Teachers, one way or another, touch many lives in the process of nurturing their students and losing one great teacher brings grief to those whose lives he/she has hugely influenced.
Dr. Romola Savellon, fondly known as Ma’am Moling, went on to join the Creator last September 5, 2020. She spent 36 years in Cebu Normal University (CNU) as an Educator, Ang Suga Publication Adviser, College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) Chairperson, and Museum Curator among other things before retiring and still later on became a University Consultant during the time of CNU President Dr. Marcelo Lopez.
A virtual eulogy titled, “A Loving Tribute to Our Dearly Beloved Nanay Moling Savellon” was live-streamed via Zoom platform and the CNU Ang Suga Publication Facebook page on September 8, 2020, wherein students and colleagues of Savellon gathered to commemorate her life.
“The virtual eulogy was the only thing that we could do for her at this pandemic…If only circumstances would have all of us gather around her in her last waking hours, we would have done so. But she went away at a tough time. It could have been hordes of us around her in her wake if things were in a different circumstance,” Gina Panes, Ang Suga Publication alumna and former CNU teacher who is one of the organizers of the virtual eulogy said.
Ang Suga Publication adviser
“I would remember her as a strict but very nurturing mentor to me when I was in Ang Suga. She did put a premium on hard work and talent second…I saw integrity and sincerity when she worked. Her work ethics was a tough act to follow,” Panes recalled.
Panes said that Savellon implemented the strict rule that bond papers in Ang Suga are to be used for Ang Suga only and not for any school or personal purposes. She said that Savellon also imparted the work ethics that work hours are to be for work and not for gallivanting.
Savellon has been the longest technical adviser of Ang Suga Publication, the official student publication of CNU where she served for 25 years from 1985 until her retirement in 2010.
“Dr. Savellon helped me discover my passion for photojournalism or photography. I entered Ang Suga way back in college as a photojournalist. I learned a lot in Ang Suga with the help of Dr. Savellon because she allowed me to freely explore things like learning how to layout or design a magazine,” Atty. John DX Lapid, Ang Suga Publication alumnus said.
Sheila Godinez, AB English (Batch 1997), and Ang Suga Publication alumna shared in a Facebook post that Savellon taught her how to be truly interested in people – to know and listen to their stories and whenever possible, to be the voice of their stories. She said that Savellon taught her to teach others how to look at the world through other people’s lens – to empathize – and to be authentic to their stories and one’s own.
She said that she learned how important it is to ask the right questions, to read between the lines, to remove layers to see the core, to always appreciate beauty, and to remember that each person is important. She said that Savellon’s true-heartedness to all those under her care, and stability and loyalty to the causes she believed in made her not just a professor but a mother.
Savellon finished her undergraduate studies from then Cebu Normal School (CNS) in 1965 with the degree Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education (BSEEd). She started teaching at CNS in 1974 and has taught in the elementary and secondary departments of now CNU-Integrated Laboratory School (ILS) before teaching in college.
Savellon also founded the CAS department of then Cebu State College (CSC) together with Dr. Angel Pesirla, her cousin, and became its first Dean. She was designated as CAS Chairperson in 1988.
According to Panes, Savellon was considered the “Nanay” of the Bachelor of Arts Department in the 1990s. She shared that the department was small back then and everyone was skeptic of having the AB department last long in a teacher education institution. She said that it was Savelleon who persisted and campaigned for CAS to grow and do well in accreditation.
Savellon also founded the University Museum and became its first curator in 1997 while CSC worked its way on becoming a University in 1998. She was also the founding President of the CNU Faculty Association.
CAS faculty Mr. Romualdo Generalao said that Savellon was an active member of the Visayas Association of Museums and Galleries Inc. (VAMGI).
He said that Savellon was the one who spearhead the collection of the exhibitions found in the CNU museum.
He also said that Savellon was the main researcher of the 100 Most Outstanding Alumni of CNU during the University’s Centennial Homecoming celebration.
A humble, generous, and selfless woman
Dr. Eva Gacasan, CNU Psychology Department Chair, recalls Savellon as an accomplished woman who never cared for recognition. She considers Savellon as an artist who is good in sketches, a prolific writer, and a person with depth of wisdom who has contributed much to Cebuano arts and heritage.
According to Gacasan, Savellon has also helped students who had financial difficulties by providing free lunches and money for projects.
One testament of which is Gladishmarie Paeste-Pantaleon, a former Ang Suga Publication Editor-in-Chief who shared that Savellon helped her get through college by cleaning Savellon’s cubicle in the museum and in turn provided for her lunch. She narrated that it was Savellon who offered to help her after finding out the financial difficulty that caused her to be absent in classes. She said that Savellon also helped in her internship as a student-teacher.
Pantaleon remembers Savellon as a simple woman who does not look at the outside appearance of a person and is more impressed with a person’s attitude rather than with one’s intellectual capacity. She considers Savellon an upright person.
Savellon wrote CNU’s history book titled “To Rouse the Dawn: A Century of Mentoring” that was launched on June 15, 2011.
She also wrote books and monographs including Mga Karaang Suginlanon sa Banilad (Folktales of Banilad), and In Death’s Shadow: Kempetai Atrocities in Cebu to name a few, and made sketches of Cebuano Katipuneros that are displayed in Museo Sugbo’s Katipunan Gallery.
The Museo Sugbo, University of San Carlos (USC) Press, and St. Theresa’s College (STC) Cebu also shared their sympathies on Savellon’s passing through a Facebook post together with those of her students and friends.
Dr. Jobers Bersales, USC Museum Director and USC Press Manager said that he considers Savellon as an indefatigable researcher and scholar of Cebuano culture and heritage. He said that Savellon’s cultural heritage monograph series that was funded by the National Commission of Culture and the Arts (NCCA) are pioneering works.
“We are indebted by her many writings that have shed alight anew on many aspects of Cebuano culture and art that have, over the years been lost from memory. Her sudden passing should thus be lamented,” Bersales said.
He said that one can only hope that Savellon’s students, those in the University, and those who were fortunate to know and/or work with her will continue what she has started.
Savellon thus is a superwoman who has touched lives through her works as a person, a teacher, a researcher, a founder, and a culturati. She left a lasting legacy in preserving and putting forward the Cebuano history, culture, and arts. (JDF)