Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Melancholy of Ma'am Kristine: Reminiscing

A Short Story, a Long Entry

When I graduated, two things were clear: (1) I want to teach, and (2) I was not going to teach in UP Diliman. For personal reasons which I would rather not discuss, I decided that the only way I would work in UP was if I were to become a researcher. And so I am. But what about teaching?

In some strange alternate universe, I could be a Pulitzer Prize winner or a Broadway star. But closer to the current reality--if things had gone just a bit differently (ie. I chose to work on my thesis instead of going to Europe with my mom) my first job would have been at an exclusive school for boys. While I was accepted despite the fact that I had yet to graduate, the interview with the head honchos, mostly comprised of a bunch of priests, turned me off a bit.

Priest : You want to become a teacher here? This is a Catholic school exclusive for boys.
Eia : I’m aware of that, father.
Priest : You’re young and beautiful, what would you do if one of the students courts you?
Eia : I would reject him. I am their teacher, after all. It wouldn’t be right or professional.
Priest : But what if they’re insistent and give you gifts?
Eia : My answer would depend on the gifts, of course.

(Eia is politely shown the office door.)

Eia : Humorless old man, can’t even take a joke.

Fine, so I really didn’t do that (like I'd have the courage to). Of course I answered politely and let them hear what they wanted to hear. But, seriously, the thought that I would have to face off with a bunch of hormonal teenage boys twice my size every single day brought to mind images of naughty videos and ecchi manga. And two years ago, unlikely as they were, those images were daunting.

Now, it was shortly after that interview that I realized I didn’t want to work in a high school. Despite that, on a whim, I sent my resume to my alma mater. Of course, the person in charge of screening applicants just had to be Mrs. Cobblepot (as in the Penguin, Cobblepot, Pisay graduates would understand) whose only memory of me was that she never saw me in her year 3 science research class (7:30AM is an unholy hour for a class).

Mrs. C : Nag-aapply kang teacher? Dito sa Pisay?
Eia : Opo.
Mrs. C : May TOR ka?
Eia : (hands in TOR) Heto po.

(Mrs. C laughs hysterically)

Mrs. C : Nag-aapply kang teacher? Dito? Sa Pisay?
Eia : Ma'am, yun na po ba ang punchline?

Of course, that’s a gross exaggeration of what happened, but you get the picture. I was never a stellar student. Some places like to look at grades. End of story. And, to be honest, if I had been accepted, I would have hesitated taking the job. I hated that place when I was a student, and I wouldn’t be in my right mind if I chose to go back. The intense competition and the drama that results from pushing angst-ridden smart kids too hard is really not my cup of tea. Let them grow up before they face me.

And so, I decided to teach college students. Because I didn't want to work in Ateneo and found DLSU to be too far away from my current world. It was during a my dad's childhood friends' Christmas reunion that PLP was brought up. They told me I should try to apply there. A lot of people offered to help me get in I consistently replied “Thanks. I'll think on it”. After half a year of thinking, I got into a tricycle and was on my way. Or, at least, I was almost on my way.

Eia : Kuya, sa Pasig University po.
Driver : Saan yun?
Eia : Malapit lang daw po e.
Driver : Saan nga?
Eia : Sundan daw po natin yung mga sign.

After a few minutes of discussing, the driver finally agreed to take me to “Pasig University” (note to self: not even tricycle drivers can get you to your destination if you don't know where it is). He nearly brought me to another university had I not seen the sign near McDo directing people to Alcalde Jose. But, I eventually reached PLP. I went to the HRD. I submitted my resume and the rest is history.

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