Monday, January 20, 2014

A heartfelt student testimony

I’m currently enjoying one great perk of being a teacher: if there’s no school, there’s no work (well, reporting for work, anyway) and today, classes are suspended because of the storm.  Another joy of being a teacher is molding the next generation.  This country is a mess, but looking at the next generation always gives me hope, and I will do my part in making the Philippines’ future better.  This is especially true for the particular school I work for, The Abba’s Orchard.  Here, because we are so much more than teachers (we’re mentors), we get to impact their young lives in a much bigger way than in a traditional school.

One of the tasks I had to do at work is to get testimonies from the alumni for the new website the school is making and also for the latest edition for the Orchard Buzz newsletter.  I enjoyed that task greatly.  Below is a heartfelt student testimony, one of the many I received, and here’s the link to the Orchard Buzz to see several more.   Enjoy.

Never Less Than…
Evee Raypon, Class of 2013
Freshman, Ateneo de Manila University
AB Interdisciplinary Studies

The best thing about the Abba’s Orchard is that it is not solely a school where you get an education – it’s where you get a reality check.    It may seem ‘sheltered’ as people around me have said, but I would like to test that judgment by saying, “What is so sheltered about having to go to the wet market every Saturday to shop and then cook for the entire community that week because it’s your turn in the  kitchen? What is so sheltered about having to interact with people older than you every single day as opposed to seeing them in the halls for two minutes, where they hardly even recognize you? What is so sheltered about dealing with business where you have to face the possibility  of economic loss ? ”

These things, many people would agree, are not taught to  students in other school settings. Things like group responsibility, adaptability, humility and even win-win compromises are not things easily programmed into a curriculum – at least not in high school. These are also the things people would have expected you to magically perfect upon reaching college but they never actually close you in on where to get the information or gain actual experience.

What I got from the Abba’s Orchard are lessons that you cannot get from sitting on a chair with a built-in desk all day. I learned how to be a significant individual in the building of a community —  how to carefully situate my abilities where I see myself being a useful contributor.
Hard work at the farm

Personally, I never found myself capable of being significant so much so that I assumed I could get by unnoticed and unresponsive. Overall, my paradigm was shattered by the  approach of the school.

In Abba’s, I found purpose in what I am capable of. Something people don’t realize about coming from a small community is that everything in your being is exposed — your abilities, talents and overall potential are fostered and cared for. You cannot afford to be a wallflower when there is so much to do and so much to achieve.  Overall, whole development here is more important than academics. The growing of the soul takes precedence over your grade point average or what can get you into the ‘best’ universities. 

What I mean when I say “the soul,” is that, while everyone in college is struggling to find themselves, I have had at least some sort of foothold as to who I am.

In Abba’s, I see myself through Someone else’s eyes every day. Some colleges may have religious practices, but they can only go as far as implementation.  Do they really go as far as looking at your actual being and spiritual construct? That is still something I ask myself. Not a lot of people are going to say the same for themselves but I have grown spiritually in Abba’s.
Distributing relief goods for Yolanda survivors

Call me an environmentalist, but can you really live in a city with pollution, crime and deceit and see the Glory of a Maker? Maybe it’s because of the people I surround myself with, or maybe it’s even the teachers I gravitate towards, but there is an undeniable pull towards a greater being.

The greatest thing I got from being in Abba’s is that I learned to be excellent not for my parents nor my relatives nor my teachers nor myself but for Someone who sees my potential more than any of them.    

I learned to be excellent for the Greatest Being who believes in me more than anyone in the world.

I learned to be excellent for the One who is nothing less than the word itself : Excellent.  People are going to work hard, yes. People are going to stay up all night on their research papers, midterm exams and theses, but what are they working for and why ?

I have my purpose and I do not work for the recognition of men. Unlike other schools, you don’t openly disclose your final grades nor do you prance around telling people that you are on the Dean’s List. It’s not about you. It’s never about you.

In the end, at least for me, and at least through what I’ve learned to live by, it’s about my God and about what He wants for me.  I learned never to be less than who He wants me to be.

Thanks Evee.  That was beautiful.  There were several other testimonies and they’re featured in the latest Orchard Buzz.  (Btw, to the alumni reading this, thanks for sending all your testimonies.  I’d love to print them all, but due to lack of space I could only include a few).

I am tasked to do videos that recap the activities that happened every trimester.  Here are two of them that include Evee and her batch, and they very well explain what we do here at Abba’s.

Look for the new website coming soon.  But the old website is still up, and if you want to find out more about the school and its various campuses around the Philippines, visit it here.

I love my work, because here, I not only help mold academic excellence in the next generation of this country, but personal excellence as well.  (Oh speaking of academic excellence, a great number of my seniors passed the UP and Ateneo entrance exams, and just a few days ago, I heard that ALL of the senior students who took the La Salle entrance exam have passed!!!  YES!!  ).

(This blog site, Lessons Of A Dad is mostly about parentingmarriage, and other topics aimed to develop the reader’s mind, body, and soul.  I’d consider it an honor if you’d follow or subscribe to this site.  You can also go to my Facebook page here, and I’m also on Twitter at @lessonsofadad)


  1. great carl … can i attach this to my wall?

  2. awesome! 😀 now this got me thinking about enrolling my future kids, should God bless me so, in Abba's Orchard. ever since graduating from highschool, i've had had the mindset of advertising my alma matter to anyone interested to listen (i graduated from the PSHS system, btw). but Abba's..whew~ soon. praying about it though 🙂


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