Thursday, April 18, 2024

Beyond Classroom and Court

By Kristia Nina Daymiel | October 5, 2023

“Teachers are not teaching you [how] to be [successful], but you have to have a shared responsibility,” said a mentor with his shirt tucked in knee-length denim pants, a pair of running shoes, and a “swim-bike-run” tattooed in both his calf and heart—Dionesio V. Piñero II. 

As an assistant professor of the Silliman University Physical Education Department, he shares his expertise in swimming, running-hiking-walking, and martial arts. Though professionally inclined to carry out these three, he maintains: “My first love [since childhood] in sports is swimming, then the rest of that is secondary.”

Considering his potency with sports, Piñero indeed works in his forte. But before territorializing the gutters of Shaw Memorial pool and the grounds of Cimafranca ballfield, he was once a young man who longed to work in a snappy camouflage uniform, handling rifles. 

THE FIRST DREAM

The 49-year-old Piñero, now looking forward to the upcoming Buglasan half marathon this October 15, was once a kid who wanted to become a cop.  

“When I was young, my ambition in life was to become a policeman,” he exclaimed. 

With wishful thoughts of someday enlisting in the military, Piñero—who had since become a college student—looked for every door that may lead him one step closer to becoming one of those men in boots. However, the road seemed to diverge away from the job he once aspired to have.

“When I graduated from my secondary years, I thought of applying for army training. But sad to say, my parents didn’t allow me,” he added.

Left with towed-away dreams, Piñero, filled with courage, stepped out and made his way toward an unknown path—but still remaining open to what else he may be called to do. 

THE CALLING 

Venturing down the aisle towards his future, Piñero bet his luck on computer programming, industrial chemistry, and becoming an army reservist. Yet, perhaps driven by his fate, these tracks pan out in his favor. He instead found himself in the halls of Silliman University in 1995—taking up a degree in education, majoring in Physical Education and Health Management. 

From then on, he became the Sir Dionesio Piñero we know today. 

SIR PIÑERO

Aside from being a teacher and a renowned sports enthusiast, Piñero is adored by Sillimanians for the good demeanor he consistently shows during his classes. 

“I like that he’s considerate of his students’ conditions and capabilities. He always seems to prefer encouragement rather than pushing students to their limits,” one student lauded. 

Reminiscing back to when he was not a teacher yet, Piñero related to students’ teenage tendencies. He understands where his students are coming from, even to the extent of what may seem to be ridiculous habits. 

“When I see these [drunk or hungover] students…I will always ask them, ‘Are you okay?’ I will not get angry because that is what I’ve also experienced before,” Piñero said. 

With this empathy, Piñero was able to build sentimental bonds with his flock of learners. Therefore, apart from what he is supposed to teach his students—whether it be platoon walks, martial arts, or swimming—he was able to instill meaningful values for them to live by, reminding his students of important matters such as acknowledging failures as instruments of success.

“Always love to fail, because if you fail, you learn something from failures,” he quoted. 

BEYOND TEACHING

Beneath the surface of what people think a PE teacher should be like, Piñero also lends his time to being a coach, a marathoner, and an on-call sports events organizer—an array of duties that push him to juggle two jobs or more on several occasions. 

“The invitations coming from the [Dumaguete City] government inviting me to organize their sports events—this is also a very big challenge because sometimes I’m paid, sometimes I’m not. But I’m happy to serve as a volunteer to the government when it comes to sports organizations or sports organizing,” he assured. 

Because of that, the balance between his leisure and obligation to sports is one thing that Piñero makes sure to manage well. 

“It’s very difficult if you are into sports at this present time because you have to strike a balance between your work and your…I call it physical exercise…since my time is spent on teaching and coaching, so I need to balance a lot of things, so this is multitasking on my part,” he explained.

Despite the taxing nature of his overlapping responsibilities, Piñero stays above the labyrinth as he does his best to conquer life in the best way possible. Not taking to heart every inconvenience. 

“I’m not very serious with my life, I want my life to be well-balanced,” he affirmed. 

He said that is a demeanor he anchored from his observations of the Japanese. 

“The] Japanese are [such] happy persons, that’s why di kaayo sila kunot-kunot. Kita [Filipinos] kay sige ta stress kaayo ‘nya serious kaayo sa tanan, so wala ta ana,” he added. 

(I got this from Japanese people. The Japanese are such happy people, that’s why they don’t have many wrinkles. [Meanwhile,] we [Filipinos] are so stressed and take everything so seriously, we are not like them.)

THE THOUGHT OF BEING TAUGHT

Not the captain, but a compass—this is what Piñero believes. To him, teaching is a two-way job where students and teachers work hand in hand. As such, he believes teaching is guiding, and not walking the path for anyone else. It is providing, not spoon-feeding. 

“This is my principle. I don’t teach, I’m just guiding you on what to do with your life. You teach me how to be able to continue to be with you,” articulated Piñero. 

Whether in numbers, letters, sports, or learning of any sort, we celebrate teachers as delegates of realigning the gap between ignorance and wisdom. For Piñero, this is how students and teachers can work together to thrive—even outside both court and classroom.

“We always have to remember that the teacher will be able to learn from the students, not [only] the students able to learn from the teacher,” he reiterated. 

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