My English teacher on TV

Tears are so beautiful, I think this as I watch June Keithley crying silent tears on TV. ABS-CBN, through the ANC channel, had just given a truly beautiful tribute to Angelo Castro Jr. The tears fall from her eyes purely, in a steady stream, as she listens to people speak fondly of her late husband.

The love going around in that room is almost palpable, even on TV, and there isn’t a soul watching that does not feel her pain, and her peace — both together, not a breath apart. What a remarkably strong woman. And in the face of her own battle with cancer, she manages to speak so well of God’s goodness every chance she gets. That is grace that surpasses understanding, and can only come from God.

Someone wanders in the kitchen while I am watching and I remark again at the beauty of tears. ‘’Depends on the kind —  they are beautiful if they’re happy tears.” No, I say, you must be talking about feelings. Tears are different. They are beautiful even when they are borne of pain.

It was a very tight shot and I could see how clearly her tears flowed from the inner corner of her eyes. God is indeed good. And smart. Imagine if tears came out of the nose or ears or what if they flowed from the lower lids like waterfalls? Faces can drown in tears! But no, in His wisdom He made tears beautiful and neat, no matter the trigger, coming from one spot at a time, universally crystal clear. It is the very stuff that gives great poets and scriptwriters endless inspiration.

I wish I had met Angelo Castro Jr. in person. He was the first newscaster that made me appreciate watching the news as a child with my dad (it was excruciating to sit through that at first, when all I really wanted to do was pop in the Betamax player the Mazinger-Z and Grandizer videos I could not get enough of), pretty much in the same way that Daddy also taught me how to enjoy reading the Reader’s Digest. It was a daily thing, and soon enough it became a habit I looked forward to. His nice voice and neat manner of dressing reminded me very much of an uncle of mine and I remember how I would even write down his “… and for our final word tonight” alongside my doodles on the blank spaces around the edges of the day’s newspaper, which was also my own little way of discovering loops and peaks to make my handwriting beautiful (I still foster dreams of taking calligraphy classes one day).

I never met him in person, unfortunately. I so wish I did.

I am awed by the outpouring of love that we have witnessed over the last week for this pillar of broadcast journalism. Nothing comes from nothing, and the way he has touched lives as we all allowed him into our homes to deliver the news like clockwork, making carefree students like me then actually enjoy the news broadcast and understand current events, the way he maybe fostered unknowingly the desire in many people to also be a broadcast journalist, or at the very least speak better or dress neater; or look up an unfamiliar word in the dictionary just because he said it so well and in the process learn one new thing that night — all this may very well be one of his many legacies. That is the power of TV, the same power a man like him thankfully never abused.

In her tribute, Jing Reyes said Castro was a class act all the way. It was never difficult to see that.

With his passing I realized how we all really go about our own routines, perhaps not entirely aware of who is watching, and how what we are doing can touch one person in a big way. How do we grasp the worth of what we do? Will we ever even know? Will someone care to tell? Will we be around to listen? We pour so much of ourselves into our work, whatever it is that finds you daily, and there are days when what we do may not feel like much. What we do not always know is that somewhere out there, someone may have very well latched on to a part of our day, whether it was something we said or did, and ran away with it to use in his own circumstance, making him all the better for it. And so with that thought in mind we continue to give of ourselves. There really are no small or big things. What matters most is how we do them.

Rest in peace, Angelo Castro, Jr. Thank you for all the new words I learned from you, for the perfect diction, the nice quotes that made me say “Bitaw, tinu-od” (yes, that’s true), and the awakening that even for a child, the news does not have to be some boring alien spaceship after all. You were like another English teacher, one that I could only access on TV.

And thank you, too, June Keithley, for showing me just how beautiful tears can be. There are many of us praying for you.


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