June 24, the feast of St. John, was one of the very few times we were allowed to bathe in the sea (the other time being Good Friday to ward off evil spirits). My grandmother, who was a survivor of a tragic sea accident, never loved the sea and always discouraged us from swimming. Now, a grown up, I don’t have a love affair with the beach, the sea, or the ocean. In fact, I fear it just as I fear heights. Listening to my grandmother’s stories on her ordeal (seeing the eyes of whales, and watching people die and disappear), it’s always at the back of my mind that when Mother Nature unleashes her wrath, no one will be spared. We are at the mercy of no one. So I fear the water.
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.