Her name is Justine. Justine Lagante.
Justine had been on my top list since first quarter, only she would always go a step lower every quarter. There was a time that I had to look at her past report card to see why she was in my section, and I was right that she should have been five sections higher.
“Teacher, pag binisita mo ako sabihin mo kay mama na isama ako sa field trip.”
Two days ago, I mentioned to three of my students that there would be a field trip some time if ever the principal confirmed it. Teacher Gian, one of my co-fellows, told me that five of my students could join, and Justine was one of them.
While on our way, we laughed as we talked about her brother who was leaving us behind. “Grabe talaga si kuya akala mo walang kasama!” she even mentioned.
The village they were in had big to average houses, so I thought they lived in one of those. Apparently, they covered what’s inside the eskinitas–where Justine lived.
“Andito na po tayo teacher!” She said cheerfully. “Si mama?”
“Ay wala si mama mo.” Her auntie said, “Si papa mo lang andiyan.”
“Asan dito mga kapatid mo, Justine?” I asked.
“Ito po teacher,” as she pointed to the little girl beside her and a toddler with curly hair who was lying on the floor.
“Hindi po, apat.”
“Asan yung isa?”
Then suddenly, the one who was lying on the floor multiplied! Haha! She had a twin!
“May kambal! Ang cute!” I said. Never mind me, I have this extreme fond of twins.
Anyway, his father went downstairs afterwards. When I saw him, I immediately knew that Justine and her other sister looked like their mother while the twins looked like their father. I guess my thought had to do with the hair. Yep, genes and bio thing.
“Ay sir, yung sa fieldtrip po, okay lang ho ba isama si Justine kung sakaling matuloy?”
“Sa akin ho walang problema pero sa mama niya kasi kinakabahan siya sa mga napapanood sa balita na may nararape na bata.”
I remembered my mother all of a sudden.
“Wag po kayong mag-alala. Kung sakaling matuloy po, ako po mismo ang magbabantay sa kanila. Behave naman po si Justine eh. Asan ho pala mama niya?”
I ALWAYS see her mother by the way. She would be the one carrying Justine’s bag on the way to school, ask for updates on projects and assignments, and even offer me some Betaplus products.
“Nasa Betaplus ho, yun kasi trabaho niya.”
Justine and her aunt went with me towards the highway where I was supposed to ride a jeep. On my way, I kind of missed the protectiveness of my mother. When I was a kid, I used to get irritated when she would not allow me to go to gimmicks. (Okay I really do miss them… Now I’m crying haha) She even rode with me when I told her I was being bullied by my busmates. She worked hard, and at the end of the day I never kissed her, even fought her for misunderstanding me. (Hello tears damn it, why am I even crying)
Now, I do kiss and hug my parents. Say I love them if I had the chance. They’re getting old, and so am I. But I guess, I never acted like their child… until now.
This teacher thing… always makes me miss my childhood… and appreciate whatever I never appreciated before.
Student number 33, check.