Maraming Salamat, Shella Paz

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Two memories of Shella Paz stand out for me.

First, we were supposed to be married. In a manner of speaking.

During the wedding of Ivy Samala, it was somehow rigged that she ended up with the flowers and I with the garter. After we landed with each, I was asked to kiss her on the cheek. It was an impossible situation — a roomful of strangers and the full glare of a spotlight. But she made it easy, not because of some attraction, but because she was like a sister to me. I look back at that moment and realize that I couldn’t have asked for someone better to share that incredibly embarrasing moment with. She took it with her usual candor and grace, and it was over before we knew it.

Second is an earlier memory.

Two months into her first year of teaching, I saw her at the canteen eating her lunch alone. She looked distraught and so I couldn’t help but ask her how things were going. “Not too good,” she said. I sat down with her and she began airing out her frustrations about her classes and her teaching style. She wasn’t clicking, she felt. She could do much better, she realized. Then Sir Vlad joined us and together the three of us just spent the lunch hour exchanging stories about teaching and how we’ve learned to deal with tough times.

That moment defined Shella Paz for me — someone who never stopped learning. She always had a new book with her. She always had a new class activity she wanted to try. She would always tease me at the beginning of every school year how much students expect in SS3 because of what they had with me in SS2. I tell her not to worry. “You’ll do better than you think.”

I said that in full confidence, knowing that Shella gave her students something only a person such as her could give — a warm and loving confidence that they too will always be better if they never stopped learning. To many she was an inspiration and a friend. She genuinely cared. She took the time to reach out to those who did not make time to be helped, and she never gave up on the goodness within people. The light of her smile was unique; the fire of her passion is irreplacable.

Without a doubt, there is so much more she could have done. But with death comes new life; moments such as these remind those of us who remain that time is short. Life is fleeting. So we cherish these moments, and we make them last. This is how history is made. And my challenge to her students who grieve — she will always be with you, as long as you remember the lessons you’ve learned and the moments you’ve shared.

Thank you very much, Shella Paz. You have been good. May you be in the Heaven you have sought your whole life for.

P.S. Shella, I know how much you love Coldplay. Here’s a song for you.

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27 thoughts on “Maraming Salamat, Shella Paz

  1. I never knew her except that she was a faculty member in my brother’s time but I am deeply saddened by her passing. We shall be praying for her.

  2. Maam Paz 😦
    She cared so much. Honestly, for me, she has been the best SS and HR teacher I’ve ever had.
    Just last week, we’ve had games during our SS period. There was so much laughter. You can even see the smile on her face. But now. 😦 She’s just gone too early. 😦
    -Francis

  3. It’s really sad. She has never been my teache. I only see her during club meeting (which I rarely attend), and when we meet in the hallways. I don’t know much about her, but I believe she is a very cool teacher. May she rest in peace. 😦

  4. Ma’am Paz never became my teacher.

    Nevertheless, whenever I say “Hi” or “Good Morning” to her, she’d smile at me like we have been friends for a long time already. She is also singled out as my friends praise and admire her for how she teaches.

    After the masses, the vigils, and perhaps a tearful flag ceremony, all that will remain is what she taught. And I learned from her at least that smiles (even from semi-strangers) really do make your day.

    Thanks, Ma’am. 🙂

  5. the last time i saw her, she was smiling.
    we exchanged a few jokes in the game we were having.
    🙂
    i saw her smile.

    that must have been the image she wants us to remember about her.
    thanks ma’am.
    kahit sa sandaling time na nakasama at nakilala ko kayo,
    naging masaya ako, kung di ko man masabi na naging masaya tayo.

    masaya kayo.
    🙂

    salamat po ulet.

  6. lagi siyang nakatawa sa class
    ill remember her that way
    siguro yung mga lessons makakalimutan ko in time
    pero yung smile and fun activities nya
    lalo na yung cheerfulness nya di ko makakalimutan

  7. The fondest memory I have of her was when she lent us the SocSci unit player for our Kilos Awit practice since ours broke. 😦

    Thank you, Ma’am Paz.

  8. *Flails* The last time I saw her, it was Friday. We were waiting for STR when she came, looking for Be. She had to apparently give out the Retreat letters, and she was wondering where we all were. Me, Alec, and Mark took the letters and answered her. And then, we joked around for a bit, laughing, smiling… before she had to leave. And so she said goodbye, and that we’ll see each other Tuesday.

    It was fun… and the very last memory I have of her. Heh… and I guess she was right, in a way. We will see her… but never had I expected that it would be on her funeral.

  9. Adviser at Socsci teacher ko si Ma’am Paz noong nakaraang taon, at malapit na malapit siya sa amin. Mahal na mahal ng Lithium 2010 si Ma’am Paz. Masaya siya magturo at nagjojoke pa minsan sa klase. Tapos napakabait pa; nag-uusap panga kami dati tungkol sa personal na buhay ko. Hinding-hindi ko talaga malilimutan ang oras namin kasama si Ma’am Paz. Kahit na 4th year na kami, mahal parin namin ang aming dating adviser. Noong huli ko siyang nakita, naaalala ko masaya siya at nakangiti. Talagang isang masakit na pangyayari ito.

    Nagpapasalamat talaga ako kay Ma’am Paz, sa pagiging hindi lamang teacher kundi kaibigan din sa mga estudyante niya. Naaalala ko ang lahat ng panahon na pinagpayuhan niya ako tungkol sa mga personal na bagay ng aking buhay, tsaka ang mga masayang mga leksyon at jokes niya. Talagang mabait at masayahin siya.

    Sana’y nasa langit ka na ngayon ma’am, masaya kasama ang Panginoon.

    Salamat po talaga ma’am, aming guro at kaibigan.

    Paalam po ma’am. Mahal ka po namin. Ipapagdarasal ka namin.

    Salamat talaga para sa lahat, ma’am.

  10. I never thought that this would happen
    But still, her teachings and her personality will live on us..
    Thanks for the memories Maam Paz

  11. She was still so young.
    She was always smiling, and her laughter was so heartfelt.

    The last thing I told her last Friday was, “Bye Ma’am.”
    Guess I should’ve said, “See you on Tuesday. ;)”

    We’ll miss you Ma’am Paz.
    Thank you.

  12. Ian, pinaalala mo tuloy sa akin yung isang infomercial ng NLEX..Dont say “Goodbye”, “See you later” nalang..

    Anyway, let’s keep moving forward. And challenges are the things we were given. This is a challenge we must overcome to say that our life is really life. Even painful, we still need to overcome this with joy because that’s what she gave us, joy.

  13. thank you for sharing this wonderful memories of her.. and thanks for posting a recent pic of shella smiling..

    never saw her since high school grad.

    may she rest in peace.

  14. I don’t know Shella but I am saddened by her passing. I guess because she was a teacher and I ached for Filipino teachers. I am an OFW in Saudi and people say that we are the unsung heroes of the nation. I actually quite disagree. Deep in my heart I believe teachers, like you, are the true heroes of our nation.

    Shella Paz will be in my prayers tonight.

  15. We may not be with her physically, but as long as we cherish the memories we’ve shared with her, she’ll remain immortalized in our hearts. 🙂 I’m sure she would want us to move on with our lives, carrying the cheerful spirit she had always shown. 🙂

    I’ve never been your student, but whenever I meet you in the hallways, you never fail to wave back to my half-hearted or rushed greetings with a smile. 🙂 Thanks for the countless times you’ve made my day. 😦 And oh, I’ve always loved your sense of style. 😉

    I’ll miss you dearly… May you rest in peace…

  16. hi, here’s an essay written by shella. this was a “requirement” for
    application for the seminar for young professionals held august last
    year in laguna hills study camp in calamba, laguna. the seminar was
    entitled iwill2will: making sense of the “i” (“i” for individuality,
    identity, interiority, intimacy).

    it was in this seminar where i first met shella — a privilege i will
    always be truly grateful for.

    i’m posting this because i think it will help everyone see everything “in context”…

    ditas

    ESSAY FOR Iwill2will
    by Shella Grace Paz

    (DISCLAIMER: When asked to talk about one’s self, I think the tendency is to sell yourself good, or to vindicate some flaws. I don’t really know where to begin. I don’t know how honest or how accurate this essay will come out to be but I am hoping that in the end, it will serve at least two purposes: to help me sort out my thoughts about my self, and help me really prepare for the iWill2Will workshop)

    – – – –

    Let’s pretend I’m someone else other than myself, describing my self as a very familiar friend:

    Shella is a 24 year-old teacher, a graduate of De La Salle University, daughter of Mercedes and Nemrod. She lives in Quezon City. She is into drawing and painting, an avid reader, and a music enthusiast. She currently teaches World History at the Philippine Science High School. She earns meagerly and is still single.

    The above reads like a slum book or an encyclopedia entry. Is it accurate? If I hear my friend saying that about me, what would I feel?

    I think that the description above would answer the question “What am I?” rather than “Who am I?”. “Who” is used to pertain to a person, to someone. And a person, perhaps, is more than his/her job, clothes, nationality or degree; more than the color of skin, height, width, favorite ice cream.

    So, who am I? I think I am the life that I live. When I think of the meaning of “me”, I can’t help but speak about the meaning of “my life”.

    What is my life? It may be described as the sum of all the circumstances I’ve gone through, thoughts and dreams I embrace, work I’ve done, tears I’ve shed (mushy..), laughter, things and people I love, my hopes, fears, the lessons I’ve learned throughout the years, and some of my drawings. The products of my experiences, choices, and responses as an individual make up my life.

    But what if, to my surprise, I find someone somewhere in the other side of the world who looks, thinks, feels, and acts, exactly like I do? Would that mean there are two “me’s”? What if, somewhere in time, I meet someone who’ve gone through the same things, dreamt and loved the same, laughed as loud and cried as shamelessly, and lived like I do, would that person be another “me”? Somehow, it’s not enough to
    talk about one’s self as a product of a set of possibilities. I feel that, to define one’s self, it is a requirement also to distinguish one’s existence from all the billions of other existence; perhaps, what makes the person a “someone”, an “individual”, is that which sets him/her apart—unique amidst the many peoples who live, have lived, and
    will live.

    I used to think that I am not at all unique. A description of me can fit any one; if you just change the names and figures, it can be anybody. Even the thoughts I have and have had, even the most silent ones, these can be someone else’s too.

    However, I have come to believe that my existence is unique. I am a unique body and soul for one. My set of circumstances would also be impossibly the same with anybody else’s. And most of all, I was uniquely designed, intended for a unique purpose and meaning by God. I am not one of the outcomes of mass-production in a factory; I was
    handcrafted by an omnipotent craftsman. And it doesn’t stop there. I am also continuously being shaped and colored, tracked and guided, sustained, rebuilt, fortified, nurtured, and loved. I don’t always feel good about what I am or what I do but this fact about me makes me love my self, my life.

    What is that unique purpose that I was created for? What is the meaning of my life? I know now, that I was born to love. However, I am still unsure about which road to take, or which path to follow—I mean, I am uncertain about which lifetime career I should dedicate my self to, or what is the vocation I should see and follow.

    In the meantime, I would like to live my life one day at a time. And I hope that I would live it each day fighting to love and learning how to love. I still have many hopes and dreams that I want to pursue, fears and troubles I want to overcome, yearnings I want to satisfy, but in the general sense this is what I want out of my life: to be what I ought to be and to never fall away on account of Him who saves me.

  17. shella was my classmate in quezon city science high school..i will always remember her as a cheerful girl…loved to smile..laughed a lot…thanks shella for every smile and laughter you shared with us…

  18. shella was my classmate in quezon city science high school..i will always remember her as a cheerful girl…loved to smile..laughed a lot…thanks shella for every smile and laughter you shared with us……

  19. She was never close to me til I applied for the scholarship at De La Salle University. Thanks to her (a lot!), I am currently enjoying my undergrad years in De La Salle. Although academics may be hard, the environment and professors she shares to me are in fact true. All those free computer usage, borrow-til-you-drop books, four-floor library (which she has boasted to me when I was asking advice from her regarding schoalrship :D) are all true and enjoyed by a scholar like me, which she is too.

    She was just gone too soon. She has yet to make students enjoy their SocSci life. But I guess it’s where her life ends. She has done her fair share of her mission here in the mortal world.

    I hope she’s up there happy with all the angels 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Animo La Salle 😛 (kudos to her, never really considered going to DLSU :P)

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