Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Marisian Life

It's funny how you sometimes do pieces of writing about little things that reminds you of a colorful childhood and it ended up being shared... like a lot?  It's overwhelmingly scary.  But in a good way...I think. I write stuff and after I think it is decent enough to reread for later I throw it into the cyber void hoping that nobody will find it.  (I'm weird that way).

Anyway!  To continue my celebration of my coral year as an acceptable human being, this is my last piece on the place I have spent 12 years of my life outside my home.  My second home - Stella Maris.

My prep Class Picture - Section Butterball

When I posted the previous piece, a lot of my friends and classmates commented on what they miss about Stella, so I'm compiling my top 20 and it is probably the same thing as most of the Marisian readers.

Grade 1 Cosmos (The Talisay tree behind is the only tree that doesn't have "til-as" - yes because it has no leaves and its probably dead already)

1.  Buying a ruler from the cashier is a very daunting task.  It was in 2nd grade, when an activity requires a ruler and I left mine at home.  But since I will be needing it in the afternoon I still have time to get one without going home.  P.S. I don't know how to get home because I take a carpool so going home is not in the list of my options.  So during recess I rushed to the cashier's office and bought a ruler or at least tried buying.
                                Me: "Ms. Teves tag-ilan ang ruler?"
                                Ms. Teves: "Walang tag-ilan dito!" (and bangs her window)
     second attempt (lunch break):  
                                Me: "Ms. Teves, may ruler po kayo?"
                                Ms. Teves: "Meron.  Ilan?"
                                Me: " Isa lang po.  Tag-ilan?" (bang! the window closed again)
So what seems to be the problem???  Maybe Ms. Teves doesn't like me.  I ended up asking my classmate to buy one for me instead.

2.  The pseudo artist.  Still in 2nd grade, it was a Thursday and our teacher informed us that we will be drawing  our favorite animal the next day, so we need to bring our drawing materials.  The ever prepared me did more than that.  I asked my Tatay to draw me a rabbit which of course I submitted the following day.  My teacher was so impressed so she posted "my" drawing on the best drawing board along with two other drawings.  Not only that, since she was so impressed she entered me to this inter-section drawing competition.  I was so mortified.  During the contest I was sweating profusely and the the thought of drawing stick people during the contest was just plain embarrassing.  So what should I do???  I fainted. The end. 

3.  The Bell.  I can't remember what grade level I was then, but there was this thing that everybody does when the bell rings during recess or lunch break.  Nope, we don't break dance, we did the opposite.  We freeze.  Whatever you are doing, when the bell rings you just have to stop.  It was weird but everybody in the school did it.  It was funny.  I could imagine those who were drinking from fountain when the bell rings.

4.  Toilet particulars.  I have developed an early hint of OCD when it comes to comfort rooms.  I must say it all started when I was introduced to the elementary CR.  It was dark, dank and dingy.  The triple D.  And it stinks like big time.  I wonder why.  And so, I have used my "tall-ish" feature and sneaked into the high school CR when I needed to tinkle. One time, during recess, I slipped into the high school CR when the bell rang, I did my business hurriedly inside the cubicle and ran outside.  And I noticed that some of the people were giving me funny looks while some sniggered.  When I reached the line I realized that my skirt accidentally got inserted in my ruffled knickers. Yes.  Red-face moment.

5.  Jeepers cleaners.  A section is divided into 5 groups that are assigned to clean the classroom at the end of the day.  Whoever is the leader will be a powerful individual.  I think, the cleaner leader and the class president almost have the same power.  You know why?  You have the power to report a classmate to the teacher.  Whoever escapes cleaning will be punished.  That's how serious cleaning is in Stella is. :)   I was so dedicated in cleaning that in 6th grade, I volunteered to clean the classroom during lunch break.  During lunch breaks all classrooms are closed/locked but since our classroom was at the newly added wing to the school and our teachers stayed during the break, we can go up there and clean.  Unfortunately for us, the janitor saw us and reported us to the prefect.  I cried so hard when we were sent to the office of the school's Prefect.  It was my first time but not the last.  As punishment, we swept the hallway floor from entrance to the canteen.  Traumatic.

6.  The Talisay tree.  The school ground is surrounded by big Talisay trees.  And each tree has this concrete bench around it.  It serves as a hangout place for everybody.  But there are two or three particular Talisay trees that breed the most hideous "til-as" ever.  When it gets in contact with your skin it is crazy itchy.   I have only loved those kind of trees when I reached high school.  The two trees fronting the high school building are the best places to copy assignments and people watch.

7.  Cheering grandslam.  We never won.  No matter how cute our cheer leaders were.  Or no matter how loud we were.  No matter how funny our cheers were.  We just can't have the title of a winning batch.  This is probably a curse.  Curse of the Che Che Bole.

8.  The short cut.  When an additional wing was built at back of the existing elementary building, a short cut was made so you don't have to go down just to go to the next building.  Rumor has it that a white lady guards that pathway.  That's why I never pass that short cut alone because I sort of believe it.  Or maybe because I'm just a scaredy cat.

9. Chit or Cheat or Cheet.  I will never know the correct spelling.  This is the money we used during special events in school a.k.a. Sportsfest and Foundation day.  Its one of the events in school I usually look forward to because I don't get to wear my uniform and we can buy junk foods that are usually sold outside the school.  But we don't use the real money, we change it into this sort of play money thing.  We call it "chit/cheat/cheet" I don't know where the term originated.

10.  The first time I fell in love.  No!  Not with a boy! I fell in love with books.  Who knew about love during elementary days?!  I haven't discovered comb at that time yet.  Books just took me to places.  That was the time when I wanted to be as adventurous as Nancy Drew or have a twin like Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield.  And this affair with the books have flourished until now and I think my friends still think I earmark the parts of "the birds and the bees."

So I have to cut the list short and make another post.  Like Harry Potter, Hunger Games and even Twilight have to cut their final chapter into two movies.  It's not because I wanted more attention (you think?!) but the post is too long already and I'm probably boring you.  So, off to the next page!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

How I Survived Chinese School

It was 1986 while the Philippines was still singing the theme song for People's Power, my parents realized that having me ran around the entire day will only bring more scabs on my knees and nothing else.  So they have decided to enroll me to this good school that could probably give me the right education I need and be a productive citizen in the future - a Chinese School.

Me and my kababata Miss J

And you would wonder why.  Oh before we continue, a little background about me.  I was born and raised in a Filipino household with Filipino parents.  The only Chinese influence we ever had at home was limited to tikoy, chop suey and mahjong.  So it was a bit surprising why our parents chose a Catholic Chinese school - Stella Maris Academy.  I take that back, I wasn't surprised at all.  I don't even care back then.

I would have you know that I am actually very proud to have graduated from this prestigious school.  Let me tell you a little background on my alma mater.  Come to think of it, I don't actually know anything about it except that it is run by the Hijas de Jesus and we always celebrate the feast of Mother Candida every August and Foundation day on December.  Despite of that Stella is like home to me, even though I'm not Chinese I actually feel I belong to this institution. And so you would wonder how I was able to graduate even without any concrete Chinese background?  Here's 5 things:

1.  I have hard working parents.  Being enrolled to an expensive school is not possible if it weren't for my parents.  Yes, I am kicking off my 5 points in a sentimental note.  Back then I was not aware of the tuition fees of schools such as Stella Maris.  I go to school sometimes begrudgingly because I still want to sleep.  And I celebrate with so much enthusiasm if there is heavy rain and the school vicinity is flooded.  However, when it was my brother's turn to go to school I sometimes do his enrollment and saw the fee.  It was scary.  So I am forever grateful that my parents enrolled us here.

2.  I am a hard working student. Of course!  Hard working parents usually bore hard working children.  I study quite a lot.  Of all the subjects I have taken, Chinese was one of the easiest maybe because I just need to memorize, pronounce and write the characters.  Honestly, I can no longer remember the Chinese classes I took during elementary.  By the way, during our time, we were lucky that Chinese classes are only for elementary students.  When you get to high school you are free.  Anyway, back to my classes.  I could only remember a few words and characters.  Numbers was the easiest plus I could put it into good use especially when haggling for discounts. *wink*wink* The birthday song and half of Hail Mary in Chinese.  And lastly some cuss words.  Who could forget bad words?  They are the easiest to remember. 

3.  We have a close-knit community.  In Stella Maris, I know the same people from elementary until I graduated high school.  Some I get to bond and be close with.  The institution is located within a residential area so expansion is not possible.  Classes are limited to 4 sections per year level.  When I graduated in high school there were a total of 140 students.  That's just like the short guest list for a wedding right?  We know almost everybody.  Every face is familiar not just the students of the same year level but as well as the older and younger. 

4.  We have Manang Bining's Lumpia, Betty's Egg Sandwich, Nong Roger's bbq and the Fishball.  during break time, students flock the canteen for the fried lumpia.  And Manang Bining, the canteen overseer, is in charge of the lumpia.  It is always a best seller. The sauce.  Who could ever forget that weird sauce.  I'm not a big vegetable eater, but that lumpia just makes me want to swallow all the vegetables inside that spring roll.  A semi-expensive canteen in front of the school, Betty's also sells a very good egg sandwich.  As a treat every Friday, my friends, my sister and I will use our saved up allowance to buy one.  And if we are in a good mood we'd buy some pork barbeque from Kuya Roger.  And lastly the fishball, who could ever forget the fishballs?  For 1 peso you get to skewer 5 fishballs and dip it into the sauce.  *Sigh* I miss those vendors outside the school.  I wonder if they are still there.

5.  We have access to books and we interact with each other.  Before technology have taken so much of our time especially the youth who spend more time doing selfies and whatever, my friends and I hang out the library.  Yes, it sounded lame and nerdy but Stella's library back then was entertaining.  I guess for me and my friends, it was.  We get to use some of the facilities of the library and we get to sleep.  We were lucky we have befriended the librarian else we won't have those privileges.  Books and magazines were more appreciated back then.

So there you have it.  My big five factors that made my Chinese school experience awesome.  Yes we have zero base system which made most of us achievers, yes we have no special section which gives every student the chance to be on the top and yes we have a uniform that looks like a table cloth.  But, I love everything about Stella Maris.  Every nook and cranny of the the institution houses my fondest memories of my elementary and high school years from the moment I learned to say "Sensei Zao an."