The month of June in the Philippines is considered as the start of classes; others claim it is the best time to get married; best time to propagate strawberry runners; and the time to celebrate Independence Day. Indeed, the month of June is the best time to reflect and remember things of the past that formed part of our lives.
As a generation X individual raised by poor parents in a remote area, the month of June reminds me of the time we had to hike several kilometers to reach school. Our school then was situated in an adjacent barangay. Boneng Elementary School was opened to cater to the needs of the sons and daughters of mine workers. It was fortunate we accepted and had the chance to mingle with different pupils from various provinces like Pangasinan, Visaya, Bicol, Mt. Province, Kalinga, Ifugao, Abra, etc.
During rainy days most us pupils considered as endemic species coming from the interior areas made use of improvised rain coats out of cellophane, sacks and sometimes banana leaves. Braving the foot trails passing through creeks, gulley and mountain slopes, it taught us lessons on time management. We rose early to beat the time in and must hurry to go home upon dismissal to avoid darkness along the way. We were not used to holding flashlights and the best way to deal with darkness was through lighting of “saleng”-a piece of wood taken from matured pinewood. Electricity during those days seemed to belong only to the mines and the affluent. Gas lamps or saleng illumined our homes. These situations did not deter in pursuing education. Just recently, I heard that an electric post was placed few meters away from our ancestral house but nobody lives there.
About 42 years ago, our source of information was transistor radio and relied on drama series as form of entertainment. Compared to our classmates whose parents worked in the mine enjoyed watching television series in their respective bunkhouses? Famous then was “Six Million Dollar Man”. These situations did not deter us in pursuing education.
In pursuit of higher education, I moved out of our place and stayed with an older brother in La Trinidad. Living in an urban area taught me lessons. Back then, I levelled my skills from harvesting and vending of passion fruits and “kamatis” to newspaper vending, hog raising, egg production and crop production. The experiences nurtured and strengthened my determination to step up and live a happy life. Indeed, the month of June reminds me of the need to have a budget for school supplies and tuition fee for my children.
As parents, the need to strive and focus that our children and the future generations will not experience the things of the past. Some readers might be laughing at this piece as they cannot relate. But to those who persevered and learned to deal with the challenges of life, I know we have something in common, –experience is the best teacher and we need to gradually learn and innovate to survive this digital age.
To our cooperatives, there is a need to scale up. Evaluating our experiences and conduct of benchmarks can strengthen our desire for change. The need to graduate from one category to another requires assessment of performances and learning from experiences of others can be inputs for innovation.
HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY.