When I Was A Student…

Episode 157 – Thursday, June 1st, 2017 (7457)

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Millions of Filipino children will be back to school on the first day of classes which will be on this Monday, June 5. But I’m thinking that I really miss being a student attending classes at school when I was young.

For all kids and youths out there, tomorrow will be back to school once again. And many of the parents are so busy buying school materials for their children. Tomorrow will be the start of school year 2017-2018 where millions of young Filipinos will gather to enter their first day of classes in most public schools in our country. Most of them are so excited to see their old friends and classmates (as well as their crushes) again while the others are entering in school for their first time that mostly are nursery or kinder, and they usually cry after being left by their guardians in school. But some are the new ones after being transferred from their old school to another making them as new classmates.

I still remember when I was just a young student I felt I hated to be at school because I would rather like to play all the time at home. But in the years to come, when I grew up as a teenager, I realized that I needed to study hard to accomplish my dreams. Just before becoming a career man, although I’ve still no job as of now, I faced the tough challenges that I needed to overcome as a student such as exams, thesis, and projects to pass to the next level. These took many years to achieve the challenges from a young kid to a young man with full of knowledge.

In this episode, I just want to share about my school life where I started from preparatory up to fourth year college within four different schools in two different “worlds”. Or… I just simply discuss about my educational background.

Philippine School for the Deaf (1994-2004)

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This is the main building of Philippine School for the Deaf in Pasay City where I studied for 10 long years with some wonderful memories. (Photo courtesy from LolPhilosopher)

Philippine School for the Deaf (PSD) was established as School for the Deaf and Blind in 1907 by American Delight Rice, and it is the first school in the Philippines that teaches students who are deaf and hard-of-hearing disabilities. For obvious reasons, however, it is still a mystery for me why I was put there to study despite that I can hear and speak (but, I had a speech deficiency or pagkabulol). But nevertheless, it was my first school to learn academics when I was a young kid.

I started to study PSD as preparatory level in 1994. I had no idea during the time that I actually learned educational subjects in school because I was so playful being a young kid and my first classmates were young children who are totally deaf. My first seatmate was named Mark, a half-Chinese deaf kid who would become brag in the future. But my first ever close friend in PSD was Michael who was thin and sometimes “crybaby”. He became my “best friend” for 10 long years – the longest that I ever had a friend like him. When we first studied at PSD, our first names were given thru sign language. Most of them signed the first letter of their names usually on their cheeks, forehead, chin, or even on the chest. But my “sign” name was somewhat bizarre because they called me thru nose! Yeah, as in, the letter ‘L’ (that’s my real initial name) was signed on the nose! What the heck! Few years later, I felt that it was an “insult” for me, so that I changed it when I was in second grade (this led the creation of my own “pen name” or screen name: Tent Tertional).

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These were my classmates in second grade during our field trip sometime in 1996 (Photo courtesy from Tent Archives)

Located in Pasay City and despite of commuting in far distance from my home in Santa Rosa, Laguna about 40.5 kilometers (or 25 miles), I continued to study there for 10 long years where I woke up so early to go to school (except when I was in prep and second grade) and most of the times when I was in high school, I arrived home just before 6 pm or dinnertime. Wow! I was commuting from home to PSD in Pasay just to attend school every day in the last 10 years! And take note, the traffic in the metro had not been worse, and the minimum fare of public transport was way cheaper back then (between 2 to 5 pesos of the fare when I was at PSD for the last 10 years). Daing pa yung mga nagcocommute galing sa malalayong lugar papunta sa mga trabaho nila. Hehehe! Just imagine if this happen to me in the present, I would give up for commuting going to school with so heavy traffic which made my time and money wasted!

For the past 10 years that I studied at PSD, there were lots of good and bad memories that I involved such as in academics, conflicts with classmates and teachers, teasing, bullying, accidents, controversies, and of course, my colorful love life where I had so many deaf crushes there. When I was in second grade, I built a friendship organization called, Tent & Co., where my close and beloved classmates became my members as well as other PSD teachers who accepted my own creation. (Was this a discipleship? Hehehe!) And most of all, my school life at PSD was so wonderful because of academic excellence where I was the top among the class for 10 consecutive years with honors.

When I was in fourth year (senior level) high school in 2004, it was supposed my final year at PSD when I was selected as one of the 40 Filipino high school students to become exchange student to study in the United States for at least one year after passing my application that lasted for 6 months. Because of this, on July 30, 2004 – my final appearance as a PSD student, I really saddened to bid farewell to my long time classmates and schoolmates (most of them had been with me for 10 long years). This was the end of my “supremacy” at this deaf school where I had been on the top for the last 10 years since I entered there in 1994. By the following year, after the exchange program, I supposed to come back there to study fourth year high school again with new classmates, but it was not meant to be.

Alabama School for the Deaf (2004-2005)

It’s me when I visited Alabama School for the Deaf (ASD) for the first time upon my arrival in Alabama with the Woolmakers (Photo courtesy from Tent Archives)

When I became an exchange student, I felt so nervous yet excited to have a great and wonderful experience in the U.S. together with other 40 fellow Filipino youths. The exchange program promoted us to learn the different culture, people, and traits that we had at home. Because we stayed there for at least a year, we entered our respective host schools to study for our high school year. As the part of exchange program, my host school where I was required to study for one school year was Alabama School for the Deaf (ASD) in Talladega where it was a model of American educational system. It’s a large campus that it has old buildings, track and field, basketball courts, dorm buildings, museums, lots of computers in every classroom, and a lot more that it’s better and bigger in space than my old deaf school, PSD.

I started my first school day at ASD on August 16, 2004, a week after my arrival in the U.S. and just three days after meeting my foster/host family – the Woolmakers (actually the school opening of ASD was held a week ago). And since, I met several deaf friends, teachers, staffs, and dorm mates there, and I learned lots of lessons, particularly American teachings, that were different from my studying at PSD such as American Sign Language (ASL). I also joined school activities such as field trips, hiking, watching movies, summer camp, and the most significant moment that I ever joined was the Academic Bowl where I was the one to help ASD team to win Southeast Regional tournament and to compete in the National tournament where we bagged the Sportsmanship Award.

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ASD Class of 2005

These made my school life at ASD the most wonderful and the most memorable that I ever had. I had sweet memories with my classmates, schoolmates, and even the teachers that I made them so close whether I cherished or had some confessions with them when I had some problems. After 10 months of studying, I was so glad to be graduated in an American school like ASD and left many wonderful memories. However, despite of this, I was not guaranteed to finish my high school studies due of exchange program, so that I needed to go back to my previous deaf school, PSD, to continue my fourth year high school. After the exchange program, I was thinking for my return to PSD where I would meet the new batch that would become my new classmates (including the one who was my enemy). But when I came back home from my wonderful experience in the U.S. on July 2005, my school life would be adjusted again unexpectedly.

International Montessori School (2005-2006)

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This is International Montessori School (IMS) in Golden City, Santa Rosa, Laguna

When I met again my mother after almost a year of my U.S. stay, she told me that I was already transferred to a new school from PSD, the deaf school that I had beloved for 10 long years. I was so shocked with sadness because I would be no longer to study with my deaf classmates. My new school was International Montessori School, a small private (and non-deaf) institution located inside Golden City Subdivision in Santa Rosa, Laguna. Thus, I adjusted my school life once again, and my life was also shifted from so-called “Deaf World” into a “Post-Deaf World” (the beginning of “Post-Deaf School Era”, just like the bible where there’s an Old Testament and there’s also a New Testament).

When I entered IMS to attend for my first ever school day on July 11, 2005, I felt anew because of the environment where my new classmates were not deaf compared to my old deaf classmates back in PSD and ASD (I actually enrolled a month late because I was still at the U.S. when the school opening in the Philippines was held in June), and there’s no more sign language to use for my communication and interaction with them unlike when I was in deaf school for 11 years. When I was just a new student at IMS, some of female classmates had somewhat crush on me especially the one who was the smartest in the class (soon, she became my first non-deaf crush in Post-Deaf School Era).

Because it’s located inside the subdivision where my family lives, it eased my travel time from home (just walking distance compared to PSD which is about 41 kilometers away) and convenience (unlike when I was at PSD, I woke up so early in the morning and arrived home in the evening because of long distance). Also, IMS was better place for me to continue my high school studies (fourth year) because of my avoidance to the new batch mates (Batch of 2006) of PSD where my long-time enemy would have been my new classmate. However, my transferred to IMS was somewhat controversial because of the allegation where I violated the agreement that I must go back to my original school, which was PSD, after the exchange program. There’s one time where the coordinators, who help me to study in the U.S., filed a case against me and forced me to go back to PSD (where my former beloved teachers accused me as a “traitor”), but later on they gave me some consideration, in fact that my speech had been “improved”.

After the controversy, I thought my school life at IMS would be better as what I had done in PSD and ASD before. But the scenario turned into the worst nightmare. There were some freak classmates who bullied me because I was too quiet, some irregularities and criticisms at school even though it was a private school, hot-tempered teachers, and being messy that these were really far different compared during my deaf school days in ASD and even in PSD.

On April 7, 2006, I finally finished my high school at IMS (which was my second time to be graduated after ASD), but it led me to end my “supremacy” at school (being #1 at class when I was at PSD) where I finished only third in the whole class. I also ended my school life at IMS with some bad memories because of freaking classmates who bullied me.

Polytechnic University of the Philippines – Santa Rosa Campus (2006-2010)

The_Polytechnic_University_of_the_Philippines_Santa_Rosa_Logo.svgAfter high school, I was enrolled to a new public university where the new faces would become my close and beloved classmates. PUP – Santa Rosa Campus (PUPSRC) is a branch of Polytechnic University of the Philippines which is located its main campus in Santa Mesa, Manila, and the branch was recently established in 2003. It was my second school (after IMS) to not involve deaf students unlike in PSD and ASD where they admitted deaf people. When I was just a new student as I.T. course, I was too quiet and introvert to sit with new classmates graduating from different high school, but in later days and weeks, I met most of my new ones and crushes too. During my stint at PUPSRC, my school life was much better compared to IMS (but less impressive than PSD and ASD because of some conflicts and misunderstandings). But overall, I had some good memories with my classmates especially when we’re in second year college (mostly in 2007).

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With my college classmates posting near little Rizal statue at Rizal’s house in Calamba, Laguna when we visited there on December 2009 (Photo courtesy: Tent Archives)

During our first three years at PUPSRC, our classes were held in one building near the community hospital before transferring to small vacant houses in Tiongco where we spent our third and fourth years in college despite of hot weather and flood prone area. We also had sleepless nights, fun, and some conflicts among the groups including our major thesis where we must create a software system in order to pass for our major I.T. subject within almost one year. But the controversial moment during my college life was my involvement to my former crush that almost ruined my life. (I don’t want to explain about this because this was already in the past, so let’s move on!)

After four years of studying college and 16 years of being a student, I was finally graduated to end my colorful school life and to start for a new chapter which was having a career in the corporate world.

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It has been 7 years after college graduation, but I really miss the moment when I was a student attending in a school. It was not just about studying lessons but also there’s a fun with the classmates and friends where we had bonding times to play, to share the answers on our homeworks or exams, to create noise in the class, to have our allowances (or baons) given from our parents and to confess about our crushes. These were the things that we had during our life in school. But right now, after being student, we now become workers where we’re now facing the corporate world. There’s no more grading system, but there’s a performance task to work for. The work schedule is also differed, unlike when we’re at school, where we come at work, not just in the morning, but also in the evening. And the most exciting moment ever in our career life is to receive a monthly salary every 15th and 30th of the month, unlike being a student who always ask for allowance from the parents. However, these make us sweat, stress, pressure, and tiredness because we need to sacrifice for our families and also for our future lives.

For those who are still young students out there, they will face these tough challenges in the future after their college graduation in the many years to come. Good luck for your returning to school and study hard as well.

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Interesting Facts:

In our country’s educational system, the school opening has usually been held on the first Monday of June (or it may vary depending in our country’s situation such as natural calamity) nationwide in most public schools (private schools may start their classes one or two weeks later). In my 16 years of being a student (1994-2009), I usually came to attend for the first day of classes within June, except the following:

  • When I was in the United States for the exchange program, most schools in the U.S. open between August and September. I came at ASD, my host school, for my very first school day on August 16, 2004, a week late of the school’s opening classes and due of my attending the orientation in Washington, D.C. with other exchange students after our arrival.
  • When I came back home from the U.S., I came at my new (non-deaf) school, IMS, for my first school day on July 11, 2005, almost a month late from the opening classes due of the exchange program where I stayed at the U.S. until last week of June 2005. It was the latest to attend my first day of school due of delay. I had missed some of the lessons that were taught during the first month after the school opening, but I was able to catch up these to pass for the first periodical exam.
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