REST IN PEACE MR. D: A tribute post to my teacher

Click here to view pictures of Mr. D :)

It’s everywhere on Facebook. Friends updating their status as their friends update theirs. Some chose to express themselves with very little words and detail. A simple, “RIP” or “SIGH“. While some chose to be more detailed of their expression by talking about memories and thoughts.

I on the other hand did neither. Instead, I chose to talk about it on my blog because I wanted a bigger canvas for me to ‘paint’ on.

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It started last night after my musical rehearsal. I logged on to my Facebook account roughly about 9pm and I saw my friend’s status update with a simple, “Sigh…“. As I scroll down, I see both her and another friend wrote, “RIP“. I scrolled down even further and there it was, a picture that pieced everything together.

A teacher and a friend, smiling side by side, with a caption, “Rest in peace Mr. D..

My heart sank. I was in a huge shock. What could it be? Sickness? Accident? But he’s too young! Far too young! 48!

I called my friend’s cell and asked her if it was true. She said yes. I asked her how. She paused, sighed and said, “He committed suicide.

WHAT!” I screamed, stopping in my track. “But why? How? Where are you?” I asked, impatiently.

I’m in school. We’re having a prayer for him. Come over if you can.

I was walking over to my boyfriend’s car, body shaking and my mind kept repeating her words. “He committed suicide. He committed suicide. HE. COMMITTED. SUICIDE.

The moment I was in the car, I told my boyfriend everything and asked if he could drive me over to school which he was not hesitant to oblige. In the car, I called another friend, a good friend, who left school a semester before I left and who look highly on Mr. D.

He’s like a mentor! A father figure! I love his class and he is so hilarious! You should definitely take his class!” I remember her saying as I followed her to the teachers’ lounge, holding a self-wrapped bouquet of daisies we got at a nearby flower shop and a self-made card she made earlier on her hand. She opened the door and asked Mr. D. if he was free to come out to the hall as she has something for him.

He came out and she gave him a big hug and handed him the flowers and card. He smiled broadly and said, “Thank you, Tara! You are very sweet!” And hugged her again.

Tara asked if I could help her take a picture with him and I did.

Mr. D and Tara. (Photo belonging to Tara)

The phone was dialing and she answered the call. “Hello?

We exchanged hellos and I instantly knew from the tone of her voice that she has yet to hear about the tragic news. I told her calmly, about his death and how he died. She was shocked, shaken, and slowly, she broke down. I felt sad for her. I knew how much he meant to her and having been his own student, I too understand the pain of losing him.

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When I reached the school, my friend brought me to a small area beside the school where candles are lit and flowers are left. Everyone was in black, including myself (coincidentally).

I asked my friends what happened to him and they told me that he hung himself outside of his condominium balcony with a curtain cloth. They told me that a local independent news agency wrote about his death on their website and even posted graphic pictures of his corpse being retrieved by the police and fireman from the position in which he hung himself in. Although the pictures did not exactly show his face, seeing his lifeless body positioned that way and being uploaded on a public website angered and upset many of his students and ex-students (my friends and I).

Some of my ex-classmates (including myself when I got back) emailed the news agency to take the photos down. The last thing we want to see is his lifeless body hanging like that, without dignity, and presented for the whole world to see, to criticize and to ridicule him of his actions without even feeling remorse – happened in one forum site which a friend shared the link. I will not disclose that link here, it’s just not worth everyone’s time reading it.

Mr. D., always friendly to uhm, EVERYBODY.

Anyway, according to the news, he was found wandering about around his condominium complex at roughly 2am, Tuesday (September 4th) morning, reported by residences. The next day, construction workers who saw his corpse at the balcony thought that it was a doll being hung there, when in fact, they soon realized that it was actually a corpse. Several residents noticed the scene too and proceeded to call the police.

When the police got to his condo, they found keys in his shoe rack which they think had been put there by him so that it would be easier for them to open the door. In his house, he had left a 2-page note for his children (four of them which he often fondly talks about in class) and girlfriend.

He lives by himself and I reckon the reason that he hung himself out on the balcony, out in the open, was probably because he wanted people to know that he had died as oppose to hanging himself up in his house with no one to find out about it until days (possible weeks) later and by then, his corpse would be too decomposed that by the time his body reaches Canada, to his children and family, they won’t be able to recognize him any more. Needless to say, he has thought about this for a while now, it was not on impulse. Nobody really knows for sure, but that is just a theory that I came out with.

Always the wacky one in the group, that is our Mr. D!

It is hard to wrap our heads around why Mr. D. took his own life.

The irony to his death is that he is a motivational speaker and thus, without fail, constantly uplifts his students by telling them (us) how awesome they are and how much potential they have in their life. He reminds us every day to smile and laugh at life, enjoy life. “Dance!” He says, while turning up Black Eyed Peas’ ‘I Got A Feeling’ and proceeded to dance around the class with his hands up in the air and bum shaking left and right, while he makes these wacky facial expressions so that we’d laugh.

Sometimes he cracks really silly and lame jokes and be all, “Right guys? RIGHT? No? Oh well!” Then we’d laugh at him. Some rolled their eyes and smiled, as if saying, “Why am I in this class with this nutcase!” In a good way, of course.

He’ll remind us everyday that, “The best breakfast is an all fruit breakfast!“.

I’m always the first one to reach the class. Whenever he comes into the class 10 minutes before the class even started, he would always find me either sleeping on my desk or putting on some make-up (for fun). I had my make-up phase which lasted for a few months and then it stopped when a friend approached me and innocently asked me why I put too much make-up on when I’m already pretty without it. It was a sweet compliment from him, one that I would never forget and so, I stopped wearing make-up.

On the last day of school, we had a party in his class. During the party, I approached him and told him how much I enjoyed his class and how much effort he had put in in making the class enjoyable which is a pretty hard job to do. I should know since I teach part-time. He then said thank you and told me that he liked seeing me putting my make-up on whenever he comes into class to set his stuff up and wondered why I stopped doing that. He told me that seeing me putting my make-up on reminded him of his late mother, whom as a child, he spends his days seeing her put make-up on herself.

My heart sank and I felt sad for him. He misses his mother so much and her memory was lived on whenever he sees me put make-up on. I wish I had continued that morning ritual for him. But it’s too late now.

Mr. D and his love for children and education. Here, a girl is reading a book in her own native language to Mr. D and he listens on.

My last memory of Mr. D. is when my friends and I bumped into him and his girlfriend, both with a bottle of beer on their hands, in one of the restaurants just behind our school. I remember saying hi to both of them which they then smiled and said hi back.

Mr. D.’s life had a tragic end, but despite his dark inner self, to the outside world, he is a funny, charming and silly teacher and mentor who never fail to walk around with a big grin on his face. It was unfortunate that not many of us see the other side of him which he had successfully hid from those around him. I wish that he would have shown that side of him so that we could help him somehow. It’s destructive to be the only only one carrying this pain and not have anyone be there for you. But alas, it is too late, his inner demons had finally won.

They say that the most fragile are the most effective actors in hiding their emotions from others, perhaps there is truth in that.

Let us not celebrate his ending, but celebrate the life that he led. He has loved, was loved and will forever be loved.

Rest in peace, Mr. D.

Note: All pictures are of Mr. D’s personal collection from his blog which url will be kept private for personal reasons. If there are any requests for the photos to be taken down by family members or friends, I will oblige.

Update: Friends, students, co-workers and strangers show anger and disappointment to an independent news agency for posting graphic photos of Mr. D. hanging on his verandah, for spelling his name wrong, for their accusations and speculations and for the reasons of why they disclosed the gory photo – “A picture paints a thousand words”, they say. What bullshit! Read the comments here.

Update #2: SJ Echo, the news agency I told you about previously had deleted their Facebook page and have taken down the article of Mr. D. from their website.

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