Home is school

Kids going back to in-school or face-to-face classes this week have brought back memories of how we, the children of the ’70s, used to come off those summer breaks to once again greet our teachers and classmates, “Good morning.”

If only our parents had an idea what buffooneries we, the wild boys of Cainta Elementary School, were up to during those days. They for certain would have given us much-deserved tongue and belt lashings or “kaserola” (cooking pan) bumps to the head.

My mother was a teacher at CES, but maybe that’s not the reason I consistently landed in Section 1 from Grades 1 to 6 of the public school, one of the biggest in Rizal. I once was chosen to represent the school in the regional history Quiz Bee competition, even if my mother had to ask my class adviser if no mistake was committed in my selection.

I was also quick on my feet and nifty with my laterals that I could have made the century dash of the Southern Tagalog Region Athletic Association meet held yearly at the Marikina Sports Complex. I also threw a mean fastball as a softball catcher that would have made Angel “Besok” Alcoriza, guerilla hero and former Philippine softball coach, proud.

Years later, as a sportswriter, National University’s Mommy Paguia would shout at Besok with me, his “grandson” since my grandfather Narding was his brother, in tow as we trudged across the Pasig Ballpark.

That’s how I learned to write baseball and softball games play-by-play using only the scoresheets: By having a former Blu Girls mentor by my side watching commercial teams like Sta. Elena slugging it out against each other.

Back in my elementary days, I had to content myself with being the most slippery kid who stood as the prize pick of any tag 1-2-3 team. I was so skinny, too, that I may well have been literally blowing in the wind.

Anak ng titser (teacher’s son)” was also a phrase I often heard, but that’s only partly true. Aside from my mother Angge (yes, she doesn’t mind that term of endearment), I had so many aunts at CES as teachers, like ate Glory Salazar, ate Tessie and ate Lita Fernandez and, an aunt of my mom, tiyang Prucing Cuyugan.

The latter would come to my class and, to my eternal embarrassment, would comb through my head for lice. Kuto and lisa, those hair pets, er, pests, were invariably problems shared by public school kids who grabbed every chance to play under the sun before shampoos were specifically formulated to kill ’em lice.

If a commentary can be made out of this, it’s that the elementary pupils of today may be missing what we used to enjoy as Home Economics and Practical Arts students.

At CES, we had a demo house in the middle of the campus where a boy can learn to become a jack of all trades, doing plumbing, basic carpentry, and the like. It was in the kitchen of that house that the girls learned how to cook pinakbet or tinola, tidy up rooms and make the beds.

From what we gathered but had failed to independently verify, some older kids from the adjacent municipal high school learned “bahay -bahayan” in that very house when darkness crept in and things went bumping in the night.

Presently for students, tinkering with computers and basic coding have taken the place of the practical arts and the gardening that we did. That may well be why the kids of our time, at Grade 4, already knew how to cook rice and simple viands like adobo when left at home.

Win some, lose some, I guess.

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