Even though I am crying right now because I feel so bullied in a system that I chose to enter, I will still continue to post this.
His name is Ivan, Ivan Fernandez.
He was classified as both “wasted” and “short” when I calculated his BMI and measured his height respectively. That was June, and he gets thinner and thinner every day.
He was absent for six consecutive days (today was the sixth), so I chose him to be the second student for my project as a teacher.
Three of my students went with me. They actually insisted on staying so they could go with me on my visit with Ivan. Again, the roads were narrow and bulky; well, narrower this time. There were also several roads that went up then down then up again.
But if my heel breaks because of this, I think that would be fine.
I saw him with ragged clothes, and I noticed how he became thinner. I exclaimed, “Diyos ko po! Ivan?”
Ivan was shocked. He did not expect my visit; well, who is anyway?
“Saan mama mo?”
“Wala po, gabi sila umuuwi.”
“Okay, asan yung bahay niyo?”
“Andoon pa po sa baba.”
Deep inside, I thought, Bababa ulit? Deeper inside, I thought, So this is how long he travels every day…
“Asan yung bahay niyo?”
“Ayan cher,” one of my students said, “Yan oh.”
I looked up. It was made of wood, bigger than the first one I visited. There were two beds nailed on the wall (don’t ask, I don’t how they did it), and a banig was on the floor. Yet, only one bulb lightened the house. There was no sign of ventilation; my sweat glands responded immediately.
A guy, 20-ish woke up from sleep. It was his eldest brother. I talked to Ivan with his eldest brother on his side.
“Bat hindi ka nakapasok?”
“May lagnat teacher.”
“May lagnat tapos naglalaro ka sa labas,” I joked. “Okay ka na?”
“Pumasok ka na bukas ha? Namimiss ka na namin.”
He told me that he was about to go to school today, but he was late so he thought of not going.
And so I went. Instead of three, I had four students on my side as I walk towards the tricycle terminal. I had the chance to interview the eldest brother.
“Ilang kayong magkakapatid?”
He laughed, “Sige ma’am isigaw niyo pa ho.”
Third. Ivan was nine, so how old were his siblings?
“At ikaw? Panganay?”
“Oho, nagstop ho ako.”
And again, a lot of realizations came by. They were eleven in a family. Eleven. And being in a family with five members who sometimes quarrel about what to eat, I could not help but feel guilty.
Reality. It hurts.
Student number 2, check.