A Thief, A Tyrant, A Teacher

Editor’s Note: This is the winning piece of the Pisay student Altair Mizar Emboltura in the SEAMEO TROPED essay writing contest

Every tick and tock of the clock made my heart beat faster as the deadlines for my academic requirements drew nearer.

Suddenly, a power outage occurred for the third time of the week! I screamed in frustration as I went to my “alternative learning spot,” a place in the middle of a dried paddy field where the strongest yet still unreliable signal for mobile internet connection could be obtained. 

After minutes of enduring the sun’s scorching heat and the slow internet connection, I finally submitted my requirements, feeling relieved yet anxious at the same time. I knew that clicking that Submit button was only a temporary victory since I have to face more battles soon—this, atop of experiencing constant stress and anxiety throughout the pandemic, is mystory—just one of the countless narratives of how students struggled in this global crisis. 

The Covid-19 pandemic revealed itself to me in many forms. Among these, three ideas became prominent. This invisible enemy is a thief, a tyrant, and a teacher

Just like a thief, the deadly virus stealthily snuck into our society and stole millions of lives, jobs, hopes, and dreams. It even robbed some of us of our humanity, apparent in the rampant occurrence of prejudice, abuse, and discrimination amidst the pandemic. 

Due to high economic costs, inadequate resources, and generally being unequipped in the abrupt change of the learning system, this pandemic stole students’ chances to accessible, equitable, inclusive, and quality education, and opportunities to thrive, bond, and learn.

The pandemic not only exposed itself as a thief but also as a tyrant. With a tight and suffocating grip, this cruel and oppressive ruler controlled and limited our lives. Most students were bound to a monotonous cycle of eating, studying, and sleeping. However, many still faced the threat of contracting the virus as they had to work to survive and to fund their education  revealing the ugly truth that we are not sailing the same boat in this storm. 

Tyrants and thieves are both cruel beings—we don’t want them in our world. But whenever there is darkness, there is also light. Despite the tons of challenges that our world has experienced, this crisis still taught us significant lessons that we should never forget. It taught us to be adaptable, resilient, magnanimous, and compassionate. 

Furthermore, it magnified the infinite potential of the youth in creating waves of positive change in the community. These are all evident through the increasing amount of student-led projects, advocacies, and organizations, especially on online platforms. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has indeed significantly redefined every aspect of our lives and our society. Furthermore, it created new obstacles on our path towards sustainability. May we always remember that together, we could protect ourselves from this thief, overthrow this tyrant, and learn valuable lessons from this teacher. 

About the Author

 Altair Mizar Emboltura is a grade 12 student of Philippine Science High School – Western Visayas Campus (PSHS-WVC). As a student leader, campus journalist, and public speaker, Emboltura also received distinctions such as Young Achiever Awardee by the Municipality of Oton, The Outstanding Student of Iloilo Awardee 2020 by JCI Regatta, and as one of the Ten Outstanding Junior High School Students of Iloilo for AY 2019-2020 by The Outstanding Students Circle of Iloilo (OSCI). He plans to pursue either biology, public health, or an accelerated medicine course in college, but his ultimate goal is to be a physician for the Filipino people.

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