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The Brother who Wanted to Murder Us... But Just for a Moment...


Well of course, if there was Brother Sau, there was also Brother Tony. The latter was Brother Antonio Tibajia, our Religion teacher. He was tall, pale, soft-spoken, wore thick-rimmed glasses and generally looked that he couldn’t hurt a fly. He was among the nicest people on campus.

But as I said, being nice does not always serve a teacher in good stead when trying to manage a class of adolescents, particularly one composed purely of boys. Under Brother Tony, our Religion class was the time to do assignments in other subjects that one failed to do the previous night. One generally kept an ear cocked to the poor excuse of a lesson that was ongoing, but doing assignments also meant frequent consultations with one’s seatmates. Naturally, the class was always noisy during Religion.

There was this one time, though, when Brother Tony probably got tired of the noise factory that he frequently had to endure and decided that we would be having a prayer service. He spent the first few minutes writing the prayer service on the blackboard, giving those of us at the back the opportunity to finish our assignments guilt-free.

Brother Tony finished writing the prayer service with OUR FATHER in capital letters at the lower right hand corner of the board. The prayer was supposed to be sung as conclusion to the prayer service.

And so we began the service by dutifully crossing ourselves as all Catholics do to begin a prayer. In truth, most of us continued to do our homework, once in a while pausing momentarily to read the expected responses written on the blackboard.

Before long, the service was about to end, and Brother Tony solemnly addressed everyone, “Class, let us all sing the Ama Namin…” Big effing mistake! What he had in mind was the solemn Tagalog version of the Lord’s Prayer that is still sung in church to this very day. But he had written OUR FATHER in large capital letters at the lower right hand corner of the blackboard.

Those in the front seats started to sing the Ama Namin as instructed. But those at the back only half-heard the instructions and started to sing Sister Janet Mead’s upbeat rock version of the Lord’s Prayer. It was ridiculous, really. One half of the class sang the soft beat version while the other half did the upbeat version. When each half tried to out-sing the other, the result was this hideous cacophonous noise reverberating around the classroom.

Then something totally unthinkable happened. The usually saintly Brother Tony became this maniacal figure in front of the class who leaped from the teacher’s platform high into the air with all his might. When he landed on the floor, he slammed both his palms as hard as was humanly possible on the desk of my classmate Lito Hernandez, whose head wobbled this way and that as a result of shock.

In that split second, the class turned quiet as a cemetery.

Painted on Brother Tony’s face was the picture of unadulterated rage. His eyes looked sharply around the room like those of a madman. Who would have thought that there was an Edward Hyde hidden inside the Dr. Henry Jekyll that was our usually blithe Brother Tony?

“If it is not a crime to kill,” he shouted at the class in a strangely creepy voice, “I will murder all of you!”

His rage dissipated almost as quickly as it came. When he recovered his composure, he wanted to know what could have caused the fiasco of the prayer service earlier. I have this vague recollection of being among those who stood up to explain that the confusion might have been caused by his writing of “Our Father” on the board.

Ah well… My classmates and I still laugh about that incident on the rare occasions we get together to this very day.


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