Her name is Lisette. Lisette Mangubat.
She was one of the students whose name had been clearly remembered during my first day in class because of her Indian beauty and Dora hair. Her grades were in B-D range, but I admire her strong personality in class that I wish I had when I was in elementary.
For a change I visited the nearest house which was Lisette’s. It was only a 5-minute walk from school, and we had no hard time going there. She greeted her father who was guarding their ‘banana stall’ with kisses, and I could not help but smile. My father was the operator of our service when I was in grade three so we had much time to be with each other because we had to drop my servicemates at their respective houses.
I didn’t know, but it felt awkward to kiss my parents when I was in elementary, high school and even in college. It was just now that I am working that I could kiss and embrace them unlike before.
Lisette ran towards their house, leaving me behind. Afraid, I rushed to their house as the dogs began to bark at me.
His brother who was in grade 5 was doing a project about switches, and I was really amazed by what I saw. Her 5-year-old and 22-year-old sisters joined me in the sofa.
“Ano hong problema ni Lisette?” Her older sister asked. I was not surprised that it was the first question.
“Ay talagang gusto ko lang ho bumisita,” I replied. “Project ko po to para sa sarili ko.”
She told me that their father was a seaman. Though that time he had no assignments so he was able to stay home. Their mother was a housewife; all of them were studying except for the 5-year-old Camille.
“Kamusta ho naman si Lisette sa school? Pasensya na ma’am nakikita ko nga scores niya. Mahina po talaga sa English at Math.”
“Sana nga ho mapataas pa, pero kaya yan. Tumaas ho nga siya sa Math at Science ngayong quarter.”
“Kasi ma’am sorry ho talaga. Tinuturuan ko nga ho yan eh minsan nakakabaliw na kasi nakakalimutan niya kaagad!” She joked.
We were chatting about Lisette’s attitude at home and at school when suddenly Camille butted in.
Her innocence made me smile.
“Ako po yung teacher ng ate Lisette mo.”
“Hala! Teacher ka! Akala ko kaibigan ka ni ate Lisette!”
HAHAHA! That was a compliment, right?
Her older sister told her to keep quiet for a while since we were talking. I was explaining to her Lisette’s status in class when their mother came.
And again, the first question was what was Lisette’s problem. Well of course I had to explain my project for myself for the second time.
“Isang beses ho bumisita ho yung teacher niya nung grade 2,” her mother said. “Makulit ho yan kasi.”
“Okay lang ho ma’am. Kamusta naman ho siya sa bahay?”
“Ay masipag ho yan. Siya yung nakatoka sa saing. Pero ewan ko ba ma’am. Siya nga ho yung parang naiiba. Yung mga kapatid niya honor, nga lang mahirap utusan. Siya naman sobrang daling utusan pero mababa yung grades.”
Well at least she was not pressured by anyone inside the house, I thought.
“Minsan nga ho,” she continued, “Tinuturuan ho yan ng papa niya, napapalo pa minsan kapag hindi nakukuha. Sa ate niya naman nagpapaturo. Pero makakalimutin talaga ma’am yan!”
“Konting practice lang ho siguro at saka basa lang talaga ng basa.”
“Naglalaro yan pagdating kasi eh. Ayan, nakakalimutan kaagad yung lesson sa school. Basta ma’am siya lang ho talaga yung naiba sa kanilang magkakapatid.”
“Sa bahay ho kamusta si Lisette?”
“Ay talaga ma’am wala akong problema jan kasi siya yung pinakamadaling utusan.”
These stories made me wonder if Lisette was pressured by the fact that she had siblings who belong to the top sections. That aside it was clear to me that I was proud of her for showing a sense of responsibility inside their home.
Student number 6, check.