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Albert Gamatero: Marketing Professional; Teacher by Heart Part II

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Apart from heeding a desire to teach, Albert made the decision to come home to the Philippines because of two other reasons. The first one was because he was a loving and devoted son.

“My mom was having a hard time in the States,” he explains. “She was getting old and her arthritis was worsening. Being an only child, I wanted to personally take care of her. If we stayed in the U.S., I would have had to put her in a nursing home; and I did not want that. That was not an option for me.”

While there is no wealth awaiting most of those who go into the profession, Albert has this to say, “Teaching does not make one rich; but it opens a lot of doors. Plus, God is a good provider. He will see us through it.”
He also wanted to pursue a doctoral degree, something that would have been difficult had he done so in an American university because it would require him to be in school full-time.

Returning to the Philippines, naturally, came at a price. “No more Banana Republic, Ralph Lauren, expensive travels,” he laughs. Despite the abrupt change in standards of living, Albert simply slipped back in and adjusted to life back in the country like a chameleon.

“Paradigm shift and attitude,” he says simply. It also helped that he came home for a vacation every year that he was based in the States.

What about the obvious dip in personal income? “I live within my means.”

“If I had stayed in the U.S. until retirement age, I would retire with millions,” he says, but without regret, “but I gained so much more. Seeing my mom in her old age, I could not find it in my heart to leave her. God was good. He placed that in my heart. At least, the last three years of my mom’s life, I was with her. Mom passed away in February of this year.”

Albert also finally fulfilled his desire to teach in the school where he graduated from; albeit the school had become barely recognisable from the one he left way back in 1988. He was Assistant Professor in the College of Business, Economics, Accountancy and Management; and volunteered to teach in the night high school for the financially handicapped.

He was also part-time professor of the school’s Master in Management Technology program and a thesis adviser.

While teaching, he continued to be involved in the corporate world, doing consultancies for LIMCOMA and Yazaki Torres, Inc. His vast corporate experience, Albert says, enables him to become a better teacher. Indeed, Albert’s classes are enjoyed by college and graduate school students alike.

“I have a lot of stories to tell,” he says. “I am able to draw from my past experiences and my students love hearing those stories – they learn from them. Actually, we all learn from them.

“Whenever I teach, I make sure that in the process, I am learning with the students. So, when I tell stories, I also make it a point that I listen to my students as they tell their own stories. Then we grow at the same time.”

About teaching as a profession, Albert says, “It is not a rocket science job. One does not have to be the most intelligent in order to be a good teacher. But just like any other career, one needs to be passionate about it. I’d like to believe that I have that passion. I give it my best.”

He also has very clear and definitive notions of how a teacher ought to be. “We need teachers who have a heart,” Albert explains. “We have to make sure that despite the busy schedules and sometimes the ‘thankless nature’ of the job, we do not lose our sense of humanity and continue to treat the profession as a calling.”

While there is no wealth awaiting most of those who go into the profession, Albert has this to say, “Teaching does not make one rich; but it opens a lot of doors. Plus, God is a good provider. He will see us through it.”

While teaching in La Salle, he thought that he would never return to the corporate world. “But I did; and I am thankful for the opportunity,” Albert says. “However, going back to corporate practice also made me realise that I am really a teacher by heart. When I landed a corporate job, the first thing that came to my mind was: I will one day be a better teacher because of this top management experience.”

About his family, Albert says with candour, “My dad was originally from Badoc, Ilocos Norte. My mom was from Taal, Batangas. My dad’s second wife was the one from Taal, Batangas. She passed away after ten years of marriage. No child. My dad met my mom who was running her own barong Tagalog business in Taal. The rest is history.”

Although capable of being stone-cold pragmatic, in his inner self Albert also has a lot of the artist’s temperament and passions. “I love to read,” he says of himself. “I can spend hours in a coffee shop and read. I subscribe to Harvard Business Review and for fiction, I love reading John Grisham novels.”

“I also love theatre,” he goes on. “I have this frustration of acting in theatre. So, whenever I get the opportunity, I treat myself to a nice play. It’s weird, I know; but I would imagine myself being up on stage, acting. I have seen the following: Miss Saigon, The Flower Drum Song, Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, etc.

“I have also seen a bunch of local plays and musicals: Larawan (Portrait of a Filipino as an Artist); Walang Sugat with Celeste Legazpi and Cynthia Patag; Minsa'y Isang Gamo-Gamo with Nora Aunor, a PETA Production, to name a few.”

He also loves dining and hanging out with family and friends; but is just as fine staying at home cooking. He thinks of himself as being compassionate and sincere; and that he has a tendency to be too trusting. In fact, he says that has been placed in compromising positions on a few occasions just because he could not say no to friends.

Albert has travelled extensively around the United States; and has also been to Hong Kong, Macau, Chinese-Taipei and Thailand. He thinks travel broadens a person’s perspective and has made him more appreciative of other cultures and life in general. A trip to Spain and a tour around the Philippines is part of Albert’s bucket list.

After a short hesitation, Albert says that he considers himself a ‘made’ man. Not an ounce of braggadocio in this, of course; and indeed, this has nothing to do at all with financial success. If fact, Albert confesses that he wishes he does a better job of managing his personal finances.

He is just into early middle age; yet, Albert feels that he has reached many pinnacles that have brought him personal satisfaction that many will need several lifetimes to achieve.

It is a satisfaction, perhaps, that comes from an early realisation that the highest type of sell-fulfilment has nothing to do with money whatsoever. Instead, it has everything to do with being happy with one’s self and serving humankind.

“I wake up every morning excited to go to work,” Albert sums himself up. “Not everyone has that. That, to me, is success!”

To those who have been or will become his students sometime in the future, Albert has this to say, “Despite the advancement in technology, the formula for success has not changed – hard work, dedication and commitment.”

To his peers, he says, “Be proud of our heritage. Magaling and Pinoy. We just need a break and a chance in life. Do not hesitate to help. By helping others, we realise how blessed we are. We may not know it, but the little things that we do for others could mean to them and could be the way for their lives to change for the better.

“Don’t ever compromise who you are and let anyone tell you that you are less than the person that you aspire to be.”

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