Friday, November 18, 2016

Pateros Catholic School Memories: Grade School Years 1979 - 1986

This post was originally published from my old blog (that has closed already) back in 2009. I am resurrecting this piece since there will be a grand alumni homecoming of the Pateros Catholic School on December 3, 2016. I mentioned my grade one teacher in this write up. A few years after writing this, I met her at mass in mall in Mandaluyong. Ms. Pagkalinawan, my grade one teacher recognized me and still knew my complete name.

Looking at this retrospective piece, I feel I need to write about my high school memories too. We'll see. The calendar till December is pretty full.

I was a guest speaker/facilitator in a seminar-workshop at my Alma Mater last week. Being in Pateros Catholic School (PCS) after nineteen years was a strange experience. For one, the school changed a lot! It looked small and compact. Two, most of my teachers in grade school and high school have either left or moved on. And three, it felt odd being treated as a guest by my former grade three Reading teacher who is now the school's principal.

But there are so many things to be happy about.

One, my school is already PAASCU accredited. Two, my grade six teacher in Filipino, Mrs. Flery Natividad-Guevara, is now the licensed librarian of the grade school library. Three, I met my batch mate in grade school who teaches there as well. Last, the whole experience of going back and giving back was completing a life cycle.

I've gone full circle. And with it is the remembrance of childhood days spent in the parochial confines of Catholic education.

In grade one, I was the second smallest girl in class. I remember being friends with John-John, a boy who had a runny nose all the time and colored his chickens red. I colored mine brown even though I was very familiar with the story of the Little Red Hen. That Christmas of my first grade in PCS, my teacher, Ms. Pagkalinawan discovered that I could sing. She had me join the annual singing contest where I won second place with my rendition of Silent Night. There was an audition before the contest so I had to regale the judges with the Christmas Alphabet. Thanks to my musically inclined mother and my very artistic aunt. The costume went well with the song choice.

By grade two, my health faltered. I was often absent in class.

It did not improve in third grade, but I managed to work extra hard for missed classes that I reached the top ten of the class. My third grade teacher, Mrs. Aquino, died late that year.

In grade four I made it to the "pilot class" where the smartest and prettiest compete and converge. I wondered what I was doing there but enjoyed the company of the privileged. It was the Bagets year. Aga Muhlach was the poster of that generation. I collected his photos cut from magazines. Raymond Lauchengco and William Martinez suited my fancy as well. Yep. Grade four and a certified fan girl.

Fifth grade had to be the most unforgettable year. I failed Math. Big time. To get a 74 in the report card amongst the best and brightest crushed me completely. Mr. Bautista, my grade five Math teacher taught me a lesson I value to this day -- that one should not sit on one's laurels. I never recovered from my aversion in Math. It shows at my terrible love affair with dates, numbers, scheduling and yes, keeping a budget. But I did understand, only in later years, the meaning of failure and why it is important when you really think about it.

Bouncing back in sixth grade was not easy. Yet, I survived and graduated. Looking back, I learned tenacity and resiliency in PCS earlier on. It is a blessing seeing the worst in me. I came face to face with my own demons but this I realized only recently. It helps me survive. It helps me understand myself more. It helps me overcome them, these demons I call my own.

In retrospect, I had the best teachers in PCS. Mrs. Flery-Natividad Guevara is among them. She was my Filipino teacher and always commented how stylishly written my compositions were though neatness was much to be desired from my formal themes. Apart from this, she stands out because, she has shown her class advisees that the pilot class can be trumped. I did not belong to her homeroom but I was awed when her class, grade six Fortitude won the newspaper drive several times over grade six Love, the "pilot section". What does this experience taught me? That those in the hetero section can rise above mediocrity. With enough determination and focus, the ordinary student can excel in his or her own uniqueness.

Learning does not completely rest on the grades a student gets. My teachers taught me the basics - reading, writing and arithmetic. Best of all, they taught me what life is like and how to live it well. I owe a lot to PCS.

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