When Danao Was My Kind Of Sleepy Small Town Part II

Fri, July 5, 2002  12:22 pm

[Note: Originally posted on Kaming Danawanon, Vol VII, No. 4 Sep 2001.]

There were no tricycles or jeepneys in Danao when I was in third grade.

Only three or four families had a car. In 1959 even Danao’s medical doctors could not afford to buy a car. Drs. Laude, Cola or Tining Canga made their house calls in bicycles.

So, regardless where one lived, could be Barrio Langlang or Pulang Yuta,  young school kids had to walk to school.

We lived in Lapulapu St, barely 400 meters from school, no more than 5 minutes walk. But it took me more than 20 minutes.

Instead of walking by Mabini St., I would take a longer route through the market side at Pio del Pilar St. This way I had the chance to walk along or walk behind Lily Macachor, or at least, with another classmate Hipolito Derecho, whose houses were along Pio del Pilar.

We would be in school by 7:30 a.m. at the designated place in front of the Home Economics building for the flag raising ceremony.

Anyone late for the flag raising would get severe scolding from the teacher or the principal, others got a beating or had to pick the trash.

Exempted from the flag ceremony was my friend Robinson Olivar. His parents were members of the town’s
Jehovah’s Witness and according to them it was wrong to pay homage to the flag. Having a birthday party was also against their religion.

Because it was forbidden by their religion, Robinson was exempt from attending the flag raising.

I was then thinking of becoming a Jehovah’s Witness so I could go to school a little bit late.

Books were provided free of charge, to be returned at the end of the school term.  So, everyone had to have a school bag to protect the books from the elements.

Mama Bening bought me a buri bag when I told her Mrs. Ypil required everyone to have a bag.

Unlike today’s Jansport-craze generation of school kids, we didn’t look stupid or miserable carrying a buri-bag to school those days. Over half of Danao’s school children carried the same school bag as mine.

Also, no one wore shoes to school. We wore slippers or went barefoot. The school then was very lenient on dress code, we could go to school even in camesita.

Nike or Adidas did not exist when I was in grade school. A more popular rubber shoes, which I had, was Elpo at P4.00 a pair, still not cheap. Tatay Kikong’s daily wage at the time was P2.00, working as a carpenter in Durano’s coal mine in Dungga, but the minimum was P4.

A rich kid could be wearing a Custombuilt (P8.00), or Edwardson rubber shoes (P9.00), while the very rich might have the imported Made in U.S.A. Converse (P30.00).

Not one kid in the entire Danao Central School was ever known to be wearing a Converse. Probably, at this time, only Tadeo and Ramonito Durano had a Chuck Taylor Converse rubber shoes.

During the flag ceremony, a sixth grade pupil, usually the prettiest and the brightest, would lead the singing of the national anthem, not Bayang Magiliw, but the old English version, “Land of the Morning”.

Either Eli or Marilyn Duterte would be standing at the veranda of the Home Economics building, act like a choir conductor with a stick on hand, and swing to the beat.

At a cue from Eli or Marilyn, several hundred pupils, standing in straight rows down the street, would sing “Land of the Morning”, as two Girls Scouts raised the flag, pulling very slowly a rope until the flag reached to the top of the pole.

As we marched to our respective classrooms, we were not allowed to talk to each other or make any unnecessary noise. Mrs. Ypil always had a rattan stick on hand to make certain everyone behaved.

Classes started exactly at 8:00 a.m. and the first subject, lasting 30 minutes, was GMRC (Good Manners and Right Conduct.)

There were teaching interns (graduating BSEED students from Cebu Normal School), helping the teachers in the Danao Elementary School. Assigned to assist in Mrs. Ypil class was Apolonia Capitan.

She loved to sing and every morning Miss Capitan made a great effort to make us learn to sing some modern hits. Her favorite was Greenfields and she made us sing that song every morning for the next three months.

It must have been very frustrating for Miss Capitan as only two in a class of 40 showed some promise in music. Though everyone liked to sing along, only Jonathan Lao and Robinson Olivar would volunteer to sing in front of the class.

There was no need to push or egg Jonathan to get to the front to sing.

Whenever Miss Capitan called for a volunteer, instantly, Jonathan Lao would rush to the front and belt out his master piece “Granada” a la Castor Dagatan, a church organist.

Then Robinson would be next, to sing and dance to the tune of his own favorite “I’m so young, and you’re so old, Oh my darling I’ve been told . . .”

During the entire year, we were captive audience to Jonathan’s Granada and Robinson’s Diana, listening to them sing the same songs repeated over a hundred times.

Mrs. Ypil was short and plumpy and is remembered by her pupils, how funny she looked, when she “Wibble, Wabble” her hip showing the way to execute a dance and action song “Three Little Ducks”.

She would get mad if we just stood straight as a post, and would not “Wibble, Wabble” along, or gracefully grind our hips.

At the GMRC class, Mrs. Ypil reminded us that if there was a need for us to go out of the room, to pee or pooh, we have to raise our hand and say, “Excuse me Ma’am, may I go out for personal necessity.”

We exactly did that every time we went to the toilet or to buy candies at Norma’s store of Este-Memoy.

There was one toilet for nearly 300 boys, and another one for about the same number of girls. This was an antipolo type of toilet with not one person assigned to keep it clean. One could notice the foul smell from 100 yards.

The school janitors, Meliong Capitan and Andi Derecho, would have preferred to lose their jobs, than be cleaning the school toilet. These janitors were performing clerical tasks, not cleaning toilets.

Probably no teacher ever used the school toilets, especially among the women. Each one of them had urinola for her own use.

Mrs. Ypil had a queensize urinola she kept at the back of the door.

Everytime our teacher used the urinola, doing it behind the door, she would ask a pupil, most often, Josefa Beduya or Grace Ypil, to get a pale of water, pour into the urinola, and water the plants.

She said urine was a good nutrient for the flowering bougonvillas.

Our classroom was in the second floor and below were classrooms for the first graders, under Miss Manipis, Grade I, Section 1, Miss Banzon for Section 2 and Mrs. Sullano, Section 3.

When Josefa or Grace, sometimes Carmen Cola, was watering the plants, with our teacher’s urine, they made sure some Grade I kids were playing down below.

Many would get wet every time third graders above were watering the bougonvillas.

Later, Ms. Manipis would berate her pupils for coming to school, not taking a bath and smelling urine.

She then would drag some foul-smelling pupils to the faucet, stripped naked and bathe them with a garden hose.

My Tatay and Mama were deeply religious folks, but it was only in Grade III that I learned how to pray.

I would, and surely all others did, pray to God, that we would not get a score “below the median” during a “resapling”.

The result of the “resapling” (actually a short quiz given every two weeks), would determine where or with whom one could sit. (It was in high school I came to realize it must have meant “reshuffle”.)

If one got a score “below the median”, he/she would be seated in the third or fourth row and paired with someone as dumb and smelly.

The smart and neat looking pupils were always in the first row.

The bright boys in Grade III, Section 1, Jose Palma, Jonathan and Edgar Lao, Fredo Giango, Anacleto Esoto, were always in the first row.

Unfortunately for me, I could be in the first row one day, and then moved to fourth row, the next.

A boy and girl were paired and seated together in a wooden desk.

Everytime there was a “resapling” we would wish, pray to God and all the saints, we would be seated with someone bright and neat.

The moment Mrs. Ypil started reading the results, some boys could be heard mumbling, “Ginoo, malooy ka, tapad ‘ta mi ni Carmen Cola, Lily Macachor, Jesusa Manulat, Rosemary Yray ba, Elvira o Grace Ypil, Perla o Josefa Beduya, ayaw tawon ko ibutang sa 4th row.”.

We envied Fredo Giango, Jose Palma and Jonathan Lao.

Everytime there was a resapling, these guys were always in the “above the median” and could sit with any of the girls of their choice.

It was a real big disappointment if we scored “below the median” and ended up seating beside a girl who was could be the most bugo in class.

I sobbed in silence everytime I was seated with some girl I didn’t like, more so, someone I could not copy a correct answer during a quiz.

(To be continued – Part III – Recess)


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