How gifted teacher Ronie Mataquel overcame adversity through humility

Ronie is this year’s Team United awardee for Outstanding Overseas Foreign Worker in Education. Photo by Velzon Hizon Velez

Ronie is this year’s Team United awardee for Outstanding Overseas Foreign Worker in Education. Photo by Velzon Hizon Velez

By Mayette Timblaco-Geraldino

I got a glimpse of his leadership mettle when he stood by Lumen Castaneda’s decision to resolve a potentially damaging crisis within a teachers organization through humility and professional will. Such an act is unthinkable for one who was a non-leader.

Ronie Mataquel rose from poverty to teacher leadership through sheer hard work, the strength of his faith, genuine alliances, and smarts. Way back in a remote village in Antique, he used to walk to school for an hour, worry what clothes to wear, and stress over what food to pack for lunch, if there was ever any.

But rise from adversity he did and in New York City, no less.

Besides being the president of the Unified Federation of Fil-Am Educators (UNIFFIED), an organization of teachers founded by Castaneda, he is also this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Overseas Foreign Worker in Education Award during Team United’s 3rd Anniversary Ball held at the Astoria Manor, Queens on November 16th.

“Leaving (the country) in order to live is a way that brings unfathomable pain,” he said. “However, it is an experience worth trying.”

One of the key undertakings he initiated last year is the Roof Over Their Head project for the victims of typhoon Yolanda in the province of Antique. He was also instrumental in organizing the first UNIFFIED Chapter in Maryland that gave birth to Washington D.C. and Arizona chapters and chapters in Louisiana, South Carolina and North Texas. He served as the membership secretary and executive vice-president of the Association of Fil-Am Teachers in America Inc. (AFTA) until his resignation in December last year.

Ronie first landed in Sacramento, California in 2002 as an international teacher, but moved to New York City a year later in pursuit of his American Dream. He joined the staff of the John Bowne High School in Queens, New York, where he was recognized as one of Bowne’s Best three years later.

In 2012, he was a recipient of PACCAL’s Excellence in Education Award and became an Adjunct Lecturer and College Now instructor at the Queensborough Community College, a year later.

Success is a journey, said Ronie, and with every goal come a series of obstacles.

“I believe no one is born with skills, knowledge and experience. Everything is a learning process coupled with perseverance, hard work, sacrifices, love for work and prayers,” he said.

Born in Sibalom, Antique to parents Nicolas Mataquel Sr. and Rosemarie Lumauag, Ronie was raised in poverty and thought that education would bring stress to his life. Through a barangay scholarship, however, Ronie finished his grade and high school education with outstanding performance. He continued to receive the scholarship until he finished his Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education at the University of Antique. He then obtained his Masters of Arts in Education major in Elementary Mathematics through the Mathematics Teachers Association of the Philippines (MTAP) Scholarship Grant.

In 1995, Ronie met Justeena Casareno, a first-grade teacher at Pembo Elementary School in Makati, during his stint as a sixth-grade teacher in the same school. They eventually wed in 2001. They are blessed with two wonderful, smart daughters Chaille Angela and Danielle Suzanne Mataquel, while a third is on the way.

Danielle thinks that her dad loves her so much because he finds time to play with her. She recounts how her dad used to make her hair into pigtails during her kindergarten years.

“I am nothing without my husband,” Justeena chimed in. “We went through very rough years but he never gave up.”

With wife Justeena and daughters Chaille Angela and Danielle Suzanne

With wife Justeena and daughters Chaille Angela and Danielle Suzanne


  1. Edgar Cepeda wrote:

    Congratulations Ronie! Ang banwa kang Sibalom ay imaw mo sa imong endeavor. We are proud of you. MABUHAY ka.

  2. Mabuhay ka Ronie, , ,We filipino teachers are proud of you. Sana matulungin ka iba pang mahirap tulad ko. Count your blessings and share.thanks po hermi sarno@09106456193 reply please. Thanks also to mayette who shared this genuine event in the life of Ronie and mayette as well.Congratulations to both of you guyzKeep up the very good works. You are the inspirations of the millions of Filipinos next soon to be. . .

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