High school revisited…

My Alma mater

My Alma mater

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.

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The good old days…

Sitting on a couch with Engelbert Humperdinck’s music being played on the radio has for a while, transported me back to those good old days of childhood. Music of such genre, or the so called oldies but goodies was Papa’s favorite. I used to hear them every Sunday and I, too, had grown fond of it.

I have a lot of good memories from such smooth ballad type of music, and most of them, happened on Sundays. Well, perhaps, as for most people Sunday is family day, a time apt for relaxation, where parents have no work to attend to and children are just idling under the sun. It seems that in this specific day, things are in slow motion, giving ample time for people to make memories together or simply reminisce about the former times.

There was this specific time back then, when the audio cassette player was the fad. We have one at our house where Papa used to play Engelbert Humperdinck’s songs like: A man without love, There goes my everything, The way it used to be and several others. These are the songs that, even up to now, fill me with nostalgia. I remember that we used to bring that musical instrument during our Sunday picnic at Tamahuyan.

TAMAHUYAN

TAMAHUYAN- photo grabbed from the web.                                           

Tamahuyan is my family’s escape, our comfort place. It is a beautiful islet having a long stretch gravelly aisle that can be reached through a small banca or motorboat, and is situated few kilometers from the port near our house. Often, we pay a visit to a family friend who owns the place and spend time chatting over their warm company, while enjoying good music, eating luscious seafood and appreciating the beauty of the sea while it’s free.

It has been a family practice every Sunday to visit the two old fellows who live there. Lolo July and Lola Imay as we fondly called them has found solace living away from the hustle and bustle of our town. Lolo July was of Spanish descent. He has this seemingly strict stance that, for a short while, made me feel quite uneasy towards him. However, that impression was quickly replaced by admiration because of his kindness. Lola Imay has been the ever gentle and soft spoken woman who has a way with words. Her supple voice when she speaks is still carved in my thoughts. I could still remember her enchanting stories about the fairies, the elves and other mythical creatures which I believe to be true which, from the time immemorial, has inhabited Tamahuyan.

These two affable beings together with my grandparents had formed a cohesive bond which could be considered as a connection similar to a family. Yes, each of us was treated like their own family. They even found pleasure of cooking us their renowned dish called “pinangat” (fish vinegar stew) cooked in a traditional clay pot, which according to them, is only being served for special visitors. For so many Sundays that we used to huddle together at their place I can say we’ve had the best of them. But things, of course, have an end. When sickness got the better of Lolo July and the need to take him to the city for medical care became so urgent, the Sunday picnic took a halt.

When Lolo July finally joined the Creator and Lola Imay moved under the care of her children in the city, Tamahuyan was left abandoned. Gone are those Sundays of storytelling and wonderful bonding. But like the music we used to hear which brings memories back, Tamahuyan too, has carved a reverberating impression of happiness that always remind me of the beautiful people who once lived there.

Sitting on a couch with Engelbert Humperdinck’s songs still being played on the radio, I realize that music, as Stevie Wonder put it, “is what gives us memories. And the longer a song has existed in our lives, the more memories we have of it.”


Simple Joy…

After receiving a little incentive from work, I planned to have a little jaunt with my family. Summer is not yet over, and we still have time to indulge our busy bods to some splashing and plopping into the water. Since we are on a tight budget, I knew we can’t afford to go in far-flung places to spend a day or two, either on a beach or any cool nature spots.

 From the time I came to live here in the metro, I had let many summers pass by, without me taking advantage of it. Summer has always been that same usual day full of workloads. And I, being a busy bee gradually forgot how fun it is during summer. Thus, when my significant other requested for an excursion I was left with no other choice but to give in to her plea. For a while, I have been seeing her salivating on the photos she stumbled upon on her friends on FB having stepped on different summer destinations, or doing any summer stuff. It makes her ecstatic, but most of the time, envy.

 To the rescue, I called her older sister to join us for a Sunday night swimming and scoured several resorts near our place so I can have them accommodated for an overnight stay. We, then, began on our preparation early in the morning, bought and cooked foods for the trip, and took a nap afterwards, readying our body for what we would call a night.

 Eight o’clock in the evening and we were in the place. I could see the excitement painted on the face of my family members. The place was good, enough to replenish our bodies. The pool was clean and there were few adult and kiddie slides to thrill us. We huddled at the cottage to eat what we’ve got, share stories of delight and for a while waited and rested until our body became more fitting for a swim.

with my family...

with my family…

 Sitting on a ledge, I got a clearer view of my family swimming in the pool. Realizations started springing in my thoughts. Simple things as they say are the ones that matter. Just like what I’ve done to make my family happy. We may not be able to visit famed beaches and get to experience luxurious accommodations still we were happy. Seeing their fulfilled faces with pure smiles on it while making waves in the water is really fulfilling.

 That night was one of the few summer nights to remember, I must say.

 


Amor de Madre ( A mother’s Love)

A mother and child by Sharon Gracias.

A mother and child by Sharon Gracias.

For a moment, I was thinking of a morning when my siblings and I had to gather at a table, sit together for breakfast, while Mama on the other hand, had to wait and observe patiently in one corner.

Mama as she stood there watching us had something on her mind: A strange wish that all her children may remain forever young. She fears that our home built by strong connection, of teases and loud laughter would soon turn into a sad and hollow home if all of her children finally reached the maturity stage. Bit by bit, she got it pictured out that one day, sooner or later, we would leave her to find our destined place in this world and though against her will, still she believes it to be inevitable and part of life. She would often quote: “It is sad for a parent, especially mothers –the more emotional one, to see their children leave the house one by one.”

My parents are like newlyweds now; they’re alone at our house. Mama would wait for Papa to come home after work, serve him food and chit chat for a while then sleep. The days have gone humdrum, quiet and sad thus I can empathize how they feel these days. Mama would always sigh and utter during our telephone conversation words like “if only I can turn back time” or “I miss yesterday”.

Back in the time when we were still under one roof, I can vividly recall how she would yell and glare at us, especially at times of our crabbiness. She has this worn-out slipper ready to land on our skin if suddenly, tantrums attack. Often she’s mad when we make fun of her Bougainvillea arrayed in front of our humble abode. Most of the time, it tests her patience that she’d just scratch her head turning the blame to my father on why she was given four stubborn sons. However, at this point of time, she confides how she longed for our stubbornness that sometimes, joking was her way of consoling herself. “It is better to have someone here to get furious with” she jokes.

During our phone conversation, she’d beg us to take a leave from work, take a respite, and go home even for a while. She’d often emphasize on how our work has taken its toll on our family. And by listening to her voice, I could sense on how she missed us. Like her, we also long for the time that we can all be together just like before as we, her children, really miss the things that she’d been doing for us back home.

Mama really takes good care of us. She’s the one who attends to our needs as Papa was always busy looking for business outside. She’s in charge of waking us up in the morning, to fixing our beds, and up to preparing our meals. She tied herself to being a full-time mother, gave up her supposedly teaching career, and taught us instead.

It is said that once a woman became a mother; it is also the time they surrendered themselves to servitude which every single day of their life could mean a struggle, a survival against the stream of responsibility. That’s how they are (out of love and passion) willing to sacrifice. I can’t fathom how deep mothers can be in understanding the needs of their children that if only they can offer their lives they would. Perhaps, it is what they call the duty that is love.

Take my mom for example, an epitome of an unassuming, selfless being who nurtured the four of us. From the day of conception, to the day we were born in this world, she never stopped caring. I still remember on how she would organize our stuff before going to school, stay late at night and check if we’ve done our homework, make sure if we’ve eaten enough, and on how she wishes to own our sickness and be the one inflicted rather than see us suffer.

Mama seems unaware of the innumerable things she has done for the family.  Oftentimes, she feels sorry for her shortcomings. For the times that, she and Papa, fail to give us what’s the best unlike other blessed parents can.  And for the times like she refused to buy us what’s the hip or the current trend. Mama in behalf of Papa feels sorry for that, for all that.

Now that I’m already an independent working lad, I come to ask myself: Have I really reciprocated the unconditional love my mom has bestowed on me? Though she would always say that her love is not payable by any material bliss as she believes that to care and to love is to be a mother, I feel as if I owe her something in exchange. Something that is big.

Last Christmas, my siblings and I took a break from work and went home to our province. Mama felt so glad that despite of conflicting schedules, we were able to spend the important season with them. Seeing all of us on the same bed, made her welled up in tears. She just can’t contain the overwhelming happiness that stirs her heart.

Yiyun Li a Chinese writer, for a fact, had perfectly described how my mom feels when she wrote that “Being a mother must be the saddest yet the most hopeful thing in the world, falling into a love that, once started, would never end.”


Tying the Knot: of Responsibility and Relationship

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For about a year now, my girlfriend and I decided to live under one roof. It was a mutual decision coming from two responsible adults. Being in a five year old relationship we believed our move to be appropriate then. But prior that, the two of us were both independent souls, who like many others coming from a province, had braved leaving the comforts of home to basically try life in the metropolis.

August last year, we divulged our relationship set-up with our parents. Of course, we got reprimanded of our actions. We heard a litany of morals and lessons about married life. Talking to my Girlfriend’s father was for me, the most daunting task a boyfriend should face.

I remember myself hiding the fear when I spoke face to face with my future father in-law. He’s a man of few words yet he has this firm stance on certain subjects which I never intend to oppose with. With an utmost sincerity, I laid my plans for her daughter and my future family, which, thankfully, he found as honest and sensible one. Thus, in the end, I won his trust and consent to continue the relationship set-up her daughter and I had started.

This year is the year I ought to bring my fiancée to the altar. It is a promise that I want to fulfill. For one year of being together as live-in partners I believe that we’ve had enough as an amateur couple. We’ve seen the best and the worst part of being in this stage, making us prepared of what’s more to come as husband and wife.

There are many instances that can prove how ready we are on trailing this path. One: We’ve already played the role of father and mother when our siblings came to live with us. We are the onlookers who stay on guard for their needs and safety. Two: We’ve come to know the importance of money, especially on how to spend it with enough prudence. Since both of us are breadwinners who still support each of our families, we both learned the value of frugality and Three: We knew what things to sacrifice. If before we can stay late jamming with friends, now we can’t. It should be family first.

Last January I started taking overtime work so I can earn ahead of time since we’re planning to have our wedding sometime in December. I want our wedding to be simple and intimate, simply because I can’t afford an extravagant one. I am even looking for sponsors and friends who can share their time and service for free (evil laugh). Of course, I should be the one shouldering the expenses since I can’t rely on anyone. I still have time left for the hard work and I hope I can meet the target. Fingers crossed!

Anyway, I always bear in mind the constant reminder coming from my mother that marriage is not comparable to eating rice that you can spit out the moment you realize it’s hot and that it is not  also just a word but a sentence, a life sentence, perhaps.

Well, I must agree as we’ve already come a long way and there’s really no turning back.


Changing the way the world is powered

Four days ago, there’s this imperceptible milestone in my life which I unintentionally forgot to celebrate, not because I put less importance on it, it’s just that it is fleeting that it took several days for me to realize it.

It feels like it was just yesterday when I first stepped on the premises of “SunPower”, the company which for seven years embraced me. I could still remember the very day when my naive and ignorant self, first joined the bandwagon of hopefuls, who by the stroke of sheer luck or wits had dared jumping over limits just to catch what we believed then as a dream job.

A dream job; I have longed for it ever since. My simple idea of having a stable source of income, the pure thought of exercising what I learned from college, and my youthful yearnings to later buy this and that, urged me to accept the post that was offered to me by one of the grandest photovoltaic company in my country, or even in the world —SunPower and I was barely nineteen then, so young and full of optimism, sort of I-Can-Do-It-All type of individual.

Being in this company, I have developed a sense of pride as I am one of those who wish to change the way the world is powered. I came to know the goodness behind the mission and vision of our organization, the benefits it wishes to impart for the humanity. And to be a part of it is undeniably a fulfillment, especially for anyone who is a novice in the working world.

I have started pretty awesome, competitive and most of all positive towards attaining my goal: to be successful. I aimed to have a position in the training department as it was the only place I felt throwing myself into. I felt I was designed for that job. And considering my position then and my technical background, it would be a big leap if ever. However, things aren’t as easy as I have imagined. I realized that the personal development fiber etched on my character wasn’t enough to counter attack those hindrances I’m about to face. When shoved in the sphere of battle, of daunting competition, I got myself embroiled in the dilemma of trusting myself and so my capabilities. I got intimidated. I felt small against those contenders of mine. That overriding fear of rejection that lurks in my system consumed me and killed my dream. It’s then that I refused to try, shied away and joined another bandwagon—the bunch of hopeless.

The presence of enthusiasm that once thrived in me vanished just like bubbles in the air. I succumbed to self-pity then that I started entertaining thoughts about leaving, instilled in my mind the possibility of finding a better niche— somewhere I could start anew. But, the same problem resurfaced. Again, I have lost the courage to pursue as I have things to consider, things not only for me, but for my family as well who hopes to be saved from the harshness of life. In short, I was burdened by responsibilities that it practically turned me into someone who plainly see work as a mere source of income.

I have lost my guiding trail and the will to broaden myself took its back seat. I then resorted to playing as easy-go-lucky kind of employee. However, it does not bother me as I’m not the only one who’s stuck in the same midpoint. We are huge in number, why worry, anyway?

Well, that’s how I am, playing a bit safe in the middle ground. Being in this kind of state made me console myself from the benefits it somehow gives me. Such benefits include lesser stress, mind boggling workloads and take home assignments unlike those workmates of mine, holding high positions who still bring their home office tasks and were forced to answer calls with the matters regarding work even on their off-duty.To say that I’m happy not to experience these, would just add up to my being sarcastic as I am imagining myself that even for one time, for the sake of experience I would feel the same way as them.

Time and again, flies so fast that I enjoyed the comforts of being on the same ground, of being familiar to the ordinary that I became flustered of the so called change. Change has been the subject of my fear, the root of my being stagnant. I feared to leave my comfort zone and just settled with the same environment that used to greet me every day. I have learned to enjoy the company of my friends whom I breathe the same pathetic sentiments with. Sentiments about how grueling the tasks we have, how boring it was to be doing same stuff over and over again, how strict the newly implemented rules are, how annoying the bosses who demand more than we can give, how scant our salary, how unfair the management when it comes to promoting employees, these and many more are the unending plight we tend to face every day.

Yet, I’m still here, seeking an answer to the question “What happened?”

What happened to a once vigorous being so full of wits who thought the world can be his playground?

What happened to his dreams and aspirations?

What happened to me?

That’s the big question I’m starting to unravel as of now. Yesterday, I boarded the shuttle van of those from our regular shift, those who work in the office and I have witnessed how my former comrades who are now promoted were changed by time. As I looked at them, there’s this surge of envy that’s creeping in my nerves. Look at them; they are now the person they envisioned to be. Had I been courageous enough, maybe I am now, like them, successful.

Even things did not go according my way, I realized that God is putting hints for me to veer into another path, a different realm, perhaps, somewhere I can flourish and that is maybe to make use of my hidden talent. But that doesn’t mean I will leave the comforts of being in this job. SunPower has been my companion ever since and all I have for this organization is a big gratitude carved in my heart. Thus, I say, especially to my work friends who had been stuck in the same limbo: Breakaway guys, and to those who are gutsy and had found success in their goals: kudos to all of you.

Seven years is quite long and I’m just unmindful of the contribution I have made for the planet earth and its people. It’s been seven years that I’m changing the way the world is powered through the solar panels crafted by my own hands. It made me feel proud somehow that the organization, on which I am part of, continues to share its noble purpose. And it’s the very thing that matters, I believe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Burning bridges

burning-bridges1

I overheard a sensational drama at work a week ago. A colleague of mine, holding a very delicate position in our department, got involved in a seemingly verbal brawl against another colleague. Shit happens sometimes as there are really inevitable courses that might happen at work which can ignite an argument at any given time.

Glimpsing over the scenario, I got a better grasp of where the problem started. Colleague A is a newly appointed internal process assessor and colleague B is a mere production crew. Colleague A and B were both friends not until that sparking scenario. Being new to her position, colleague A has been taking the time putting herself in the limelight by being so dedicated to her post, that she attends to the minutest detail of every process. She has been so busy pointing out mistakes, plotting accountability and unpleasant consequences, especially towards her lower colleagues specifically colleague B. Colleague A was oblivious about her being consumed by her job that she’s stepping other people and that she was burning bridges…

It is an irony on how people mutate into a different character when thrown in the sea of opportunities. Some flaunt their true colors and even their ulterior motives resurface. I hate to say it but it is too common in my workplace that it saddens me to think how my former workmates submit to the process of metamorphosis: from being kind to being rude, considerate to strict, cheerful to snob, humble to proud and most of all, pleading to commanding. Some of my workmates have gained a position and yet they were a different person now. It’s as if they have forgotten the same hardship we lament about when we were on the same level.

The sense of authority can make people change. It gives them power and control over certain things. It turns someone into a person of maturity, the ability to decide on things with enough prudence, but on a sad note, it can also transform certain beings into a voracious monster, especially those with a frail moral integrity who succumb to being consumed by the bliss of power found on their coveted job.

Sometimes I tend to ask myself: What if one day I’ll be entrusted a superior and more delicate position? Would I be like them? Would I be overpowered by the delight it brings? Perhaps, I can only answer it if given the chance to be in their shoes. But if being in their shoes means losing my friends I’d rather not.

I believe that anyone can tactically clamber into advancement without sacrificing the relationship that was once built. Bridges must not be burned and so connections such as friendship must not be traded to the yearnings toward self-promotion. One must not step others just to prove that they are effective and worthy for a certain post.

Even there are many who were misled by the desire of reaching a higher post; those who intentionally or unintentionally deprived others of consideration and those who were devoured by the thought to succeed at the expense of others, I still believe that there are few who are rooted on the ground, no matter what attainment, position or situation they’ve had.

I laud those people who are effective on their posts, not because they were strict but gentle on their way; those people who are kind and humble and not arrogant, as being effective is not about finding faults in people, rather understanding the reason that leads them to commit it.