Wenceslao: Mini reunion

Bong O. Wenceslao
·3 min read

PARENTS of some of some of my son’s batch mates in elementary school decided to bring their children to the wake of their friend who had committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. The local government unit allowed the holding of the short wake despite the currently being imposed health protocols apparently because of how tragic the incident was. I told my son to be still conscious of the protocols and never take down the face mask and face shield he was wearing.

The wake became a mini physical reunion of sorts for former elementary school classmates who are now enrolled in different educational institutions in Cebu. I reckon they still are connected online and their bonding has intensified not only because of the tragic death of their classmate but also because they have all the time in the world online because of the pandemic-caused suspension of face-to-face classes.

My son’s former classmates were obviously waiting for the arrival of more acquaintances because they watched every vehicle that passed by. The house was located beside the subdivision road. I could sense my son’s elation upon seeing old friends. We wanted this as part of the process of their moving on from the tragedy.

I could feel the pain of the mother who must have recalled those days when we were gathered at the school yard while watching our children play before finally bringing them home. She told us that one of the reasons her son transferred to another school was the transfer of my son to a public school. My son was apparently one of his close friends. Sad.

My son didn’t graduate at the top of his batch but he was in the honor roll and was very friendly. His circle of friends was big. What if his batch remained largely intact in high school? Did the new circumstances his friend was in contribute to his demise? We don’t know. But he apparently needed a strong emotional support system.

The scene reminded me of my own initially tumultuous high school years. I wasn’t an academic achiever because my interests before I graduated in elementary school were somewhere else. I was a product of a public school system that could barely accommodate the number of students produced by a bursting population. I was among the top 10 percent of graduating students, true, but our batch had 20-plus sections, each of them having more than 40 pupils.

Our school was near the downtown area and we pupils had a good view of the giant. billboard that a movie house owner placed near there to attract viewers. When I learned to cut classes, that cheap and old movie house showing second-run films became a refuge. But I managed to graduate because the bad habit only afflicted me when I was in Grade 6. The school, I would like to believe, was even forced to include me in the list of pupils allowed to take the qualifying examinations for the then new Cebu City National Science High School. Only the top 10 percent of the graduating classes in every public school in the city were allowed to take the exams (to be continued).