Header Ads

...and also Some Not so Memorable Professors


Well, of course, if there were brilliant professors about whom I have nothing but fond memories to this very day, there were those who, uhm, were also a tad peculiar. One of these was a Dr. Cirilo Bautista, whom I never would have guessed was a multi-awarded personality even in those days and who would one day in the future be conferred the National Artist of the Philippines award.

I don’t recall what subject he was my professor in; but it must have been in one of my literature or English courses. At the time, he wore his greying hair shoulder length, had thick-rimmed glasses and seldom, if at all, smiled during a class. His was a bland personality and he spoke in a coma-inducing monotone. It was not so much that he was menacing and more that he didn’t seem like the sort who ever thought that a college class ought to be enjoyed. He was the complete anti-thesis of, say, Dr. V and each class required effort on my part to follow his lecture and keep myself from passing out.

He was probably brilliant; but the problem to my mind then was that half the time, it was a struggle to be on the same page with him. For instance, I will forever remember him for an item in a final examination when he gave a poem he himself wrote and asked what the significance was of the period at the end of each line.

But naturally, we probably tried to outdo each other writing the most highfalutin crap we could think of. When all the papers had been turned in, those of us who were still present asked him what the answer was. His reply was like a right upper cut from Muhammad Ali himself. The period, he said, had no significance whatsoever and was used merely for esthetic purposes.

How in hell was that even fair? Having become a teacher myself, I know it for a fact that exams are given with the objective of determining that learning has taken place. How can you test for learning when something has not been taught? As far as objectives go, the only thing I could think of as far as that poem was concerned was if he wanted to ascertain if any of us in the class was psychic.

Then, there was this youngish professor whose name I cannot recall. He was our teacher in a subject called Malaysian Culture. We heard that he graduated from Ateneo which, but naturally, made him immediately suspect even before we laid our eyes on him. Content-wise, he was excellent. If anything, Malaysia was practically oozing from each and every one of his orifices.

In a way, he was like Dr. Bautista in that he was this unsmiling figure who hadn’t seemed to have heard of this thing called sense of humor. Moreover, he gave reading and writing assignments like there would be no tomorrow, seemingly uncaring of the fact that we all had other subjects to worry about. On top of these, he liked to give short essay-type quizzes similar to those of Brother Raymond Antolik.

He had this one weakness, however, which we invariably learned to exploit as much as we could. He had lived in Malaysia and loved to go on forever about his time there. A group of us in the class conspired to ask about his life in that country whenever we could smell that he was about to give one of those end-of-session quizzes.

There was this one time after this professor had announced that there would be a quiz at the end of the session when my friend Jun Sibug and I took turns asking him questions just to eat up the minutes. Other classmates at the back pitched in with questions of their own so that it wouldn’t look too obvious that Jun and I were up to no good. I had gotten quite adept at asking my questions as though I was genuinely interested in the professor’s life in Malaysia. The problem was that Mela Gomez, who sat next to Jun and me in the front seat, was so amused by our barrage of questions and couldn’t quite keep from laughing. The professor was, naturally starting to look more suspicious with every question we asked.

Well, sometimes it doesn’t pay to try to be too smart. While we managed to have the quiz postponed that one time, the professor made sure we took one at the start of the next session. It probably served us right.


If you enjoyed this article, please click the Like button or share it freely on social media. It helps to pay this site's domain name and maintenance costs.