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Growing Old Gracefully


I promised I would write about my childhood a week ago. Some may not be as clear as what I am going through right now but I still remember.

I was born in a little town in Pangasinan in Northern part of Luzon 65 years ago. Come to think of it, I’ll be turning 66 in two months, October 27 to be exact. There are four of us kids in the family, I have three brothers, I lost one with cancer three months ago. Together with my two brothers, we spent four years of grade school in our barrio then transferred to the school in town during intermediate grades. Our youngest graduated grade school in Quezon City when the three us older siblings were already in high school.

You won’t probably believe this but in our barrio, we only had two school rooms and two teachers. Miss Rimando taught grades 1 and 2 while my uncle, mom’s cousin, taught grades 3 and 4. What I vividly remember were those nursery rhymes I learned back then. We didn’t have school uniforms and we went to class in slippers. Every morning before class started, we were assigned to water the plants then we had flag ceremony and Panatang Makabayan. There were always some kind of reminders from our teachers before going to the classroom. Imagine just learning your ABC in grade 1.

Dad decided that we spend high school at the University of Santo Tomas (the oldest university in the Far East) since he was working there. I was late in the entrance exams so I took it at the principal’s office late summer of 1969. I enjoyed high school life although the administrators were strict to us in wearing uniforms especially, all girls in each class and we were only allowed to mingle with our brother sections during school activities. We belonged to the morning session and we had separate exit at the end of the day while the boys had separate entrances.

It was there I learned to read books since we had high school reports back then. A classmate introduced me to Mills and Boon paperbacks. Dad borrowed those books from the high school librarian. I was a freshman in college when Dad suggested if I wanted to work as a student librarian. I took the exam and passed even if I didn’t understand what library catalogue was for. I was assigned at the Humanities Section of the UST Library where I learned serious reading. I took up BSC Economics and graduated in 1978. I was employed at Bank of the Philippine Islands and worked there for more than twenty one years before I availed of early retirement. It was those times when I armed myself with books, an eclectic mix of reading genre.

I taught Nissa and Josef to appreciate books when they were kids. It paid off. Both of them were smart and honors students. Josef earned medals every school year until high school while Nissa had hers until college, she graduated Magna Cum Laude. The three of us are alumni of the University of Santo Tomas. Josef is now working at JP Morgan Chase Bank while Nissa is a manager at Bank of PI. I was blessed to have smart, loving and thoughtful kids. Thank God.

I am getting old but I like to think I am growing old gracefully. I enjoy bonding with my only grandchild Nate although we don’t see much of each other nowadays.

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