by Oliver Geronilla
Taking a stroll down memory lane always makes me smile. I smile for all the things I did in the past—both good and bad.
March and April are special months. They are the months when graduations are held—the time when many– if not all school friends– say goodbye to each other. They’re also the months when I reminisce the graduations that I was a part of. At BNCS-A, I lead the graduates of school year 1991 in reciting the “Pledge of Loyalty.” We didn’t wear academic gowns then.
Weeks before the most anticipated day, we rehearsed two “graduation songs” (If We Hold on Together and The Greatest Love of All) which until now I still remember very clearly–both the lyrics and the melody. Our teachers painstakingly taught us how to pronounce the words correctly. Mrs. Lilinda Golloso repeatedly told us to say MOUNT’NS and not MOUNTAYNS.
During the Closing Ceremonies, everyone was in high spirits except for me. I was disappointed– terribly disappointed. I felt bitter that time despite the two medals I received—a bronze medal for being the first honorable mention, and one gold medal for being the representative of our district to a science quiz bee. In my mind, my teachers “cheated” me. I knew I wasn’t the best pupil, but I knew I was the second best among us.
I told mama and papa about my disappointment, but they just smiled at me; they were happy for what I achieved. They were proud of me. That’s what mattered.
From the processional down to the recessional, I wasn’t excited. But I could see that all parents were. We, the graduates, were there… just there trying to remember all the things we had to do. It was more of a performance. There were speeches. There were rounds of applause. It was an academic pageantry that I wanted to erase from my memory.
That childhood angst lingered for more than a decade. I just couldn’t see beyond the end of my nose. Acceptance, or should I say “closure,” came only some years ago when I personally witnessed how academic rankings were actually done. It was far more complicated than I thought. That gave me a blast of the past with a twist I failed to recognize.
Maybe it’s too late for me to personally extend my gratitude to my teachers back then at BNCS-A. After all, without them, I wouldn’t have learned the ropes of the English language. My elementary school teachers, for sure, played a pivotal role in shaping my future. That’s a fact of life I can’t deny. And that’s something I should forever be grateful.
Some of them are no longer with us mortals; some of them are now enjoying their retirement days. Some of them may still remember me: the lanky boy who didn’t copy the notes written on the board. I do still remember most of them. Who could forget, for example, our math teacher from the 5th grade to the 6th grade? Her weapon was not the quintessential rod or stick –which every school teacher had that time–which could leave a bruise on our skin when we’re hit, but her (right?) thumb and index finger that could skillfully grab our sideboards …to either pull them up or down. Addaayy!!
There’s, of course, our SIBIKA teacher who was fond of delivering monologues mouthing out all the names, places, and dates he could muster from our textbook.
(to be continued)