In 1971, I was in grade three,when my mother transferred me to the nearest public school where we moved our house from Masara, Maco, Davao del Norte (now Maco is part of Compostela Valley Province). Tipaz elementary school ( located in Tagum, Davao del Norte) was the nearest and it was a bit different from the school where I studied previously in Masara. the room had many colorful books to read and the number of students every classroom was lesser unlike in my previous school we were crowding.
As a new student I kept being silent and had no more friends yet to go specially during recess time. The canteen had many food to buy, but unfortunately, I always had no money. for my father had no work yet and its only my mother who worked part time as cook in a well-off family near our house. So, I stayed most of the time in the classroom and my teacher, Mrs. Sanchez, talked with each other until we I felt we became closer to her.
There were several times that she asked me to go with her to their house which was not far from school. I helped her carry her school things and when we get home, she offered me snacks available in the kitchen. Sometimes I was caught eating by her children from school, and I felt small seeing her children very elegant with their uniforms bbeautiful bag and things and they spoke Tagalog and English. Mrs. Sanchez' children were all studying in private school and I regarded them very high. I was too small compared to them and I envied their status, how i wished to be like them too.
One day, my father got a job and they were many and brought to Surigao. My mother went with my father to know where the location of the working area. Therefore we were left with my eldest brother Jun who was studying at the University of Tagum (UM) and my older sister "Liklik" who was also studying in the same school where I was studying). she was in grade five.
Taken from the separation pay, my parents bought small house that was wooden and old. We didn't have electricity and water' Every morning we fetched water from a well of our neighbor and used lampara for our light and charcoal to iron our school dresses.
Every Saturday and Sunday I tried peddling candies and soft drinks in the cockpit so I would have some money to buy. As our life was so hard and tight, I learned to be strong,and independent. Life was really so miserable. We ate a piece of "Haul-haul" and we shared it with my brother and sister, then drink a roated corn for our coffee. At my young age i felt the hard life and craved to be the same as what i saw in my classmates. There was a fight within myself.; fight to survive, a fight to struggle, a fight with emotion being away from parents, fighting for confusion why things had to be that way.
I was always absent from the class, that my teacher would ask me why I was always absent, I had no reasonable reason to answer but my "dress is wet". I had only one favorite dress, the one bought by my mother. It was made of "bonyl" cloth with colorful docks on the breast and pop sleeves. I considered it the most beautiful dress and I looked good and beautiful with it. I love to wear it everyday. If it gets wet, i would be absent.
My new classmate named Analyn, who was also a transferee from Cotabato. She was an Ilongo and she claimed that she was a Muslim that many people were afraid, because muslims were known to be brave and kill people. She noticed that everyday I wore the same dress. Two days after I washed it and hanged it. In the morning when it's still wet I just ironed it dry after my older brother ironed his uniform using the charcoal. She asked me if I have many dress of the same style and everything then laughed out loud with the rest of my classmates who heard her saying. I asked myself why she bullied me of wearing the same dress everyday, I was not so conscious about it, because I feel happy wearing my favorite dress everyday. I also laughed whey they laughed pretending that it's just okay for me being bullied that way and showed to them it's not embarassing for me.
Another incident when we were eating our baon for lunch, my viand was a piece of dried fish "tamban" and my lunch box was big enough for me. (for we didn't have any lunch box at home and had no option) Analyn teased me that my lunch box was good for the whole family then laughed again with the others. It seemed I was affected, but then again I also laughed with tears on my eyes, asking myself why hey are bullying me that way. I just fidgeted in silence.
Again, it was examination day, because we were seatmates considering we were both new and transferees, I had this in mind that she was not studying while I was confident that I understand the questions and know the answers. She was trying to copy my answers. The more she moved closer to me and peeped my paper, the more I moved far and covered my test paper. She hit me with her test paper and shouted " Ma'm o si adela nangupya", she accused me cheating. I was very angry that i would like to wrestle her. But she transfered to another desk telling my other classmates that I was trying to copy and that's the reason why she she moved away from me. I cried of anger and said to her "later i will wait for you outside and we will fight".
This time my anger was still with the fire. I left ahead of my classmates after the exam. I did not clean the room which i usually do every end of the class in the afternoon or before I left with my teacher. I waited for analyn at the back of the Grade six building which was near the creek and small wooden bridge. I was really ready to fight. I was never been so angry in all my life so far, never had quarelled to anyone. But this time even if she was a muslim as she claimed, I was not afraid to fight.
I saw her in the distance, i was crying of anger. When she saw me, she was trying to look another way for a detour for herself, but there was no other way out. Then all the students were gone but I could still see her hiding in the building and seemed waiting for me to go and leave. But I called her I could not wait and I shouted "HOY TALAWAN, ALI DERI, ISUG MAN KAHA ANG MUSLIM, SINUMBAGAY TA DILI KO MAHADLOK NIMO! TALAWAN, MUSLIM TALAWAN!" She was moving slowly trying to appease me..but i was boiling with anger, so I ran toward her and pulled her hair and gave my strongest jab, that she was fallen into the creek. She was trying to stand up and again i gave her another punch that I felt all my strengths were released. I knew she was hurt so much. She was surrounded by many students and teachers, but I left the place crying and but felt the success of my revenge.
In the morning, I was called by Mrs. Sanchez and interviewed me the incident. I told her the story from the start. My teacher advised me not to do it again and she scolded me seeing Analyn with many bruises and black eyes. My teacher gave me a letter requesting my mother to come to school. I was afraid thinking that i would be sent to prison cell or be killed by other muslim. I was then afraid of the muslim I felt guilty of what i had done to analyn. Therfore i decided to stop schooling.
Blessing in disguise my mother arrived and asked us to stop schooling since we would be moving again to Surigao where my father was working. I did not tell my mother what had happened in the school, but I was very happy of my mother's decision to bring us far, whether or not I would really stop schooling.