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The Curious Case of the Classes



My heart goes out to the kid who was struggling to recite the multiplication table of 6 before the rest of the campus early birds. I could feel you, boy. I could hear the cry for one more day in his juvenile voice. It was a good thing that only a part of the city suffered power interruption before the first day of classes. At least, many households could wash and iron those school uniforms for the day after. I remember, several years back, some legislators have been proposing for the school year to start on September instead of June because of… I guess, because that’s how Americans do it. Well, guess what? They finally got what they were asking for, although we didn’t intend it to get it this way.


Interestingly, Bicol schools (or at least those that participate in the Penafrancia parades) will definitely have an extraordinary experience with the rumbling, shaky start of the school year. You see, back in the middle of July when the kids should have been enjoying a short vacation away from school, the rehearsals for drum and lyre corps, boy scouts and girl scouts, Voyadores Festival dancers and oh, there’s one more, the school mass demonstration participants have started. Of course, those have continued through the weeks until today. Of course, they would continue practicing even as classes start. The drummers, lyre players, horn players, majorettes, scouts, and dancers will be pulled from their classes to polish their performance for that big parade in the middle of September. Sure, not every pupil or student in school is a drummer, scout or dancer, and the rest could focus on their classes as they should. Imagine trying your best to do that while your schoolmates are banging away just a few meters from your classroom window. Good for you if you got a campus as big as UPLB. For anyone who has taken part in any sort of performance competition, you should be practicing all the more as the big day approaches. I guess, as the date draws nearer, they should be playing, marching, dancing harder, starting earlier and ending later. Some of them would even join the parade in Calabanga. As the lessons get rolling and the teachers and students get the hang of it, the momentum gets suspended because on the second Friday of the new school year, a week-long holiday starts. Hurray for the holidays! Go figure. It’s going to be more a carnival than the carnivals downtown. Then, only on the fourth week of school would the students be able to pick up where they left off (that’s assuming, they were able to go and leave at some point) and finally focus on what they were in school for in the first place.


I guess, this is an expression of religious devotion. But is it really so? Somehow, it brings an air of festivity among the children. Does it really? What are you tiring yourself for, boy?


This is what a September starting school year looks like. Of course, this applies only in Bicol. I suppose, they don’t have the same concerns anywhere else in the country.


How did we get here? Primarily, it’s the pandemic that delayed the start of classes some three years ago. It’s the tradition. Of course, we couldn’t reset September. It’s the desire, need, will, trend, advocacy, aspiration, determination (whatever you may call it) to join the fray, not to miss out, and hopefully gain recognition, get some gold; that we forget what really matters in the first place. So much focus on food preparation has overshadowed nutrition.


Perhaps, the same essence drives a person to take arms and pull the trigger on a barangay leader who resolves to run again on the next election. Maybe, he or they have struggles within. Maybe, it’s the tradition to be on top , to spread influence or power without opposition or interference that shoves one to swipe someone else’s life aside. Shouldn’t the barangay hall be modestly focused on keeping the community clean and orderly? Should it not be making sure that the lamp posts light up at night and the dogs don’t go astray at night? But I guess some feathers could have been trampled on in some conflict resolution meeting. Maybe, some other individuals would want a smoother road to power or position. Was it not all about community? It should not be any sort of vanity.


Zechariah 8:21: “The inhabitants of one [city] will go to another, saying, “Let us go at once to ask the favor of the Lord and to seek the Lord of hosts.”

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