by PATRICIA MAE O. REBONG
WEARING A perfectly ironed polo and a black satchel hanging across his body, he steps into the halls of St. Raymund’s with a warm smile. His students greet him, “Buenos Dias, Señor!” He smiles at them and says, “Muy bien!” as he proceeds for the day to teach.
Mr. Hermenegildo C. Ceniza, better known as “Sir Hermie” is a Spanish professor in the Faculty of Arts and Letters. At present, he is under the Department of Modern Languages and teaches Spanish 1 and 2.
Before he became the Sir Hermie all Artlets adored, he also struggled with his unique name. Little did he know, it was a name that would be of great significance in his life, most especially in the Artlet community.
How it all came to be
When he was younger, he dreamt of becoming the best version of himself. It was in the academe that he was able to find fulfillment.
Sir Hermie began as a school administrator for ten years. He also worked at the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) as an Executive Assistant IV to the former chairman Rev. Fr. Rolando Dela Rosa, O.P.
Apart from that, he also worked under EDSA People Power Commission as program director of the Good Citizenship Movement.
Though he was in the academe for years, at that time, he did not see himself being a professor, not until he immersed himself in it.
Sir Hermie studied Theology in Spain for four years. It was then he found out he was named after Saint Hermenegild, who defended Catholic Christianity. Since then, he has learned to embrace his name. In his words, “I sound more like a Theologian than a Spanish professor.”
It was also through that experience that he fell in love with the art of teaching. He realized that teaching is more than just his profession, but it is also his passion. “In effect, teaching has turned to be my essence. I live in order to teach,” he says.
He finally began his teaching career at 57 years old, “For the last ten years, I have engaged myself as [a] senior citizen in a part-time teaching job with some colleges and universities that welcomed me….”
Throughout his career, Sir Hermie faced various challenges such as the shift to online classes. With technology being his weakness, he had to realign certain things like his teaching approach, course requirements, and submission means of students, to name a few.
Despite the challenges, Sir Hermie knew not to back down. When asked how he overcame these challenges, he owed it all to the never-ending love he has for his profession.
An embodiment of grace
His passion to teach goes beyond the four walls of the classroom as he is not only a professor, but also an inspiration for his students. The Flame asked Sir Hermie’s former AB students to recall their experiences in his class.
Aubrey Lim, a journalism sophomore, shares how Sir Hermie always makes sure that the activities he gives out are relevant to the career path of his students. Some of their requirements include simulations where they can practice journalism, such as creating news reports.
Sir Hermie is also very considerate as a professor. He is one to make sure that the class is always well-spent, but he would also give breaks to his students to let them recharge.
Oral exercises are also being observed in Sir Hermie’s class. When mispronunciations occur, he would immediately correct them without instilling fear and embarrassment in his students. Indeed, learning Spanish becomes more fun, smooth, and relatable with Sir Hermie.
Lim also adds that Sir Hermie constantly motivates his students, “He would say encouraging words to show how he is proud of what we did. I’m not 100 percent sure if what we did was deserving of that amount of praise, but it felt really good to hear that from a professor.”
One former student also happily shared her experience with him during in-person classes. Asian studies junior Ysabella Atienza notes how Sir Hermie helped ease her worries as a college freshman by being welcoming and approachable.
She says, “[Sir Hermie] is kind beyond words and is very passionate about teaching as he was always present in class, even [in] bad weather.”
“What I love [about] him is his kindness towards his students. [He is the type] who never fails to give his students a chance in his subject when it comes to graded activities [and] he’s [also] not terror. He just simply loves everyone,” Eixen Galinato remarks.
Remembering how Sir Hermie impacted her, Keziah Cinco tells The Flame, “Sir Hermie is very patriotic. He inspired me by leaving a memory that was, for me, very powerful. He taught me that this country isn’t just worth dying for. This country is also worth living for. He inspired me to thrive and hope for a better future of this country.”
The passion lives on
At 67 years old, Sir Hermie is still as lively as ever in teaching his students. When asked why he still teaches, Sir Hermie simply replies, “I like to teach because it is my vocation, passion, and mission. I wish to light a fire of love for the country among the youth…”
However, a lot has changed with his teaching dynamics. It all changed when the pandemic forced him to work from home in an online teaching set-up. However, he found it to be more relaxing as he was able to turn his travel time into something more productive.
Likewise, Sir Hermie knew early on how to prepare for any obstacles including the sudden shift to online classes. He takes pride that no amount of challenge will make him stop delivering knowledge and wisdom to his students.
He added that the most important lesson he learned as a professor is to, “always [be] ready with faith to face squarely whatever eventuality that may come in our journey of life,”
For Sir Hermie, his age and weakness, such as technology have both turned into his inner strength.
Sir Hermie is a living proof that age is not a hindrance in fulfilling one’s vocation. In the end, he imparts that it is never too late for everyone to start new things and to follow one’s pursuits.
¡Muchas gracias, señor
He may be commonly known as Señor Hermie or Mr. Ceniza, but beyond is a man whose overflowing passion for teaching shapes the world.
Not only does he teach as his passion, but he also sees it as his responsibility to reach out to the youth who serve as the nation’s hope. He confidently says, “Because if I don’t, who will? Teaching the youth is my greatest satisfaction.”
“I have discovered a secret [that] is empowering… in the field of learning. My students help me to help them. In this manner, learning is mutual and comes out more meaningful and interesting,” he shares.
Asked about his message to the students struggling in this day and age, he tells how our problems would come and go as nothing is permanent in this world.
For Sir Hermie, he wishes to leave a legacy that encompasses a love for teaching and learning. He says, “I want my colleagues and students to remember me as a human person who has fallen in love with his teaching profession with all limitations.” F