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.