College Faculty Spotlight: Engrs. Leo Usa and Raymundo Moso

These two college professors are both intelligent yet down to earth, despite sharing different personalities.

It was our first few days in college as we were excited to know who are going to be our teachers. Engr Erlinda Solito was supposed to be in at 7.30, but she was not around, so we hanged kept on talking until the bell rang for the next subject. Engr Rogelio Caballo entered our Algebra class in the morning, and Engr Henry Sabate came into the Engineering Drawing class a little later.

Engr Caballo is soft-spoken and redefines what he says at the end of the session. He is also methodical and applies techniques by the rules of the book. We are to be seated according to our surnames. And so I got to know more about Eugene Cabale and Arthur Catubig.

Passing the subject will earn you five units, which also means we have to meet for two hours on Monday and Wednesday mornings and an hour on Fridays. On the other hand, Engr. Henry Sabate already got irked by the noisy classmates. On the first day of the class as a college freshman, it wasn’t unusual to gain as many friends as you can. There is no time left for anybody not to know about you. Talking about high school gimmicks, girls dated, or about places where one came from. The teacher came inside, frowning, and skipped the afternoon prayers. He then made a stern warning to everybody, who by now has become quiet and still.

“Next meeting, nobody can enter the classroom without his own T Square, Staedtler or Rotring 0.5 or 0.3 pens. I hate noisy classes.

“Ayaw mo pa hawod hawod kay ako lang ang hawod diri.”

The next day was the schedule of another set of subjects, another set of teachers — Theology, English, and Trigonometry. Once we settled on the 2nd floor of the Science Building, a man in his thirties entered the room. He had neatly combed hair and a bit oversized trousers. He then scribbled his name and the subject name on the board: Engr Raymundo Moso, ECE Match 2E Plane and Spherical Trigonometry.

While he started to introduce himself and that he finished college in MSU and taught at MATS before he settled into UIC, a few classmates have begun to stare at him with a whimsical look. It would be the beginning of our storied tale of this diminutive but cerebral instructor.

With his facial expressions prominent in the way Sir Moso explains, it was somehow an effort seldom seen on others. Maybe because of his built that he wanted not to be taken for granted, his voice reverberates along the corridor and is easily recognizable even two rooms away. I guessed that Sir Moso isn’t born humorist, but the way he handles things somewhat makes them funny. But he is not joking after all.

And while he feels a bit insulted that in the middle of a concerted effort to explain everything thoroughly, everyone is smiling and giggling, he does not attempt to quash those reactions. And when a small funny incident triggers a mighty chuckle, he beams with pride and ardor and continues the discussion without riding the distraction. Sir Moso plays no favorites and asks someone whom he thinks is not ready to answer, unless someone raises his/her hand for an argument. He is not fond of telling anecdotes as opposed to Engr Deypalubos, our Physics teacher. Sir Moso is totally laser-focused on his topic of discussion. Once a noisy class finally cut him down to size, he blurted, “Don’t talk while talk!” (as if to say “don’t talk while I am talking!”).

He is also a responsible family man. Sometimes he brings his little daughter to the campus and introduces her to us in the classroom. During exams, he is notorious for his tricky questions. Quizzes: ditto. No wonder almost half of my Trigonometry class failed at the end of the semester. The same people who made fun of him the whole semester were the ones who argued their case, holding their orange class cards, pleading to him that they be reconsidered to move forward. But his argument was simple: “Your grades were recorded already and submitted to the Dean. Provide me enough proof that I need to approach the Dean and change your marks.”

Fast forward: 3 years later. Engr Moso has now become a formidable fixture in the Engineering Program. His approachable demeanor made him famous, in my opinion. And yet while he is still subject to playful banter, he has undoubtedly gained everyone’s respect. And those ignorant few who despise him are often shunned at and are often thought as academically outcast. And as he enjoys his popularity rating rise, a new character has just entered the scene.

We were in our fourth year, and that time was remembered as the period when two class sections had a rift due to pride and “discrimination claim.” During enrollment, Engr Moso, Engr Abad, Engr Deypalubos, then promoted as the Engineering Dean after Sir Gierran’s departure, were at the lobby of the Main building, assessing grades and advising students which subjects to take. New faces showed up, but with the very long Engineering queue in front of them, I just waited for my turn. Section 4A has never been filled up, yet students are waiting for the next section to open.

Not because they were avoiding individual teachers. By then, the names of instructors assigned to every subject have been removed. It was deliberate to reportedly prevent a particular group of students who were branded as selfish, self-absorbed, and close to “authorities.” Yes, we’re that political at the time. We joined rallies on the street demanding rights of teachers be granted, including reinstatement of those dismissed without apparent reason.

Classes started, and we welcomed one of the new faces on the campus: Engr Leo Usa. He held two degrees: Mechanical and Electrical Engineering and studied at Agro Industrial Foundation College. He was to teach us Engineering Economy, the science behind fiscal management on industrial projects. Board exam reviewers from Ricardo Asin have already been prepared to check whether he follows the same textbook. If so, we can easily spend little time on this and concentrate on Engr Gierran’s Logic Circuits or Engr Abad’s Electronics 2. But as far as I can remember, he didn’t.

Naturally, we were frustrated and instead focused a little more time on his subject. What caught our attention was his uncanny ability to generate humor in the classroom. Quite similar to the way Engr Moso delivers his thoughts, Engr Usa is more than meets the eye.

If Sir Moso has his voice to trigger us, it was the posture of Sir Usa that often drove us into smiles once he puts away his attention to us towards the board. Once he hears somebody unable to control his laughter, he asks, “Oh, what’s the problem?” With no answer, he becomes puzzled and insists on asking what the matter is. Displaying a face half angry and half smiling, he naturally sways into our favor. And while Engr Moso cannot be distracted from his focus, Engr Leo quickly gives way to our small jokes, like a doting father always trying to please a child longing for attention.

But it’s not always a laughing matter.

In our Thermodynamics class, Allan Indie, Gary Jaravata, and Jerry Tuston have become proponents of all sorts of hilarious jokes. Throw in Deozar Almasa and Reynante ‘Samboy’ Agravante into the mix, and it’s chaos in the classroom. With the Engineering enrollment peaking at the time, our class was left with no regular classroom. Our assigned classroom used to be the old Faculty Room.

Our class starts at 1 pm, and the humid midday temperature keeps us from falling asleep. Let alone the funny guys doing their animation, the ceiling fan does not help much either. Before the class, most of us are already in the room, copying assignments or just simply listening to Gary mimicking an unsuspecting faculty member.

As the bell rings, Engr Usa discusses topics such as entropy and enthalpy. Still hyperactive, Jerry continues to grin for no reason despite urging of seatmates to keep him quiet. His laughter made his face reddish. Singing “Ako si takuri,” obviously referring to the kettle-like position the instructor is currently posing, Jerry provoked a peal of laughter in everybody.

Annoyed, Engr Usa called Jerry to come in front. The latter walked sarcastically towards the teacher, and in no time, we saw something we never thought this teacher could do. He collared Jerry and asked him to leave the classroom. Appalled yet embarrassed, our classmate had to walk out peacefully, later admitting his joke did not work out that time.

“Maong init pa kaayo, saba pa gyud kaayo, i-reporting na lang nato ni!” (This classroom is already scorching hot, and you’re so noisy. Why don’t we do this (subject) a presentation from everyone?) Words of an angry instructor, visibly upset by the unruly crowd. Yet this scene has become a memorable episode, and one of the favorite Gary Jaravata acts to mimic. And to this day, it brings a smile to anybody who knows him, upon hearing these words. Engr Usa gets angry at once, but his anger softened to the tone of his students’ pleadings, like children about to get grounded for breaking a house rule.

Unlike Engr Ellmar Rosales, our Calculus professor who imposes hardline stance and seldom gets his decisions overturned, Engr Usa has a soft heart. Talk to him as if you are crying, and he might end up a sad face with you. In the class, he seldom commits mistakes. Once we attempted to correct his five liner solution, he quickly defended his equation to our awe.

Fast forward: 3 years later. I became a member of the University faculty. Anecito Dumdumaya and Rowena Constantino handle Engineering subjects while I am with Michael Cagape and Edison Escala teaching Computer Science subjects. As I work technical support to various offices on the main campus, I got to know Engr Usa’s sister, who works for the Nutrition & Dietetics Deans Office as secretary. There I knew things that were not revealed when I was still at school.

I was told he was a responsible family man, though he was not married at the time. We knew this; in fact, we are fond of fixing him up with Engr Raganas, who also game to our role of cupid. He is a caring uncle to his nephews and nieces. He has a fully-furnished house in Catalunan Grande, which we manage to visit on one occasion. The sight of a well-landscaped garden makes one hesitate to believe he maintains it.

As I left UIC for good two and a half years ago, I barely had any news about Engr Moso and Engr Usa. But when I last went to visit UIC, it was April, and the crowd of students was around waiting for their Circuits teacher to check their project, but no faculty member was in sight. The next vacation I had was Christmas, which traditionally has a two-week break for students and instructors. I believe Engr Moso is still sporting his oversized trousers and smartly walking with his neatly combed hair.

Well, for Engr Leo, he’s not walking. He’s taking his motorcycle past the Annex campus. And upon seeing his buddy, Engr Moso, he makes a gesture as if to say “Angkas bai, had ta ka.“

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