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When I Almost Got Whacked with Brother's Paddle


The Grade School was a small community, though – just two sections of Grade Five and one in Grade Six. Although Miss Rivera was no longer my adviser, she was still one of our teachers and continued to be this larger than life figure to most of us boys. Many of us invented all sorts of excuses to hang out in her office, which was conveniently next to our classroom on the second floor, outside of class hours.

There was this one morning when I had this extraordinarily close call with the Brothers’ paddle. Dispensing the brotherly “love” was Brother Rafael, who at the time hadn’t been reassigned to Greenhills yet. His secretary showed up outside our makeshift classroom a week or two after the release of report cards, and started calling out names of students whom she said Brother Rafael wanted to see in his office right away.

We were no longer greenhorns and knew that the summons, as close as they were to the release of the report cards, must have been for a paddle session. The students who were called were those who had two or more failing grades in the immediately preceding grading period and those who had accumulated more disciplinary infractions than was thought appropriate.

Naturally, the entire class hushed up as each name was called. Because we more or less knew that we were the A-section, most of us felt that there was really nothing to fear; albeit we still held our breaths as the secretary called out each name.

But then, against my expectations, I heard my name called! I felt the blood drain from my face both from dread at the prospect of the paddle and embarrassment from having been called. What in the world was going on?

I had no recourse but to follow the secretary back to Brother’s office. We were told to wait outside once there, and from where we sat, we could hear the whacking sounds as the paddle made contact with the butts of whoever was inside. But I knew that that I was not supposed to be there! I was an honor student and if at all I had demerits, these were of the petty sort for silly things like forgetting to cut my fingernails or failing to insert a handkerchief into my breast pocket.

My sense of fairness offended – and the whacking sound was not just a bit unnerving – I found courage and approached the secretary. “Miss,” I said to her, “are you sure about me? I had high grades the last grading period and I have no disciplinary cases.”

Because she knew me and agreed that it was strange that my name was in the list, she mumbled something about doing some rechecking. Before long, she gave me this cheeky smile which was not apologetic at all, notwithstanding the fact that she damn near caused my butt to be whacked. The name in the “wanted” list, she happily told me, was supposed to be Potenciano Torres, whose name came after mine in the class list.

Said Potenciano was distraught to be called in as replacement; and when he returned to the classroom with eyes swollen, some of my classmates even turned on me and blamed me for what happened to him. How in the world was that fair?

As for my butt, this was no virgin as my mother’s flip-flops and my father’s belt could attest; but I was damned if I let the Brothers’ paddle get anywhere near it! Smiley. Seriously, I often used to wonder what would have happened had I not summoned the courage to approach Brother’s secretary.

My family was not the suing sort and in those days, discipline was more or less left to the school by most parents. Neither my father nor my mother was of the sort to go to school to make complaints. But I have never been the sort to forget or forgive an injustice done against me. Had I been unfairly whacked, I would have hated the Brothers for the rest of my life!


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