Behind the word ‘terror’: Sir Eli’s legacy

FEU Advocate
December 01, 2022 08:48

By John Vincent C. Cruz and Brit Charles Quevedo

Far Eastern University (FEU) Department of Political Science Associate Professor Elizar Zamora, Ph.D. remains in the mourning hearts of the green-and-gold community. The educator, who died at 62, handled Political Science and General Education courses such as The Life and Works of Rizal and Readings in Philippine History.

The sudden news shocked the community as no one saw it coming—it happened without warning or foreshadowing. Life, as we all know it, can be quite spontaneous and bleak. It could also move pretty fast as most of the students have already moved on—but the late professor's close colleagues and past students continue to grieve and look back on his life and contributions to the University.

A cultivated and dedicated professor

Born on November 17, 1960, Dr. Zamora earned his Doctor of Philosophy in Southeast Asian Studies at the Centro Escolar University and a Master's degree in History at the Ateneo de Manila. In addition to his extensive credentials, he also took up a Bachelor of Laws at the University of the East.

Before his employment at FEU in 1997, the educator also shared his knowledge at UST Angelicum School (1986-1991) and Southern Rizal Institute (1982-1986).

Aside from teaching, Dr. Zamora was a board member of the FEU Faculty Union (FEUFA) and was then awarded as one of the Tamaraw educators during the Faculty and Employee Recognition Ceremony in celebration of the University’s 90th Founding Anniversary in 2018. 

One of the professor's recent and last contributions to the University was his involvement in the community extension webinar project "Voters' education,” spearheaded by the Department of Political Science last May 2021. He served as a resource speaker for the said event, which was dedicated to the inmates at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology of Manila City.

Known by his colleagues as ‘Pareng Eli,’ the educator was recognized through his work ethic and unparalleled dedication to his expertise—the love for teaching. During his remaining days at school, Dr. Zamora spent most of his time in the library while checking his students' papers.

“He really wanted to impart his knowledge from his expertise, to inculcate the culture of reading,” FEUFA Vice President Mr. Paulino Ayson shared.

His expertise made Dr. Zamora known not only to many as Pareng Eli but also as a companion, uncle, and friend to lean on. 

Within and beyond the four-cornered walls

Throughout his teaching career, Dr. Zamora was labeled by students as a terror professor. Tamaraws from various college programs and year levels testify to this, especially during the enrolment season.

Upon releasing the announcement after Dr. Zamora's passing, many students from his class showed sympathy and empathy for the late professor by letting thy happy halls know who Elizar Zamora truly is–inside and outside the classroom.

Andrea Mhae Calam, a third-year BA Communication student, shared her first encounter with Dr. Zamora when she took Reading in Philippine History during her second semester as a first-year student. 

In an interview with FEU Advocate, she stated that her first impression of him is that he looks like a serious person.

"Mr. Zamora was a supportive professor, he'd encourage you to read and try to understand his subject. He may be strict, but it was only for his student to do their best,” Calam claimed.

This was supported by another student from the Institute of Accounts, Business, and Finance (IABF), Jose Solmayor, who is currently a second-year Business Administration student. He had Dr. Zamora as his professor in 'The Life and Works of Rizal' during his first semester in 2nd year.

"He knows when to act professionally, friendly, and most especially, a mentor. He will never let you go out in your class without noticing the efforts that you did for his class," he added.

Everyone had to go through it the hard way, harder even. Maybe for Dr. Zamora, this was his way of being a true professor. Perhaps, this was his way of making sure his students had not only studied but also learned.

"I want Mr. Zamora to be remembered as a professor who would push you to the limits of your capability just to see for yourself how much you can handle and how much you can be your best. A professor who is also a father,” Solmayor stated.

Solmayor reminisced on Dr. Zamora’s way of recognizing and reminding him of his worth and capabilities, not just for himself but for all of his students. 

A lived legacy, leaving a legacy

More of Dr. Zamora's students, like Quisha Ramos, shared their memories and moments with the professor as a sign of offering condolences. Ramos took Mr. Zamora's classes in the subject 'Life and Works of Rizal' during the first semester of the current school year.

In an interview with FEU Advocate, Ramos revealed one of her greatest memories of the professor; it was when he noticed her readings in Rizal full of sticky notes and highlights. 

“He was so glad that I was reading every module he assigned to us because that would sum up that his students are ready to learn about Rizal. And by that, I was able to have more courage to recite in his class,” she shared.

'Terror' was too much of a term for the professor—'thoughtful' would do. Even after his remaining days, many people are still inspired by Mr. Zamora's acts of virtuousness through his teaching profession. 

"All those lessons you have given to me will be remembered just as I will remember you as the greatest professor I ever had,” Ramos includes a message she wishes Dr. Zamora could read.

Death is a subject that people try to shy away from. It can happen unexpectedly at any given time. And when it happens to someone, feelings of profound grief linger in the weeping hearts of close relatives and loved ones. But one thing always marks the most important realization—treasure every moment in the present and with the living. 

But one thing that society fails to address is how people instantly feel remorseful for the deceased when they were little to no show for the living.

Labeled as the terror, hard-to-please professor for some, no one can deny his wit, excellence, and passion for his craft. Now in paradise, Dr. Zamora can finally rest peacefully as he had given his all in providing high-quality education to the Tamaraws. 

Like any human being, Dr. Zamora is one of many misunderstood people for their actions. But like the golden time, they were later acknowledged and celebrated for their contributions when it was already late. Hopefully, society would realize that life is something to be not taken for granted, and death should not be the only time we celebrate and uplift those who passed away.