Marked by her dictating sound of heels, in combination of a clever-looking eyeglasses and dressed with a keen uniform… guess who would have cleared the path way? In an instant, silence dominated as she passes by the noisy rooms, chairs automatically arranged, and just by her innocent but sharp looks, the zigzag transformed into a straight line. They said she’s a terror, an ultimate disciplinarian, and arguing with her is like banging a big and strong wall. Yes, this would be a student’s first impression, but how about the second? Third? Fourth? And so as the next traits you don’t know about this woman? At the end, will you still be able to act like affrighted?
Brought into life on the 21st of December 1956 at the very heart of Los Baños, Laguna, proud parents, Bonifacio and Francisca Cortez took their first glimpse to their daughter, Virginia. Lucky as it may be, their father and mother was able to provide for their schooling. Virginia spent her elementary days at Lopez Elementary School. She explored high school at the Laguna Institute in Calamba. College must have been more challenging than it was, but the lady was very uncertain on what course will she take. On the day of enrollment, Virginia looked at the list of courses offered and felt a deep sensation on her chest, she daresay that destiny brought her up to the degree program, Bachelor of Science in Education Major in Filipino. In their family history, no one even chose to take up Education, her siblings and relatives were engaged in different fields. However or in whatever reason, she found it interesting; she enjoyed and pursues it until she graduated with flying colors on 1983 at the Laguna College of Business and Arts, Calamba, Laguna.
Liceo de Pakil is the fortuitous catholic school where she first started to teach, and probably, also the last school she would offer her service. As a disciplinarian, Ms. Cortez always makes it easy for the students to understand her lessons. She is dedicated to work and for the past three decades, was able to teach the Filipino subject just as easy as chewing or grinding nuts. Ibong Adarna, Florante at Laura, Noli Me Tangere, El Filibusterismo, name it all, she can recall! Trusted, she was assigned years ago as property custodian and discipline coordinator. Her advisory class is the only section and room whose saint’s name ever changed over the years; her beloved St. Augustine of Hippo, 4th year, the Pilot section. She was loved by her students who get to know her in a deeper sense. For them, she’s a mother who truly cares for her children. The well-loved educator receives a bucket of recognition, gifts, and signs of importance to the family where she belongs every teacher’s day and other holidays.
30 years. Would you believe that she spent more than half of her life only at the school? “Ang buhay ko, ang mundo ko, nandito lang sa school.” she stated; and subsequent to that, she wished to travel more and experience things that she wasn’t able to do while teaching—when the day of her retirement comes. As a matter of fact, she even chose not to marry someone and make a family of her own. When asked why, she just giggled, “Nak, sa palagay mo, 58 years na ako going to 59, makakaisip pa kaya ako?” laughing aside the question, why not? She replied, “So pag nakakita ako ng mayaman, gwapo.. pwede na rin ano?” —a joke that made the quiet room gone wild; there’s a happy atmosphere all over the place. “Ah… hindi na.” brighter than the sunshine, she concluded, it’s a NO. Besides, Ms. Cortez had been and continuously serves as a mother to thousands of students who went to Liceo de Pakil. Parents come to her not because she have done something wrong, but only to ask for advice regarding their children, and also to thank her, “Siguro maituturing kong blessing kasi, never ko pang naranasang sinugod ako ng magulang dahil may mali akong ginawa.” she said proudly.
Her eagerness to inspire and give courage to students never fades away. There are times that fate really seems to be unfair. There are moments, problems occur like there’s no tomorrow. Despite these struggles, this woman’s personality is in no doubt, as strong as a stone. She can’t be tamed by the storms of life and is willing to block it all away. School papers, class records, and lesson plans were not her problem at all; Virginia, as she described herself in one word is RESPONSIBLE.
Teaching is a strenuous profession. It requires great energy and effort. The 58-year-old educator had spent an enormous time at it, surprisingly, everything she does were things that made her feel true happiness. She had been through a bunch of agonies, but for this preceptor? Nothing’s more fun than learning while teaching, keeping a deep understanding to each and every one of her students and co-teachers, and above all, saying ‘yes to all’ when God gave her the right to become a mother in a big and happy family—Liceo de Pakil.
Her unbeatable outlook to education should be a motivation to those who are going to follow her footsteps. “If you wanted to become a teacher, always make sure that there is service and sacrifice, because just by teaching, you cannot make riches; it is not a profession, it is a vocation.” Education as she defined will make a person capable of managing true change for the sake of having a great life; thus, will take you into the road of success. Her compassionate care for students gave a deep meaning on success, “Ang makita ko na yung mga naturuan ko ay may magandang buhay, nagtagumpay na rin ako doon.”—a quote that will always leave an important mark on everybody’s heart. She carries contentment with what God has offered in her life, and appreciates the blessings like she had the most wonderful gift above all.
Yes, Ms. Virginia Cortez is the ultimate disciplinarian, wearing a keen uniform in combination with a clever-looking eyeglass, below were heels that produce a dictating sound. She possesses an innocent but sharp looks as she walks on the path way, noisy rooms got startled, chairs automatically arranged, and zigzag became straight, they said she’s a terror; until she showed a genuine smile on her face… suddenly, everyone’s amazed. She’s really a terror, the Heart Terrorist.
Originally written by: Veronica Joy Polidario