By Pia Y. Dejaresco (Guest writer)
It was just two Thursdays ago (December 10) when my Physicial Education (P.E.) teacher taught his last.
I was told by my homeroom advisers that our P.E. teacher, Mr. Miguel ‘Mike’ Caballero, was diagnosed with lung cancer.
The fear was that the illness may not allow him to live very long, we were told.
Our class was devastated by the news.
Most of my classmates cried. I did, too.
I could remember our last lesson. It was about soccer. How goals are scored, fouls, what happens after a foul and whether the ball is in play our not. Unexpectedly, he asked us “Kinsay chada ug agi diri? Kanang taason” We pointed to a tall girl-classmate.
He asked her to write on the board for him because his arm was too painful for him to write. We could see.
After our teacher told us the news about Sir, we remembered our moments with him. Especially the times when he calls someone to answer a simple question.
If that someone gets it wrong he would say “Ah, kingkoy ka!”
Everyone would laugh.
He would always use the word “kingkoy” as a funny expression.
My father, Em-em Dejaresco, couldn’t forget that in 1983, Sir Caballero gave him a chance to play for the SUES Soccer Team.
He was the only 5th grader in the first team.
The rest were 6th graders.
Because of that chance, he went on to become a varsity player during his High School days and all the way to college.
Even playing for NORFA in national-level competitions.
Tribute to a true Caballero
My uncle Jay Dejaresco, too, has fond memories of Sir Mike Caballero.
“I have so much to thank Mr. Miguel ‘Mike’ Caballero for,” he said
Uncle Jay was Mr. Caballero’s student more than twenty five years ago.
“What I am today, an unforgettable part of it was because of Mr. Caballero’s influence, Mr. Caballero was my P.E. teacher in the elementary days," uncle Jay recalled.
"I saw in Mr. Caballero a remarkable desire to involve his students in sports.” he said.
My uncle saw Sir’s consistency— day-in and day-out--- in trying to mold students, and impart the importance of being fit not only mentally, but also physically.
“As an elementary student, I chose to engage in the sport of soccer football.” uncle recalled.
That was because Mr. Caballero welcomed any student who wanted to learn football, to join his after-school practice games in that crude soccer field, in front of the Silliman President’s White House, starting every 4 p.m.
Uncle Jay rcounted that everytime Mr. Caballero left the school in the afternoon and walked towards their playing field, wearing those trade-mark short pants, they would trail him like his disciples, not far behind.
“I learned to love soccer football because of Mr. Caballero.” He added.
He was very consistent in those afternoon games. He would act as referee and coach at the same time. He taught us the fundamentals of the game, uncle Jay remembered.
When my uncle graduated from grade school, he continued with his afternoon soccer practice. He became a varsity player in high school.
He trained with the best soccer trainers in the province.
Because of this passion and persistence, he became part of that elite team of high school players privileged to play in the national football games at the Ultra in Pasig.
“I was able to compete against the best soccer players in the country, at our age level then," he said.
"And for all the sweat, hard work, challenges, the triumphs in the football field, I share it with him," uncle said.
Looking back, uncle Jay said he could have ended up a bum in high school, wasting his afternoons.
“I could have been easily hooked in various vices, like drinking, drugs, were it not for those afternoon grinds that drove me daily to the football field,” he recalled.
“So, I am thankful to Mr. Caballero for igniting that love and passion for sports at a young age," uncle Jay said.
Young students must not only strive to do good in academics, uncle stressed.
They should also do as well in their physical development, he added.
My uncle is sure that many of Sir Caballero’s former students will agree that he played well this important role in successfully transforming kids into young, passionate sports enthusiasts.
Uncle Jay described Sir Mike Caballero as one dedicated man who has made a tremendous, positive impact to many of his students.
A true Caballero, indeed.
Somebody up there is happy for Sir Mike, for doing such a wonderful job.
God bless you, Sir Mike Caballero!
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