a roller coaster mind travel

bicol university pilot elementary school (bupes) is where i was graduated in 1982. this is located at rizal street, daraga albay. this is the very school where my dream of becoming a teacher  took form.

sad to say, this alma mater of mine is no longer existent. and i am wondering why. the gabaldon building which had the grade six classrooms now housed offices and classrooms of the bicol university college of education, extension campus. the all too familiar structures were still there but the campus where we would enjoy scouting, united nations day celebration and mass demonstration were nowhere in sight.
with the school gone, i wonder if my batch would be very much interested to have a reunion. therefore, i now have a slim chance of having to see again my elementary crush. well, my female classmates’ and my crush.
sorry to disappoint you, but i am not going to talk about this crush of mine. i am actually rocking my brain for vivid memories in my grade school life that one way or the other had made me into what i am now.
let me start with grade one.
my adviser was mrs. velasco. i was in section 6. the only classmates that i can remember were jose edwin rojas, a distant relative and now a kumpare; joy mascarinas, graduating as batch salutatorian 6 years after; and yuri mediavillo, a cousin who passed away this year. embarrassing this may be, i would take the gumption in sharing to you an experience where i now wished had made the earth open up to swallow me.
i was picked to sing “ako ay pilipino” by kuh ledesma in a program. are you surprised that i was a songer…err… a singer during my elementary years? you have the right to because personally, when i began this story, my cheeks were already burning red. i, myself, could NOT believe that i actually was asked to sing before an audience.
young that i was, i first played and played while waiting for my turn on stage. then, it was my spot. i did what my adviser taught me to do. with confidence, i went to the microphone stand. i started fine especially when i saw cristy, my older sister (she was in grade six then), in the audience. then… i stopped. i totally forgot the next set of lyrics and i had just sung half of the piece. i looked behind me hoping that my adviser would come to the rescue. she was not there. when i knew it would already be useless, i strode from the stage. what happened afterwards? i am thankful. i got memory loss now. i couldn’t remember how i got over that experience. definitely it did not affect me. you will find that out later.
well, i also remember one memorable event in this level. the first mass demonstration that i had. we danced the “disco duck” with white pompoms. i enjoyed it very much since at a very young age, i already liked to swing, gyrate, twirl, and jump.
one of my only two photos in elementary, with my mother, sister jovy and older brother joseph, who was in grade three
one of my only two photos in elementary, with my mother, sister jovy and older brother joseph, who was in grade three
grade two was best remembered in this flashback.
mrs. de los santos was my class adviser. this time, i was in section 1-sampaguita. what i can recall in the school year 1977-1978 was my fondness of pinoy disco music. in fact, you would often hear me sing vst and co. songs like “awitin mo, isasayaw ko“, “disco fever“, “step no i love you“, etc. with my singing is my own choreography. i was known already as the entertainer in grade two. no wonder, when we would visit my father’s eldest brother, tiyo jose, i was like a jukebox. he would give me a one-peso coin and i would sing with all the feelings of a real pro. well, that was a hard-earned money which i would use to buy balikutsa and delimon or sometimes use part of the money to rent komiks –  pogi, tagalog, pioneer, liwayway, superstar and others.
i knew i was not a class officer in grade two, but  i would always go to the canteen during recess and get different foods to be sold to my classmates in the classroom. it was one job that i enjoyed doing. i told myself that i could be a successful sari-sari store owner someday because of this daily assignment.
grade three came.
i became under mrs. lucena, the adviser of section 1. she was very strict. may be, she was the strictest teacher in the whole campus. i did not like her at first sight. what added to this not liking her was that she taught mathematics, which was my waterloo. it was in this level that i formulated the fallacy of sweeping generalizations that when you are a math teacher, you are strict. every session with mrs. lucena was anxiety time. i never even saw her smile. i wonder if she had real or false teeth. because of this strictness, i did not dare tell her that my older siblings, cristy and joseph, also belonged to her advisory class before (my first three siblings studied in bicol university laboratory school which was picked to be retained over bupes ).
but it was different with my science teacher. unfortunately, i have difficulty in recalling her name. her period was something i would always look forward to because we would get out of our classroom and transfer to another building. it was a welcome breather! furthermore, i enjoyed the science experiments that we would do especially if i were the assigned leader.
during my grade three life, long pencils with a doll’s head at one end were introduced to the market. i was a proud owner of one because my mother would often go to manila that time. i was also able to own a flowery yellow bag with a matching umbrella with the same design. being in the province, one earns a little popularity when you get to own things from manila. it was a status symbol.
it was in this level that i met my classmate whom i called as my perennial elementary crush. during that year though, my young heart hadn’t encountered the word crush. my focus was school and games (i.e., lutu-lutuan, teacher-teacheran, tirigbasan or patentiro, etc;.)
my grade four life was a mixture of colorful experiences.
i was again in section 1. mrs. grageda was our adviser. she was a math teacher. and yes, she was also strict! it backed up the fallacy i formulated about math teachers. she was my fourth adviser who wore eyeglasses. the stereotype image of a school teacher. what made her different was she knew how to  smile. her smiles though did not change my liking the subject that she taught.
things change though when we would transfer to the classroom of mr. ardales, my science teacher. he would tell us jokes and riddles. it was my first time to experience laughing to my heart’s content in my subject. his sense of humor was effectual. i enjoyed science very much.
in this level, i discovered my inclination in sports. i remember that i would always bring this plastic ball to school. every break time, i would invite female classmates to play football in the wide oval playground. i was the organizer of the game. if our team would lack members, i would invite male classmates to join. in the same level, no boy classmate could pester me. i did it to them. thus, no classmate could annoy or make me cry. i was a little bullyish in such a way that i didn’t see the opposite sex as the superior gender. it was because of this that i would often argue with them that caused me a 79 in my conduct grade! it was my first. i felt bad toward my adviser. she did not do any thorough investigation before giving me the verdict of “guilty beyond reasonable doubt”. it was just a simple case of grader schoolers’ argument. it was clear she was not fair. i sensed that the classmate i had an argument with because of football was her favorite. it was this experience that taught me not to take sides when i became a teacher.
you might be surprised, but i was again picked to be in a program — a singing contest. we were two who represented the grade four level. the other one was connie lodronio, a natural singer. me? i was nothing but a trying hard copypaste…i mean, copycat of my favorite local singers. connie rendered “boy” by cherrie gil  while i decided to do freddie aguilar’s “bulag, pipi at bingi”. funny choice of song, isn’t it? connie emerged as the champion. no doubt about it having an inborn talent in this arena.  me? i got a consolation prize of a five-peso bill inside a white envelope. i was already happy with my achievement. my parents didn’t know about my joining it if my older brother, joseph, didn’t mention it. he was in the audience, too, being a  sixer that year. good that he never dared  comment on my singing. it could have started world war III.
the most jaw-dropping experience in this level was my being picked to join two more girls (joy mascarinas and connie lodronio) for a line up where teachers could pick the grade four muse for an upcoming sport event. i really had no idea that it was the objective of my being sent to a room with these girls until they asked us to strut on the aisle imagining it as a ramp. i did as we were told and i think i gave a good fight. but, the final pick was connie. no hurt feelings. i had never planned of becoming a muse. to add, i knew that we had no budget that time to buy my sports attire. now that i am writing about this, i am smiling and shaking my head in a way not believing that people that time had seen something in me that could be for beauty queen materials only. oh my! never in my wildest dreams to own a beauty title. better to have land titles!
perhaps the Lord pitied me that He gave me an encounter with a very motherly adviser in grade five, section 1. she was mrs. marietta triumfante. you see, she was the only one whom i was able to supply the first name with. it was in this level that i got to have my first idol. it strengthened my desire to be an educator.
in grade five, i became  more active. i could clearly recall the first-ever position i held in the class — being a secretary. i couldn’t tell what the basis was because if it were my penmanship, i knew that i would not make my classmates vote for me. anyway, i felt happy to be a class officer.
in this level, my love for arts was developed. i was recruited to be in the school operetta “the toymaker” where the libretto was originally written by my adviser and her sister,  mrs. lawengco. i became a member of the choir and one of the maids-in-waiting of the princess.  i welcomed the part of being in the choir. the costume was affordable. the first time mrs. triumfante told me that she would like me to have a speaking part, i turned it down. i knew i would not be able to provide myself with the elaborate gown. the kind heart of my adviser showed at once. she told me not to worry because she could lend me my costume. she even requested me to go to her house, which was just in a village at the back of our school. i was elated. i was very thankful to her. she was the person who inspired me. that’s why on valentine’s day that year, in my simplest way, i expressed how much she had touched me. i gave her a small red heart greeting her “happy valentine’s day”. i saw her sincere appreciation to my show of thoughtfulness which i contemplated for a long time for fear that my classmates would label me as a bootlicker. i did it and was ready to face any negative remark from my classmates. none came. two years ago, mrs. triumfante succumbed to breast cancer. i was one of those who grieved and prayed that she would continue to be our angel having to touch my life…
topping the memorable experiences in this level was my being chosen to play the role of mother mary in a play to be staged in the classroom. my hair was already long school year 1979-1980. i am not sure if it’s because of my tresses that i was chosen because i also had classmates who wore long hair. the best part of this play was the search for my joseph. unanimously, everyone’s pick was eugene mata, who became my official first crush (my only crush really in the whole time of my elementary years)  in grade five. initially, eugene was poker-faced when he was told to play the role of my husband. thus, i was expecting that he did not like it. but when my adviser asked if he didn’t like the role, his answer was  “no”. which meant, he liked to be my partner. teasing followed. i blushed, but i secretly rejoiced. yipeeee! i know, i did not inform anybody about this crush. i am good at keeping secrets, you know. it was only last year that my batchmates in bupes and i openly exchanged this information during our preparation for the silver jubilee in high school. it seemed to be matured and already married made us safe to admit the grade schoolish feeling.
then, grade six came. i met my only male adviser,  mr. matocinos. my math and english teacher, he was also strict. by that time, i already learned how to face my anxiety level. secret? to be prepared for the lesson at hand and to be very very attentive during lecture time. mr. matocinos would not stop himself from scolding and lambasting anyone who would do unfavorable behavior in his class. from him, i learned the word lamadang which means dog. he would utter this when he was really angry. my talkativeness was tempered in this level. oh yes, i had a reputation of being talkative when i was in elementary. a good sign indeed that became useful in my future profession.
grade six was serious studying because it would prepare us for our high school education. with all humility, i was already a disciplined student when it came to studying. as early as grade one, i studied independently. i could not even remember an instance when my parents and even my sibling helped me in my assignment nor in my studying for quizzes or long exams. i started developing a sense of competitiveness but ironically, i did not aim to have an honor. that’s why when i graduated rank 8 in our batch, i felt it was something to be proud of. i realized now that my classmates in elementary were really academically challenging and difficult to beat. well, even my adviser was surprised that i made it in the top 10. and he was even more surprised when he learned that i made it to the first screening of the philippine science high school (pshs) entrance examination. but fate did not will it for me to be a psi alumna when i took the final screening. the result was openly accepted by me because i had no plan of being in manila away from my family in bicol. well, another mediavillo made it…my cousin yuri whom i mentioned in grade 1.
my graduation photo with vice dean arsenio mirabueno (rip)
my graduation photo with vice dean arsenio mirabueno (rip)
there were actually three things that i would love reminiscing in this level. first, the play that we would present every friday in our filipino class, under miss austria (we called  her bayukbok   after a delicious bicol merienda because of her midget-size). my serious interest in theater took off in my last year in elementary. i would take charge of the storyline and direction. sometimes, i would collaborate with ruby mendones, who is now  one of my very good friends and kumare. most memorable among the  plays that we presented was the adaptation of “flor de liza”. for those who were born in 1990′s, i know that you are ignoramus about this movie that was made from two competing soap operas “anna liza”, which starred the late julie vega, and “flor de luna”, which had janice de belen as its lead star. it was a hit in the widescreen. imagine, making the two popular young actresses be in one movie. i played the role of annaliza and ruby was flor. our adviser was very delighted with the result. personally, i knew that i had to pursue this  budding “career” in scriptwriting, directing and acting in high school.
the second memorable experience in grade six was the tirigbasan (patintero), which we would enjoy playing during recess time or even dismissal time on the landing of our grade six classroom. (as what i mentioned, the grade six classrooms were located in the gabaldon building. we had to climb several steps to go there ) it was fun! playing in our yellow green skirt and white blouse, we wouldn’t mind perspiring a lot. never would i miss that game. sometimes, we would play chinese garter near the flagpole. mind you, i was one of the top players of this game, having to succeed in reaching the last height. well, thanks to my height. in grade six, i was one of the tall girls in our class. 
the third one was my being in the grade six volleyball team. another teacher, mrs. lucila, whom i can say was my second favorite teacher in elementary, was our coach. the training though was not sustained because we only played for the intramurals. but i knew i would continue joining volleyball tourneys because of the inspiration from my social studies teacher.
whew! this post is quite kilometric. truly, like a roller coaster ride. the smorgasbord plots i mentioned here did elicit several reactions from me while finishing this article. at one point i am serious, then happy, a little irritated, embarrassed, emotional, and proud.
looking back at these episodes, i could say that my elementary years were well-spent. one or two stories here could have been traumatic to others, but to me they made me into a tougher person having been exposed early to the cruelty of life.

today, whatever my attitudes and principles are will always be linked to that far-off epoch which i will always revisit when the need arises. 


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