Once upon a time, we were in high school. Girls wore navy blue skirts and “Sailor Moon” blouse while boys wore navy blue pants and white polo shirts with the school seal on the left pocket. In first year, a guru taught the boys how to best tuck their shirts: tuck them with their briefs. The tucked shirts and “closed necks” made the ASCCs easily recognizable. The GSMCs had pig tails with green ribbons. Scouts had formation in the morning and sometimes in the afternoon. They were sometimes asked to patrol the corridors to list down those who loitered, littered, or were not in proper uniform. But in third year, there was a brief period when COCC girls wore the boys’ uniform, and COCC boys wore the girls’. Finally, for the first time, some of them were in proper uniform.
Once upon a time in high school, we had teachers who made us laugh, some who made us cry, and a few who made us mad. There was the Filipino teacher who made Vilma Santos impressions perfectly and taught the Noli Me Tangere like it was a telenovela. There was the Science teacher who gave seatworks to be answered within a very limited period. Hence, students would throw notebooks to reach her table and she would throw their notebooks back at them. There was this good-looking teacher who had the boys studying hard for her subject. There was the Math teacher who could deliver jokes without laughing after. There were advisers who looked after us like we were really their sons and daughters.
Once upon a time in high school, our projects were often handmade, even those for our Computer subject. We often used those Commodore 64s with aqua green screens just to play Pacman and Prince of Persia during vacant periods. To center a line of text, we actually had to count the characters and spaces. We did flowcharts and had GWBasic and Wordstar 6 lessons, but the Technology and Home Economics lessons that were more memorable were making a transistor radio, baking a cake, and making tocino.
Once upon a time in high school, we were artists, writers, and story tellers. We were actors, singers, and dancers (Remember Sayawitan? Math Jingle? Speech Choir? Intrams and Foundation Day? Ang Paglilitis ni Mang Serapio, Dalumat, and Anino?). We were architects (we made a miniature bank for third year Social Studies) We were young and talented (I think). And as Christina Aguilera would later on sing, “we were beautiful/ no matter what they say.”
Once upon a time in high school, we met our kindred, that one or a special group of people who would stay with us through the years in good and bad times. Some call it barkada; others call it tropa. The bond might have been formed instantaneously or over time, but one thing was for sure: it was meant for a lifetime.
And once upon a time in high school, many if not all of us fell in love for the first time. The lucky ones fell for people who felt exactly the same toward them, some fell for those who were not in the least aware of their existence, but the unfortunate ones fell for the last people they should have fallen for: their best friends.
Whatever this once upon a time meant to us, it was and would always be our story to tell.
*This piece was written for the souvenir program for our high school reunion in December 2007. This year, 2013, marks the 20th year since our HS graduation. 懐かしいよ。