His name is Jaycee. Jaycee Balero.
He’s the rapper of the class. I mean, all the boys of my class could rap, but Jaycee’s the leader among all rappers.
He’s a wildcard too, if you know what I mean.
I could remember the day that he really drove me mad. He disrespected me verbally, and the expletive hit right through me because I… was… his teacher.
I was really depressed that he had to say that to me. That day I told my students how depressed I was that I had to face that… that it was like a punch at my face… That oftentimes I would ask myself what was I doing for them as their teacher.
I cleaned the room all by myself that day, but Jaycee stayed. I think he felt guilty; he even helped me clean the room. Both of us were not speaking, until I was about to close the room.
He said sorry.
Anyway, back to the home visit.
“Teacher wag mo na bisitahin si Jaycee,” Ivan said, “Masakit na ulo mo eh.
Touched, I replied. “Okay lang yan. Kaya pa naman ni teacher.”
Jaycee and I were with Ivan on the way since they travel the same route. Jaycee was even rapping all the way from school. When we went down the tricycle, we looked for a store. I bought him Potato Fries because he said he was hungry.
When we arrived, everyone in their house was surprised. They immediately asked what the problem was, and of course I just replied that it was my project to visit all of them.
“Si Jaycee, okay naman. Medyo makulit sa classroom pero kaya ko na siya ngayon. Dati kasi talaga hindi ko sila kaya patahimikin. Parang mga nagwawala.”
“Nagkakape kasi yan.” His father said.
Ivan and I were served by Jaycee’s sisters with cheesecake and a glass of RC. I think they were six of them; Jaycee’s the only guy among the siblings.
“Yung pag-aaral naman ho niya?”
“Mmm… Nakaka-75. Kaya naman. Dati talaga akala ko hindi. Pero simula noong laging pumapasok, nagiging okay na.”
“Ay oho ayaw niyan talagang hindi pumasok. Nagmamaktol pa yan. Basta kahit walang baong pera, okay lang. Ang mahalaga nakakain siya ng tanghalian. Eh minsan pag walang agahan, walang tanghalian tapos wala pang baong pera, hindi na namin pinapasok.”
Glad that Jaycee wanted to go to school, sad that he goes to school with an empty stomach… And he’s used to it.
“Ikaw ba ang panganay?” I asked his sister.
“Ako po ngayon. Pero siya po talaga ang panganay.” She then pointed to the frame of a very handsome guy. Jayson Balero was his name.
Shocked, I had no words to speak. There was a minute of silence.
“Napagkamalan na magnanakaw ng sumbrero. Pero sa kanya ho talaga yun. Dito ho kasi ang ginagawa, kapag may magnanakaw pinapatay kaagad.”
What did I just hear? A CAP. SERIOUSLY?
“Hindi rin po namin alam. Nakamotor po.”
Again, there were moments of silence.
“Mabait ho yun. Graduating na ng 4th year high school. Eh pinapasundo ko nga to,” their father pointed to the eldest sister, “Tapos di ko naman alam na ganon na pala yung nangyari. Pinanews ko pa nga ho yun.”
True enough, here’s the link of the news. http://www.philstar.com/metro/515641/binatilyo-niratrat-todas
“Naghugas pa yun ng pinggan bago umalis cher.” Jaycee added.
“Naalala ko pa ho bago siya umalis. Nagpaplano na siya kung anong gagawin. Sabi niya tutulungan daw niya si mama para makaahon sa hirap.”
Made me teary-eyed when she said that.
“Maraming nakisimpatya kasi alam ng lahat na mabait yung panganay ko.” their father added, “Walang bisyo. Hindi naninigarilyo at umiinom. Pati nga maestra niya dati noong high school laging bumibisita dito, umiiyak kasi nga mabait na bata.”
Jaycee was with us, half-naked. I told him to wear his shirt and slippers, so he went back home I think. Unfortunately, he was not able to follow us. I went home, pissed by how poisonous money could be. Allegations. Shallowness.
Anything could lead to death.
Student number 39, check.