His name is Jerico. Jerico Villanueva.
He’s the tallest in my class; one of my three stoogies. He started rude, like he’d say foul words to me, to his classmates and even to my partner teacher. Miraculously, which I didn’t know how, he changed.
I noticed the transformation last August when he started to obey my rules and eventually became top 8 because of his high grades in math. To be honest, I didn’t know what the factors were. He was actually a nonreader turned to reader since I didn’t know when.
He’s one of my trophies, so to speak.
Of course he’d be teasing other classmates in which I had to tell him over and over again not to do that. He would still jump from desk to desk, run around the classroom like crazy during recess.
But that was better than last June where he would intentionally bang the door, turn off and on the lights, run around the classroom and honestly, ruin my day.
The Jerico I had now is a changed kid.
“Ay ma’am saan na po kayo?” His mother asked me as she got Jerico’s bag.
“Bibisita ho ako.” And then looked at Jerico, and teased, “Lagot ka.”
He just laughed, like in all other days inside the classroom.
Angelito, his cousin and classmate, held my hand. We were at the back of Jerico and his mother. I looked at them, and smiled. They looked so sweet with Jerico’s arm on his mother’s arm as well.
It wasn’t a tough journey, not the usual bulky one. But the paths got narrower and narrower; darker and darker. I was actually scared given that most of the men we passed by had no shirts on, and they were looking at me like, ‘why is someone like her here?’
I was frightened.
I talked to his mother, and she said it was a shortcut. Though the farther we walked, the more scared I got. Houses were covering the sky…
“Ma’am kwarto lang ho yung amin.”
“Ay okay lang ho!”
And the we finally arrived.
“Wala po kaming kuryente.”
I thought she was actually referring to closed lights, but they didn’t really have electricity. I was shocked by what I saw. I couldn’t even see what’s inside their house–or as they say, room.
“P–pano po nag-aaral si Jerico?”
Of course I had to ask that. He was on my top list in Math and… he had this situation. It was so amazing yet bothering.
“Sa umaga.” Her mother said. “Minsan sa school na niya ginagawa yung assignment niya.”
And that’s the reason why…
That’s the reason why when we have an assignment, he would do it inside the classroom. That’s the reason why he would run inside the classroom like crazy…
Ugh, damn it why is it so hard to accept this?!
“Tapos po? Eh di ano ginagawa ho niya dito pagdating?”
“Kumakain tapos matutulog na lang.”
“Ilan ho kayo dito?”
“Pag gabi, dalawa lang ho kami. Pag araw, tatlo. Yung kuya niya kasi may trabaho sa ganitong oras.”
“Asan po si mister?”
“Ay matagal na kaming hiwalay.”
I was speechless for a while.
I listened to her story on how some would not believe their situation. “Kaya nga ma’am ang hirap sabihin sa kanila kasi hindi naman nila nakikita.”
On the other hand I told her how he behaved in school. But knowing their situation made me understand why he behaved like that…
His mother reprimanded him and warned him not to hurt other people by citing the news on TV about bullying. Jerico just smiled and promised that he would try not to that again.
“Sabi nga po dati SPED yan.” His mother continued. “Pero pinacheck ko sa doctor, nagalit yung doctor dun sa teacher. Ang sabi sa ganyang edad ganyan talaga ang mga bata.”
“Oo nga po.”
“Di ko nga ho alam, baka dahil sa trauma.”
“Alin pong trauma?”
“Takot po yan sa malalakas na tunog.”
What? All this time?
“Kaya nga po pag may fire drill kinukwento niya sa kin na sobrang yung puso daw niya kumakalabog.”
“Ayaw mo sa malalakas na tunog?” I glanced at Jerico, still couldn’t believe it especially when he had a loud voice as well.
“Kaya nga po nagkabukol yan nung drill kasi nga parang natataranta yan.”
“Kaya pala pag minsan galit na ako at napapasigaw ako, tumatahimik na siya.”
“Opo. kinakabahan yan.”
“Bakit po ganon?”
“Eh siguro nung nag-aaway kami dati ng kapatid ko nagsisigawan kami eh karga karga ko siya nun.”
Jerico was just smiling. The usual thing he would do when he’s like ‘okay that’s true I’m sorry’ is to scratch his head and smile.
“Ikaw ha. Wag ka nga mananakit!”
“Opo hehe” he replied to his mother. Yep, he would say ‘hehe’.
“Alam niyo ma’am napakaresponsable ho niyan. Kahit anong sabihin ko nagagawa niya ng maayos. Nga lang, medyo malikot, no Jerico?”
And again, he replied ‘hehe’
“Galing pa niyan sa math.” I continued. “Top 1 ko yan ngayon sa math, kahit di siya nakapasok sa top 10 talaga, siya naman yung top 1 sa math.”
“Ay oho! Nagulat nga kami ng kuya niya mas magaling na siya sa min. Yang estimation? Di ko nga alam kung paano niya nakukuha yan. Minsan pag may kailangan kompyutin sinasabi niya ‘ay ako na lang jan ma’. Nakakatuwa.”
That cheered me up.
I went to his cousin afterwards. Have I done something right? I hope so. I hope I was a factor why he transformed to something like this.
But his situation made me think where my idealism is…
Student number 18, check.