"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."

Monday, October 08, 2007


"I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again."

-- from mad girl's love song by sylvia plath

when i was five, i spent a year in kindergarten and earned a treasure trove of memories which, up to this day -- almost 20 years after -- i can still vividly recall.

i first arrived at the schoolhouse as a kinder 1 (k1) pupil but, on that same day, i went home as a kinder 2 (k2) kid. the one who brought me to school was told that, based on the teaching team's observation, i was already articulate enough to mingle with the k2 students and that i'd be better off there. based on my own observation, however, the real reason was this: the k1 teacher already had too many kids to look after. anyway, it was my luck.

(if i was made to stick it out in k1 that year, i would have belonged to another batch. it's difficult to imagine not being batchmates with the people who turned out to be my batchmates, if you get what i mean -- no ids99 for me, no p62003 for me either. say drama but, seriously, i can't bear the thought. ;P)

our schoolhouse was, to my then little girl's eyes, something straight out of children's books and children's movies. it was wooden and had that country cottage feel. there was an old acacia tree in front of it and, not far from it, was a green field lined with trees. the single-storey wooden structure we called classroom was in stark contrast to the three-story concrete building hiding it from clear view. (the schoolhouse was located at the back of the engineering building in that same university campus where i was to go for high school and college some years later. if loyalty awards were to be handed out, i'd be a recipient!)

i remember some of my classmates and the things that made them stand out in my memory bank.

there was a boy called amai who was always the first one to finish the individual activities. his female counterpart was a girl named christina. that girl had a lot of barbie dolls (back in the day, more than two was a lot considering the times then). there was a boy the rest of us couldn't talk to because he was very unfriendly -- for that reason, i forgot his name. if one of us ever approached him, all he said was a hostile sentence and it always ended with "baboy ka!" i think the only one he allowed to talk to him was our teacher.

there was lyzah, always looking for her mother. there was fern, never late and a natural leader inside the schoolroom. there was cyril, energetic like a wriggler and too soft for a boy. there was ranran. there was eldani. to them were often assigned the special roles of our class presentations. (little did i know then that, years after, eldani would become one of my drinking/gimik buddies in manila. hehe.) there was phil, nonchalant. there was janlou, shy, silent and well-behaved. i was closest to angel, tingting, and roxanne. angel was my buddy-buddy during class-hours, it was tingting who often squealed on me, and roxanne was my after-class buddy.

our teacher was miss josephine damgo. i heard she got married but i'll always remember her as miss josephine damgo -- very lady-like and thoughtful. very kind though she was, i received punishment from her -- once -- when fern complained that she was left out of the game i initiated. all of us in our playgroup were called forth and, after being reminded of good manners and right conduct, miss damgo lightly slapped our palms with a foot-long orions plastic ruler... just for the sake of additional disciplinary measure, i bet. (lol, orions! i didn't do any bullying but i got in hot water... all because i started blue bird, blue bird on my window -- i forgot the mechanics of this game.)

maybe i got punished twice...

back then, i was already observant and had no problem speaking out whatever's on my mind. when we were preparing our graduation presentation, i noticed that two of my classmates got multiple role assignments and the rest did not. i wondered about this openly and, by so doing, inadvertently called attention to myself. some casting changes were done and i ended up having an additional role -- that of a talking bird. in fairness, it wasn't what i wanted... had i only known. as a talking bird, i had to deliver a memorized speech about the environment all on my own. as if all things bright and beautiful wasn't already long enough to memorize! (complete with actions and voice & facial expressions, our entire class recited that beautiful poem from start to finish).

it was in kindergarten that i first got acquainted with poster colors. we used a lot of them during our art activities. we were allowed to let go of our brushes and we got to play with the colors using our palms and fingers. we had two cooking activities for our nutrition month celebration. for one, we had pancake day. we also had fruits and vegetable day -- the fruit salad was good but the hodge-podge of vegetables was yucky. (i avoided eating vegetables for quite sometime after this.) i was a silent angel in the manger during our christmas presentation. i remember being the only one who turned in irregular n-gons when the class was told to cut circles of different sizes. (it wasn't because i didn't catch the instructions well. it was all because i was the only one who did not get adult help in cutting the circles from cardboard -- think cardboard vs. paper scissors here.) we had nap times which always ended with tic tac tic tac says the clock it's time for the class to wake up and all but one would scramble off the mats -- roxanne always went on sleeping.

my dreams were very simple then: (1) i wanted to be an astronaut. (2) i wanted to be able to climb the tall trees in front of the engineering building.

p.s. except for ranran, tingting, and eldani, i don't know what became of my kindergarten classmates and where they are now. i wonder how they're doing and if they ever got close to their dreams.


  1. i can clearly remember my kindergarten days myself and, sometimes, it drives people nuts! maka-remember ko kay sige man ko'g observe lang. i never really played with my classmates. may sariling jmundo kasi ako dati! wehehehe:)

  2. Grabe ka detailed! Pati brand sa ruler? Amazing..

    I can clearly remember my kinder years (4 years old pa ko) and my short excursion to grade 1 before I was returned again to kinder (because I was only 5 years old!). But I can't remember the names of my kinder mates.


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