Fourth Year- Another School, Another Challenge-"Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough."-Og Mandino.
It took me several weeks before I was enrolled in that public high school in Manila. I found it more complicated to transfer from a private to a public school but my persistent paid off.
We stayed in Bicol only for a month. We moved to Manila . My brother had a freak accident and needed an operation in the Orthopedic. The relatives in Bicol were more concerned on what they could get as share in my dad’s benefits than helping us start a life in our own province. My maternal relatives lived in an island which was accessible only by boat—along two or three hour trip from Naga City. No way my mother would bring us there again.
The relatives in Manila were also of no help. We lost our jeepney to some greedy cousin twice removed. He helped in securing the franchise but charged us for cash advances with high interest rate. My brother was too young to compete with veteran drivers in the streets of Metro Manila. So the consensus was for us to look for employment. The adventures for looking for a job at my young age deserves another blog. But I found one.
Before opening of classes, I traveled back to my former school to get my card.
My mom asked me to wait for my brod to have time to give me company. I said I can manage. I swore I would not be lost. That was my first travel alone.
I went straight to my friend—the one with the grocery. She was happy to see me but she was sad that I went away. She had to deal with bullies in school all by herself.
We got the card from the school. It was still closed at that time. I could not see the principal. He was on a vacation with the wife.
For my subject descriptions, we went to my former teacher who was the mother of a classmate. She was my coach in the oratorical contest where I won the prize for the school.
She gladly gave me an unofficial course descriptions. She said that when the school opens, she would request that the form something, something be sent to my school.
The problem was the public high school rarely admit transferees from the province, much more from a private school They were only admitting Manila residents or those who have transferred from other Manila public high schools. There was no way I can be admitted and there was no way I can enroll in a private school.
My mother was too busy attending to the family. I did not want to burden her. It was at this point when my mom realized that I have the determination to get what I want. That’s when she felt that tossed in the ocean, I could survive even if I do not know to swim. So she just allowed me to do what I think could do. Besides I was also earning from my part-time job so I did have to ask money from her.
While queueing to get to the principal’s office who approved the application for admission, one guy tipped me off how I can get the approval. He said that I should go to a congressman of that district and get his endorsement. But I did not even know where Congress was.
He drew me the crude map,gave me the instructions how to get there and wished me luck. So I left the line and proceeded to the direction given to me.
The people who hung out in the office of the congressman took pity on a sweaty girl. . That was me. Tears helped when asking for a favor. On my part those tears were real. I was desperate to get enrolled. I got the endorsement. I thanked those people whose names I did not even know. I did not get to see and meet the congressman. The secretary merely got him to sign that endorsement typed in his stationery.
It was already late afternoon so I decided to go to the principal’s office early morning.
She was not there yet and line was quite long for those who would like to be included in the waiting list. I hate queue jumpers but I held on to the letter from the Congressman.
When the principal saw the stationery, she signed my card and put okay. I did not know what it meant but a woman standing by my side said I was lucky. I can already enroll.
That’s how I learned what connection means. But on my part, I do not even know the congressman personally.
I did not belong to one section. There were subjects that I had taken which were already credited and there were “lacked subjects” which I had to enroll. I was what they called an irregular student.
The schedule in my work was flexible. I liked World History and Compo.
Once I wrote an article about Jose Rizal. I sent it to a newspaper and forgot all about it.
I knew that there was a low probability that the editor would even read it. I thought that I would lose nothing saved for the few cents for the stamp, envelope and yellow pad.
Yes, Virginia, it was handwritten.
My World History teacher saw my name in the newspaper. She showed me an article with my name as the writer She asked me if it was me. It was only then I remember the article that I wrote and sent several months back. I said yes. That was my first published article. I did not expect that it will be published. It was simply written. No high falutin’ words. I meant to reach the youth. It was published with little editing. Mostly in punctuations which up to now I admit I am challenged.
I brought home a copy of the article to my mom. She did not react. But I found out later that she had always brought a copy of the article whenever she visited a friend or a relative.
After the publication, I received several letters from students that were addressed to my school and were delivered to the library. My teacher in the Compo and Lit saw the unclaimed letters. I was not aware that I had “fans”. She decided to bring them to me during class. Jokingly, she said that if ever we have pen pals, we should use our home address.
I never got to respond to them except for one who was from Nueva Ecija. I was busy preparing for the final exams and for Entrance Examinations to Universities. Besides I was not into letter-writing. I suck.
The candidates for honors were summoned by the Teacher-in-Charge of the school organ.
They were asked to submit photos for the school newspaper in case they were chosen to be among those who qualified. My name was included. Haah.
I got my photo taken. Then I went to Baclaran to pray that I would be the valedictorian.
The answer to my prayer was NO. But I would finish College, no matter what.
Anyway, I still submitted the photos. While waiting for the Teacher-in-Charge of the School’s publication, I met the two candidates for Valedictorian and Salutatorian.
They were girls. One ignored me. She continued talking about her experience in taking the UPCAT and the entrance exam at the city-funded university. I already took the UPCAT and I asked her how to take the entrance exam at the city-funded university.
I heard that there will be another date for exam.
Her brows rose and told me that I would never pass the exam and the panel interview.
Even with the discouragement, I tried. Again, I thought that I will lose nothing if I fail except maybe a wounded ego. What gave me the rush was the thought that I will have the chance to finish College without worrying for tuition fees. The chance to pass was in low number. Usually only 10 per cent of those who take the exams make it.
I did not become valedictorian even though my final average was higher than the Salutatorian. Again, I lacked residence. That title was really elusive for me.
My graduation dress was a gift from a seamstress/friend. She was a friend, almost an older sister for me. My mom was not able to attend the graduation ceremony. No one would take care of my young siblings.
The commencement exercise was just an uneventful for me. I was rarin' to go to College.
I passed the UPCAT in Diliman. The girl who became salutatorian did not. The valedictorian passed but in Baguio. I also passed two more entrance examinations; one from another state university and the other one was a city funded university.
My mom did not want me to enroll at UP. She's afraid that I might become radical activist too. Besides it was too far from my workplace.
So I made the decision.