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Remembering a School

I always remember Ateneo de Naga as a school that, for a long time, stood without a gate. But I also remember it as one school that was forbidding to the outsiders. And for a long time, there was a big outside for the school.

We did not need the world outside. Behind us was Queborac. This was some kind of a magical, hidden garden. We did not even try to find out that Queborac was not a forest but really a farmland waiting to be a subdivision. That place made us strong, as it prevented the world outside to enter our world and expanded our territory.

There were vocabularies only we - and the previous generations - knew.  We had, for example, "class nights." The word "bonding" was not coined then as we know it now but class nights served as that, a bonding session. The teacher, usually detached and strict during daytime classes, became accessible and fun. We had a run of the campus. Basketball games were played even at 10 in the evening. Ghost stories were swapped, and our crush for the lovely Miss Nimia Salceda, now up close, even got more intense.

Scary (but fun) were the Jug and Post. I do not know if there ever was one Atenean who did not have a record in the Prefect of Discipline. There were just a zillion possibilities of infraction, violation, and lapses. If the confessional took care of our venial and mortal sins, the Jug and Post managed our young temper and our problem with authorities. If the documents of our transgressions still exist, they would provide a window not so much into our subversive creativity but in the acute way our teachers documented them.  Here are examples: spitting without permission; impersonating the Principal; unofficial laughter.

Post was clear: you clean the campus or pick garbage. During Saturdays, the offending students came to the campus with bolo and hack away the tall grasses that were everywhere. Jug was another matter. It could come in the form of writing 1,000 t0 5,000 times the sentence: "I will always bring my Hayes and Moon to class (Hayes and Moon was this thick, heavy book on world history). One of our teachers, Mr. Sofronio Llorin, made the task even more tortuous but amusing. A student found playing with the eraser would be asked to write a 2,000-word composition entitled "The Eraser."