Mrs. Nestora Teresita Banico-Gabas
Behind her shy and gentle disposition is a strong and resilient woman who came into the fullness of her grace when she became a grandmother.
Mrs. Nestora Teresita Banico-Gabas, the Speech and Theater Department Secretary, identifies herself with these three words: optimistic, determined and dedicated.
Tess, as she is called by friends and colleagues, was born and raised in the neighboring town of Sibulan. She was the fourth child in a household of eight children. Their number came in handy when it was time to do the household chores; each one of them was designated a task. For Tess, it was washing the dishes.
In school, Tess consistently landed in the list of honor students during her elementary years. Her parents were particularly strict during school nights, setting it aside exclusively for homework and study. Tess recalls all eight of them converging in their living room, each one doing his or her own school work under the watchful eyes of their mother. This system at home instilled in her the value for education.
But of course, childhood wasn’t all chores and study for Tess. During the weekends, she enjoyed playing her favorite game of “bato-lata,” a traditional Filipino game all about toppling a tin can with a slipper thrown from a distance. Another game she relished as a child was “sungka,” another traditional game played indoors.
By the time she was set for high school, Tess was sent to study in Dapitan City where an uncle offered to take her in. There she learned some sense of independence, as it was her first experience living away from home. After completing her high school education, one of her older brothers insisted that she return to Negros and enroll in Silliman University for college.
In 1971, with the prodding of one of her sisters, Tess enrolled in the College of Business Administration and took up the course Bachelor of Business Administration Major in Management. She then applied to be a student assistant at the University Library, which was then located at the Hibbard Hall. By keeping her grades up, Tess enjoyed a full scholarship throughout her college years. Her commitment and diligence finally paid off when she marched the stage with the rest of the graduating class of 1975.
After graduation, Tess tried her lot at the concrete jungle of Manila. She applied and was accepted for a clerical post at a big fertilizer company. With the metropolitan culture not sinking too well into Tess, she resigned from the job and returned home in less than a year’s time.
Later that year, she was accepted for yet another clerical post which took her down south of the country in what was then Bukidnon State College, now a university.
Three years later, upon knowing of an opening for clerical work in Silliman, Tess sent her application and got the job in 1983. She started as an Office Assistant at the College of Arts and Sciences. A few years later, she was promoted to position of Secretary, handling two departments: Sociology and Anthropology and Speech and Theater.
A life-changing encounter awaited Tess in her new job. One day, a charming young fellow by the name of Rene Gabas, who was the nephew of a Sociology faculty, entered the office with a note for Tess. The note was meant to inform the office that his aunt could not make it to her class. This chance meeting quickened a wonderful friendship between the two.
In 1987, Tess and Rene were wed in the presence of their family and friends. Their marriage is blessed with two children: Blossom Renee and Mark Darwin. Six years into their marriage, however, Rene died. And Tess, by God’s grace and mercy, stood strong and single-handedly raised her two kids. She did all that she could to make sure they lacked nothing.
More than 20 years since that painful day, Tess finds fulfilment in watching her children become parents themselves. At age 62, she now simply wishes to grow old gracefully in this beautiful campus by the sea.
Describe yourself in three words.
What is your motto in life?
“In God I trust”
What makes you laugh?
What makes you cry?
When I remember my departed love one
What’s your favorite time of the day and why?
After 5PM, when I’m done with my work in the office, because it gives me the satisfaction of another day accomplished. On top of that, I get to go home and be with family.
What’s your favorite day of the week and why?
Sunday, because it’s a perfect day to go to church with family
What do you love doing when not working?
Cooking for my family, and gardening
What is your favorite hangout place in the University?
Luce Lobby and Amphitheater
What makes you blush?
If you were an actress, who would you be?
I rather not liken myself to any actress.
Tell us a fact about yourself.
I am terrified of earthworms and snakes.
What’s your favorite game growing up?
“Bato-lata” and “sungka”.
What is your idea of a relaxing day?
Watching TV and playing with my grandchildre.
What one thing would people be interested to know about you?
I can adapt to any situation.
What song best describes the YOU and the life you have now?
What is the first thing you do right after waking up in the morning?
Say a prayer.
What’s your idea of a family?
A family is the center of our lives and on top of my priorities.