Class War

It was “customary” for the higher years to bully the seminarians in the lower years. But in 3rd High School, we had enough.

In the H.S. Dorm B, the juniors and seniors were together. The juniors were near the entrance, the seniors near the lavatory. My bed was by the window facing east, near the corner of the dorm, in between the beds occupied by Ramonito and Loel. I used to argue a lot with Loel about petty things like chain letters and others. In fact, we enjoyed arguing just before lights out.

A row of lockers was set against the wall near Ramonito’s bed. It was behind one of the lockers where he caught a gecko one afternoon. He preserved the poor animal in a bottle filled with formalin. It should still be in one of the biology collections together with the stuffed dogs.

I had heard that several of my classmates were smarting at the bullying of the seniors. Mga abusado kuno. I wasn’t particularly affected since I was one of the silent ones. The noisy and the tough were usually the ones being bullied.

It was sometime in December since we spent the rainy afternoon looking for trees in Taloto to use for our Christmas tree.

I noticed some classmates preparing pieces of wood and surreptitiously hiding them between the trees that we brought to the seminary. It was supposed to be for something special that night and that I should likewise find my own--just in case. I wasn’t really sure what they meant. But I felt that they were preparing for war.

We brought them together with the Christmas trees and spirited them up to the dorm, under the mattress or inside the locker.

The plan was simple. After lights off, we were to continue talking aloud. If the seniors would complain we will continue. If they bullied us, then we would take up arms and fight. Somebody who was near the switch would turn the lights on and we would attack.

That night there was a sense of excitement. But there was also apprehension. Nick was toying with his belt that had a huge, heavy metal. On the other hand, he was holding a key chain that also had a heavy metal attached to it.

Leodegario was making fun with his club. The others tried to conceal their anxiety. It was the anticipation of war that silenced many.

Then the lights were turned off. We conversed aloud. We laughed aloud. I heard somebody from the seniors’ side near the lavatory say, “Shhhhh… Hoy!” It was greeted with laughter instead.

Then somebody shouted, “Hoyyyy, lights off na!” There was more laughter. Another one said, “Hilum na mo diha bay.” More laughter.

Somebody seemed to stand up as the steel bed squeaked, “Unsa man mo diha!” This is it, I thought. Somebody moved towards the switch, but before the lights were turned on, I heard the sound of glass shattering as it hit the wall near the main door. Ferdie, a senior, was the one who threw the glass. Brydon followed, brandishing his CAT sword.

We were not prepared for the involvement of those who were not bullying the class. But the lines were drawn. Nick stood up with his weapon. My other classmates, seeing Nick, also stood up pulling out the sticks they brought that afternoon.

Then, suddenly, a loud crash (wood against wood) reverberated as the dorm entrance opened. The voice of Fr Eugene, the Prefect of Discipline, bellowed, “NGANONG SABA MAN ‘NI!”

All lights were turned on. We all froze. I can’t remember how it ended, but the war suddenly ended before it even began. There was an investigation. But I can’t remember what happened after that. I don’t even recall anybody getting punished. I can only recall that we became very close with this senior class, especially in College. (msa)