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1986: Random Recollections

Memory regrettably becomes hazy after 25 years. When Dinah called me up the other day asking for some features about the High School Class of 1986 in this blog, I immediately said yes. I did warn her, though, that recollecting things after all these years will not be a simple matter.

I do recall incidents here and there; and rather than struggle to organize them into a cohesive essay, I thought why not just write these recollections as random thoughts. Here they are, then:


Although I write my recollections in no particular order, top of the list will still have to be that January 24 incident that I will remember for as long as I live. And for all the wrong reasons, mind.

Dinah, who was in my advisory class, was insistent that we all go to her place for the fiesta. Those days were still very much my fiesta-hopping days; so I was more than happy to oblige.

I had no more classes by eleven; so I joined some members of the faculty in a rented jeepney for the short trip. Fiestas in Lodlod have always been notorious for the traffic; hardly surprising because of the narrow two-lane road.

That was why, when we were on our way to Dinah’s place, we were pleasantly surprised to find that traffic was very light. The plan was, as it always was on class-day fiestas, to eat and run. Hosts understood this. In my case, I had to be back in school before 1:30 because we were having the third quarterly examinations. I had a proctoring assignment.

If traffic was light going to Dinah’s house, getting out was the exact opposite. Vehicles hardly moved. I kept looking at my watch anxiously as the minutes ticked away; and particularly as the Principal, Brother Jimmy Dalumpines, was right there in the same jeepney that I was.

Awkward – that is putting the situation lightly. It was downright embarrassing. On the other hand, Br. Jimmy was just as much caught in it as the rest of us. We must have arrived at well past two. I do not even recall if I still made it to my proctoring class.


I never liked giving the “objective-type” quizzes: enumeration, Q&A, etc. Those were open invitations to cheaters. Besides, whatever evaluation was to be had from those were merely superficial. So, I gave eight-minute essay quizzes.

I did not invent those, by the way. I had an American professor in college by the name of Brother Raymond Antolik who liked to ensure that we were listening by concluding each session with an eight-minute quiz. Don’t ask me why it was eight. I never bothered to ask him. It was just the way he did things; and the way that I thought I would do mine as well.

At any rate, students who were under me soon became used to these essay quizzes. In my advisory class, for instance, students would begin writing as soon as I gave the question; and some would write all the way to the back of the half-sheet of pad paper.

Except Roland, of course. He would stare outside the window for 5-minutes after I gave the question – watching the tandang that hunted for worms on the grass, I would tease him – then begin writing when there were a mere three minutes of the eight remaining.

There was this one afternoon when, History being his last class, he complained all the way to the football field that the eight minutes were just way too short to write comprehensively. Of course, I had to remind him about the tandang-watching...


Among the major tragedies of the modern era are the famines that occasionally sweep across portions of Africa. In the mid-eighties, it became fashionable for musicians to band together and cut records the proceeds of which went to relief efforts in famine-stricken areas.

First, there was a UK-effort called Band Aid. You all remember the by-now anthemic “Do They Know It’s Christmas.” Then, the Americans did their own. The group called themselves “USA for Africa.” The hit single was a song called “We Are The World.”

I do not recall what the occasion was – and somebody please remind me using the comments box below – but there was this one time when my advisory class did an impersonation of that USA for Africa hit single. Lip-sync, of course.

I recall Materno doing the Stevie Wonder part, complete with large shades and huge stereo headphones; even shaking his head this way and that the way Stevie Wonder did in the MTV. Was it also Esther who did the Cyndi Lauper well-well-well-yeah part?


In his wisdom, Br. Jimmy encouraged me to link up with embassies and cultural centers. Among my appointments in that multi-tasking year was as Head of the Social Science Department.

So, I did; I linked up with the embassies of France, the USSR, China and Switzerland; among others. I also linked up with the British Council and the cultural center of Japan.

Ever so often, I would organize an international week on campus. These involved poster exhibitions, film showings and lectures by foreign guests.

For United Nations Week, we held a competition whereby we assigned each homeroom a country, asked the homeroom to do research on it and then decorate the Homeroom thematically on UN Day. On the side, there was a food competition as well.

Because I was well-networked with the embassies and the cultural centers, I started asking personnel from these organizations to come and act as judges for the UN Week competitions. If memory serves me right, we had a French gentleman from the embassy and two ladies from the Swiss Embassy and the British Council as guests judges.

By the way, this was also the schoolyear when I brought “Kemp’s Jig” from the British Council. The British actor’s reaction when he saw the old gym was that it was “huge!”


To this day, I still fully appreciate Br. Jimmy’s be-yourself approach to education. Himself the epitomé of simplicity, Br. Jimmy cared less for one’s appearance than the quality one brought into the classroom.

The old school, of course, went into the classroom dressed up as though their lives depended on it. That was how they were taught in teachers’ school. I was a training-on-the-job teacher, on the other hand; and had fairly liberal concepts of education.

Hence, I often went inside the classroom dressed in a collarless t-shirt, tight jeans as were my favourite in those days and sneakers. This was me in college; and the attire that I continue to be most comfortable with to this day. I could even wear my hair long if it suited my whim.

There were a few others like me who dressed just as simply. Guess what, the NCEE results showed we weren’t doing too bad, after all!

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