Visit Number 43

Her name is Alyssa. Alyssa Bermudo.

Alyssa was a transferee from Pasong Tamo. I could remember how I reacted when I saw her grade 2 card, and compared it with her first quarter grades. I even doubted myself if I computed wrongly.

What happened? Lines of 7 became lines of 8 and 9. In fact, Alyssa was top 1 during the first, third, and fourth quarter. Due to that she ranked first in the overall average.

But we’re not just talking about grades here. I never saw her cry because a classmate teased her; she never threw tantrums when she didn’t get perfect in a quiz.

She never lied about her scores; in fact she’d return her paper if I overcounted her points. She’s not really quiet as in Maria Clara quiet, but she knows when to keep quiet and when to start talking. Like once she told, “Tumahimik kapag nagsasalita si teacher. Magsalita kapag magrerecite.”

Somehow, I could compare her with the princess in Disney’s Brave.

Because of her kindness and intelligence, many of the boys in my class liked her. During some of our recesses, I would notice that some of the boys would surround her and talk about whatever they could talk about.

That day, she told her grandmother not to fetch her since we would walk together.

On the way, I asked her that I was planning to make her a scholar if she’d still perform well in her next years.

“Kahit college teacher?”
“Oo pwede. Ano ba gusto mo paglaki?”
“Sundalo.”

That time, I wanted to salute her.

“Kaso ayaw ni mama eh.”

I explained why some of the parents would not like their daughters to be soldiers. But of course I told her that at the end of the day, she should decide what she would like to be.

Half-way, I asked, “Wala ka bang crush?” I asked her that since she was the heartthrob in my class.

“Ayoko teacher. Wala. Aral muna ako. Pagkatapos ko mag-aral, magtatrabaho na. Pag nakaipon na, baka pwede.”
“Woah talaga?”
“Opo.”

I was surprised by how mature she answered, like everything was planned already.

“Hala sinundo ka ng lola mo.” Her uncle said when we arrived.

“Sabi ko kay mami wag na eh.” She said upon entering their house.

There were three other kids inside the house, but it was obvious that Alyssa was the oldest. I saw her bring her wallet out, then counted her money.

“Wait lang teacher ah.”

I nodded as I watched her go out first. The three kids were talking to me about random stuff, and I laughed on how random and innocent they were.

When she came back, she had an RC in her hand.

“Ha? Hindi ka na dapat bumili ng RC!” I said, knowing that I knew it was from her own savings.

“Teacher nag-iipon ako eh. Minsan binibigyan ako ni mama ng Php 50. Ako na bumibili ng mga gamit ko sa school.”

I admire her maturity and knowledge of savings in her young age. Maybe that’s really how it goes… Experience will be our best teacher in life.

They tried their best to entertain me by showing their toy cars, vampire fangs, and a chocolate made from paper as we wait for Alyssa’s grandmother.

“Anong grade na tong kapatid mo?”
“Grade 1 po.”

“Marunong ka na magbasa?” I asked the little girl, but she moved her head sideways. “Hala paano yan?”

“Teacher dati nung grade 1 at grade 2 hindi rin ako marunong magbasa eh.” Alyssa then said.

“Nyeh paano yun? Paano ka nakapasa?”
“May kinokopyahan kami. Dalawa kaming nangongopya sa isang kaklase.”

SUCH A REVELATION FROM A TOP STUDENT! But how come she became top 1 in my class?

“Eh bakit biglang marunong ka na magbasa?!”
“Ewan. Nagkaisip.”

We laughed because we both knew it was not valid.

“O e ngayon ikaw na yung kinokopyahan. Nagpapakopya ka ba?”
“Siyempre hindi.”
“Asan pala si papa?”
“Wala si papa nasa trabaho baka mamaya pa po uuwi.”
“Si mama?”
“Nasa trabaho din po.”

I noticed that they only had one room, but they were nine inside the house: their family of five, and the family of the owner of the house with three members together with their grandmother.

“Saan ka natutulog?”

“Dito po.” She pointed at the floor.

“Si mama?”
“Dito din, tabi kami.”
“Ah so ikaw katabi ng mama mo.”

“Opo. Katabi ni papa ito.” She pointed at her little sister. “At yung kapatid kong lalaki.”

“Saan natutulog sina papa?”
“Dito din.”
“Ha?! Lima kayo dito?”

The floor was about a meter wide and approximately 6 feet in length. I’m not exaggerating.

“Opo. Lumipat lang kami dito teacher eh doon kami dati sa may Tandang Sora.”
“O eh anong nangyari?”

“Laging nagaaway sina mama doon!” The younger one suddenly exclaimed. I was about to ask something when she added, “Binato nga ni papa ng mesa noon si mama eh.”

“Ano?!”

Well, you can tell which kids aren’t corrupted with lies. They could tell truth, even the saddest one.

“Opo tapos sinira ni mama yung bahay.” Alyssa continued.

“Paano sinira ni mama yung bahay niyo?”

“Sinira niya. Sinisipa sipa tapos ginanon.” She acted by holding an invisible hammer.

“Ngayon nagaaway pa ba?”
“Hindi na po.”

It was already 6:45 in the evening but her grandmother was not yet there. I decided to leave when she came, so I sat there and told Alyssa’s condition in school.

I just told her that I have no problems with Alyssa. She’s a responsible kid, and I trust her with whatever she decides to do.

I left thinking that actually, all that I wished to know about them was said by Alyssa and her younger sister.

Visit number 43, check.

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