Last night I was back at Catanduanes State Colleges Laboratory High school, Panganiban Campus.
The sweet scent of Narra trees arrayed in front of every classroom greeted me. The evening was peaceful and the chilly breeze made it even more nostalgic. It has been ten years since I said goodbye to this very place and now I was back feeling as if things were just from yesterday. Ten years, such great interval, could mean a lot of changes for a school that has a great potential. And yes, my Alma mater being so rich with possibilities has changed a lot. From a simple rural college, it metamorphosed into a university. Indeed a great leap for its students and the institution itself.
Onward to the campus, I walked a little farther from the main gate where I used to stand during flag ceremony. Slowly, I turned my gaze towards the wide basketball court and all I could hear was the non-stop cheering and loud screaming of students from my memory. Still, it is the same game court that witnessed the fun we had during our PE class. This court also reminds me of our former CAT instructor, the times we spent hurdling our penalties, the funny bloopers during serious commands and the sweat we shed under the sun just to satisfy the CAT exhibition drill.
I felt very glad that I could still feel the spirit, think back of old memories of the place which I consider as the fountain of my knowledge, no matter how long I had been away from it. The same feeling I got when I passed by our old Science classroom, the room where I used to believe that I truly have a brain. This is where I first learned how to make an ointment for wounds out of “Makabuhay” plant and many other experiments that ignited my inquisitive mind.
Right beside our Science classroom is another room where our Biology subject is being taught. I realized earlier then, that I was not made for the Sciences. Science is equated with mathematics and they correlate with each other. I am not good with numbers and I hate logic. Well, I’m just being honest. Biology, Chemistry and Physics were the things I found to be sort of a headache.
Talking about Mathematics still, well, this was my predicament which I used to confront everyday. I remember seeking help from my friends who are good with the subject, especially during homework as I can’t count on them during exams. The same can be said with Applied Statistics and Algebra, these are the areas which I have flunked. I can say that coming to terms with these subjects was the most challenging. I remember Mrs. Mercy Cabrera on how she would patiently wait for me to grasp a certain lesson on Algebra. It’s a shame when she would announce it to the class that finally I got what she has been trying to explain. It’s a shame when my classmates would poke fun at me afterwards.
However, after glancing back to the old classrooms where I spent scratching my head caused by these difficult subjects, I felt that I had freed myself from the fears and hesitations I have had before. And all I have now is a sprouting courage that somehow helped me surpass the real challenge connected with it.
The night was becoming colder and as I looked at every familiar edifice, the nostalgia in me seems to cry a little louder. I trotted the aisle going to the school canteen and as I drew closer, I noticed a huge change on its setting. I can no longer see the tables where we used to eat “Pancit bato”. I can no longer trace the aisle where my best friend Jomer used to fall in line awaiting his favorite Pancake prepared by his mom, Tya Myr. How I wish to relive those moments when I, together with Jomer and our girl buddy, Alma would get special attention and favor from the other canteen staff just because Jomer is our friend and her mom Tya Myr was one of the canteen helpers. How I wish to bring back those days, those happy days.
Nestled on the right side of the canteen is our social hall. Nothing much has changed. It is still the same function hall that used to witness the bittersweet events of being in a middle school. This hall perceived my first and last attempt to join in extemporaneous speech, which I won 6th place. (Not bad for a first timer, though.) It is also where I received several awards which I never thought I could have like when the campus Director handed me the best in Agricultural art award. It was totally unexpected, but yeah, I got it. Also, the time when I was hailed as the best male facilitator during our last Science camp held on our campus. And to brag about it, well, we bagged almost all of the awards. I don’t have big achievements during High school and all I have are just fond memento showing that even for once, I dared to push myself out of my comfort zone.
Stepping closer to the stage of social hall made me grasp more memories about the times gone by. I turned my phone’s playlists on and let the music of the Backstreet Boys, A1 and Westlife fill the air. I started seeing images of my classmates and schoolmates dancing to the tune of the romantic love songs. Funny how timid we were during those times, that we only dance when the ball (dance party) is about to end. And funny on how we would succumb to distress and regret, just because of not having to dance well enough.
I can’t get enough with the longing to bring back the old times. Thus I ran to the classroom we occupied during our senior year, poked my head on the window and searched for some leftovers that could taunt my memory. Fortunate enough, our classroom has managed to have the same set up: the bulletin boards were in the same place, the arrangement of seats has been just like before and some of the posters that were affixed to the wall were still there. It brought me to tears to remember the forty nine other students who occupied that room, who filled the four corners of it with an echoing laughter. I can’t also forget the image of our subject teachers that, for once, had ignited the torch of learning for us (The Class 2005).
After a few minutes of reminiscing, I braved myself to drop by at the college building and eyed for the official student publication room. Regret came flowing down my nerves while telling myself that this is where I should be, had I been more courageous before. For four long years in High school, I have never been vocal of my talent, on the area where I believe I excel. I was never that confident to tell my comrades that “Look at me guys, I have the talent to write” or “This is what I love to do. This is where I’m good at.” I was never that kind of brave which I regret so much. I was full of hesitation, then, very much afraid of criticisms.
One thing that the real world, the world outside High school has taught me is that I should stand on my dreams and to never be afraid to reach it. Somehow, little by little, I am trying to reach that path, the path that leads to my dreams. It is said that everyone is given a second chance. And perhaps mine has come and I will not chicken out to let it slip again.
Though I have some lamentations, still I owe this institution a big gratitude for letting me love poetry and other forms of literature. If not because of it, I will never appreciate the works of Guy de Maupassant, Edgar Allan Poe and Wilbur Daniel Steele. Also, I am very grateful to Mrs. Coring Velasco, Ansing Vega and Jennifer Berces for making the English subject really interesting, a great contrast to Mathematics. I still love my Math teacher (Meling Castro), though.
Not a moment longer, I gazed towards the campus publication room once more and just shrugged off the regrets I had earlier. For a moment, silence overwhelmed me. I stepped back and retraced the route to where I started. I realized then that it’s getting late and that the night had shifted into a lonesome atmosphere.
I took a deep breath and glimpsed the campus for the last time. It occurred to me how my Alma mater has evolved a lot. It has improved in many ways. It has grown more beautiful. With this I realized that change is really constant and that it is inevitable. However, no matter how many times it may undergo metamorphosis. How many times it may change its name. It will never lose its original scent, the one that stirs nostalgia. It will forever carry its old spirit, its soul and its undying memory that its former students always yearn about.