Purification “Pat” Cruz Maceda


I enrolled as an entrance scholar at UP Diliman in the second semester of 1950, missing the first semester due to illness. I majored in History and Social Sciences. In hindsight, I should have savored the collegiate experience more, however, my desire to graduate at the same time with my contemporaries led me to take up an extra load of classes. I finished my course in three and one-half years thereby graduating with the regular class of 1954. I toyed with the idea of pursuing further graduate studies but several offers of teaching jobs at private schools tempted me instead.

I also took the civil service exam (in order to be eligible to teach in the public school system) and garnered second place. I taught in the public school system in the mornings and at the San Juan, Rizal private school, Roosevelt Memorial High School, in the afternoons. I gave piano lessons to children in the San Juan neighborhood during weekends. I managed to pursue always my passion for music despite my heavy schedule.

I taught at Mapa High School in Manila. It was very challenging to teach the higher sections of this rigorous school. My training as a student teacher in UP stood my in good stead: it enabled me to lecture the experimental honors classes. My students were bright but “terrible” to the inexperienced teachers. The students tested the teachers often over their grasp of the subject matter. Armed with perseverance and preparation, I survived and flourished, much to the delight of my former teaching instructor, Professor Cruz.

My first encounter with the difficulties of teaching occurred when I taught in the slum area in Tondo, Manila. I landed a job as a substitute teacher at a high school in one of the poorest sections of Tondo. I met with the other teachers first who were very friendly and helpful but skeptical. I overheard them whispering, “Poor child, why did they give that section to this young teacher?” I wondered what was wrong with my section. Soon enough, I found out that I was going to be the seventh teacher to teach this particular class.

The latest one requested a transfer after an eraser was thrown back at her. I went to this class of second year high school students – there were forty boys and two girls. While writing my name on the blackboard, I overheard the largest boy say, “Kaya natin ito, bata pa.” (We can handle this one, she is still young). This boy was a second time repeater and close to my own age. Their appearance was pitiful yet scary and intimidating. I was reluctant to continue to teach, however, my father, who was an educator himself, advised me to stay so that I could prove myself to the school administrators.

These students were poor, not bad per se but with much bad behavior. I tried to maintain my calm demeanor in the face of things and even tried to show compassion. Most came to school hungry without any breakfast. Most of the time, I gave them money for food for their breaks. I finished the term without having to take any of my students of the principal’s office. However, I had one final lesson to learn. Nearly all the textbooks were unreturned.

I made a small attempt to collect the textbooks by going to some of their homes. I was so disheartened by the poverty that I gave up and paid for the “lost” books myself using three months’ worth of my salary. No doubt they were sold for extra money. I made a promise to myself to always share my blessings with children who are in need. From then on, I tried to volunteer whenever it was needed.

As the years passed, I continued to teach high school. I took private piano lesions from two UP music professors, Prof. Minda Azarcon and Prof. Balingit.

In March, 1963, I married my husband Dione before his return to the United States for his next tour of duty with the U.S. Navy. I joined him six months later for a new life in the United States. Life was indeed different in this new country. I had to adapt to an independent lifestyle and to learn how to take care of a growing family without the help of relatives. This required new customs and a new way of thinking as a Navy wife. For example, after an extended hospital stay, while trying to juggle the needs of my young son and daughter, I had an inspiration.

I saw President Lyndon Johnson speak on television and decided to write to him about my difficult situation. I thought that after serving nine straight years of sea duty, my husband deserved a tour of shore duty so that he could spend more time with his family. I didn’t expect a reply. Much to my surprise, I received a letter from Washington D.C. stating that President Johnson’s office had referred the matter to the Department of the Navy and that they were replying on his behalf. I was pleased to present this letter to my husband along with a shore billet in San Diego.

We started our married life in San Diego, the first of many relocations. We moved overseas to Taipei, Taiwan, Maryland and Washington State. I raised my children and continued to give piano lessons and worked as a substitute teacher or a music teacher. We constantly moved and so I was never able to complete my studies for a graduate degree. Eventually, my husband retired from the Navy and I began a new career working at the Kitsap County Regional library (Washington State) and then the National City (California) Public Library.

My son, Ulysses, followed in his father’s footsteps and sought a career in the U.S. Navy. He received a Presidential appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy and graduated in 1986. He is now a Commander stationed here in San Diego. My daughter Cynthia chose the civilian life and graduated from Wesleyan University in 1989. She also resides in Chula Vista, near my husband and I.

We made the thirteenth and the final move to sunny southern California in 1990. My husband Dione is now the owner of a janitorial company. We have been married for forty -five years. We have managed to see a lot of this world on our occasional cruise trips. It’s much more enjoyable than moving to a new place!

I am now retired but I still give piano lessons to young children as a hobby. I still love to teach. I now stand in front of eight and nine year olds as I teach them their Sunday school lessons. I still enjoy classical piano although my fingers are not as nimble as they used to be. I am looking forward to giving piano lessons soon to my nine year old grandson, Matthew.