A kid then, I joined an extemporaneous speaking event in our school. The topic said “The Best Christmas Gift to the World.” For a couple of minutes, I answered “knowledge.” I told the panel how I had been helping our housemaid understand English.

Unfortunately, that was not enough for a medal. The other girl, who answered “chocolates” because they were her favorite, won. “What a proud kid!” they must have thought of me.

Today, I am a volunteer professor in one of the Dominican Sisters Institute’s mission schools, the Holy Rosary College Foundation, founded by Fr. Anthony Leo Hofstee, OP. I am handling three general education subjects. This volunteer work has received mixed responses from my family and friends. My father thought it was too far from home or from anywhere I have ever been to. My classmates from college are encouraging me to get a “real” teaching job. Some friends think that it is a waste of time and effort.
My Dominican Family is of course proud and supportive. Long jeepney rides to my destination may be tough but I still feel joy and eagerness in every meeting with my students.

We all have heard that through giving, we are the ones who are actually receiving. I have given many things in my entire life and I know the satisfaction it can give you but I have never experienced what I am experiencing now in teaching. Each day I see them, I feel that it is I who is learning. Every time a student raises his hand to ask a question or to simply voice his opinions, it is I who is smiling at the back of my head.


Whenever they look at me smiling, while I blabber a historical, political, or scientific fact or simply throw them mindboggling philosophical questions, it is my heart and spirit that is overflowing with happiness. In fact, I am sometimes distressed, wondering if I am giving enough to deserve all the life lessons they are teaching me. And every day, I work hard to make sure that they get the best out of me. Hopefully, I also bring out the best in them.

After years of studying in Dominican institutions, reading Philosophy, and continuous exposure to the Dominican ideals through the DOMNET Youth Group, I cannot help but wish that I may go back in time and give that speech contest one more try. I will tell my judges the same answer and I will defend it tall and proud. The best gift is still “knowledge.” I will tell them teaching is more than just a career. It is a person, giving herself to another, mindless of her own limitations and exhaustion.

It is not what is given that is most important, rather it is the act of giving perceived not as a loss but as a fulfilling event in one’s life. Sharing to others a part of you, especially to those who need and want it, is the most beautiful gift that I know of.

Some people think that almsgiving is the best and easiest way to help others. It might be the most convenient for the one giving the alms, but I hope that the world knows that it is not the only way. You are a gift, a gift that only increases in value every time it is given. Be the gift that you are and surprise others and let others surprise you too. Do not be afraid that you will lose yourself or that there is not enough you. Let God be your source and you will never run out of faith, hope, and love to give.

Venus, DOMNET, Philippines 

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