Friday, December 29, 2023

When school paper advisers visit

We had Ma'am Mervie and Ma'am Babette for dinner a few days ago. It was their first time to visit our home. They were our former English teachers, school paper advisers, and speech coaches. They have become dear friends we intermittently reconnect with in our chat group called "Intermediate Family"—not immediate family, because we weren't genetically qualified to fly out to an intimate Boracay wedding intended for Feve's closest family. 

Ma'am Babette spoke in a journalism workshop on editorial and feature writing when I was in elementary, which led me, happily, into the rabbit hole of writing and publishing. In high school, she also wrote my speeches for the Population Commission contests, which we won. Those speeches were printed in legal size paper, on double-spaced text in Times New Roman, justified, in 12 point, using an Epson dot matrix printer. At the KNCHS English Department Office, usually in the afternoons, she carved out time to polish my delivery. She taught me how to make hand gestures—nothing grandiose (or "bombastic") but natural. Two hands in front, with palms facing upward, the arms pushed outward quickly to make a point, accompanied by a smart nod.

Ma'am Mervie was my school paper adviser. She had brilliant ideas for The KNCHS Recorder, whose office I often frequented because it had a working computer, a dot-matrix printer, and good airconditioning. (I miss dot matrix printers!). Joining press conferences was a riot because she was around—a young, cool teacher with a rebellious streak and a gift for words and dry, crazy humor. She wrote my winning speech for a national speech competition organized by a veterans association. 

I owe so much to them. Too bad they're not teaching in the classroom anymore. They now occupy crucial positions in DepEd offices. They shine, wherever they go. 

Manong prepared cold cuts and aperol spritz as aperitifs, and, for the main course, lasagna, pork ribs, and three desserts, including pecan pie and tiramisu, which were hits. We told them, "We don't eat like this on a regular basis, but because you're here, we're pretending we're quite sophisticated."

Ma'am Mervie said kids these days write differently. "Lain na gid sila magsulat. Their subjects are dark and depressing. In our generation, we used to write about good, happy, colorful things." This gave me pause. 



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