Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Nostalgia (Part Two) : Behind Class Pictures

I hated class pictures.

I'm not photogenic. I stopped being photogenic the moment puberty set in and all the childish cuteness innate in all children mysteriously vanished underneath the acne and the awkwardness of an adolescent identity crisis. The moment I realized that my two front teeth were too big, that my face was too oily, that my nose was too fat, and that my hair comes to life to disarrange itself the moment I step away from the mirror (yes, that crucial moment I looked at my fifth grade Confirmation picture was a rather devastating one for my self-esteem) was the moment I started to refuse having my picture taken. Unfortunately, the excitement of my classmates whenever class picture day came was infectious and I often found myself very much present, disgustingly willing, and almost morbidly drawn to pose for the class picture. It's almost masochistic how I torture myself during the formal shots, agonizing ("agonized", such a fitting word to describe how I usually look during the formal shots) about how to pose for the "candid shot" (why the heck do they call it a "candid shot" when it's so obvious that our poses were over thought?).


Oh yes, I firmly believed that class pictures were hell spawn.

Keyword: believed.

I recently came across my high school class pictures. I still hate how I look, but now that I'm older, I realize that all my other classmates kinda look stupid, too. Caught up in my teenage angst, I never saw that everyone else was pretty much caught up in their own angsts to care about my angst. Oh, that's the most times I've used the word "angst" in one sentence.

Anyway, insecurities aside, I came to see details in the pictures that I would never have noticed before.

I never realized how obsessive-compulsive I was about taking note of details until I saw how I wrote the full names of all my classmates (row by row, from right to left) and the list of class officers at the back of each picture. Reading the roster of officers, I realize how we were maturing in our choices as shown by the people we elected.
As freshmen, our class elected those whom we recognized. Ian, Emerald 2001's (Eme '01) class president, was elected because people knew him from the batch council elections--rather, people knew his flashlight from the batch council elections ("This is our light, we are this flashlight", seriously, wtf?). Noelle, the VP, and Michelle, the Secretary were female heartthrobs. But, can you really blame us? We didn't know the people we were voting for.
As sophomores, we chose those whom we identified with. So, Jasmin 2001's class president, Jay-jay, was elected because she was nice. Our secretary and PRO Edmyr and Gerry were elected because their friends supported them. We already had impressions about these people. As accurate or inaccurate as these impressions may be, it was all we had so we relied on them.
When we were juniors and seniors, we began looking at the characteristics of those we voted for. Fides, was known to be very responsible so I wasn't surprised when she came to lead Strontium 2001. Papic was also very much qualified to become Charm 2001's president with her pragmatic and diplomatic nature. We stopped voting for who was popular and we began seeing who was suited. We already knew each other long enough to decide who would do well in what role.

Now, aside from people, I apparently also listed down some of the projects we did as whole classes. Class projects are awesome. I always enjoyed them because of the amount of interaction they involve. I always loved them because our teachers were easily wheedled into allowing us to "practice" during their class period.
Our first class activity was a presentation for the acquaintance party. Some of my classmates danced to Hansons' "MmmBop" (is that the actual title?) and Basil, Ferron, and I led the cheering squad.
Freshman year, we also had our English play. Our class did "Little Women". I remember how annoyed Ma-Anne and I were when we were assigned to write the script, but a small group of people suddenly declared that we were going to use the script they got out of a literary magazine. The lead characters were given to that group of girls and their crushes. I was part of the props committee, helped design the sets, and provided costumes (I was doing my best to cooperate!). I was also given the role of Marmee and Ma-Anne became an extra in a dance scene. For my role as the mother, my hair was covered with an entire container of baby powder which took me two days to wash off and made me look like "Jo"'s younger sister with premature lightening of hair. When our play tanked (as most high school plays do), Ma-Anne and I, being the biatches that we were, couldn't help but gloat.
Jade did a fantasy-adventure thing. I didn't get to see Opal's play, but I do remember that their smoke machine didn't work properly.
For Filipino, we did a "comic book" of Noli using photographs. I posed as Maria Clara. Reporting about Rizal's life gave me the role of Osei-san ("...she was a very obedient woman...") and Josephine Bracken ("...they were married in the eyes of God...") This was the heyday of the Fair Pair and, if I remember correctly, it was also a class effort that JM and Maya won second place at the Fair Pair. Basil said we should aim for second place because of the pedicab ride around the fair grounds was a prize exclusively offered to second place. (First place was the second year couple, half of which was Jacqui, a girl I would encounter again in college)

Sophomore year, we had these weird art exhibits from Sir Cipriano. We first had this wire-art exhibit where we used copper wire and soldering iron to create "sculptures". Sir Cipriano also had us cover the second floor windows with sparkly sequin designs. This involved sticking sequins one by one on the windows using oil (so it wouldn't be permanent). Stupid freshmen at that time used to run their fingers through our hardwork, thus destroying days of labor in seconds.
We also had our Val. Ed. movie, which caused major blow-ups between people for various reasons (Yay! for class "open forums" to air out our differences and Yay! for me playing the cliched bad girl in a denim jacket with a cigarette and without a bra). At about the same time, the math exhibit was being constructed. I think we made the Op Art exhibit. I'm not too sure because this was the year that I was far too busy with the student alliance.
For Fili, we did a half-class production.

Junior year was the infamous Ramayana year. Dan and I played the lead roles of Ravana and PresentSita while Marlon ("What an ugly demon!"), Dexter ("Surely is"), and Isabel played Rama, Lakshmana, and PastSita respectively. We were hanging out in KC's dorm room 9our favorite hangout next to the third floor front lobby girls' restroom) and I remember KC commenting that Vlad made one good looking Ravana and Ma-Anne complaining that Pocholo was too dark to become Ravana. Celine, on the other hand, was ranting about how "blood" was not pronounced as "blaad" and Donna, well, I don't think she liked her role as the golden deer.
This was also the year of the Literary Magazine, which Mia and I compiled and edited for Strontium. I wrote a Choose your own Adventure story about a secret lab under the Pisay campus for this. We crammed for the Literary Mag so bad that in the end, instead of a magazine, we had a bunch of paper stuffed into a plastic envelope and clamped with a, well, clamp.

Senior year was Iliad/Shakespeare year and also the year of the failed "Les Miserables" musical. I had multiple roles again. I was the scriptwriter and sets designer, which were roles I was used to. But, I also had the unenviable job of acting coach to Marlon ("Heeeeektooooor!") and Raffy ("Here's tesselation, son of Peleus, the vurst for you.") I also played another mother role. I played Andromakhe, Hektor's tragic wife.
This was also the year when batch 2001, for the first time, had finalists in the Paskorus. Burns, though he was from Muon, helped us out and played conductor. We changed our requisite OPM song from "Mr. Cupido" ("Minsan siya ay nakausap, ako ay parang nasa ulap, nang ako'y kanyang titigan, sa puso ko'y ano'ng sarap...") to "T.L. Ako Sa'yo" ("Di ka guwapo ang pangit mo!") last minute. We also sang "Diwa ng Pasko" ("Zoom-zoom zoom-zoom") as required by the mechanics, but a number of boys couldn't memorize the lyrics. Someone (Papic or Burns, tsk tsk) suggested that if they forgot the lyrics, they could simply say "Watermelon Bubblegum". Marlon and Gerom, who were both in the front row and who both forgot one too many lines, unfortunately caught the attention of the judges ("Yung ibang lalaki dito sa harap, hindi namin alam kung ano'ng kanta ang kinakanta"). Needless to say, we lost. But, we sang at the front lobby, quite satisfied with ourselves as the judges passed. We knew that our "TL ako Sayo" was much better than the winner's "Bangga ka 'Day". After that, we went to my place cause it was a day after my birthday.
Senior year was also the year of research projects and that darn Physics exhibit (Marlon in Wonderland) where Despi played a creepy looking doll and I played a sexy feline. It was an extremely stressful end of the year for me. Yearbook, Dalumat, Les Miserables (I was the managing director), and acads weighed heavily on me, but somehow, I finished.

Come to think of it, every year, people found themselves fighting over class productions. At the end of every year, the class was closer than ever. Without those projects, the relationships wouldn't have formed. And, if the people had been different, the projects wouldn't turn out the way they did. At the back of my class pictures, I didn't ask people to write me dedications, I took note of the facts and details. Somehow, these told me things that we didn't look into when we were still there.

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