In Not So Recent Memory


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)

1 Comment

Filed under Friends and Opinions, Oliver Geronilla's Column, Over a Cup of Coffee

One response to “In Not So Recent Memory

  1. The same situation, Oliver. I felt the same during our highschool graduation at CIC and I was also first honorable mention though I was told by one of my teachers that I deserved to be the second best gradewise only that I did not attend the World Scout Jamboree in Mt. Makiling for it was simply very expensive for my parents at that time. Though I was not really interested in grades and rankings already at that time for I was more of a rebel, I somehow found myself to be always one among those at the class frontline. So, I went over this highschool angst experience emotionally quite fast but found myself- looking back now- to have rationalized the whole thing later on as I delved into the Marxist’s ideas of “class” struggles during my college years with that highschool experience being confirmed through Marx’s idea that “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness. . . .” (dialectical materialism)

    This first Marxian lesson in Bulan on social inequality and social nausea is also illustrated in his words: A house may be large or small; as long as the neighboring houses are likewise small, it satisfies all social requirement for a residence. But let there arise next to the little house a palace, and the little house shrinks to a hut. The little house now makes it clear that its inmate has no social position at all to maintain, or but a very insignificant one; and however high it may shoot up in the course of civilization, if the neighboring palace rises in equal or even in greater measure, the occupant of the relatively little house will always find himself more uncomfortable, more dissatisfied, more cramped within his four walls.”

    Todate, this social inequality still exists in Bulan as in every part of this world only that perhaps this social nausea is harder in countries like the Philippines, hence the class struggle continues.

    And if man’s interpretation of history is unconsciously determined by the economic structures of his time, then I also believe that the individual’s Weltanschauung is to a greater extent also influenced by his age and developmental stage. Jungian psychology speaks of extroverted orientation of psychic energy, or outside- world orientation (hence, materialistic) of the youth and introverted orientation in late adulthood, or inner-self orientation, hence value or spiritual orientation.

    So, as for me, all those things that happened In Not So Recent Memory are just files occupying my past, the past being getting larger and larger and the future kleiner und kleiner (smaller and smaller) with the progress of my time. Pessimistic this may seem, yet it is not. For though time and space left are not much as was consumed by the past, the quality of things being done and stored at present are focused and simplified. Hence, in effect, it’s really more about the quality of the present life, of how simplier you become with age and make more out of less.

    This developmental reality explains- in my view- why communism can never be implemeted by whatever intensity of force or systematic indoctrination into any society that’s not ripe enough to incorporate it in its visceral and mental system. Communism as envisioned by Marx was actually a very “spiritual” system, a social system based on mutual respect and compassion and of highest freedom. The reason perhaps why the ageing Karl Marx denied being a Marxist himself, when we refer to Marxism as understood and implemented by people who did not really understand it.

    Back to my present personal reality and how it relates now to Bulan politics.
    Well, you may have noticed that I have distanced myself from Bulan politics for the simple reason that I came to realize that it’s foolishness and a real waste of time to criticize mediocre politicians and public servants all the time for you’ll end up writing unpleasant and mediocre things ultimately.

    I’ll just wait for the time when intelligent and compassionate public servants shall start leading our people for by then we shall be starting writing pleasant and intelligent comments- and that would be worth spending our time. Corrupt Bulan politicians do not deserve attention.This is one way of making more out of less.

    jun asuncion

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