my World Teacher’s Day article on Philippine Star

So yesterday was World Teacher’s Day and an article of mine came out at the Philippine Star newspaper to commemorate this event thingie. Got a call from an old friend the other day saying that the newspaper needed a few articles to put the paper to bed. So one call led to another, hence this article. So no, I’m not officially connected to the paper, just so we’re clear. Contributor lang po lola niyo for this one piece.

For the life of me, I’m not sure why it’s not included somewhere in their website edition but there’s a digital edition of the actual newspaper layout and that’s where you’ll see my article. Anyway it’s here on page 18 and 19 of the newspaper if you want to see it in their site archive. I also posted it here as a photo grab. Just click each photo to read the article:


The PhilStar person said I could write anything about WTD so I was like hmmm too broad, man. So I just sat there and tinkered with what I wanted to say. And since my recent academic experiences were not really that great to share in general, I just thought of one lingering issue in my academia that’s not too often talked about but certainly is at the root of the insecure out there. Hashtag alam na at hashtag hugot mode na lang ito lol.

But the main premise of the article is already a familiar thing since I used it as my concept for my academic blog before. That blog is called “i can and I teach, too” which basically is the same take-off premise for this PhilStar piece.

And if it’s easier to read, I’m reposting the PhilStar article here na lang. Enjoy and happy World Teachers Day pa rin sa mga tunay at tapat na guro sa kalawakan.

Those who can, those who do, and those who teach

By Libay Linsangan Cantor

When I first started teaching eight years ago, I always heard this line that says “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.”

I wonder why people always put down the teaching profession. I’ve always heard them say that it’s a vocation, a calling even, since you dedicate a chunk of your life learning stuff and teaching that to future movers of the country. And then, you also dedicate another chunk of your life doing stuff and then teaching that to the kids as well. So, where does that “those who can’t” thing apply here? As teachers, of course we arm ourselves with whatever’s needed to fulfill our duties. We could study further to gather more knowledge to share or we could also practice what needs to be done so that it enhances our lessons that combine theory and praxis.

My eight years in the academe were spent teaching future communicators of the country. Since they specialized in filmmaking, they are also hopeful filmmakers, future media practitioners and aspiring artists. So naturally, they would automatically assess their professors and lecturers if these people could walk the talk. And for those of us who could, we just go with the flow and let the kids be kids until they eventually realize that they have to get over their snobbish first impressions and learn the lessons for real.

As someone who was in their place about two decades ago, I know how it feels to search for the kind of information you want to learn after reading the books. This is why I appreciated the “real life lessons” my own professors taught me when I was learning filmmaking back then. Those who worked in the mainstream film industry were full of gems on how this or that aspect of filmmaking is done, and they shared their experiences in the form of anecdotes or side stories. Those who were independent filmmakers taught us how to properly interpret the techniques and technical stuff we read in books, adding a few tips they learned on their own. But of course, once I graduated and started working in the media industry, I picked up a few tips of my own, gathered many practical lessons along the way, and saw some things that were not being taught in school and absorbed them. So I gathered all of that and used them for my own lectures when I became a teacher.

But when I was working in the media, some people still smirked when I told them that I also teach in college. It’s as if they think that I’m wasting my time there, that somebody else could teach and I would be better off on focusing my energies in the media. Or some think that I’m teaching as a kind of charity work or some sort of volunteer work, that it’s not a real job, that it’s just some phase. Some even ask if I have a second or third job aside from teaching, or if I’m doing anything related to my profession of being a media practitioner or a writer. While I do have other engagements aside from teaching, I still wonder why people never seem to be contented with hearing that I’m “just” a teacher. And I’m not really sure where these people are coming from with their kind of analysis, but they exist. On the other hand, there are also those who admired that I was a teacher, who expressed their excitement upon hearing the courses I handled, even wishing that they could have had an elective or course like that back in the day. Some even expressed if they could perhaps sit in one of my classes sometime, and I let them. You really get different reactions.

In time, I learned how to ignore naysayers and just focused on enjoying myself in having one foot at the academe and the other in my media engagements. From my students, I learned that this was an effective way for them to learn the lessons well, and they appreciated the combination. They said that they appreciated having valuable practical experience back up the theoretical tenets they were learning.

And this was when I knew that what I was doing was effective.

But then again, there is also another entity: the “those who can but can’t teach it” kind. Sometimes, my students would also tell me of having this particular media practitioner, artist or filmmaker in their other classes and how they didn’t learn much from them. While these particular lecturers may have their own “real life” experience cred, there’s still this skill called teaching that we have to have, you know. And sometimes I wonder why these people couldn’t share their knowledge properly. Some are even stingy with theirs. What’s the point of teaching if you’re just going to stand there and grandstand in front of hopeful eyes and ears? What do they get out of it? Again, I don’t know where these kinds of teachers come from or why they even want to be teachers in the first place. But yes, sadly, they exist. And I pity their students, especially with the amount of tuition their parents are paying.

In my teaching stint, I also became an academic administrator. And during that time, I was tasked to look for possible teachers to handle specific courses. This was when I also learned the other side of the “those who can but can’t teach it” persona. I tried to contact several film directors or film practitioners but they just know that they’re not cut out to stand in front of a sea of faces and transfer their knowledge unto them. Either they have this shy nature or they are not socially equipped enough to be communicative that way, they say. And I came to respect that. That’s even better than those who think they can teach but in reality, they can’t. But they stick it out anyway because they use their popularity outside of the academe as their ticket to stay inside. Yes, academia could easily get starstruck that way as well, as I have experienced. And some just manipulate their way in, which is just sad.

Overall, I could say that those eight years I spent in a formal educational system as a teacher were years that also taught me quite a few lessons useful in my own life. Many of these lessons are positively enlightening while there are also those that are disheartening. But I take it all in stride, and just focus on what’s important: what came out of it. Today, seeing some of my former students make waves in the media industry is still something that makes me proud that I was part of their earlier journey. And for these students to say that they learned a lot from our lectures in class is also something that makes my heart sing and my soul smile. I’m also glad that I have the occasional chance to work together with some former students in various film projects, and I continue learning from these people that I taught before. It comes in full circle sometimes, this life journeys that we have. And with that, I could say that the deed – my deed – is done.

Good luck kids, and make us all proud. And Happy World Teacher’s Day to all teachers out there!

Libay Linsangan Cantor is a scriptwriter, advocacy filmmaker, a two-time Palanca awardee, and a recipient of the UP Artist II title for humanities professors actively engaged in their artistic disciplines. You can read her pop culture musings and media analyses at her Culture Popper Leaflens blog ( Email her at



Masaya ba? Hehe. Feel free to react, repost, share or retweet. And yes, I’m taking phone-in questions for those who have questionsssss about anything LOL.

Happy weekend y’all. Over and out — and proud.


~ by leaflens on October 6, 2013.

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