His name is Peter. Peter Escopete.
He’s the ‘suki of the clinic’ of the classroom, but I could say that he’s one of my attentive and focused students. His assignments and projects were passed on time, and he’d be one of the students that would give you an accurate data whether you taught a topic well or not.
The roads were muddy since it rained today, but it was manageable. Nevertheless it did not hinder me to visit him today.
It was only a 10- to 15-minute walk from school. We were with three other students in my class who had the same route as Peter’s. Our talk made me not mind the travel time.
Her mother was surprised that Peter was with me. She thought something had happened to him, but of course I told her that I was only visiting to know my student more.
There were no chairs or beds, only two tables that contained dishes and books. I had to sit on the floor with them; they were very apologetic but I said I didn’t mind. I was even happy when I saw that different kinds of education posters were posted on a wall with one of Peter’s work which I marked excellent.
“Gusto ko lang ho kamustahin talaga si Peter.”
“Pasensya na ho magulo pa yung bahay namin. Inuupahan lang ho namin to. One seven.”
“Ayos lang ho. Walang problema. Nakakatuwa nga ho si Peter kasi talagang masipag yan mag-aral.”
“Mahina lang ho sa English.”
“Kailangan lang ho talaga nila mag-aral, makakaya naman po nila yan.”
One of his brothers interrupted by saying, “Hala tocino yung ulam! Bawal ka dyan!”
“Bakit ho bawal?”
“Bawal ho siya sa mga may food coloring.”
“Diba ho nagka Hepa siya nung nagsusuka siya lagi sa classroom.”
I suddenly remembered those days where we had to mop the floor whenever Peter would vomit. He was absent for three or more days when his mother suddenly came to school to say he had to be hospitalized due to Hepa.
“Bawal ho siya sa mga chichiria na piso, kwek kwek, mga isaw. Diba ho kasi doon madalas makuha ang hepa. Eh mahilig pa man din ho siya sa chichiria na piso lang.”
I oops-ed myself. I would always eat chips worth a peso during my spare time.
“Kamusta na ho siya ngayon?”
“Hindi na ho siya nagsusuka. Grabe talaga yun ma’am, infection na kasi pala kaya nagsusuka buti nadala namin. Kailangan paturukan. Sa April yung susunod. Hay, two nine nanaman.”
“Hala, two nine po? Ang mahal pala ng gamot sa Hepa.”
“Ay oho. Ginagamit na lang ho yung ipon namin para sa bahay, yun yung pinanggamot namin sa kanya. Sakitin ho kasi talaga tong si Peter. May mga sugat pa nga ho siya na nilalanggam.”
I was glad that they knew how to save, but my eyebrows could not help but meet. I wish I were a medical expert to know what it meant that time so I could inform them, if ever.
“Buti na lang ho hindi masyado naapektuhan yung grades ni Peter.”
“Oho. Siya nga po nagtuturo jan eh, sa grade 1 kong anak.”
WOW. That was awesome. I smiled.
“Marunong na po magbasa yang grade 1 dahil sa kuya.”
“Very good ka pala Peter eh!”
He smiled at me as he played his toy gun.
“Asan ho si mister?”
“Ayun, nasa labas po. Construction worker ho siya.”
“Nag-cacanteen po ako. Mula 5 ng umaga hanggang 5 ng hapon. Kakauwi nga lang ho naming mag-asawa.”
“Hala! Eh diba ho pumupunta pa ho kayo sa school?”
“Oho, bumabalik ho ko sa bahay para bihisan at paghandaan sila tapos ihahatid ko na sila sa school tapos babalik na ho ako sa trabaho. Sa gabi naman ho maglalaba.”
Deep inside, I felt shame. Shame for myself that this woman worked for 10 hours and I didn’t hear a complain, but I heard this:
“Para ho sa kanila. Lalo na ho kay Peter madalas magkasakit.”
I could not imagine how she could work that long…
She said she’d walk with me towards the bridge, even volunteered to carry my bag and go with me across the bridge. I appreciated her deed, but I refused and apologized for the surprise visit.
We parted ways by saying ‘Ingat’.
I traveled the muddy road then across the bridge, rode the jeep until I arrived Philcoa. Those times I was only thinking about how inspiring Peter’s parents were. I should take note of that.
Student number 7, check.