The UPRHS Class of 1994 to which I belong will host the December 2019 homecoming as Silver Jubillarians. It is a significant homecoming for any Ruralite as it coincides with our school’s 90th year anniversary. As if by premonition it was floated in one of our 2017 batch meetings that Prof. Liza may no longer be the principal in 2019 considering that she had served the school for decades and was in fact its longest serving principal.
When the news broke out in January this year that she had been ill and confined, I had an instant flashback of her watching us onstage last year during the hand-over ceremony. At that time she was probably already in pain and discomfort as her BRCA was moving toward its end game yet she stood strong and rose to the occasion. Many people wanted to interact with her then and I was only able to wave to her from a distance. She nodded in response. Now I would never be able to interact with her again.
My renewed interactions with Ma’am Liza began through PHILAJAMES after my return to the Philippines in 2014. I chose to be part of the SLC chapter despite teaching in Manila as I have always been at home in UPLB, where I spent more than three quarters of my life. SLC’s 2015 Shinnenkai gave me my most endearing moment with her because of the potluck lugaw I shared. For her it was simply the best lugaw she ever had. From that time on, whenever we met, she would always mention the lugaw I brought. Without verbalizing it I felt she wanted to have another lugawan session. Sadly that isn’t meant to happen.
My mathematics education with Ma’am Liza started in June 1995. Math isn’t my favourite subject, it’s the opposite. Whatever confidence I had in math was further eroded the year before when I was not able to attend the Advanced Math class because, among other things, my grade was in the minimum qualifying range. Ma’am Lisa knew of my math issues. One exam day I had a panic attack and broke down in the middle of the exam. Her comforting words enabled me to survive the day. She even corrected my answers to prove that I somehow knew what I was doing. Fear just got in my way. In the end I got grades that proved her right. Ma’am Lisa gave me her most important lesson, that I should never fear math because math is just present in everything we do in life. Because of her I survived all the maths that came along (though confidence issues are still a struggle).
The best tribute I can give to Prof. Liza C. Carascal, who has impacted me to the very core of my existence, is probably that I followed her example in my chosen trade and passion which is science. One of the most recent phenomenon discovered in science is known as genetic imprinting. It simply says that aside from our genetic blueprint, which is our DNA, our lives can be influenced by past interactions, including those of our ancestors. It may sound like science fiction but there are supporting evidence.
I believe Ma’am Liza may have affected my genomic imprints. First, she was right when she told me that I should never be afraid of math because it would always be an integral part of my life. True enough, I am now into molecular biology with heavy leanings toward bioinformatics, a field that has heavy mathematical foundations. Prof. Liza’s love for Japan was also truly infectious. I would not have considered doing graduate studies or living elsewhere other than in Japan. Her narratives about her educational and social experiences in Japan nucleated my dream to pursue studies in Japan too. This dream has now been fulfilled.
by Neil H. Tan Gana