LAST Saturday’s bad weather doubled what was supposed to be a 35-minute trip from Barangay Bacayan to the Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC) for Dionesia Quaio.
But the heavy traffic and cramped space inside the jeepney did not wither the 56-year-old’s smile.
She did make it to her destination an hour later, but she was nowhere near the finish line.
Quiao was one of the 5,400 qualified public school teachers and personnel who went to the CCSC last Saturday to receive their annual P10,000 financial assistance from the City Government.
“I don’t get cranky easily or get impatient when I have to wait. This is not a race. We will eventually reach the finish line,” she told SunStar Cebu.
During the distribution, however, not all teachers got the entire amount since the City had to deduct P5,000 from those who received their cost of living allowance (Cola) and hardship allowances in 2015.
Among those who received only half of their Cola was Ma’am Dionesia.
Instead of feeling bad, the Grade 2 teacher from Bacayan Elementary School saw it as a positive development.
“We should be thankful because the City is still trying to give us something. It is not easy to be in their (officials) position because the city has many needs but they did not forget about us. For me, if we receive something or not, my only happiness really is being a teacher,” she said.
While the other teachers had grown bored and tired of waiting, Ma’am Dionesia patiently waited for her turn.
She could be heard humming a children’s rhyme, while fiddling with a loose thread on her suit.
“I’m used to waiting. I even waited for almost 20 years before becoming a teacher, how much more for a few minutes,” she said.
Quiao also known as Nene, who is from Argao, grew up being discouraged from dreaming of things beyond their family’s meager income.
The youngest in the brood of five remembered being mocked for wanting to become an elementary school teacher.
“They would tease me that I’m only good at washing the dishes, that I would never become a teacher,” she said.
She dreaded graduating from elementary school, as this would mean saying goodbye to any plans to further her education.
Her older siblings were not enrolled in high school and seemed to have been contented with their austere lifestyle.
But Quiao believed that she was destined to teach and so she took P20 from her mother’s tattered purse to enroll herself at the local community high school.
She later told her mother that she passed the entrance exam and would be starting school in two months.
Loud shouts and banging soon filled their little hut, but it did not sound celebratory. Quiao’s action angered her mother, which led the latter to beat her.
Her decision earned her the ire of her family and she was asked to choose to leave school or leave home.
The girl chose to keep her education and worked as a candy vendor, and later on, as a seamstress to support her schooling.
In college, Quiao dropped out of school on her final year as an education major due to poverty.
“I was discouraged because I can’t always focus in class since I’m always hungry. I can’t also afford to buy materials for my teaching demo,” she said.
After leaving school, Quiao worked as a sales representative in the early 80s. It was where she met her husband and spent the next 14 years juggling both motherhood and work.
With her husband’s constant encouragement and support, Quiao eventually decided to finish her final semester.
She graduated in 2000 and passed the Licensure Examination for Teachers on the following year.
It has been 15 years since she become a teacher.
Although her students can sometimes be quite the handful, Quiao said she loves them with all her heart.
After receiving her cash aid, Dionesia jokingly said that her next “waiting game” would be at the mall’s cashier counter, as she planned to buy Christmas presents for her taxi driver-husband and their children.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on December 18, 2017.
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