2004/03/08

My Several Firsts (Various Recollections)

First Visit
In grade 5 and grade 6, I was a member of the Little League Baseball team of Holy Spirit School. I played third base and competed in the provincial meet. In one of our practices, in my final year in elementary, we used the field inside the seminary compound. It was a Saturday morning. The seminarians were having laborandum. They looked neat and happy. The place was quiet and peaceful. I liked the place the first time I saw it.

In that group were Raymund, Dennis and several others who didn’t enter the seminary in high school.

There was one among us who appeared to be an expert in a lot of things, including vehicles. He was talking about a “combi sa seminaryo”. I didn’t know what it was nor had the courage to show I didn’t know. It seemed to me that it was a means of transportation and that it was something grand. Everybody was enthusiastic to see “combi” and much more ride in it. But we never got the chance. We didn’t even see it.

On our way back to the HSS, we walked to the junction. While waiting for a jeepney, I remember our coach telling us to rest and sleep in the afternoon. One of us said that he was tired of sleeping. We all laughed. We were happy. I was happy. Well, that impression must have persisted long after that day since months later I made the decision to enter IHMS.

First Night
I was anxious as I was preparing for bed. The smell of Hino de Pravia, naphthalene ball, starched sheets and factory-fresh Guitar brand shirts filled the air every time I opened my locker.

It was my first night away from the family, except for an overnight Boy Scout camping in Bilar around two years before. I wasn’t comfortable lying down among rows of beds. At home I had my own room.

The sophomores appeared to be hostile and unfriendly. I felt the need to protect my things all the time. I had to keep them in the locker padlocked. I didn’t feel safe. There was no privacy.

That afternoon, I recalled, my parents had brought me to IHMS with my clothes inside a bag. We had to meet with the Fr Rector for an interview. When they left me, I felt panic. It finally dawned on me that I was on my own. I immediately felt that I had made a serious mistake of entering IHMS. I was seriously considered quitting at that point. However, I knew I was in the same lot as my grade 6 classmates. I thought that they should quit first before I did. I challenged myself.

Just before “lights off”, I came to know of Roy and the twins (Moises and Precioso) whose beds were near mine. It was 10:00PM but I didn’t feel like sleeping. I was depressed. My chest felt so heavy. Then I heard the siren of the Coca-Cola processing plant. The last time I heard that sound, I was comfortably and safely tucked in my own private bed at home. I remembered my room at home and how cozy it was. I also remembered my family and how they were at that time. Tears finally rolled down my eyes. I can’t remember what time I slept. I can only recall that it was a long, long night.

First Sunday Outing
Sundays we were allowed to visit our home. It was also my first time to take a public transport unaccompanied by a family member. After lunch, I waited for a group I was comfortable with. Most of my former classmates in Holy Spirit School were fetched. So I went with Meliton.

We were on our way towards the junction when the rain poured. It was too late to go back, so we took shade under the acacia tree by the road side. The tree was only around 50 meters from the main gate. It was not a perfect spot but it afforded us enough space to escape from being drenched. There were two other high school seminarians but I can’t remember who they were. I only remember Meliton making a comment, “Mora man ta’g mga piso nga gibubuan ug pasawan.” We all laughed.

There was a former schoolmate in grade school who also took shelter from the rain, Balbin. He was going the opposite direction. When he knew that we entered the IHMS, he started to imagine what life was inside, “It must be very miserable and lonely to stay there away from your family.” We were silent. I felt the same. But I was also ambivalent. The rain subsided to a drizzle. We started walking towards the junction. It was my first Sunday afternoon outing in IHMS. The year was 1976 and I was 12 years old. (msa)