Archive for the ‘childhood’ Category

Remember the old Balagtasan piece about whose profession is better – doctor, lawyer or teacher? The winner to be declared after the heated exchange of rhyme and meter is the teacher – for the doctor could not be the doctor nor the lawyer be the lawyer without being taught by the teacher.

For roughly 15 years, our lives were touched by these unsung heroes. A year in kindergarten, six in primary, four in secondary and four in college, not to mention additional time for board reviews, masteral or doctoral degrees. While we were still in school, it is safe to say that we spent more time with our teachers than with our parents – especially those whose parents were working.

In salute to our teachers (in and out of school), let me enumerate the top ten best lessons I learned from them:

1. ‘Never believe anyone who is not from DepEd (DECS back then) that there is no class today due to the typhoon.’
I was in first grade then and one rainy morning, my lolo told me that it was announced in the radio that classes were suspended that day. I did not go to school. The following morning, Mrs Pamatmat asked me why was I absent yesterday and I told her that my lolo told me classes were suspended. Her exact words were : ‘bakit, taga PAGASA ba lolo mo?’
Since then, I would always go to school, despite the rain and flood, and I would only believe that classes were indeed suspended if the school guard would not let me in!

2. ‘Your teachers can either build or destroy your talents.’
From first grade to second grade, I was the school’s best in math, until I failed to attend my Math Quiz Bee National Level competition due to a bad tummy. Our school lost and Mrs Cecilia Villanueva blamed me for that. She taunted me for several years until I neglected math completely. I could no longer answer the simplest algebraic problem. It was at the same time when Mrs Santos, our English teacher, was so kind to me. My math brain gave way to my English brain.
I am now very good in English but poor in Math. Two teachers. One who destroyed. One who rebuilt.

3. ‘GMRC stands for Good Manners and Right Conduct, not Silence.’
My grade in GMRC from Grade 1 to 5 never reached higher than 85%. In my sixth grade, it went up to 95%. Mrs Carmelita Villanueva (sister of Mrs Cecilia), our class adviser, said that being a good person does not mean being silent all the time. Oftentimes, good people speak up to defend the truth and the righteous. Since then, I know, I am a good person. I am just so talkative!

4. ‘Friends are nice to have, but they do not hand you the diploma.’
My sophomore year in high school was my most rebellious time. I have friends from all sections, from all year levels. I cut classes bragging that I am bright enough to pass the exams without studying. Then my grades started falling. It was too late. I dropped from being first honor to second honor just within a quarter of year of not taking my subjects seriously. I had many friends, but I almost failed out of high school. It was Mrs Ortiz who brought me back to my senses.

5. ‘You are not poor in Math Scott, you are just too lazy to study it.’
It was Mrs Bernardo speaking. Telling me how she believes I have potential to be good in Calculus (hello, algebra nga nose bleed na, Calculus pa!) if I only put my heart into it. She asked me to teach Calculus Functions to another class with her observing from the back of the class. I prepared for a week, read four books, prepared materials and tests. Surprisingly, I did understand the topic.
For that, I took up Accounting. And passed the Board Exams, even if I know I am not very good in math.

6. ‘Not because you don’t speak their language means they are below you.’
Mr Pacelli was our gay Literature professor. He asked us to say two sentences to describe our most favorite literary piece. I told them about The Boomerang Clue by Agatha Christie. My gay classmate described his favorite in gay lingo. I laughed at him. Our professor asked me what was funny and I said I find it funny because though I am gay, too, I do not understand nor speak gay lingo.
He told the class but everyone is unique and we would have differences. And those alone are not enough to judge if someone is better than the other. From then on, I never looked down on people who are different from me, but instead been curious to learn about what they know.

7. ‘Your good English will bring you somewhere, but your good sense will bring you anywhere.’
Atty Cahayon was our Law professor for almost all our Law subjects in college. His style includes having a short quiz before he starts discussing the lesson. Our grades were based primarily on objective exams and only a little portion on recitation. He taught me that the untrained brain can be fooled by sweet words but only the learned mind can be impressed by sensible arguments.

8. ‘Not all teachers have to be as bright as Einstein to be good teachers, they just have to have the heart to be so.
My older sister, sadly, is not as bright as I am academically. She never finished college as she lost interest for I was about to graduate ahead of her despite having three academic years of difference in high school.
But she was the one who taught me how to write. She was the one who taught me how to read. She was the one who taught me how to speak English.
Without her, I would not have been as good as I am now.

9. ‘Not all gays should work in parlors only. Your son is gay, the more you should take care of him so he won’t suffer the society’s stereotype.’
The words of my lolo on his deathbed speaking to my mom about me. Although I do not look down on our sisters who work in the aesthetic industry, I am glad I was given the chance to conquer industries dominated by heterosexuals. And my lolo taught me how to fight to become a better man.

10. ‘Money can’t love.’
The best teacher of all times – my mom. She brought us up in humble ways. She borrowed money and exerted effort to pay every single centavo back. I used to question how come we lived so poorly. She always told us that no matter how much money you have, you can’t buy respect, admiration and love.
Yes, I value money. Pero alam ko wala akong mabibiling de-latang pagmamahal sa grocery.
I owe that to my mom.

I hope, in my more than 20 years of living, someone, somewhere, believes that I taught him or her something of value, that is worth teaching forward.


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Game and Watch

I have no qualms about my age so I would admit that one of the hot toys when I was still a kid was Nintendo Entertainment System! This is the very old play station which has a big box where two handheld control thingy are attached to and where a beta-max looking ‘bala’ is inserted in its port.

Please forgive my insane description of how Nintendo looked like for I only saw and used them a couple of times and I never had one myself.

Toys such as this are very expensive back then and my family could not afford such a luxury. And besides, my lola would often tell us – ‘aksaya sa kuryente’ (waste of electricity) so we never had it. My brother and my sister would always be excited to be invited to our richer cousins’ house to play Nintendo, I begged off most of the times to read books. Boring, yeah, but I never really enjoyed playing computer games.

But there was one digital game that I enjoyed playing when I was a kid – Popeye (or was it Goofy) catching falling eggs from chicken nests! It was the game on the Game & Watch toys each of my brother and sister and I have.

I suddenly remembered about this when I saw what my nephew was playing with last weekend. He was using it as platform for his building blocks!

The Game & Watch toys no longer work and I think no longer can be repaired. But no one dares throw them away for these are little things that remind us of how our childhood had been so similar yet so different from those of our age.

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After writing about my childhood Thursdays, here comes my childhood Tuesdays (and wait till I get to complete the week!) which has almost the same format as the predecessor post.

This time, allow me to start telling you what I did on Tuesdays after school. I was in primary school then ad being a public school in the city, classes are either in the morning or in the afternoon – doing so would ensure more classes held in the limited classrooms. The honor sections from Grades 1 to 2 were in the morning and those from Grades 3 to 6 were in the afternoon. The timing of this post was when I was in Grade 2, morning schedule.

I’d be home before lunch after my lola has fetched me from school. I was not allowed to go to school by myself (I was always with my brother and sister) and go home from school myself (either my lola or older cousin would fetch me). Upon reaching home, I’d quickly change into my house clothes as wearing your uniform at home will ruin it according to my lola. Then a quick lunch would soon follow and up to my lola’s bed to do the siesta (afternoon sleep) beside her.

I’d wake up at around 4am in time to watch That’s Entertainment with my favorite aunt who was still single and in college then. I enjoyed watching and dreaming about Jovit Moya and Romnick Sarmienta (though I am not sure if they belonged to the Tuesday Group). I would be watching with giggles while I read my notes and do my assignments. After watching Kuya Germ’s teen show, the dial would be turned from Channel 7 to Channel 2 of the black and white television set we had that was kept inside its own cabinet.

By 5.30, the show was Hoy Gising! with Ted Failon and Korina Sanchez and Kris Aquino. I would always be excited to hear the news on the environment which usually showed videos of animals in the wild. Time flies so fast that it was TV Patrol’s turn to reign on our TV screen. Noli de Castro, Mel Tiangco, Francis Evangelista and Angelique Lazo would deliver news for an hour. It was also the same time as our dinner with my brother and sister with our nightly lessons on Spanish words from our lolo.

After TV Patrol, I think the next show was Palibhasa Lalake with Richard Gomez, Joey Marquez, Gloria Romero, Amy Perez and Cynthia Patag. Cynthia was my most favorite and I dreamed of one day to become as articulate as she was on the show, sans the stuffed bunny!

Then Palibhasa would give way to the Diamond Star’s Maricel Drama Anthology, a weekly dose of drama and comedy. I love Maria and her antics and raised eyebrows. Her lines ran in my head for so long it seemed to have been inculcated in my mind so much that it has become part of me without even remembering it was from Maria.

The usual weekday shows would soon be followed by The World Tonight which I noticed was the English version of TV Patrol with more emphasis on business and economy and less on show business.

Late night current affairs for Tuesday was Loren Legarda’s The Inside Story where she exposed the biggest and most pressing issues of the times – child prostitution in Subic and insurgency in Mindanao.

I would be very sleepy by this time, and it was time to go to bed, sleep but without failing to dream that one day, Romnick would come and sweep me off my feet!

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Childhood Thursdays

I am usually stretched every Thursday – stretched towards the weekends, stretched back by the unfinished work of the week. This is usually my Thursday when I started working. When I was young, Thursday was my second most favorite day – for several reasons.

First, there was Home Along Da Riles. Oh yeah, I have always been thrilled to see Dolphy’s old school antics and jokes. Perhaps because I was very young then that’s why I found their jokes to be very amusing. I remember Nova Villa’s character as the sour sister-in-law who was supposed to have married Kevin Kosme but Kevin made a mistake when he eloped with Nova’s twin sister! And of course, there is the character of Steve, played by Bernardo Bernardo. One time, a prankster in school greeted me a happy birthday and I told him, smiling, that it was not my birthday yet. And he was so smiling. Later that night, the episode was about Bernardo’s character’s birthday! I never thought of that! If I am not mistaken, their show starts at 7PM, exactly after TV Patrol. I would always be in front of the old TV screen in our home in San Juan, with my lolo and lola sitting on their sofa chairs on the other end of the room and my lola would always reprimand me whenever my guffaws were too loud!

After Home Along Da Riles, I remember the next show was Maalaala Mo Kaya hosted by Charo Santos-Concio. We always make a spoof of Charo in school, of course, with me playing the host’s role complete with a potted plant placed on top of a rickety public school table! The show’s stories (sometime I doubt if they were really written by real people or just plain fiction) touched my heart so many times that after being scolded by my lola for laughing out loudly, she would next reprimand me for sobbing! One extra memorable episode then was, if I remember it right, Medalya, with Tessie Tomas and Manilyn Reynes. Manilyn was an honor student and Tessie was her mom. They were impoverished so Tessie has to take several jobs to make ends meet. I remember her preparing ground pork for embutido so Manilyn can continue her studies. Manilyn was the family’s ticket out of poverty. But Manilyn learned the usual ways of teens – barkada, lakwatsa, inom – which eventually led to her academic downfall. Tessie was so stricken about what happened, she lost her sanity.

Perhaps I was touched by this episode, more than the others, because I myself have to go through scholarships to finish school. My mom, too, has to take several jobs, including making and selling embutido, to make ends meet. But I foresaw the effects of teen desires – I was afraid to disappoint my mom, my family. That episode scared the hell out of me, I never really felt how it was like to be a normal, erring, teen. I just do not know if that was something good or bad.

Anyway, after MMK, I would continue watching the World Tonight with Tina Palma and Angelo Castro. After being scolded by my lola, my lolo would then praise me for at such a young age, I was able to appreciate hard news in English at that.

Then my mom would be home from work by then, and if lucky, I can still watch Assignment (I think the show was on Thursday evenings) with Teddy Boy Locsin, Jr. Aside from having a crush on him (I have a thing for older men), their stories were really relevant. One story that I remember the most was when they had this expose about actresses and actors doing prostitution on the side lines and they had an expose about a hot actress then who was about to do the ‘paid thing’. I am not sure if it was Ynez Veneracion but it was someone popular. Now, I remember the case not because of Ynez (my gulay) but because of the hidden camera inside the hotel room! Wang-wang! Never do your deeds in places where cameras can be put in hiding! In short, just be careful where you do it!

Next show would be 700 Club Asia and now it was time to sleep! But I remember a joke in The Firm then that since people do not sleep and get home during the wee hours of the morning, we no longer talk about who did what in Koreanovelas but who said what in 700 Club Asia!

Those were my Thursdays but now, my Thursdays are filled with work to do and not much local show to watch. Thank goodness, there’s cable TV!

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Merry Christmas

Now, Christmas is near
Be glad and do not fear
For the spirit of giving
Is fast approaching!

A stanza from my entry in 4th grade inter-school poem writing contest in San Juan which gave me the first place prize and the chance to represent San Juan in the PAMARISAN level in which I placed third.

Pasko na sinta ko
Hanap-hanap kita
Bakit magtatampo
Iniwan ako

Until I turned 19, I dreaded Christmas. Back then, Christmas was a time for people to show off their new clothes, for uncles and aunts to show their favoritism of nephews and nieces through very nice gifts, for me to skulk in one corner of the big living room, for my cousins to make fun of my effeminate nature.

Christmas used to be a time for lovers, for those with money to spend.

From September to February, I would be in hibernation – the start of the Yuletide season, my birthday in November, Valentine’s in February – occasions which made me sad, I have no one to love and love me back.

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir
And folks dressed up like Eskimos

Since James came into my life, I saw the world in a better perspective. For the first time in my life, Christmas was something to look forward to. Christmas was a time to share. To spend more time with family and friends. Christmas is the best time to show how much you love someone.

James is not the reason why Christmas is important for me. But he showed me the reasons why I should enjoy the holidays and be thankful for what I have.

Today is officially the start of the Filipino Christmas and I am very excited!

Pasko na naman
O kay tulin ng araw
Paskong nag daan
Tila ba kung kalian lang

To everyone, Merry Christmas!

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We will be having a party this Saturday at home – for my nephew’s baptismal and my favorite cousin’s 8th birthday. My mom has been preparing for this for months now, buying the needed additional wares one by one and deliberating on the menu.

As part of the preparation, James and I moved the big potted plants around the garage to have some space for the additional tables and chairs for the party. Then I noticed that several leaves of my beautiful heart-shaped leaf gabi had been torn. I suspect that a caterpillar ate the leaves and I was right. With the use of a tingting, James carefully got the caterpillar and placed it on the leaf of a banana plant in a vacant lot beside our home.

I am afraid of caterpillars as once I saw a classmate suffer from allergic reactions to its hair when he tried to collect it for a science project. Valuing my skin, I dare not touch any caterpillar.

But these awful-looking creatures would soon turn into beautiful butterflies. Like some people I know. Or once knew. They started out really awful – spoiled brats with big attitude. Like caterpillars, they devoured money and other persons’ happiness. Now, they’re no longer the bratinellos and bratinellas but they turned out to be mature, kind individuals.

In my case, it is the reverse. I was born very beautiful, cherubic if I may say so. My skin was milky white, my curly locks were golden, my eyelashes very long, my stare very affectionate, yearning. Then the cherub grew to be a falcon. The same milky white skin gave way to thinner built, the golden locks turned deep brown and got straightened (for reasons I do not know), the long eyelashes now outline the sharp eyes that has long cut the throats of annoying people who deserve this falcon’s glare.

But that is just superficial. I used to be very kind. Very timid. Very shy. I was the butt of jokes and I accepted and forgave all pranks against me. Until one day, I got out of the cocoon, with fangs and claws, moving swiftly to strike the person who has the guts to go against me. Words and intelligence became my power. My thoughts moved from the innocent longing for sweet things to hunger for revenge.

I was born a butterfly. And then I turned to a maggot.

But my plight is far better than some. Born as wriggling maggots, feasting on rotten flesh, only to turn into flies, harboring diseases, instrumental to the non-stop cycle of metamorphosis. The people who was born to inflict pain on others, only to grow worse, and give birth to next generation of tormentors.

But my cycle is not yet complete. After passing the board exams, the less-than-100-pounds frame grew to a normal 150 pounds. Muscles were starting to form. The fangs are slowly but surely being fixed by expensive orthodontic devices. Skin is still milky white with support from the latest creams in the market. The hunger for revenge is slowly being replaced by the hunger to help. To be of relevance to the society.

The nights of plots becomes the nights of prayers. And sometimes, of some good loving.

As the cycle never stops, my transformation shall continue, moving from the cherubic baby I once was, to the harpy villain of my school days, to the graceful maturing towards the late twenties.

Be there when it happens, when I unveil the new me. The new Scott Andrada!

Dumbbells: “Bubuhatin mo ba ako o mage emote ka dyan sa salamin buong araw!”

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I went to a college friend’s birthday party last Saturday and instead of having the usual party with friends and families, her VIP guests were kids from the neighborhood! It was like attending a children’s party and I felt so old! But we had fun as James and I got to meet three of our college best pals and we only get to see each other twice a year!

Before calling it a day, one of our friends, Madame President (MP) for she was our class president in college, asked me what is my love language? I was like ‘what are you saying?’

She went on to explain that we all ‘speak’ of love in different ways – different ways of showing and feeling it. According to her which was according to a book and a couple she met before, there are five love languages – words of affirmation, physical touch, receiving gifts, acts of service and quality time (see http://www.5lovelanguages.com).

She went further to briefly explain that she is for the words of affirmation – love is shown when it is spoken of. Physical touch is, of course, when you feel loved when you are touched (wag naughty!) while receiving gifts equates love with the presents you receive (start singing Madonna’s Material Girl). Acts of service is when you do services for your loved ones (picture the pagsisibak ng kahoy) and quality time is when you spend valued time with you loved ones.

The choice is very clear to me – receiving gifts! She went to ask again how to I express my love for others and I said the same answer – receiving gifts. MP said that it is possible to have different answers – you might love by words of affirmation but you want to be loved by physical touch.

I show love by giving gifts, not necessarily of value, but something I put so much thought into, and I oftentimes, equate love with the things people give me, again, not necessarily of monetary value, but something they went out of their way to procure, for me, just for me.

MP said that sometimes, our love language shows a peek into what we lacked back when we were still kids. She went for the bulls-eye! I super agree. I was not born into a rich family but an upper middle-class family who taught me the value of money and how unimportant it is by itself but how important the things money can buy – things that can help your family.

Whenever I was brought to malls by my aunts and uncles, I was trained never to ask anyone for something I want them to buy for me. I was even trained not to stare on something lest people realize that I like that for myself. I never made tantrums in malls and groceries. My usual answer when people asked me what I wanted to eat was ‘kahit ano po’ and I always been very thankful for them without looking pathetic.

When I grew up, had my own job and earning money, I had the sense that money is indeed not important but the things it can buy. Every payday, I make sure that my money is spent on things my family needs and wants. That is how I show my love for them.

Since I was trained not to ask anything from anyone, I feel utter joy when someone gives me something well thought of. I really do not want to be presented with Cartier diamond rings, or LV luggage with my name imprinted on its golden locks, or a malamute puppy (hindi, hindi ko talaga sila gusto!) but I am happy when I receive donuts from Krispy Kreme when I meet James after work, or pasalubong na wooden stuff from an out-of-town trip by a friend, or one sack of garden soil from my mom from her Sunday market shopping.

I was not raised with a silver spoon in my mouth, nor am I living with one now. Money, wealth, fortune, are things I do not have. Sometimes, I am even living by the paycheck that is why I give so much importance on something I want to give to someone I love. It will definitely not be from something illegal but the money that was used to buy it was well worked hard for.

Call me materialistic. Call me maka-mundo. But you will know that I love you if I spend money on you. Because it is something I never had lots of, and probably never will, so what little I have, I give it to you.

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