What is three decades and a half? For at least one generation, that is an entire lifetime. But for our batch it spans the period from the time we left City Central School—and with it the innocence of our elementary years—up to the present. A good number of interesting tales of growth, survival and struggle can surely be mined from those years.
I and my batch mates Nilo and Edwin did some reminiscing yesterday after we, together with another batch mate Lilu, discussed at Big Bucks along F. Ramos St. the preparation for Batch ‘72’s first ever “reunion” on Dec. 30 at Grand Majestic. It will be a mini reunion, actually, because it involves only two out of the batch’s around 20 sections.
City Central has always been big, more so in the eyes of the kids that entered its gates. Yet, the last time I visited the school during the coverage of one election, what caught my attention was the seeming smallness of the tables and chairs in the classrooms. That proved the disparity between the present and memories that span a few decades.
I was among the smallest in my batch courtesy of my father, a “big” W, thus the idea that my elementary classmates were taller than me stuck. I always thought, for example, that Rommel, our biggest classmate, was a giant. That was until I visited him in his place in Sibonga. He was still big, but I was pleasantly surprised I was taller than him.
The size of our batch can be measured in the gap that separated Grade 6 Sun and Moon (1 and 2) from the other sections. The higher sections were in the main building at the corner of Osmeña Blvd. (formerly Jones Ave.) and P. del Rosario Sts. That building, sadly, is showing its age and is no longer the focus of the school’s daily activities.
When I transferred to City Central from Argao where I studied Grade 1, I was in the lower section, in a classroom at the periphery. The next year I was transferred to one of the sections that used one of the rooms that surrounded the small quadrangle in the main building, there to forge friendships that would stick and last until we left the school.
I say one of the education department’s most important moves through the years was the setting up of schools in every city barangay, thus spreading enrolment away from City Central. For when we went up the stage to get our “diplomas” (bond paper) at the time, the line was so long nobody bothered to check whether the names called were ours.
We were actually what I described in one essay I wrote as a guinea pig batch. For a time our grades were not in numbers but in such terms as US (unsatisfactory), S (satisfactory), VS (very satisfactory) and E (excellent)—progressive education they called that. Other experiments were done when I was in high school during Martial Law.
Of course, we were not yet concerned with the events that unfurled outside the campus then. I was in a movie house skipping my Science High classes, for example, when I heard murmurs about Martial Law being declared. But the whole impact of the declaration I only felt years later, when I was in college and swept by the tide of protest.
Reunions, though, are not about country but about individuals, not about history but about memories—lost under the heap of recent experiences, perhaps, but still joyous when brought back to the surface. For my batch mates, that is what Dec. 30 will be about.
–I wrote this for my Dec. 21 Candid Thoughts column in Sun.Star Cebu