The Gang Leader

SY 1977-78. He was in first year, one year behind us. From the start, it was apparent that he didn’t fit in the seminary. His heart belonged outside. His classmates were not his friends. He had other friends--his gang mates outside. He was said to come from a rich family. He was aloof. Spoiled, I would say. He was the leader of a gang of bike riders.

On one occasion, there was an afternoon activity in the Cathedral. The seminarians, in neat white polo and black pants, participated. In the confusion that ensued there were high school students that strayed from the main group. Based on account, there was a first year high school student that was threatened by this gang of bike riders. The accounts were sketchy. Was it Katiw or someone else? We couldn’t be sure. But the emotions ran high. Everyone wanted to have a piece of those bike riders for threatening one of our kind.

A few days later, on a weekday, when the first morning class just started, the group wondered into the seminary compound, probably to pay their leader a visit. Bad move. We were in the class of Mr Al, a new teacher from San Carlos University, who came in the middle of the school year to replace Ms Joy. (And boy, did he impress us tremendously? He astounded us with his philosophical reflections on why a flower is a sign of femininity and a symbol of masculinity. The likes of Leodegario and Loel found comfort in those words.)

It was in the middle of this discussion when we spotted them enter the gates as a formidable army of bikers.

In less than a minute, we heard a commotion as we saw the individual bikers running for their lives, elbowing each other to get past the huge gate that a couple of seminarians were trying to close hoping to trap them inside. In the heat of the moment, Leodegario leapt from his seat, climbed the window and jumped. He was anxious to join the fray. The others were less “barbaric” and used the door. We were after all teenagers and acted our age, doing something that we would feel ashamed of in the future.

Everyone seemed to lust for blood, wanting to join the brawl. But there was no one left; the bikers had scuttled like dogs nursing their tail between their legs. Frustrated, we all went back to class. Professor Al was speechless. In a split second, a class that appeared to be tamed and refined suddenly turned warlike barbarians lusting for blood. He trained his sights on Leodegario who jumped out of the window. He castigated him, in straight English. We were impressed all the more.

As for the bikers, they never set foot on the seminary grounds again. I don’t know if their leader lasted the entire year. But he certainly didn’t return the following year. (nox arcamo)