HIGH SCHOOL DAYS IN MY MIND
One of Sharon Cuneta’s hit song in late 70s was “High School Life” where the melody began with “Highschool life, oh my high school life, ev’ry memory ay kay ganda; high school days, oh my high school days, are exciting kay saya…” Well, she was right.
High school is almost everything. It shatters innocence. It demystifies myths about almost everything. In high school, confidence is high; friendship is almost at par with family, and life force is greater than anything bizarre. During those times, I knew nothing about threats and all I knew was my invincibility. I cared little about my health, welfare and the future. For me, everything is to be lived at the present time. That was during my high school days.
(I was in front row, fourth from the left.)
Graduating in elementary was fulfilling since it ushered the end of days of virtuousness. No more childhood batting. No more childish fixation. It was more on being treated nearly as adults.
Entering a new school however was a sickening period to start with. My mother enrolled me at nearby private school Roosevelt Memorial High School. (The school, a couple of years ago, was torn down already.) There was only one classmate in the elementary (Malou de los Santos) and a neighbor (Elmer Moreno) to make my first year high school environment- friendly. It was an absolute adjustment period. New faces, new milieu, new setting, almost everything was new.
I got my first academic medal (Salutatorian/ Second Honor) during my first year in High school. My elementary years were spent in public school hence my secondary education, my mother believes, should best be in private. She was right. I got recognition and became an honor student.
Well, my father was not impressed. He thought that since I was a nobody in elementary; the private school may be hallucinating in granting me a high grade. My father, despite his suspicion, went ahead and pinned me my award during the Recognition Day. Thereafter, however, he sought my transfer to another school—FEU Boy’s High.
(I was on second row, first from the right.)
FEU (Far Eastern University) is one of the country’s top academe where some of the country’s great statesmen graduated. That was where my father wanted me to complete my secondary education. And so, there I was on my third year. I have to commute daily, some 20 kilometers from traffic-infested roads. I have to be early because I entered the ranks of the Junior Police instead of the usual PMT requirement. I was posted always at the entrance gate of high school. And it was there where the bug of being authoritarian had bitten me. I was no longer bullied unlike in earlier years, this time; I was the bully of bullies in the school. I bully no one but only the bullies.
It was in FEU high school that I got to know some talented school mates, like Philippine Tom Jones, I forgot the name lang, and film heartthrob Edgar Mortiz. There were a number of celebrities, mostly in the field of entertainment, choreographers and good dancers all. But what made my schooling more exciting was the fact that my school was virtually enclosed with numerous gambling joints—billiard halls, pula’t puti, honkiangan, alaswerte, huwego, name it, they were all there. My allowance of P5 then could balloon to almost P500 in an instant. Gambling joints hated me. Note that during that time (early 70s) a liter of special gasoline was only P15!
Quezon City, where my town is, was laid back compared to Manila where I became street smart. Where before I was too shy even to ask for directions, my stint in Manila gave me that audacity to explore everything that my eyes could discern.
The silly things, the morbid exposures, the intimidations, the pressures, the gloomy times I had during those times became fodder for my strength, things I needed for my later battles with the demons of reality. It’s just a pity that somewhere along the way; some of my dear friends would wither and fade, addicted to the game of chance, to drugs, booze and vices. The journey started during high school and onwards until the day one’s hair color (or the lack of it) becomes a symbol of wisdom.
How I wish to be reunited, just for a round of coffee, with my former high school classmates but the problem is more on recall. I could no longer remember their names, well most of them, and I could no longer recognize them either even if I would perchance meet them in some alleys in broad daylight. It’s a pity that only a few, less than 10 out of 100, have facebook accounts.
My prayer though is for all of them to be successful in their respective field of endeavors. By now, they should be majestic in their elderly roles at home.