I hated schools the most.
I was just having a splendid dream about my crush, who—by the way—was the most beautiful girl I found in that boring school when an earthquake woke me up. Not a destructive one, but it would surely spring you up and out of the bed and make your knees wobble.
Earthquakes were recently occurring here in Cebu.
It made me nervous because I was kind of an irrationally anxious person. A paranoid who always thought the world could end any minute. Not to mention, I was sentimental and sensitive. Yes, you could judge me, but you couldn’t actually judge me. I mean, you had never been with me my entire life, so how in the name of Karens could you say something negative about my personality?
If you were to know me, though, there was only one notable thing that you would always remember. I had a natural sloth, and yes, I’d admit it. I’d love to procrastinate and not do things in haste as I believed all things would come in due time.
In fact, I was known as Josh the lazy bum; a title I earned that I didn’t like. My friends gave me the infamous alias, and even if I disliked it that much, I had come to terms with it.
Well, as far as I had known, I was still good with my life being a procrastinator and I had never felt rushing things. So, I’d appreciate it if people would leave me be and allow me to do my own thing.
Anyway, that quake made my adrenaline gland produce hormones faster than how I was always rejected by many girls I had confessed to, which made me storm to my parents’ room to wake them out of their dreamland fantasies. They were lovey-dovey with each other and they wouldn’t want someone to come in their bedroom, even their children, as we might catch them doing something that I had yet to experience; unless, it was an emergency. And it was an emergency.
Fortunately, the quake stopped after a few seconds, and all our worries evaporated. It was Sunday morning of January and tomorrow was the first day of school 2020. Just the thought of going back to school could put weights on my shoulders. By then, I’d start to slouch. School was as backbreaking as any manual labor.
I had a great Christmas break and as much as possible I’d want to treasure the memory until it would last because everything good and memorable that happened to me would surely go numb when classes would resume. I didn’t want to go back to school right away because I had not had enough of my vacation plans yet. I’d still want to go beaching and mountaineering with my friends and chitchat for hours about anything. If there was one thing that I was not lazy doing—it was traveling.
And I knew that you might not have guessed it right, but I was not a student.
I was a teacher.
This had given me more reasons to hate schools. When I was a student, I promised myself that I’d never, ever, be part of any school when I’d grow up. I wanted to become an architect, but money played a big role in being one. Being born to a not-so-lucky family—but a loving one—forced me to find a much cheaper career path.
So, here I was.
Don’t get me wrong, though. As the years passed by, I came to meet my passion for teaching halfway in my life, and so far, I was enjoying it. There were still some regrets, but I was keeping them from letting myself give up on this career that I had chosen. Luckily, I got another reason to stay, and I believed you knew what it was already.
It was just that I hated doing lesson plans. We’d make our LPs after implementing a lesson, which would make it not any more of a plan. It was more like a log: keeping track of what I had done in the classroom. It might just be me, though, because I was too lazy to do it, the planning, and I hated it when my lessons were already pieced and crafted. I was spontaneous in my delivery of instructions and the activities would change from time to time depending on the students’ needs, and sometimes the availability of the resources, but most likely if I was prepared or not.
The bottom line was, I was liking teaching the more I taught, and I had to do something with my laziness if I wanted to keep it like that.
Of course, if given a chance to change career, I’d have done so two years ago. There was this friend of mine who offered to pay for all the expenses for my enrollment in Cebu Engineering and Architectural Arts University before. I’d like to accept it but, you know, Jef was not an ordinarily generous person.
Everything that Jef offered to guys had a price to pay on its own, and it was not monetary. He would help them when they were in need, but in some ways, he also needed something in return for himself. It was a kind gesture, though—the helping. I heard he got a rich history of dating guys, and another friend told me that he had had his eyes on me. I did like Jef as a friend, but I had not ever thought of being with a guy. In fact, I had someone that I liked now.
And had I told you my secret?
This secret was neither the nondescript secret stories that you watched in movies nor the ones you heard from radios, not even those you read from books. It was way bigger. It was, as what I wanted to call it, grandeur.
This secret was something that you would not believe the first time you would hear it. Well, there might be a ninety-nine-point-nine percent chance that you wouldn’t totally believe me. Nobody knew this, and I almost accidentally spilled it out because one of my colleagues asked us to share our deepest secrets. It might be so ironic for a deep secret to be dug up and made known, but she was an exquisite and irresistible individual; one you could hardly keep a secret from once she would ask you. The way she would talk alone could hypnotize anyone, and her smile was the Tezukazone that you wouldn’t want to be sucked into; unless, she was your crush.
You see, I had the power to imagine things out and make them happen. Whatever I’d think, for some reason, would become a reality.
Yes, you heard it right. And I might be also right that you might not believe me or wouldn’t even have the slightest chance to believe me at all. It was fine with me, though, because I knew that it was impossible. It only happened once, and what I envisioned in my mind during that time disappeared eventually, which made me doubt it for a hallucination. However, I had never been to drugs—thank God, I didn’t find it fancy—and I was a completely healthy individual, so that event was real. It happened during my seventeenth birthday.
It all began when they had brought my cake inside my room and one of my friends had tried to pour flour on my head. They were all singing Happy Birthday in an awful tune when Freddy pulled something out from his pockets and stretched his arms out. Luckily for me, I was able to think fast. I imagined that whatever Freddy would pour on me would be turned to assorted flowers. And, Voila! Different flowers decorated my bed.
All of them were stupefied, including me, which then turned into fits of laughter. They all thought I had done a gimmick there—I did magic sometimes with my friends, which explained why they thought I was pulling their legs—but they didn’t know that even myself was intrigued by it. Later that evening, when everyone was already gone, I immediately washed my face in the comfort room because it felt as sticky as hell. By the time I came back, my bed sheet was all covered in disgusting, wet flour where flowers should have been.
The event made me think and experiment about what I did during that time.
It didn’t happen again.
No one knew what would come out of it, anyway.
“Hand me some buwad, Olly.”“Why are you the one who always orders around here? Would you just stand and help yourself?”“Come again? Remember the Penshoppe bag I bought you?” “Okay, okay. I know it’s coming. You’re always making use of your trump card. In fact, it’s more of a normal one now.”“Are you still flapping those lips?”“Nope. Here’s your buwad, ate.”It was a sunny afternoon, flabbergastingly serene weather, for the two of us. Christmas just went by. Lots of firecracker wastes and party poppers dotted the streets and canals. Leftovers of Piccolo, Sinturon ni Hudas, and lots of trash littered the whole sitio. It was an extended season of family love and merrymaking, yet for me, it was another season when I’d look after my silly sister, and I didn’t want to be a babysitter.My name was Jelly and I was a twenty-two-year-old Science teacher at Arullina National High School who advised tenth graders. Molly, my sister, was a twenty-year-old call center agent who was the t
Mondays.Freaking Mondays. Why were Mondays created?The sizzling sound of the onions being sautéed and of the birds chirping outside our apartment brought a relaxing and calming effect on me as I cooked our breakfast in our makeshift kitchen, yet the day being a “Monday” drowned all of it.I hated Mondays the most.Others would see a teacher’s job as much easier than a worker in a convenience store or any fast-food chain because, according to some people who thought highly of themselves, we were just teaching students. One of my students once said that we were so lucky we just needed to sit to get paid. The audacity of the child made me mad; however, I had to cool my head, so I just let it pass through my other ear as a professional.They were wrong.I might be too lazy to think through this, but all the same, still had an idea as to how it worked. They didn’t know what was happening in a teacher’s schedule. Imagine having to bring all your paperwork at home just to finish them all, w
“Okay, class, you’re dismissed.”I went straight to the faculty office to drop off my instructional materials and joined my gang at the cafeteria. Around the table were Ritchelle, Vhina, and Alyssa. Every lunchtime, Ritchelle would get our reserved food ahead of time because she was the first to dismiss her class. She had her classes only in the morning. A month had already passed since then.“Hey, why is the you so late to sits here by the us?” Ritchelle asked just seconds before I settled on my seat. “Me is the stressed by the students, but I scolded them, which make me the stresser,” I replied, following with the flow of the joke. “Wow, I’m impressed that both of you can understand that kind of English,” Alyssa commented as she professionally sliced off the egg white of her sunny-side-up, to be given to Veruca later who notably liked it. Our conversation low-key annoyed her because she was an English teacher.“Join we. We is the teaches you how to says we is the language,” Ritche
Friday.Blessed Fridays. Why couldn’t all days in a week be Fridays?The day of the retreat had finally come. I had been waiting for this day in like, forever. Finally, I’d be able to go back to Bantayan and experience the beaches I had been planning to go to but failed to do so because of time constraints and the people who I was supposed to go with. Sure, I was into traveling but I just couldn’t do it without a friend or two to accompany me. All the teachers who were assigned to attend the retreat were already in the audio-visual room for the meeting and the final preparations. The school bus would pick us up at five, taking us to Hagnaya port in more or less four to five hours. The student council officers were ready with their things and had had their consent forms all signed. I’d surely enjoy myself even with the cumbersome conjunction of minding the students’ security.Including Finlay. Especially Finlay.The school’s AVR was not spacious; they had to move the equipment to the s
The dawn was surely majestic and wonderful when I arrived at Hagnaya Port. The sky was painted with distinct shades of orange and red. It looked like a painter had thrown his palette out of his well-crafted anger, which depicted the rashly-made-but-awkwardly-stunning atmospheric skies. The vicinity was filled with the cries of deafening waves retreating to and fro and mumbles of soggy tires of trucks and buses against the dirty-wet soil. The area had been swept already, but still some types of trash lay dormant in every nook. The cleaners were surely not paid handsomely for the job. A nostalgic, mossy smell and the stingy, salty sea hit my olfactory nerves, which brought me down memory lane. Ah, those were the days.Hagnaya Port was the only port to receive passengers going to Bantayan Island—forth and back. The retreat house we would visit was situated near Kota beach. The earliest trip going there was at four-thirty, but we had all agreed we would have the nine-thirty trip. The call
My head hurt. My surroundings were a blur, and I found it hard to stand. My ears were ringing. I felt like there was blood flowing out of them. I tried to lean sideways using my right arm, and I touched my head with my left to check any injuries. It hurt. I twisted my hip and noticed that something was lying on my lower body. No, someone. And it hurt. I shook my head a little bit, and gradually, the environment became clearer. I first noticed that everything was blue. The person dangling limply on my legs was my student—Finlay. His disheveled, smooth, black bangs were complementing the overall shape of his small face that consisted of wide eyelids, broad nose, well-shaped lips, and a firm jaw. I had never been this annoyed with such a handsome face before. I remembered what happened. All my pure concern with this student turned to a feeling that I neglected for a long time, which I should have accepted all this time. I was enraged, and I badly wanted to shove this disrespectful
I was inside our room with Molly once again. She was not saying anything: she just kept on sobbing. Why ate? Why... hic... hic... I was faithful. I was faithful until the end. I even promised myself that I will be serious this time. I’m head over heels in love with him. But he said that he didn’t feel the same, that he never did. He just dated me because of my looks—never of my whole being, uwaaa...It was the worst. I was never good at consoling people and giving them pieces of advice. I tried comforting my sister but with no avail. I didn’t even know the boyfriend Molly was referring to since she had been dating down to an art, to begin with. I even attempted asking WikiHow about how to comfort someone who had just had a breakup when a message came in.Teacher Jelly, the headmaster wants to talk with you regarding your late submissions.It was teacher Grumpy. Oh, no. I had been passing my LPs late. I was about to send a reply when I heard a feeble voice calling me out: Elly... Elly
This might be some kind of mistake. Or a dream.The behemoth just five meters ahead of us—the one we found unrealistic—was a dilapidated edifice stretching from one side of the woods to the other. We couldn’t see the other end as it was heavily enshrouded with coconut-looking trees—which we all agreed to call “cocohair trees”—from the windows and cracks, but memory-wise, we might know how massive it was.The cry that we heard—and still going on—was of a fire alarm. It was still functional and noisy despite the stature of the building.I was about to tell everyone to be cautious with it when Chevonne, again, sprinted toward the main facade, entering through the wide-open main entrance. Shards of glass littered the threshold where glass doors should have been. We followed suit to avoid losing sight of her.The sound finally ceased. She might have turned it off already.We tiptoed our way in awe as we entered the main gate—ironically, without the gates themselves—and proceeded through the