Saturday, April 28, 2007

Consul Hjayceelyn "Joy" Quintana

Back home, in the Philippines, during my childhood, I used to stare at the clear nightsky and wonder how stars were created. Right before my eyes, immense numbers and fantastic variety of stars were revealed. They were a source of beauty and inspiration for me.

Eventually, I learned from my teachers in my Alma Mater that stars did not evolve overnight. The two leading types of cosmological theories that time were the "steady-state" and "big bang" theories; which both said that the stars undergo immense processes of alternating expansion and contraction of heat and pressure, before they shine brilliantly in the evening sky.

At 11:30 last night I received an email from Mitzi, a reminder that I am also to give a 3 minute presentation. Thanks Mitzi. I looked out the window as I organized my thoughts. Are stars only seen in the sky?

Rewind…backtrack…when was the first time I’ve heard about Consul Joy? Exactly one year when I first arrived to teach here in DC, another group of 80 Filipino teachers arrived in PG County during the fall of 2004, some of them are here. Knowing the difficulties of the first winter and complexities of adjusting to a new environment, I asked Madamme Ambassor Gretchen del Rosario for help. She referred me to Consul Joy who immediately responded with the Winter Drive. Di pa kami nagkikita nai-intriga na ako sa kanya. Ambassador Albert del Rosario told me that her reputation precedes her, that she was a Fulbright Scholar, was accepted to the United Nations pero di nya pinayagan kasi kailangan nya si Consul Joy sa Embassy. Habang nagkukwento sya parang nasabi ko sa sarili ko, paglaki ko gusto kong maging tulad ni Consul Joy.

We finally met at the Embassy to talk about the distribution of the winter clothes to the Filipino teachers. Tapos tinanong nya ako about the Pinoy Teachers Network, bago palang noon, 3 months palang. I was taken aback, kasi tatlo kaming teachers one from California, from Philippines and myself were just playing around with our blogs and decided to create a group parang exchange of experiences lang. Tapos si eto si Consul Joy tinatanong ako tungkol sa vision ng PTN. Ano nga ba? Wala pa kasi nga naglalaro lang kami. Then she went on telling me na wala pang professional organization of Filipino teachers dito sa Metro DC area, at dumarami na ang mga Filipino teachers. Marami pa syang makatotohanang sinabi tungkol na rin sa problemang pang edukasyon sa Pilipinas. She challenged me a lot! Sige na nga pangangatawanan ko na ito, seryosohan na ito!

Then, during the distribution day of the winter clothes to the Filipino teachers, she called me early habang naglo-load kami ng boxes sa van sa Embassy. She gave me detailed instructions, alam nyo naman si Consul Joy pag nagbigay ng instructions talagang detalyado. Din na ako nagtanong kung bakit wala pa sya at kung nasaan sya. Then sinundo na namin si Madamme Ambassador del Rosario, who made a call to Cookie. Sabi ko sa sarili ko, "sigiro pinagagalitan si Consul Joy, kasi absent". After their talk sabi nya, “alam mo ba kung bakit di makakasama si Joy sa atin ngayon?” sabi ko, “bakit po Auntie Gretchen?”, sabi nya, “Nasa hospital naka-confine kasi inoperahan”. Teka, pero siguradong-sigurado ako na si Consul Joy ang kausap ko kani-kanina lang na nagbigay ng detalyadong instructions sakin para dito sa Winter Drive. Di ko alam kung nasa operating room o recovery room na sya non.

From then on, she became one of the persons that I admire the most. I felt the passion, and positive energy that she exudes. I became motivated, energized and inspired. Consul Joy became my mentor and my friend. She became PTNs adviser, and gave us opportunities to share our expertise with the Philippine Embassy, like our MultiMedia Library project at the Embassy. She brought us into the Filipino Community, empowered us, and introduced us to some more educators and professionals who are potential collaborators for the Math, Science, Technology and Professional Development projects that we are thinking for the Philippine Public Schools.

Thank you for everything Consul Joy. Wherever you may go, you will always be a big part of the Pinoy Teachers Network as our adviser. Please stay connected, remember that our organization is global, kahit nasaan ka man, kapamilya ka pa rin namin.

Are stars only seen in the sky? We have one with us here, Consul Joy is truly somebody whom we can look up to.

Said during the Appreciation Dinner for Ms. Hjayceelyn “Joy” Quintana First Secretary and Consul Head, Cultural Section Embassy of the Philippines

Celebration took place on Friday, April 27, 2007 6:30 pm at the Arlington Arts Center (The Historic Maury School) Tiffany Gallery 3550 Wilson Boulevard Arlington, VA 22201 USA
Online documentation of Consul Joy's term here:

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