Everlasting

I was in Pasay City East High School this afternoon, facilitating a small group discussion on infectious diseases, explaining what the kids should do when they have cough and colds. When I briefly mentioned diarrhea—which I translated in the colloquial as "pagtatae"—I saw them automatically turn towards one another, high school teenagers that they were, and they threw fart jokes, generating quite a hilarious commotion. "O, tama na 'yan, balik tayo sa pinag-uusapan," I said aloud.


I had only been speaking for three minutes, but my throat was already aching. I had to compete with the incessant chatter of oily-faced adolescents in my midst. For a teacher to thrive in such an environment, day in and out, is nothing short of noble.

I recall that months ago, during the first time my group and I visited the class, Everlasting, located right up in the fourth floor of the newly erected building, thanks to a politician whose name I can't recall, I was shocked at how chaotic the scene was. "Were we ever like this in high school?" we asked ourselves. I come from a special science program of a public high school, but I was familiar with scenes like this happening in the regular and lower sections. My other groupmates, all of them girls, mostly graduated from conservative private Catholic schools, so it was more a shock for them than it was for me.

So picture us there, helpless and useless. Students were coming in and out of the classroom. Male students formed a huge cluster at the back, almost resembling a fraternity. I could hear invectives and coarse jokes being spewn like geysers. Meanwhile some girls were busy combing their hair. They were insulting each other with harsh words. But what surprised us was seeing both male and female students applying too much baby powder on their faces. Since then we jokingly referred to them espasol girls and polvoron boys, but only when we spoke among ourselves. The times had changed.

When we spoke in front, it was as if we were never there. We felt bad—horrible, even—that we weren't being paid attention to. And we were speaking at the top of our lungs. We went home feeling defeated after that. 

Since then we resolved to make the lectures as short as possible. We shouldn't hold too much activities. We shouldn't take things too personally as well. We should keep things short and simple.

In the succeeding meetings, though, we felt them warm up to us. Everlasting, the rowdiest class ever—it was almost unbelievable. They were still inattentive, casually listening or participating in the activities, but at least we had fleeting moments of quiet, and we could finish the modules assigned to us. Whether they learned something from us or not was something we couldn't determine properly, since they didn't take the quizzes seriously.

This afternoon I was assigned to handle an all-boys' group. I asked them about the remedies for fever, cough, colds, and diarrhea. They gave good answers. I was impressed. "What about in cough?" I asked, "What should  you do?"

"Mag-kiss, para mailipat mo ang ubo mo sa hinahalikan mo." These kids, they never fail to amuse.

We were just wrapping up the session when, out of the blue, the student seated beside me, Ronnie, asked, "Kuya, ilang taon po ba pwede nang mag-asawa?"

My words came out automatically, "Ang bata mo pa, ah. Sabihin mo sa akin: may nabuntis ka na?" I still shudder in shame at my first reaction.

We desperately wish these students learn important things from us, but isn't it true that learning is also two-way? We, too, get something from them—like this reminder of asking ourselves when to eventually settle down. In med school, I noticed, that question always hits the hardest.

7 thoughts on “Everlasting”

  1. It was always fun working with you Lance. ang gaan mo kasama eh. :) siguro kaya hindi din ako natotoxic when you're around. you always seem to enjoy everything. hahaha! :) nakakamiss kayo during these times na mag-isa lang ako sa elective. looking forward to working with you again, lance! :D

  2. Aww, thanks, Wet. That story on you waiting in the lobby reading the COPD Clinical Practice Guidelines was funny! Haha. And I can say the same things about you! Di bale, magkikita-kita ulit tayo sa Rheuma-Ortho-Rehab.

  3. Matinding karanasan naman yan, kuya! What does your experience say about kids these days? Are we too jaded in looking at them because they don't seem like us when we were in the same place? Or have times indeed changed? Kudos sa pagharap niyo sa kanila at pagsikap na abutin ang kanilang mundo.

  4. Could be both, Anjo. They hardly have any concept of authority figures. Pero pwedeng biased lang din ako kasi parang hindi rin ako gaya nila noong hayskul ako. It's always a challenge to meet them halfway, but that's part of the fun.

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