Sr. Agnes, Mrs Barola, Mr. Barola, Dr. Remedio, and Mr. Deveza


For most Holy Crossians, she was the imposing image of one of high school’s most fearsome group of teachers: the Math Department. But for us, she will always be remembered as a kind and loving mother – patience is her virtue and humility is her gift.

Mrs. Epifania Barola died last June 15, 2011. She left this world riding on the lunar eclipse. No matter what human doctors will say, I will always assert that she did not die of any disease – her soul was simply lifted by the magic of the moment.

Because that is how I recall Mrs. Barola – a magician. If Holy cross High School was Hogwarts School of Wizardy, she was the formidable figure of Minerva McGonnagal – which makes St. Cecilia Gryffindor (sorry St. Mark).

Like Minerva who taught Transfiguration, Mrs. Barola taught figures and how to transform them using equations and formulas. And everytime we encounter a difficult problem, Mrs. Barola’s first question was always, “What is the formula?”. For her, Algebra and life are the same – both are fascinating, both are filled with problems, and both have already established formulas for solutions. She taught me a lesson that is timeless and practical: understand the problem and use the right formula to solve it.

And like Minerva, she ruled our class with a delicate balance of sternness, kindness, and a bit of humor. She was clapping her hands when the class decided that our feastday presentation would feature everyone whose name started with Mar – so it was Martin, Martesa, Marites, and Marichu. She didn’t have favorites, but took pride in whatever every classmate achieved.

But also like Minerva, she was the second-head, never the first. She became academic coordinator. She was the most qualified but for some reason, she was never made Principal, that is until recently, when she accepted that post in another private school. It was obvious that she left Holy Cross with a heavy heart. But Mrs. Barola was the type who kept everything in her heart.

So, it is just fitting that her death coincided with the full lunar ecplise. When everybody else was looking up, Mrs. Barola left quietly and gently. I hope she knows how grateful we are. She “transfigures” us into what we are now. And I hope she trusts that because she taught us well, the magic continues; this time, all over the world.

Rest in peace, Ma’am Barola. We surrender our wands to you.


9 responses »

  1. Larry says:

    Bai Rey, last June 15, Madel and I were looking some Tsunami pictures sa web and I remembered nga it happened during our 20th year reunion last Dec 27, 2004 sa Roan beach. I told Madel nga we have some photos with my classmates and teachers during that time. Nakatotok ko for few seconds sa photo above, I took the photo and had told Madel how proud am I telling stories about them. Had even mentioned that Mr. Barola had passed away few months after the reunion. Wa jud nako damha, while nag estorya mi about Mr. Barola, I receive text from Epin that Mrs. Barola just passed away that morning. I believe jud that people close to your heart will communicate to you in some other ways. May she rest in peace.

  2. Yes, Bai Lars, I believe it too. Although its kind of eerie no. Yes, at least they are together now. And I think they will be happy to know that we, our batch, are very grateful to both of them.

  3. Jang says:

    You really have a way with words, Rey.You’ve hit the nail right in the head. Nobody else could ever make such a fitting tribute to one great teacher.

  4. Troy John Tugot Tabanas MD;FPAFP says:

    Math was my waterloo but Mrs Barola made it an enjoyable learning experience to me at the least. She could have been too proud to handle our St Cecilia class with all the colourful characters that we all were. Years and years after high school I would meet her on Sunday masses and did not miss warm hugs from her. How could one have felt so cared, respected and loved? In my medical stint I felt the pains she had in our conversations but she accepted it in faithful resignation. “All of us will have losses and will try to move on” as she lost Mr Barola then (as if comforting herself). Now from where you are Ma’am Bing, my proud salute for the life of sharing wisdom, values and unconditional love and understanding to all of us! The whole of Holy Cross mourns your passing.

  5. Thanks Jang and Troy,

    We were there last night for the vigil. It was so moving. Practically all batches of Holy Cross were represented. They came to pay their respects. Our retired Holy Cross teachers – mrs anasco, mrs. borong, miss dorog etc were the ones who managed the whole thing since these are kids and mostly boys (only one girl) she left behind.

    We met Mary Rose, the one she gave birth to when we were in fourth year. She was really loved by all.

  6. Julius says:


    sad to read this. Mr. & Mrs Barola are the most approachable people i know at HCHS. im from batch 98′

    • Larry Macatol says:

      “True friends are the ones who never leave your heart, even if they leave your life for awhile. Even after years apart, you pick up with them right where you left off, and even if they die they’re never dead in your heart.” From HCHS ’83

  7. melchin belarmino says:

    She was a “Hero” of truth and justice in the school, you will be forever our inspiration in life Mam Barola.

  8. melchin belarmino says:

    HCHS batch 2004

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