much like the teacher in the book Tuesdays with Morrie. Lucky are we who meet not one but several Morries in student life. I had the privilege of knowing many, not just one.

Ma'am Ellen Ozaeta Magat is one of them. I met her when I was 15 years old, a college sophomore. My class was her first college teaching load. From that moment on up to this day, our bond has not diminished. Our bond developed from student-and-teacher relationship and grew to friendship that extended to family ties.

There were no other visitors when I came. She was there. She said she knew I would come. She said she had invitations to go out, including one by a balikbayan sister from California. But she refused to leave home.

We had a quiet afternoon of reminiscence and nostalgia over croissants, soda, and laughter.

I was about to leave when her sister and brother-in-law arrived. I was introduced. But her sister already knew me well, as Ma'am Ellen always told them what became of me through the years and how she, now housebound because of an ailment, had been following me closely on my radio program.

She got up and went to her room. She returned holding an address book bound in leather. When she opened it, the pages held pictures gathered through the years, of her husband, daughters, and other people close to her. I saw pictures of me placed side by side with those of her three daughters Gina, Winnie and Lizzie. It has been 32 years; I no longer have copies of the pictures she has of me.

You know the feeling of looking inside the heart and soul of a person who loves you, but you get stuck in silent acknowledgment. It sends a lump to the throat; you just become weepy.

Before I left, I told her sister and brother-in-law that the long list Ma'am Ellen proudly enumerated as my achievements I could not have attained without her as a part of my growing up years. The achievements are more hers than mine.

Ma'am Ellen O. Magat is still very much alive. She retired from Holy Angel University after teaching there for almost 40 years. She is currently a Consultant for Library Science in another educational institution in Pampanga

[About the author. Cecile Santos Yumul is a veteran award winning Broadcast Journalist, a visionary teacher (Most Outstanding Teacher of the Philipines in 1992), a nationalist (Most Outstanding Kapampangan for Education in 1993), an environmentalist, and a dedicated daughter. She has over 35 years experience in the field of arts as an actor, director, and author. She is a published writer (Woman's Magazine) of essays, poems, short stories, and social commentaries. She currently resides in Lakandula, Mabalacat, Pampanga with her Mother, 18 dogs, doves, and bonsais.]

-Posted: 9:38 AM 5/7/07 | More of this author on eK!