High school Days Gone By

In keeping with my mission to put on record some of my life events here in hopes that someday my son would want to know what her mother was like in her younger years, I’ve decided to push through with this post about my early teenage life, specifically my high school days in an all-girl Catholic school. Nothing spectacular took place during that period. I was just your average student, girl next door type. I never kept a diary so I’ll just state some facts I still remember from that era randomly.

Me in the red circle. Funny that we never got the chance to use the swimming pool in my four years there.

Things I loved: Beautiful, well-kept gardens (which we weren’t allowed to walk into), Art class, kind and amiable teachers, Music class, Drama club, our well-stocked library, lionhearted girls, colorful posters of teen heartthrobs like Shaun Cassidy, Parker Stevenson, etc., Mills & Boon love story pocketbooks, P.E. activities.

Things I Hated: writing term papers, girl to girl cattiness, terror teachers, daily morning flag ceremony, everyday mass, Bible study, loud motor-mouthed classmates who simply crave attention.

– I sometimes “cut classes” because the class was too boring. I’d run to the nearest huge grocery store beside our school and spend an hour or two there. I can’t remember now how I was able to do that despite the security guards stationed at the front gates.

– I was guilty of daydreaming for hundreds of hours in total during classes where the teacher would discuss lessons that were of no interest to me. Subjects in particular: Religion, Chemistry, Statistics, Trigonometry.

– I enjoyed my Physical Education activities and did well at track & field and basketball. Ditto for our C.A.T. activities that had us marching like soldiers dressed in dark green polos and pants.

– It still baffles me why we had to call our every teacher “Miss,” not mam or madam.

– I’d wake up very early to be able to attend the 5:30 a.m. mass intended for the nuns of our school. Their soulful singing of hymns had been a divine way to start my day. Which also meant I often attended mass twice a day. The other one was the compulsory 11 am mass before lunchtime. With that in mind, I sometimes wonder why I didn’t join the nunnery.

– Like most exclusive for girls’ schools, girl to girl relationship had been prevalent. I remember having witnessed a “couple” of schoolmates who French kissed in full view of the class. They did it proudly probably thinking it was a sweet thing to do. I thought it was  “Yucky.” I mean, couldn’t have they done it somewhere more private? I never imagined myself kissing a girl. How is that different from kissing myself in the mirror? Or maybe I just liked boys a lot better. Did I ever wonder what these young female “lovers” do behind closed doors? You bet I did. I didn’t have much idea at that time. But honestly, I wasn’t that interested.

– By the way, I only got to know about the birds and the bees when I reached the end of my freshman year. A classmate pal asked me if I knew how girls get pregnant. My answer: when a boy put his arm around her. (That’s what my mother told me and I believed her!) So my friend laughed at me hysterically and told all our other friends about my naivety. I can’t remember who actually enlightened me with the facts. After learning the truth though, I felt sorry for all my boy playmates whom I kicked hard earlier when they playfully tried to put their arms around me.

– My friends were fond of talking with to me because I wasn’t much of a talker and would just listen to them. Besides, whenever something they said really tickled my funny bone, I’d giggle non-stop.

– Some girls could be silly funny. “Your hair looks shiny and smooth. Do you use any special type of oil for it?” was my casual question to a classmate one day. “Yeah, cooking oil.” was her deadpan answer. Crazy conversation like that. Joke stories about nuns and priests had been passed around a lot too. But I’ll stop right here as my son is a lot more religious than me.

– I’ve got to admit boys are a hundred times funnier than girls though. My brother is probably one of the funniest people in the world. I would often laugh myself to tears with his ad-libs. It puzzles me where he could have gotten his brand of humor as both my parents aren’t the hilarious kind.

– Trying out for the Glee club, I passed the vocal and dance auditions held by the music teachers, only to be eliminated days after by the “cool girls” (longtime members) who acted as the final judges. I was utterly disappointed. They probably thought I wasn’t fashionable or popular enough to become part of their club.

– I wrote a few cheesy poems that got published in our school paper. My real purpose then was to see my name in print. That’s all. On the whole, it made me proud and happy.

– The library was my most favorite place inside the school. I wish I could say I spent time reading the classics there. I didn’t. Instead, when I dropped by after class, I’d start pulling out colorful books on geography and leafed through breathtaking shots of skies and sceneries.

– I envied those girls who could talk back to the nuns and terror teachers. We called them “girls with balls.”

– I didn’t like “interaction” parties arranged by my schoolmates. Some of the girls acted weird around boys.

– During sophomore year, a boy who was my best friend’s brother came to like me but I couldn’t like him because he wasn’t movie star handsome. (Yes, I was that shallow. I hate myself now) Without my knowledge, he tried to do my term paper by actually handwriting it. Total: 50 beautifully handwritten pages. There was no computer yet and I believe the boy didn’t have a typewriter then. I returned the papers to him because I had already started typing mine. Thinking about it now, that had been really nice of him. Now you have an idea why I was sentenced by the heavens to eternal singlehood on earth. I was a bad girl. 🙂

I was a junior student during my elder sister’s highschool graduation.(me on the right)

Education In Its Essence

For factors heavily driven by market forces rather than by true callings, the three most popular college courses young people have swarmed into in the last decade here are nursing, computer science and criminology. It backfired though when a surfeit of nurses and security personnel/watchmen emerged as a consequence after their supply overlapped the demand for them. Same can be said for the manpower resources in the business outsourcing industry. We are in a stage of societal evolution where everything is measured in market values. What then will become of education when all things monetary eclipse the urge for deeper learning and culture-enhancement?

My son is entering his fifth and last year in his engineering studies, majoring in a field of his own choosing. I originally had wanted Music to become his lifelong career because he exhibited some talent in playing the piano and the guitar in his earlier years. But (unfortunately for me) it was not meant to be. He had already made his choice then and was adamant about it even before I had the chance to convince him to make a go in the field of Arts. With a heavy heart, I bent to his wish. Nonetheless, I’ve always carried this belief that Science and Math are the tools for living while Music and the Arts are the reasons for living.

As this week marks the opening of another school year in our nation where education is considered a federal priority, I find myself rapt in thought, ruminating on a few educational philosophies of life. There are questions that have fermented in my consciousness for the past several days.

Is there an assurance that my son will go the right path and never lose his way? He’s naturally God-fearing that goes side by side with his having an academic nature. I am thankful for that. But what guarantee do I have that he won’t get sidetracked in the long run?

So when is a person deemed to be truly educated? I guess my simple mind can only allow me concise and upfront answers to these issues. Is it enough that a well-refined mind be able to recite verses from Shakespeare’s tales? Have a deep appreciation for classical symphonies and concertos? Aim for and achieve success through accumulation of liquid wealth, medals, stuff and sundry representation of riches?

Sometimes high literacy also tends to give a false illusion that we are in an elite league of our own. Members of society that have become so out of touch by the way.

Does having an MBA or PHD in an area of specialization, for example, give one a license to be highly discriminating and spit out arcane rhetoric with accompanying judgment without basis or proof? Thereby cementing the conviction about his or her perception being flawless, never susceptible to distortion? Is there nary a room now for misconceptions? Scholarly hubris often blinds someone to the realities of his or her surroundings I guess. If education is supposed to sharpen one’s awareness and intellect, how come many of us get clueless as to what is real and what is not? This is kind of distressing.

You can be anything you want to with the right amount of education. Therein lounges (a little?) some danger. The mind can be such a powerful tool. Knowledge has the ability to twist the truth and even concoct something invisible to our naked eyes. We have to be reminded history has produced a multitude of malefactors despite the high level of intelligence and incredible credentials they possess out of their advanced schooling. Having exceptional intelligence and being well-schooled doesn’t make one resistant to temptations and incapable of violating codes of conduct or committing acts of transgression.  Technology, the end result of all those knowledge explosion, ironically gets to be an accessory in the process.

Education makes a whole lot of difference. That is an incontestable fact. Moral education then should therefore be considered a national priority to help create conscientious, civic-minded and responsible citizens. I’ve never been a deeply religious person and yet I’ve begun to discern the importance of religion and education working hand in hand in character building and the overall progress of a nation. Much as serious problems have consistently hounded our educational system, it may be fundamental after all for Church-run or other religion-run schools to keep a dominant presence in our society so that they may be able to help in molding our young citizens into becoming better human beings.