For this year’s Teachers’ Appreciation Week, Heidy Guevarra and Dale Chua interviewed Physical Education (PE) and Leadership & Strategy (LS) professor David Puen. Mr. Puen is known for being friends with and making jokes with his students.
Heidy Guevarra (HG): What inspired you to become a professor in the Ateneo?
David Puen (DP): I think what inspired me were other teachers that I had in college. How they [shaped] me, [and] led me to believe that I could also make a difference.
Dale Chua (DC): What do you like most about teaching?
DP: [I enjoy] the students [and their] energy. Seeing them figure out a problem—I think that’s one of the most satisfying things a teacher can experience. [At the beginning], they weren’t able to do something, [but] at the end of the semester, they’re already different people because they were able to acquire certain skills and knowledge that they would be able to apply in the future.
DC: Through what and how you teach, what do you wish your students to become knowing what you’ve imparted to them?
DP: I want them to become more discerning [and] to be able to think about why they’re doing [something], so that at least [your] purpose is established. It’s not just about knowing a specific [skill]. [They should also know that] they must do something—whether it be for their family business, outreach project, [or] whatever. At least alam kong may sense of purpose sila sa buhay nila. (At least I know that they have a sense of purpose in their lives.)
DC: With your profession comes a lot of frustration. What drives you to keep on teaching?
DP: I think that in every class there will be one or two people, at the very least, who would feel that they learned [something] from me. That drives me to keep improving the craft of teaching.
DC: If there’s one advice you can give your students, what will it be?
DP: [Their] education will not end in school. They learn a lot in school, but it doesn’t mean that when they graduate, [learning would] end there. It’s a continuous process. They need to be humble enough to understand that they will always have to learn new things [and] to be mature enough to accept that they do not know everything.
DC: What is the most important thing you have learned from your students?
DP: Enjoy lang, not to take everything seriously—that’s always something I see [in my] students. No matter how stressed they are, they [still] laugh, make jokes, [or] see the lighter things. That’s something [that] I’ve learned to appreciate. When things don’t go the way you [want] them to, take it in stride and just laugh at it.
HG: Tell us one memorable thing that has happened in your teaching career.
DP: The first memorable thing I’ve experienced is when I received my first pabaon card [ something like a send-off card]. These are from graduating students, and that time I was only teaching sophomores for LS10 or PE. [Receiving] a pabaon card from a senior meant that he remembered me! [On the note, he wrote about] how my teaching, guidance and advice helped him. [It was nice how] I was able to make an impact in a person’s life that way. He even remembered to say “thank you” when he graduated.
HG: Naiyak ka ba? (Did it make you cry?)
DP: No. (laughs)
HG: The theme [for TAW] this year is Olympics. Who [do you think is] the athlete you can compare yourself to?
DP: Among all the Olympians, being a tennis player, I see myself as Andy Murray. As a tennis player, it’s always a balance between [the] mental and [the] physical. It’s always nice to embody both. Mens sana in corpore sano. (A sound body in a sound mind.) It’s not just about the mind, the academic—it’s also about taking care of your body. It’s always nice to merge both to become a better person.
DC: What’s your life motto?
DP: [From the] top of [my] mind, everything [should be] in moderation. Pero ito siguro ang lagi kong tinatandaan, ang prayer ko palagi. (This is what I always keep in mind, what I always pray for.) “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” To always understand the balance of what I can do, what I cannot do, and have the maturity to accept [either way]—iyan na ang life motto ko. (That is my life motto.)
HG: Tell us a joke. Or show us your special talent, sir!
DP: Magaling ako magpatulog ng bata.(I’m good at putting children to sleep.)
HG: So Sir, kinakantahan mo? (So Sir, you sing to them?)
DP: Oo. (Yes.)
HG: So Sir, sample!
DP: Ang hirap naman, kaya pala hindi ako nanalo [last year]. Grabe pala ang cost of success dito. (So this is why I lost last year. The cost of success is so high!)
Watch Sir David Puen sing a short rendition of Control by One Direction below:
[vimeo 184322706 w=640 h=360]
Follow the Teachers’ Appreciation Week page, to know more about professors in Ateneo de Manila!
Check out these professors in Teachers’ Appreciation Week: