My Unfinished Academics on My Finished Piece

Looking at my FB info page, one might have the feeling that it is somehow incomplete.Yes, it is incomplete.

I first came into formal schooling at the age of three as a Nursery student at the former St. Theresa’s College in Manila (now Adamson University). I think I only spent a few months there. But I can never forget the motherly ways of our Principal then. I used to come in her office every recess and she makes me a glass of Tang orange juice every single time. My Mom, being a college professor in Manuel L. Quezon University, she  managed to include me as a “saling-pusa” in the Kindergarten class the next schoolyear at the elementary department. The age requirement for that level then was five years old and I was only four. I also won first runner-up as Miss MLQU (it was a raffle ticket type of thing). It was the first time I finished a level and I even was included in the graduation rites. That is the only graduation picture I ever had.

Five years of age marked my entry to St. Scholastica’s College Manila as a Preparatory student. Seven years I spent on these grounds and I still miss it. I miss the playground where I kept on trying to make my swing go around the top pole. I miss the tree house. I miss the Chapel where I prayed for the soul of the beheaded nun who chose to show her ghostly self to me once in the playground. I miss the dimly lighted lobby near Gate 1 where a photo of the beheaded nun is hung, along with old nuns who served in the school. I miss the clinic in frony of the cafeteria where I spent a lot of hours sleeping and resting. I miss the grade school library and AVR wher my love for books and reading got feee rein. I miss the auditorium where I first watched the movie Sister Stella L. I miss the two-storey cafeteria. I miss the large canteen. I miss St. Cecilia’s Hall where I had my piano lessons. I miss the fairs. SSC has grade 7, unlike other sister schools. Top grade 6 students get to be accelerated to high school. I did not pass through grade 7 because I had to transfer to another school  due to our transfer of residence. I got technically accelerated. So I did not experience an elementary graduation.

St. Scholastica’s Academy of Marikina was my next stop for high school. I spent a total of only nine academic quarters there. I-S, II-N, III-O then D. Again, I missed out on a diploma and a graduation. All hell broke loose within the family which made me stop schooling. Of all my academic experiences, this stay at SSAM is and will always be the most memorable. My longest and dearest friends belong to this batch. I will always be thankful to Batch ’89 for considering me a part of them even if I did not spend the whole four years and graduate with them.

One summer during high school, I took a Journalism and Creative Writing course under Lorna Kalaw-Tirol and Rene O. Villanueva at Ateneo at Ateneo. If my life did not take different detours, I would have taken more courses like this one.

When Batch ’89 entered their last year of high school, I enrolled at a public high school as a third year student in one of the provincial towns my Mom brought us to. I managed to complete one grading period before I signed up for the Philippine Educational Placement Test of the DECS The results placed me in college. I again got a technical acceleration.

Angeles University Foundation was my first college foray. Mass Communications. I was an irregular student because I entered during the second semester thus my classes were an odd mix of different students enrolled in  various courses and year levels. The thing was, I had a lot of vacant time. I start at around 10 a.m. and end at 9 p.m. A lot of those vacant blocks of time I spent at Kitok’s with classmates – eating, chilling, drinking (red horse even at high noon.) I only managed to complete Prelims. My grandmother and aunt got sick and one was hospitalized in Manila and the other in Angeles City. It took its toll on my health and our finances so I had to drop.

When I got better, my Mom met a benefactor for me and I took a set of computer short term courses at AMA Learning Center in San Fernando, Pampanga. DOS, Lotus, DBase and that software that is the precursor of Word. This I managed to complete. I just can’t remember where I put my certificates.

During that AMA stint, I met (got reacquainted, actually) the man I will get married to. I got married in May and decided not to enroll for June because I might get pregnant during the semester and health-wise, I know I will be having a risky pregnancy due to my heart condition. But as the months passed, I did not get pregnant and I decided to enroll for the second semester. New course, new university – Secretarial Administration at Holy Angel University. If I remember right the course. What is clear in my mind is that I enrolled in a college where the dean is my godmother. Right after prelims, my cardiologist told me am pregnant and since it’s my first, I need to have a lot of rest.  Again, I dropped out.

In between the birth of my first and second sons, I took a computer refresher course at STI Angeles. I also cannot remember where I put my certificate.

When we transferred to a resettlement area in Porac when my second son was barely a year old, a college was put up right across our house – Lito Lapid College Foundation. It will be dumb of me if I do not seize the opportunity and I enrolled under Secondary Education course. If I remember right, I think there was one semester I did not pay for tuition because I was a receipient of Erap Estrada’s scholarship. I know I have that certificate somewhere in the house. I finished three semesters here. My third semester was when I gave birth to my youngest child. I spent the fourth semester resting.

Next was UP Diliman. For various reasons we all deem best at the time, I joined my sister there. I did not change course, I added a major – Special Education and English. If SSAM is a memorable one for me because of the friends I earned there, UP is my learning heaven. I even planned to relocate my family in the area and try to get my sons into the UPIS system.

I spent three semesters there. My third semester was an unfinished one because two of my sons repeatedly got sick and were hospitalized. They were pre-schoolers then. I then chose to be a full time mother over earning a degree.

I spent my mornings in their school. Then I again got the college itch. Guagua National Colleges is just a stone’s throw away from their school. I did not finish a single semester there. My few weeks stay there was a total waste of time. There are classes wherein the instructor will not attend without prior warning leaving me stranded without anything to do and thinking of the things I could have done in my house and with my kids. The only consistent class was my last class in the evening.

A few years after, I learned about CAP Distance Learning. I put everything in it. I thought it will be my last stop wherein I can finally earn a college degree. But the promised financial support for this endeavor did not push through. A few years back, after the financial issues of several pre-need companies, I was informed that I still can continue with them. I just need to pay a penalty.

I don’t think I will ever earn that college diploma. If I do go back to college, it will simply be for personal satisfaction and not for anything else. On the other hand, I do not think I will be satisfied with a piece of parchment. What would I do with it? What will it give me in return?

Through the years, I have been offered to earn a diploma without attending any class. My protestations were always met with a variation of “you just need the diploma so you could take the Licensure Exam” and “you are already known as someone who is qualified in so many ways except for that piece of parchment.” Not my cup of tea though. On hindsight, principles really would not put food on the table nor give you positions or titles. But then, I am more at peace with that principle of mine.

My middle son promised to fund my college education when he gets a job after graduation. I told him that he should instead fund his higher studies. He is young. He needs more parchment for his career advancement. I do not need a parchment because I do not have a career.

My three sons having parchments and a better life than what I had is the only thing I need for me to feel that I have contributed something good to this life I have led.

***********

I started this piece on the 20th of December 2011, first titled as My Unfinished Education, My Unfinished Note. Between then and now, I have added and or removed a sentence or two. Sometimes a paragraph. I finally got enough juice going today to finally wrap this up. The downside is, I still have enough juice left over to write a sort of a continuation about this but the outside world intrudes. I need to get ready for a motorcade. Maybe I can start some lines while driving.

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