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January: Once Fiesta Season for DLSL Students

January is, I mean… The 2nd, I believe, is Pinagtung-ulan. Followed by Mataas-na-Kahoy on the 3rd… Malvar on the 10th… Batangas City on the 16th… Lipa on the 20th… Lodlod on the 24th

And these are just the ones that I know. God knows what other parokyas celebrate the feasts of their patrons this month of January. Bad time to be a pig or a goat!

Working in Discipline back in the late eighties and the early nineties, I used to absolutely abhor this month. What was it about our students back then that they would throw all caution into the four winds come fiesta day somewhere?

Lunch break in those days was one and a half hours, so students would happily commandeer jeepneys in groups, knowing all the while that the chances of getting back to school on time for the afternoon sessions were slim. If at all…

Those who were brazen did not even bother to come back, cutting classes altogether!

I’m sure it was not just the prospect of a free meal that appealed so much to the youngsters; although one always suspects the spirit of aremuhunan in every Batangueño’s actions. Rather, it was the social appeal of the fiesta that really mattered, the chance to be with mates to laugh about nothing in particular and do something daring like bumarek and be late or even cut classes.

In short, the sort of thing that adolescents the world over are prone to doing and the sort of thing they will be laughing about when they hold their reunions 25 years later.

This is not to say that the adolescents were the only ones guilty. Once – I think it was in ’92 – after doing my customary round of the classes I had under my jurisdiction, I saw that one class was only half-full after the afternoon bell had rung. A quick check with the students inside confirmed what I suspected – that the missing half was probably still on the way back from a fiesta.

So I sped to the side gate, knowing that that was where the commandeered service jeepney would be making its grand and dramatic entrance. Except that the first person out of the jeepney was not even a student, but a colleague who, to this day, remains extremely fond of the piyestahan

Guess who this colleague was, and don’t bother asking me in the Comments section. All I could do was shake my head and laugh.  Consequently, the students who were late with him got off lightly.

Then, there was a time when this teacher invited all his colleagues in the faculty room to a student’s home in San Pablo. They all eagerly rented a jeepney for the trip but arrived to find wala ‘ata handâ or ubos na…

The next day, the teacher was named in the faculty grapevine as the “Illegal Recruiter.”

The mother of all fiestas, of course, was that of Lipa, if just for the reason that we traditionally had no classes and everyone could walk the streets free from guilt. By walk, I really mean walk because, for starters traffic barely moved on fiesta day even back then.

Walking was also the proper way to do the bahay-bahay, and it was typical to see familiar faces doing the exact same house-to-house thing. There was also the matter of the padamihan-ng-bahay the next day.

In fact, one had to plan the bahay-bahay strategically. It was customary to meet in school in the morning and start at a classmate’s house in Villa Lourdes or Mataas-na-Lupa. Then it was a house-to-house hike uptown, frequently ending somewhere in Sabang.

It was common to end up going to more houses than one planned to, because people called out from their verandas as one walked by. Nakakahiyâ namang hindi pumasok

The trick was to eat sparingly at each house and, towards the end of the day, minatamis na lang… Need I say it was almost always imperative to seek out the banyo when one got home?

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