This respectable woman is getting old now but has touched thousands of lives in her various capacities prominently in the academia, civic and religious organizations. Her parents are Filomeno, the champion speller of his elementary days, and Maria, once a Princess during a Peace Time fiesta. Born in 1942 right at the heart of Barrio Central, as a child she survived the hardships and ravages of war but later consistently topped her class way down from elementary up to college when the war is over. She struggled to finish her studies selling vegetables, Liwayway and komiks in their barrio and doing errands and household chores for her principal’s family. In case you are not aware of, she was one of the pioneering graduates of the Divine Word College of San Jose and became one of the two first graduates of the school’s College of Education way back in 1964. I was barely two years old then.
While I flunked or received pasang awa grades in my other subjects as a college student, I got the highest grades in my transcript in two subjects under her despite of the fact that she was considered by many as strict instructor. She was my teacher in Rizal and Early Philippine Literature (English 7) way back in ‘79. Though greatly influenced by the writings of historian Renato Constantino, I am more of an admirer of Bonifacio than Rizal and I cannot recall any single detail about Biag ni Lam-Ang, her teaching method specifically her adding of local color and contextualization of the topics in contemporary setting made me so interested in her class than my Math and Science subjects. How she motivates her students is exemplary and genuine. Ma’am Malilay knows what’s an effective motivation is and why it is effective. Her way of soliciting feedbacks and critics from her students became my first break in expressing my views and opinions on certain socio-political realities which I carried till my short stint as a former broadcast practitioner and today as a trying hard chronicler who modestly notices anything about Mindoro.
Norma Malilay (nee Necia) was great in stimulating curiosity by asking thought-provoking questions. Truth to tell, if a teacher utilizes new or different information from that which students already know, true learning develops. She satisfied our curiosity in the most interesting way and consequently filled the gap between a given and a desired state of knowledge. This is one of the indelible marks of a great mentor his or her students would cherish forever. Ma’am Malilay, aside from being a college instructor, was at the same time the director of Divine’s student affairs office. Many of her students became successful politicians, businessmen, public servants, priests, expatriates, just name it. She transferred to Occidental Mindoro State College, my Alma Mater, in the early 90s and became the Chief Administrative Officer IV until her retirement. She became my son’s part time English instructor in the now padlocked Saint Joseph College Seminary. She molded him to be lover of words and explorer of the beauty of the language. She was active in many mandated religious organizations and one of the Vicariate’s finest lectors. To those who are not Catholics, the term “lector” or “reader” is someone who in a particular liturgy is assigned to read Biblical text other that the Gospel. Even in her religious functions and apostolic works she is beyond compare. That’s why perhaps God is so good to her.
Care to scrutinize the photo shown above for a while. For me, its best caption is this: “To breath is to learn”. May we, your former students, value learning the same way you do even in foreign soil, regardless of our age…
(Photo; Grabbed without permission from Ma’am Norms’ Facebook wall)