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Junior Year: A Change in the Scheduling of Classes


There was a major scheduling change in my junior year, the school year 1973-74. The time for each subject was reduced to 40 minutes from the previous one hour. However, every subject was taken up daily. Moreover, classes ran from early morning until one o’clock in the afternoon each day. There was no more lunch break, and the rest of the afternoon was supposed to be for school activities.

The most difficult thing, initially, was the extra hour one had to bear of hunger pangs before one could eat lunch. Lunch break used to be an hour and a half, so every day I would make the short seven-minute jeepney ride home for lunch. It used to be shorter, but my Dad had retired from the Air Force and in 1970 we moved to a property a kilometer or so west of the base. I could even watch a little television or work on assignments for the afternoon subjects if there were any.

The new schedule was particularly tricky for me because I had never been the sort who could eat a heavy breakfast. Even when I was an elementary student, my mother and I used to fight each day because she always insisted that I ate breakfast before leaving for school. Unfortunately, I always woke up with an acidic stomach and, therefore, had little appetite for food.

Thus, I couldn’t eat anything but light breakfast before leaving for school. Essentially, I was operating on very little gas each morning, which really made me look forward to lunch. Unfortunately, lunch beginning this school year was being delayed by one hour.

My allowance for each day was a measly ₱1.25. This may sound extremely pitiable, especially by today’s standards. But in the context of the era, in fact it was more than sufficient. After all, the canteen was just a glorified sari-sari store and sold no more than junk food and soft drink. If I really wanted to, I could buy a pouch of Chippy for ₱0.25 and a bottle of Coca-Cola for the same price. Alternatively, at the side gate, one could buy banana- or potato-cue for the same price as a Chippy from the ambulatory vendors who parked there each day.

Because jeepney fare one way to and from my home was ₱0.25, I could even save the remaining ₱0.25 from my daily allowance for a rainy day.

But of course, I seldom if at all ate snacks during Recess. The money that my mother gave me for snacks, I needed to use as fare for afternoon football practice. If my mother had her way, I wouldn’t be even playing varsity football. However, I was always headstrong and argued that I was not reneging on my daily obligations at our poultry at the end of each day. In the end, as long as I picked the eggs and cleaned the water troughs, she didn’t really mind. Stingy that she was, however, I always knew better than to ask for fare each afternoon. That was why I always skipped having snacks during Recess.

Before long, however, my stomach adjusted to the new schedule, albeit I went home for lunch each day ready to devour whatever was on the table. If there were assignments, I quickly did them so I wouldn’t have to worry about them in the evening. Unless there were particularly difficult assignments, the evenings as far as I was concerned were really for television.


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