Monday, 29 December 2014

 It was the day before i left Nepal when i heard the news that an AirAsia flight QZ8501 was missing.
At that time, i found out that 1 Singaporean, 1 Malaysian, 1 Briton, 3 S.Koreans and 149 Indonesian passengers were on that flight.
Never ever, would i have imagined that someone i knew would be on that flight.
An hour later, our class whatsapp chat was flooded with news that our form teacher, Miss Tina was on that flight.
At that moment it didn't sink in. I felt numb, indifferent, blank.
It just didn't seem real that you were really on that flight, Miss Tina, it didn't. 

It finally sank in when more and more news reports with your face and writeup appeared online, on TV and on the newspapers.
"Hwa Chong Institution teacher among missing passengers on QZ8501"

My heart broke.
No this could not be happening.
I just saw you weeks ago at prom didn't I?
We took lovely photos.
And graduation day. 
You were like our proud mother hen seeing us graduate from HC.
You gave us our bears and jokingly warned the guys not to hug you on stage.

And what about all that said we'd do together in future?
You would be there for us, a few months down the road in March.
You'd be the one personally handing us our A level results.
Tears of joy or disappointment, we promised we would get through it together.
You would be proud of us, no matter what our results were, because we didn't survive these 2 years alone.
You were always there with us. 
And what do we do now?.. 

All of us are constantly refreshing our news tabs, awaiting your news.
I am constantly checking your last seen on whatsapp, hoping it'll show something other than last seen on saturday. 

But now, reports state that the plane you were on is likely to be "at the bottom of the ocean".
The thought of that is so, so painful and heart wrenching.
I really don't want to believe that that is what happened, i just want to throw that thought out of my head and pretend it never existed, but the rational side of me tells me that as painful as it is, it is an option that is highly likely, and it hurts so bad.
We're all trying to stay optimistic because we want you to know that we are never giving up on you.
"Java sea is reportedly not that deep, 64m they said. Its possible to have survivors."
I believe that every single member from S74 is praying for you so hard right now.
We're holding on to every inch of hope there is because you mean so much to us and tears just keep flowing as worry piles up.

I know there's nothing we can do for you now but pray our hardest.
But rather than just let the media label you as a "Hwa Chong Institution Biology Teacher", i want to let everyone see who you really are, as a teacher, as a person, as our friend.

Your first encounter with us was when you were still a trainee/new teacher remember?
You sat in on our project work class by the side.
We were looking at you curiously wondering who this new quiet, reserved teacher was.
You proved us wrong as you eventually became our biology teacher and project work teacher a few months on.
We had loads of fun in class, you always pronounced words in your unique accent and called our names funnily, but thats how little moments were created, just between you and our class. 

 You were young and relatable to us on many levels, and soon we grew really close.
Do you remember this picture?
It was during Teachers' Day last year, when you performed on stage with your super cool guitar in a "teachers only rock band" we didn't even know existed,
We made this huge card saying "tRNA we love you!!" (tRNA was a pun on your name tina)
and our whole class stood up and shouted that when you stepped on stage.
You were so shocked that this class is so crazy and gave us the "omg i don't know you guys!! can yall sit down PLS, im so embarrassed" look.
But i'm sure you knew, deep down we were your biggest fans that day.

Can't quite recall what occasion this was but it was the day you bought us teh-bing.
And were totally cool with helping us as we attempted to break the Guinness record for "most people in a selfie". 
 And, you're the only teacher who takes this kind of selfie with us haha.
You were and always will be young at heart.

This was when you randomly photobombed us one fine day after morning assembly as we took a picture!
 And you never said no to a proper photo when we asked.
Looking at this photo reminds me of our daily morning conversations.
After a year of observing your fashion choices, S74 came to the conclusion that your favourite blouse was this purple one.
And every time you wore something new we'd be like "Wah miss tina new dress is it!!" and then you'd give us your signature "roll eye" look and we'd all laugh.
Even the class next door laughed at our silly convos.
Or when you have a little bit more makeup than usual like lipgloss, then we'd niao you and say "wah miss tina going out for date today is it!!" and bug you to show us a picture of your boyfriend.
And then you'd be shy and say "don't want lah!!".
Now, kaypoh us finally know who/how yr bf looks like, but we'd never want to find out this way, via the news as he was asked about you. 
In fact, if you just come back safely, we'll never bug you or niao you or annoy you anymore, a promise is a promise. 

I still remember last year i was featured in our school magazine because of the blogshop article.
And then after class you told me "wah i really want to support the blogshop you model for leh! But got my size anot!" and we both laughed and talked about girly stuff like shopping and clothes, just like teenage girls. Just like friends.

Studies wise you were a big part of it as well.
As all JC students know, PW is... mostly seen as a "burden" to alot of students.
It was a subject we had no idea about. 
All those PIs, written reports, EoMs and whatnot.
But we were so lucky we had you as our PW teacher, because when it came down to serious work, you got things going and made sure we produced work of standard.
You drilled our oral presentations with us even though it meant staying back till late evening.

And it paid off.
This was the day we called you our "PW goddess".
It was your first year teaching PW and our whole class got A.
 Everyone is really all smiles, and its not too much to say that this was all possible because of you.
 This was our very first professional class photo.
You totally blend in with us really!

 And the last day of school.
You kept your promise of treating us to pizza and we were sooo happy because really we're such gluttons.
It was something we bugged you about months back and you never forgot about our little promise, even though we were actually kidding when we bugged you about it.
 And this.
Merely 2 weeks ago.
 Thank you for turning up for prom even though you really didn't have to.
And for telling us how dashing/pretty we looked that day.
I could see how proud you were of us, for making it through all the way till where we are today.

I've said all i wanted to say in this post, and i know that it isn't enough to show how important you are to us as our favourite form teacher, as a friend, as family.
But i just hope that people, non HC-ians, HC-ians, the media, will not just see you as a "Hwa Chong Biology Teacher", but as who you really are, Miss Florentina Maria Widodo.

(Note that this post is not meant to be published anywhere else. I can't believe i have to say this so explicitly, because i just got notified that a certain newspaper company published my article almost word for word and used pictures posted here without consent, which is simply, unacceptable and disrespectful. Please, just respect our wishes and don't do things like that. Its the least you could do.)


  1. Pray the best.. Hope Mrs Tina will be one of the survivor found....

    1. Thank you for your kind words. We are still praying as well, nothing is confirmed as of now and we will continue to hope for the best.

  2. My deepest felt sympathy goes to you and the rest of your fellow students!

    Reading this beautiful, love letter about this incredible woman, who has shaped and influenced you! Is beautiful!

    In life nothing is ever granteed, sometimes we are given joy, sadness, tradegy and hope.

    I pray that whatever impact this wonderful teacher, Miss Tina left on you!! Please let the whole world see it!!

    You are all in my prayers from America


    1. Hello there:)
      Thank you for your kind words, it is deeply appreciated. We are praying for the best too.

  3. My kindergarten teacher was really quite old when I had her, and when I found out nine years later that she had died, I sobbed.
    I can't imagine what you are going through, and I hope and pray that Ms. Tina is found safely.
    Love from the United States,

  4. I am sorry for your loss... I did research that there are a total of 162 passengers on board the flight. And yet I also read 162 dead in several articles and videos... I am not cursing and talking bad things like what all Singaporeans like myself believe the moment I speak of a death to a beloved. How can I curse such a magnificent woman as such? I have never been more touched by a post about a teacher as this... I pray that the news I read is wrong. However so far all I can say is according to my reading, your teacher has gone... Out of those 162 however, the amount of retrieved bodies have exceeded 40. Wonder where are the other 122...

  5. Or should I say... Presumed dead...

    1. Yes i understand what you're saying.. From a practical viewpoint hope is minute. However we will definitely not give up on her, until there is an absolute confirmation ><

  6. hello there,

    from what I understand of yr post, Miss Tina is probably a relatively new teacher who just started teaching last year - as I did. & so through those new-teacher eyes, this resonated in different ways than it might have to the average non-teacher. In it, I see someone young (I didn't read the news but she looks not more than 30) but idealistic, yet also with the drive to lead, care & inspire (#teachersmotto). someone who knew what the essence of teaching was, someone who had a heart for her students despite her youth in age & in the teaching profession ..

    your post was really heartfelt & I was tempted to share (I came across this via social media), but understand it wasn't written with these intentions - hence this note over here instead :-)

    take care.

    1. Hello:) Yes thats correct, we were the first class she took:) She is very mature despite her young age and she always knew how to help us. Thank you for the kind words and encouragement, we deeply appreciate it:)

  7. This is beautiful. As a young teacher myself, I can say for certain that she knew she had a special bond with each and every one of you. It sounds like she has had such a profound influence on your life, and as students, you were so blessed by her work and commitment to your education. You remind me how grateful I am for my own students and how much I love teaching. She would be so proud of this loving and touching tribute you've written for her. I hope she is found alive and well.

    Prayers and best wishes from the United States,

    1. Hello there:) Yes we shared alot of special moments and inside jokes with her! I'm glad she has left an impact on so many teachers around the world, its really comforting. Thank you for the encouragement and wishes:)

  8. This is a beautiful tribute to a wonderful teacher. My heart goes out to Ms Widodo, the rest of the passengers and crew of the ill-fated flight and their family members. We can only hope for the best.

    1. Yes, we will still be hoping for the best and praying for her.. Thank you for your kind words:)

  9. I've lit a candle in my house to pay my respects.

    Prayers from Canada


    1. Thank you:) Actions like these may seem small but is deeply appreciated:)

  10. My deepest condolences to you and all of the beautiful students pictured. By what you write, she was a beautiful soul with a bright light that guided and taught. Sending you all my love and good thoughts from Las Vegas, NV in America.


    1. Hello there. Yes, she was an exceptional teacher definitely.. Thank you for the regards and wishes:)

  11. Hello. I can really see your mixed feelings and uncertainty through this blog post. I have been praying for you.

    I just want to share with you, that night after I read your post, I actually had a dream. I saw your teacher being rescued, she just woke up after some medical help was given. She was actually in her favourite purple blouse. And then the atmosphere around her became really cheerful, a large group of people in brown uniform (presumably your school?) were dancing and celebrating around her. There were banners and balloons and everything.

    I don't know if the dream will mean anything to you, it seemed really nice. Everyone was so happy they cried.

    All in all, I just hope that your hopes and wishes for her to be found will be everlasting, please don't lose hope, I'm sure a miracle will happen :) Also, I pray that each and everyone of you that had ever been taught by her will be able to find closure in your hearts regarding this matter, no matter the outcome :)

    I'm really sorry if I sound insensitive or anything in this comment, because I don't have a really deep understanding of what you all are going through, and maybe I cannot really express myself well. I sincerely wish all of you all the best no matter what happens.

    1. hello there! thank you for sharing this with me:) a few days ago one of my classmates told me he had a similar dream too:) dreams don't always turn out to be true but it did make us feel better in our hearts. its like our teacher was still here with us:) i'm still praying for a miracle too, but yes, no matter what we'll stay strong through it:) thank you for your well wishes once again:)

  12. Hello there,

    Im one of your seniors from class 12S65. From your post, I can tell that you and your class loved Ms Tina a lot. Im not in a bio class so I wouldnt know her that well, but I can tell that she was an inspiration to you and your class and that you had a very close relationship. Death may be part and parcel of life, but we can keep our loved ones alive in both our hearts and memories. Im sure she'll be proud of each and every one of you when you all receive your A level results next march. :)

    1. hello senior!:) thanks for dropping by and leaving an encouraging comment:) i really hope we'll do her proud in march too :')

  13. It's mind boggling how we're so numb to so many tragic news reports that we see on TV everyday, but then again what would we be if we full-heartedly felt all of that tragedy? It's hope that keeps us all going and you should hold on to it with all your strength. I will not apologise for your loss seeing as it is not over. Sending my prayers to you from Lisbon, Portugal :)

    1. hello there! thank you so much for this kind comment:) we'll stay strong, no matter how it turns out:)