Asst. Prof. Lady Flor Partosa
Many students see her as one who’s quite sure about life’s answers. After all, she’s their English teacher and concurrently Coordinator of the Edilberto and Edith Tiempo Creative Writing Center. Little do they know that she’s just as clueless as they are, equally adventurous and in constant pursuit of something new.
She may have just stepped out of her twenties, but Asst. Prof. Lady Flor Partosa, or “Parts” as she is fondly called, acknowledges the struggle that many young people go through – the quarter-life crisis. This is a phase where one is so unsure about what to do with his or her life – and she admits that the struggle is indeed real.
It was the early 2000s: the demand for nurses abroad was high in the Philippines, and thousands of young people opted to take nursing in the hopes of getting a job abroad and earn a stable income. Parts was among them. “My parents thought it was a good course, because of the opportunities it offers,” she shares.
But unlike her peers who had a clear plan of what to do in the near future, she admits that she had no idea about what to do with her life back then. “I then realized when I was dissecting animals in our Biology class that I didn’t like what I was doing, and I couldn’t imagine myself being in a hospital in a uniform, dealing with people who are sick or dying,” Parts recalls.
This prompted her to take up Education, a course that only a very few of her batchmates in high school took. However, she was not quite sure about her decision, because she had the impression that teaching would mean being stuck in a classroom. It was only in her third year in college when it dawned on her that she was meant to take that course, with the help of her mentor Assoc. Prof. Gina Fontejon-Bonior and Paulo Freire’s book “Pedagogy of the Oppressed.”
“That book basically defines education as a way for teachers and students to work together to understand reality and society, which was very promising for me because I finally felt that I had a purpose,” she says.
Parts eventually finished her Bachelor of Secondary Education major in English from Silliman in 2007.
After graduating from college, she was at a crossroads and considered going to Cebu, despite her reservations of leaving home. She finally decided to take her master’s degree in Silliman through the under the University’s Graduate Teaching Fellowship program, giving her the chance to teach part-time while studying full-time. Parts then earned her Master of Arts in English major in Literary Studies degree in 2010, after which she was hired as a regular faculty of the English Department.
At that point in her life, however, she felt stuck. “When you’re 23 or 24, you would expect people to be young and free while chasing their dreams, but I was here, taking my master’s,” she shares, adding that she had never ridden a plane before. It was then when she heard of the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Program, a program she eventually got into. “If you really commit to the work you love, opportunities will find you,” Parts says.
It was during her time in the United States under the Fulbright program that she got to appreciate life more, especially that she teaches literature. “One time, I was riding the train in New York. I looked at my fellow passengers—old people, Latin Americans, African Americans, construction workers—and I started to wonder what stories they could have within. And that’s the beauty of Literature—it makes you appreciate someone as a human being and not as an idea,” she shares.
Though she’s been through a lot of struggles about what to do with life, she still remains idealistic, but is now more in touch with reality. “I think my idealism is still around, that’s why I teach. But I don’t dwell in the broad ideas of conquering the world and bringing down capitalism, because I want change to be personal,” Parts explains.
To her students and other young people who think they’re confused about what to do with life, she shares this piece of advice: “We have to acknowledge that the struggle is real, but not dwell on it. You don’t have to escape from it; deal with it instead. These questions really just find you, no matter wherever you are in life.”
Describe yourself in three words.
Wonderer, listener, learner.
What is your motto in life?
“One can never go wrong with kindness.”
What makes you laugh?
Jokes (whether they’re good or bad), funny stories, anecdotes, and memes.
What makes you cry?
Things moving enough to make you tear up, even if it’s just a sentimental story.
What’s your favorite time of day and why?
4-5 PM, because you get to the burst of sunlight just before dusk.
What’s your favorite day of the week and why?
Sunday morning, because I can go to church with my family.
What do you love doing when you’re not working?
Catching up on reading books, relaxing, playing Candy Crush, browsing the Web.
What is your favorite hangout place in the University?
The Nutrition and Dietetics snack bar, where my colleagues and I usually eat.
If you were a singer, who would you be?
Tell us a fact about yourself.
I love to sing! I was in a punk rock band in college.
What is your idea of a relaxing day?
Music, books, karaoke, conversations.
What song best describes the YOU and the life you have now?
Jack Johnson’s “Better Together,” only because of this line: Love is the answer at least to most questions of my heart.
What is the first thing you do after waking up in the morning?
What’s your idea of a family?
Family is where people love each other.
At this point in your life, what for you is your life’s mission?
To live fully and give back whatever I can.
How do you like to be remembered as a teacher?
Someone who made her students value life and connecting with people.