His name is Glen Mark. Glen Mark Melorin.
I chose him to be visited last, since technically, he was the first.
The reason for my first visit was simple: he mocked me in class. I almost cried because of him. How could I make him believe that I am trustworthy? How could I make him love school? How could I earn his respect? That time, he didn’t speak when I tried to make a conversation with him so I visited where he lived. I searched for my facebook status and saw that it happened on the 8th of August 2013.
“It was my first time to visit my student’s home yesterday. The road was rough, pathways were narrow, and people could be seen everywhere. I climbed their wooden ladder and saw the heartbreaking reality of what my student is experiencing everyday. Everything made me cry instantly…”
Ducks were on the roof, and I think they weren’t theirs. There was a TV which was not functioning anymore, and how could I even forget the ladder that trembled every time I stepped on it? There I learned that Glen Mark’s father left them when Glen Mark was a baby. Ever since, his mother was the only one supporting the four of them.
I remember the time I visited him the first time. He glared at me with his red eyes and closed fists, as if he was about to punch me. I told his mother that I could not make Glen Mark learn if he wouldn’t help himself. His mother cried, and I cried as she did.
But the second time was different.
I already told him beforehand that he’d be the last one for my project. At first he was reluctant, but when he saw that I visited everyone, he began bragging to his classmates. “Diba teacher bibisitahin mo ako, pero hindi ako makulit?”
He even held my hand as we exited the classsroom. With a wide smile he said, “Teacher, ikaw magsabi na makakapasa ako ha?”
I smiled, and agreed.
We didn’t go straight to their house this time, but to where his mother’s store was. I treated him a ride then we went to a place called “espiritwal”. There I saw the most number of junkshops I have ever seen in my life.
Instead of tuyo, she was selling a variety of products like sandwiches, juice, eggs, tomatoes, coffee, noodles… even green mangoes!
“Wow!” I said, “Ang dami niyo na po binebenta ngayon.”
“Ma!” Glen Mark shouted, “Nakapasa ako!”
I laughed since I thought I’d be the one to tell his mother about that, but maybe it was his excitement that made him forgot our agreement.
“Oho. Ito ma’am.” She told one of the helpers to give me a sandwich. “Kain po muna kayo.”
“Ay ma’am pasensya na ho! Babayaran ko ho to–”
“Ma’am wag na. Pasasalamat ko na lang para kay Glen Mark.”
“Si Glen Mark po talaga yun, hindi ako.”
“Sa inyo na po yan.”
Customers came and went, and I was amazed by the number of customers she had. Glen Mark helped me carry my bag to the table then he went down to answer my questions about when their business started.
“Kailan ho nagumpisa to?” I asked his mother.
“Noong nakaraang buwan lang ho.”
“Ayos naman ho yung kita kay sa yung tuyo?”
“Bale yung parang bayad ho kasi dito depende kasi yung iba nagbabayad sa katapusan ng buwan.”
“Hala! Talaga po? Eh paano yun?”
“Okay lang ho diyan diyan lang naman… Ma’am salamat po talaga ha.”
“Hindi ho ma’am. Si Glen talaga yun. Nung first quarter at second talagang wala. Akala ko wala na to. Pero nung fourth quarter biglang iyon. Isa pa, natutuwa din po ko na nakakabasa na siya.”
Usually, Glen would be the lowest during exams (or he wouldn’t take the exam at all). His handwriting was so poor I could not even identify the letters. I remember the first day of class when I made him read a word and he replied with a smile; he couldn’t read.
But recently, he’d get perfect in Science quizzes, and he wouldn’t be the lowest. His script writing was even better than his print! From random letters like “jskapj aa” to “sa la ma po” which you could connect with the phrase “salamat po”.
“O basta,” I told Glen, “Bukas ipapabasa ulit kayo ha? Galingan mo!”
Heaven knows how many times I cried for this student. He would mock me… challenge me… disobey me… The worst was when he pushed me away and told me “Umalis ka na!”
Proving that I was more disobedient than him, I stayed. I gave him books to read, called his attention whenever he misses a letter or a word. Little by little, I learned “him”.
Good thing I stayed.
Student number 54, check.