I went to public schools for 14 years, from elementary to tertiary. I am from a small island in the Philippines named Siquijor, and I live in one of its town, called Lazi. I went to the public elementary school there. There was no private elementary school at that time. And even if there was, the education I got from my public elementary school was probably at par with, or even better than, the education I would have received in a private school there. My former teachers were dedicated school teachers and experts in their fields. The elementary school is located just across my grandparents’ house where I lived most of the time.
Last May, I took photos of the school for a presentation at an alumni program. Sadly, my presentation, not grand, but still done with love, was not shown because there was no projector. So, I’m showing those photos now, here at the blog. The school buildings are now mostly very dilapidated, and the fountain located at the center of the school is now in ruins.
The photo above is the learning center. It was also our classroom for history and Physical Education because our teacher for both subjects were one and the same, the formidable Mrs. Calunod, my Mama Eting. In this building, we learned to dance the cha-cha-cha, Lazi’s favorite dance, and many other folk dances, with our plain white shirts and blue bloomers.
This is the Home Economics Building where I learned many things, including sewing, crocheting, embroidery, food and nutrition, cooking, cross-stitching and loving the vegetable squash when our teacher, Mrs. Siong, taught us how to make squash okoy and squash maja. I can still vividly remember that day we made squash maja, promise. At the back of this building is a stair, part of an old building which was used by the Japanese to kill people.
When I was still a pupil here, the area where the gardens are located used to be a playground where boys would play baseball, soccer and all kinds of sports. We would also play dakop2x, Japanese game, and slipper game. Sometimes, the ground would also be used for just hanging out. I remembered we used to just sit in the grass and talk about anything, including our crushes. The fountain that is now in ruins. The fountain has four pathways, and my favorite was the one in the east, I don’t know why. And I’m always scared to use the one in the west. LOL. Back in the day, this fountain was full of water, we used to wash our rags and our lunch boxes at the back. The fountain also had fishes and moss. Our Industrial Arts room where I memorized different tools. Nope, I could no longer remember most of them but our teacher, Mr. Calunod, my Papa Dosoy, made us memorize them because he’d quizz us every now and then. After lunch, we would visit the tamarind tree at the back of our Grade IV classroom and ask our boys to give us ripe sampaloc to eat. In the small space between our classroom and the Industrial Arts building, we played halap-halap. Ahh. The mango trees. The trees that probably heard too many dreams and sighs. And whispered, don’t worry, everything’s going to be fine, you are going to make it. We played and hang-out a lot under these trees, whose shades never failed to comfort us.
My former teachers had an obsession with flowers. Each classroom has a garden in front, and we would be tending a lot of flowers and plants. Watering, cleaning and caring for them every morning before we start our classes and in the afternoon after our classes. I think the teachers had a a sort-of competition on who has the best garden because no two garden was exactly alike. I remembered our Grade III garden had stone around each plant. But my favorite among all those gardens was our Grade VI garden. Because it had grass all over and we could sit down and relax (like what they do in A Secret Garden) when our teacher would not be watching.
The school has been there since time immemorial. Well, maybe not time immemorial, but before my grandmother was born, and I hope the school would continue to flourish, and not diminish, through the coming years.