Today is my mother's birthday...
While I can write so many wonderful things about her, I'd go with how the people she was around with when she was still alive saw her. The article below was originally published in the July 2011 edition of Rizal Technological University's The Guardian. This was written 4 months after she passed on.
It still warms my heart knowing just how many lives she left a lasting impact on.
And She Will Be Loved
By: Aprilyn Celestial and Hannah Fallete
Dr. Juliana Bacud-Tabula was not born a dean. When she was brought forth in this world this day in 1955, she was as bare and innocent as any newborn could be; the typical Tabula-Rasa.
Neither was Ma’am Julie rich. The childhood years she behind her were not the sunny paradise we thought. The great shadow of her father’s death when she was ten had kept their family in darkness. With nine siblings and a jobless mother, they almost lost all hope.
Almost. For one thing that she was blessed of was intelligence, and when she thought that she could not study anymore, help came. What she expected as an ordinary high school entrance exam brought about the hope she sorely needed. She became a recipient of a scholarship at Isabela State University. Upon graduation, a brother sent her to Manila. At first, she intended to be a journalist, fostering a love for writing ever since she was younger, but the turbulent and violent atmosphere of the Martial Law era and the fears of her family and friends prevented her. She took up Bachelor of Arts major in English, with a minor in Political Science.
Far from Easy
It has been 25 years since she first came to Rizal Technological University. She was then a young wife who felt a need for change. With a determined mind, she took a job – not as a dean but, as an executive assistant.
It was a busy job. It was 1985, RTU was a young college amidst radical changes in the government and the times. It was the time when her family was beginning to frow and therefore needed much from her. However, instead of breaking from the pressure, the thrived in it.
The first three years were the fruitful ones for her. A year after being hired, she was promoted as senior executive assistant. She also began teaching as Instructor I.
But when everybody thought that it would be a series of successes, an interval came. Before being Instructor 3, she had to wait and work for 10 long years as Intstructor 2, which showed that sweet success consists mostly of hard toll and patience. She eventually became Assistant Professor 4, but it came after 20 years of effort, labor and zeal.
It was 1999 when a significant event happened. Ma’am Julie was elected as President of the Confederation of Faculty Clubs in RTU. This gave her a proper seat as a member of the Board of Reagents. It was a time of exultation and gratitude, a reward after long years. It is a great moment most surely, except that a few weeks later, her mother died. It was Ma’am Julie’s birthday.
It is one of those rare instances that make reality stranger than fiction. For Ma’am Julie, it must’ve felt like a victory at a great cost. Years later when she was preparing her speech for her doctoral defense, she wrote about her mother’s death. “It was a blow to me…” Her mother has been her strength in the miserable times of her youth.
Ma’am Julie was a strong woman. At the face of sorrow, she knew she must go on. There was a family she must tend and responsibilities to fill. The presidency has paved a way of opportunities to come. When she ceased the said position, she was immediately hired as a staff at the Scholarship Office, the Publication and Public Affairs Office and Information Center. With her passion for writing she also became the managing editor of the FORUM – the official publication of RTU.
These years she must have considered as a kind of training. She was on her 18th year at the college, now a full pledged state university. She was seasoned against many odds and knowledgeable of its affairs. She took post graduate studies, thinking perhaps that if opportunities would not come to her, she will make it herself.
A few days after New Year’s Day in 2004, Ma’am Julie became the head of the Scholarship Office. She has been a scholar herself and knew something of the struggle which poor but determined students continually encounter, hopes and fears. She must have been a good one, for a series of advisory positions at different scholarship giving organizations in and out of the school quickly followed.
Happy Homecoming, Ma’am Julie!
2007 was a great year for Dr. Tabula. She received her PhD in Public Administration a year before and became the Dean of Department of Student Affairs. It was not at all smooth sailing as clashes between students and the administration often occurred. Despite the hard work, she was happy to be with the students whom she loved and cared for.
However, unknown to many, a change has been slowly going on within Dr. Tabula. Her heart has been showing signs of enlargement along with weakening kidneys.
Way back in 1998, she showed high levels of sugar in her blood. Her doctors told her that she has diabetes.
Mrs. Carolina Abaya, a close friend of Dr. Tabula, related how her friend faced the illness. “I convinced her to undergo Dialysis,” she said. But, due to professional strains, she was unable to focus on it.
When she finally went to the hospital, it was a bit too late. But, she still underwent with the procedure. However, her condition continued to deteriorate until finally she was forced to go on leave.
“When I last heard from her, hindi na maganda ang kanyang condition…” Mrs. Abaya recalls.
One day, text messages about Dr Tabula’s death were received by several people. Most of them did not believe it, or did not want to believe it, and dismissed it as a bad joke.
It was a heart failure, the very heart which beat for her family, her friends and students, and even them people that betrayed her. She was 55 years old.
They say that death is the cessation of biological functions that sustain a living organism. Some say that it is the homecoming to the Creator, but for those who knew her and saw her kindness, Dr. Tabula will always live on. She will always be loved.