Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Second Year - The Year When I Lost My Father


Second Year- I lost my father but I maintained my scholarship. I danced the Bulaklakan.

I did not maintain my top honor at the end of the year but I was among the full scholars.

The topnotcher was our classmate who must have a photographic memory that she could recite the books’ chapters word for word/front to back and back to front. She was very studious that she would just sit in the corner and read the books. She was aloof too.

I can see that she was hard-driven. It is only the scholarship that gave her hope to finish high school and proceed to College.

Even though, she’s considered the best in the class, the affluent students regard her as nothing but a bastard with brains. She was avoided by another clique in that top section—those born with silver and gold spoons—even though they’re just plated. I learned why. She was the daughter of a former hooker and lived in the ghetto part of that city. She never knew who her father was.

Together with the girl classmate who was busted for the codigo (she was given another chance by the teacher because she claimed that it was just passed on to her), she started bonding with me. She did not rat the guilty ones, but they avoided her just the same.

Like the topnotcher, she was also treated like someone with a horrible disease when a classmate gossiped about how her father left the family when she was young and her mother was rumored to have a boyfriend who was ten years younger. The gossiper used to be her buddy she always brought to their grocery store for free stuff.

It was sad to find social divide for very young and prayerful community.

During retreat, you feel you are the lowest of the low among the hierarchy of friends by the size and the quality of “stampita” (this is a card of prayer with the picture of a saint or an angel) that you received from the fellow retreaters.

We were called the triumvirate. Not Tres Marias. The two had no fathers while I would be losing my own father before the end of my second year.

I never witnessed my parents argued in front of us. Whatever problems they had in the family, they tried to find solutions by talking in whispers while all the children were in bed.

I know the problem started when the assistant of my father was promoted and became his superior. I remember when my mom sent him to the City to cool off. My father had a history of hypertension and I did not know that politics, intrigues and position grabbing were in our work culture.

Then we moved out from the house provided by the company. My father who was always silent became more silent.

Money had already been a problem since my father decided that we should enroll in the private school. He worked hard to give us the best education that we ought to have. We were seven and all except for a little brother who was born after a big gap, we were all studying in the private school while my eldest brother was starting College.

Though we had scholarships, there were other school-related expenses to meet like projects, allowances and costumes for school activities.

I did not want to join the dance anymore but a big percentage of our grade in PE would be coming from the participation in the dance and calisthenics. All second high school students participated in the bulaklakan dance that the crowd who would come to watch won't even notice if one was out of tempo or was plain walking.

By the time, our presentation was scheduled, my father was already hospitalized. He was in a coma for a month after suffering from internal hemorrhage due to high blood pressure. No one came to watch me.

My mother was already staying in the hospital everyday. My elder siblings were bringing her food and clothes on their way to school. My eldest assigned us responsibilities at home. There were time for studying and there were time for household chores. No play.

Sometimes I missed my classes. There were projects to submit and there were long quizzes to take.

I read my my books while I rocked the crib of my baby brother. I approached the teacher in the Vocational to give me materials for the project and I would do the cross-stitched embroideries. It saved me a lot of money. I got my grades and she got beautiful table runner, hankies and skirts. For our next project, she asked me to make the party purse for her. It was beautiful with sequins and pearls. She used it in one of the school activities. I stood proud of what I had done.

Before the end of the SY, my father died. My mother fell into depression. We can understand. She was pregnant of our youngest sister. A sister who was born after my father's death.

I lost the enthusiasm to go to school. It was only more than a month before the school year ended. My father would not like it, if he were alive. So I returned to school after the burial. My teachers were very supportive. They let me take make up quizzes.

One of them was a male teacher in Math who showed compassion or was it love? He used to touch my long hair when I was sitting down at his class taking make-up exams. He blushed whenever I turned around and looked at him.

He was young. He just graduated from his bachelor’s degree and it was the first time that he taught in the school. He was a substitute to his sister, our previous Math teacher.

He gave me a high grade which gave me an average grade that qualified me for full scholarship.

Before he left for Manila to take his masteral, he called for me. He told me to wait for him.

He never came back or I was already gone when he did. No, the feeling was not mutual.
At that time my only goal was to finish my studies.


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