"a caterpillar doesn't just grow into a butterfly. a caterpillar must undergo metamorphosis, and a cocoon is where a caterpillar risks it all: enters total chaos, undergoes total rebuilding, and is born to a new way of living. only in taking the risk of entering that inert cocoon can the caterpillar go from dormancy to potency, from ugliness to beauty."

Saturday, August 20, 2005

when i was in grade one...

when i was in grade one, a classmate punched my face.

when i was in grade one, a classmate deliberately pulled my hair.

when i was in grade one, a classmate knocked my forehead with a rock. (my forehead bled.)

when i was in grade one, my bully classmates deprived me of my snacks.

when i was in grade one, i was always provoked to fight. i never fought back; i mastered how to give dagger looks instead.

when i was in grade one, i was surrounded with brats -- the worst grade one pupils i ever met.

when i was in grade one, i belonged to the end of the spectrum. i was in the last section...


one morning many, many years ago, my tita accompanied me to iligan city east central school (ICECS, read as i-sex). i was told that i was to take a test there. although i went to kindergarten, i didn't know what a test was. i was told, too, that all i had to do for the test was to write my name and answer some questions. sure, i knew how to write my name (i still know, by the way, ha ha ha!) and i also knew how to answer questions (i still know this, too, ha ha ha!)... but i wasn't my usual self that day. i wasn't feeling well; fever was with me.

in ICECS, i remember being admitted to a room along with other kids my age. we were all handed papers and were asked to write our names. i wrote down my rather long given name, my middle initial and my 9-character family name -- the letters nearly spilled out of the page and on to the table. neat! i got exhausted writing them all down and making them fit a single line. then came the questions...

i thought that answering questions meant talking to "teacher", i was wrong. on that same paper where i wrote my name were the questions i had to answer.

"teacher" read aloud the questions slowly. she read each of them twice and gave us time to "encircle the letter of the correct answer" before proceeding to the next item.

I DON'T REMEMBER ENCIRCLING ANYTHING. i do remember looking at my paper and thinking silently that the drawings of cups, trees, pencils, balloons, etc. on the paper look bad -- that whoever drew them didn't really know how to draw. by the time the test was finished, all that i managed to do with my paper was to put my name and some check marks on the last 5 drawings. i was born genius! ha ha ha.

that was a test, eh? the drawings they put there were mostly bad. i knew they were. my tita didn't understand that. she was quite disappointed with how i performed. she was there outside the room, looking at me through the window, mouthing the correct answers -- just like what those other kids' chaperones were doing when "teacher" wasn't looking. i saw her, but i saw the drawings, too. i concentrated on them and forgot about the questions. on the way home, she told me "nganong wala man ka nag-answer? bantay ka lang sa imong papa."

i think my fever suddenly went from bad to worse when i heard what she said. i remember walking slowly and wanting to collapse as we approached our wooden gate. i remember seeing papa with a hammer in his hand -- no, he wasn't out to pound my head; he was helping in constructing our then-would-be-sari-sari store. i remember him smiling at me, anticipating my story about the "test". my tita beat me to it.

before i could say a word, tita quickly told papa her version of my story. as she ratted on, a fear that i was trying to contain surfaced and i ended up crying.

"bantay ka lang sa imong papa.
bantay ka lang sa imong papa.....
bantay ka lang sa imong papa......."

papang dropped his hammer. i flinched. he pulled me to him. i decided to stay where i was. he beckoned me to go near him. i relented. he embraced me. that relieved me. he smiled at me. that relieved me some more. he wiped away my tears and he told me i shouldn't feel bad because it's just not my day... that i've got a long, long way ahead of me.

he was right... and i... well, i was a silly kid with silly fears, but my parents're good.


i started going to grade school and got exposed to the worst kind of pupils at the age of six. (see this post's introduction).

during the first day of class, there were kids around me who were crying and didn't want to stay in school. one kid was so mad at his mama, he broke his new pencils into pieces and crumpled his pad of paper. he went wild after that and his mama had to take him home. when his mama took him to school the next day, he still didn't look happy but he had a new pencil. despite his first day behavior, he was one of those harmless people in my class -- GRADE ONE, SECTION NINE.

that "test" was the culprit.

that "test" landed me in that class.

that "test" was the crucial step to my destiny.

that "test" led me to where i am now.


when i was in grade one, i had a best friend named karen and together we survived tough times with the class bullies.

when i was in grade one, i knew how it felt to be branded "bobo".

when i was in grade one, i had a teacher who was so dedicated -- she never gave up on us, her difficult-to-handle charges.

when i was in grade one, i had a teacher who recognized my then hidden abilities. (when the next school year came, i got discriminated. the grade two-section one teacher refused to admit me to her A-1 class because she reckoned i won't be able to cope. my grade one teacher stood up for me and said she'll take responsibility should i fall behind. by doing that, she propelled me... sent me a long, long way.)

when i was in grade one, i learned well. my teacher taught me and my classmates well.

when i was in grade one, i learned a great deal. i got to know a person whose legacy lives in me. she gave me, as the song goes, "a gift i know i never can repay." one of these days, i'm gonna find myself back in iligan and i'll take the opportunity of doing this something i've never done for her before: drop by her house, seek her out and reintroduce myself.

"good morning, starshine! the earth says hello!"


  1. and she'd be proud at what you have become.

    paano yung mga umaway sa yo noong grade 1 ka val---? gusto ko ring balikan mo sila. i wonder what you'd tell them.

    originally posted by abaniko on Sunday, August 21, 2005 9:16:17 AM

  2. abaniko, 'yung sumuntok sa 'kin naging friend ko rin eventually sa klase.

    'yung namukpok ng bato sa 'kin, 'di ko na alam kung ano na nangyari sa kanya at sa twin sister n'ya na humila sa buhok ko at muntik pa akong makalmot. ganundin sa mga nangunguha ng snacks ko... di ko rin alam kung saan sila hahanapin or kung magkikita pa kami. kung siguro magkikita kami at makikilala pa namin ang isa't isa, siguro tatawa na lang kami sa mga nangyari dati.

    sigurado akong magha-"hi, hello" ako sa kanilang lahat.

    p.s. minsan, hinanap ko sa friendster 'yung mga kaklase ko noong grade one na naaalala ko pa ang mga pangalan... nagbakasakali akong nagfri-friendster din sila. ayun, nakahanap ako ng dalawa -- friends ko noong grade one, ka-friendster ko ngayon, hahaha.

  3. what?!! You landed on section 9 and managed to get to the top section. Wow. I admire your success.
    btw, I have to confess that i'm quite guilty of discriminating people lower than section 4. I tolerated Sections 3 and 4, treated Sections 2 almost equally, but considered Section 1 superior. I guess what those people needed was just some helping hand.
    It could be because of my background. I transferred to ICECS Grade V after spending my entire academic history in a private school. Culture shock kaayo!! Too much people. Too much noise. Too dirty place. etc. Yet I survived and eventually adapted.
    I also got to labelled as "mata pobre" once. I guess I did not really become a full-fledged ICECS student despite winning many awards for the school. 2 years in a school is too small compared to the time my other classmates had been together. Well, nuff said. That's life. Say hi to Ma'am Omalza for me. I owe a lot to her.

  4. anonymous, i had wanted to study in SMC just like my kuya did ('til grade one)... i thought it was unfair he got to study in a private institution and i did not. i only came to understand my parents' decision and practicality years later; i'm glad they sent me to ICECS and chose public school education for me (and my younger siblings) through and through. ;-D

  5. good memory you have, val!:) actually, makahinumdom pa sad ko sa ako grade one days. hehehe:) pero some peole i know can't!:)

    your first grade teacher left such a huge impact in your life, yeah. i hope you find her when you get back. i'm sure she'll be so proud.:)

  6. grabe good memory! all i can remember with my grade 1 is that i had punched someone because he wouldn't let me borrow his eraser! hehehe ....

  7. when i was in grade 1...i did not know my classmates names... except for a few people who became my friend...

  8. babypink, i remember a lot of my childhood...

    ...and my mama made sure that i don't forget about my grade one teacher. until now, she reminds me of ma'am from time to time; tells me ma'am still asks about me whenever they see each other (which happens rarely now).

    trick, i was capable of bullying other people when i was in grade one especially because my male cousins could back me up (i only needed to say the word...hahaha). i never resorted to that though; it was better to avoid fights. my classmates were too dangerous... and getting into trouble and be reprimanded my parents were risks i didn't want to take.

    kars, i still know many of my grade one classmates by name and face. however, the faces of those i haven't met in recent years have remained to be "maas grade one" faces. hehehe... :D

  9. pagkahaba naman nito. sori di ko pa nababasa. dko matiis hindi mag comment =)


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