Thursday, 29 March 2012

Letters from Port Moresby

      Tintin works on the color printer at home for her class project. – MWBuzpic by 

       Tintin proudly displays a certificate recognizing her top performance during the 
       school year 2011-12. She is among the Top 10 in Grade V batch at the Colo     
       Elementary  School, in Baranggay Colo, Dinalupihan, Bataan. Happily looking on 
       is her Mama Raquel, her mommy's elder sister, who has raised her since she was a 

Recognition Day: My daughter Tintin in Top 10

Batch ’65 – JPHS
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

MY 10-year-old daughter relayed through her cell phone the good news: She’s among the top ten in Grade V who will march up the stage come Recognition Day on Friday.

Happily, Tintin said she has snatched the 6th place, although she was aiming for the first.

“Whatever happened,” I told her, “your being on Top 10 of the Grade V batch” – overall – of the Colo Elementary School in
Baranggay Colo outside Dinalupihan town, “is really great”.

This school year, there are eight Grade V classes of about 400 pupils.

“Don’t feel bad, anak … what is important is that you did your best …”

She said, apologetically,: “Eh daddy, sobrang galing po ‘yung mga kalaban ko this year … at isa pa, may absent ako sa class namin this school year …:”

I assured here that as her Dad, I am very happy about her feat and very proud of being her dad.

I understood her excuse, which, also, was her personal disappointment.

The previous year, she was the overall No. 2 in the entire Grade IV, out of more than 300 pupils.

Just to think that she was away from school for more than a month after she had a freak accident that injured her spinal column and caused her to limp for more than six months.

But she got back on top in no time.

When she came back to class, she showed the intensity of her desire to get back at the opposition in her class, scoring high marks in periodic exams and division exams, in which all schools within the School Division in Bataan province competed.

Despite her slight limp, which -- thank God -- was fixed after more than six months of Saturday therapy sessions in Olongapo City with a PT, she managed to join a number of extra curricular activities, including Girl Scouting, sports and music club where she played banduria and xylophone in a drum-and-bugle corps.

This school year, she and her competition in Grade V, along with top students in Grade VI delivered high marks in the recent Bataan School Division examination, landing her baranggay school in 2nd place overall, enthralling all their teachers.

Of course, this year’s competition to earn high marks (apart from periodic tests results) in Grade V is really tough.

Teachers would no longer be happy to see a pupil submitting research works in black and white prints – they should be in living color.

And those who are in competition for honors had seen to it that they delivered their homework just that – in living color.

And such research works are no longer done in the library but at home – via the Internet and DVDs of encyclopedia.

Aware of these teacher’s idiosyncrasies, I made it a point that Tintin got her unlimited Internet access at home, backed up by an efficient computer set, DVDs of encyclopedia, a stack of print paper and a color printer.

And aware that her competition was in every school activity – translation: extra-curricular activities – she made it a point that she joined most of them, too – from on-stage fashion modeling, sports competition, musical activities (banduria class), provincial class tours to the most important of all – Girl Scouting.

11-year-old Tintin during their Recognition Day ... happy as can be
All this I knew.

A school kid in the 50s at the Jose Panganiban Elementary School (JPES), I had my own battle with my competition in our class, of which I dominated. (JP was then a bustling fishing-iron-and-gold mining town in Camarines Norte.)

From Grade 1 to Grave IV, I lord it over, so to speak.

But in Grade V, I settled for No. 2, and in the next school year, ended up delivering the graduation speech, being the batch’s salutatorian.

My fiercest competition and my childhood best friend – Oscar Baliwag – had kept me on the second slot from Grade V to Grade VI.

We tied in everything that we did in school – periodical exams, division exams, class projects, extra curricular activities that included Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting, and in terms of “teachers’ cheering squad” if we are to consider this (may kanya-kanya kaming cheering squads among our teachers who rooted for us.)

When the time to decide who would be the valedictorian of our graduating class (1960) – and the choice was narrowed down to me and Oscar – there had been arguments among class advisers and teachers who handled us during the year.

Our teachers in Grade V were also consulted just to come up with a solid decision.

Oscar and I tied neatly in every aspect – from our behavior as pupils to our attitude towards our lessons, from extra curriculars to academic performances. Those who were consulted to review our school records had no arguments after that.

Oscar and I went neck-and-neck.

Then, when the Principal brought about the issue of our residence in school from Grade 1 to Grade VI, the balance was tipped.

The so-called committee named to deliberate on who should be the year’s valedictorian, found something “incriminating” in my academic records.

The panel discovered that when I was in Grade IV, I was away from school for ONE MONTH. This was the time when our young family went for a month-long holiday in Iloilo province at my mother’s hometown in Pototan.

With my lack of school residency being in the open, and therefore a big minus, the panel had no trouble this time naming Oscar as the school year’s Valedictorian.

I was made to deliver the Graduation Speech, but it’s a job a Salutatorian usually does.

AS a dad just like you and him, seeing his/her child slugging it out on the way to the top of the class pyramid has always been exciting.

Tintin’s achievement this school year is something I would always be proud of, hence this little story.

And for her feat, I promised her a touch screen cell phone!

       Tintin (centre) with dad APH and mommy Ann Q Ferrer during an outing at SM San 
       Fernando City last year.

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