His name is Carl. Jhon Carl Alpay.
He’s really a kid who you would want to adopt because of his sweetness every day. I could clearly remember how he got into my section.
He was originally from 3-Campor. Sir Lee went to me and let me choose between two students.
“Kahit sino po.” I said.
Then he laughed as he replied, “Ito na lang. Mas cute.”
Carl would send me letters like:
“Sori po teacher Jessa kasi po magulo mga kaklase ko. Wag na po kayo magalit kasi ayaw ko kayong lumipat ng section.”
“Salamat po teacher Jessa kasi magaling ka magturo at masaya at maganda.”
Attached to his letter is a drawing of a turtle or a house with a happy family.
Today I had a stomachache so I decided to go to a place near the school. Carl raised his hand when I asked.
When we went outside the school, the mother was surprised to see Jhon Carl with me.
“Hala anak bakit nakipagaway ka?”
We both laugh as he replied, “Hindi ma bibisita po si teacher.”
“Kaya mo ba mag-isa pumunta doon baby?”
“Opo. Kasama ko naman si teacher.”
“Sorry po ma’am,” she turned to me. “Hintayin ko po muna yung grade 5 kong anak kasi nagkalagnat kahapon.”
“Okay lang ho.”
So John carl and I went ahead.
“Jhon Carl nakakapagod!” I said as we traveled a high area.
“Teacher, mag-ingat ka diyan kasi nadulas na si papa diyan.” He suddenly said when we were travelling a steep road. True enough, I slipped.
His father, an employee in a law firm, welcomed me to their house. The stairs were a bit small for an adult’s foot; They had an orange tiled floor, and they also had an aquarium. Though it was a small house, it was kept clean and organized.
“Bakit ho nakipagaway ho ba si Jhon Carl?” his father asked.
“Hindi po,” I replied, “Sa katunayan isa nga ho siya sa pinakamabait sa klase. Project ko lang sa sarili ko na bisitahin sila isa-isa. Kamusta ho si Jhon Carl sa bahay?”
“Okay naman ho. Minsan tumutulong.”
“Nag-aaral ho ba pagdating sa bahay?”
“Oho naglolock ho yan sa loob ng kwarto pag nagbabasa. Nga lang pag Sabado at Linggo talagang laro.”
“Ay,” I called Carl, “Eh paano pala kung Lunes yung exam?”
“Mag-aaral po, pero saglit lang.”
I laughed with his very honest answer.
Truth is, I really don’t like exams. Well, when I was a student, I did. But now that I am a teacher, I don’t get why we give an exam when in the end, we would be asked to give some ‘humanitarian’ consideration to kids.
Like… We’ll pass them all. What’s the use then?
His mother with his elder brother came soon after. I saw his mother got the vitamins for her other son.
“Sorry ma’am nagmamadali ho ako kasi hinahabol ko yung oras ng gamot niya. Nagkasakit ho kasi kahapon yung kapatid niya.”
“Bale dalawa ho silang lalaki?”
“Oho. Kamusta ho si Jhon Carl sa klase?”
“Ayun ho, mabait naman. Yun nga lang minsan kaunting sagi lang umiiyak na siya.”
Carl was short and thin, a reason why he’d stumble with a slight nudge of a bigger classmate.
“Oo nga ho kahit dito sa bahay. Minsan konting tapik lang umiiyak na siya.”
“Yung grades naman ho… Bumaba ho si Carl sa English.”
“Ay bakit ho?”
“Kapag sinasabi po kasi yung tanong, okay naman. Pag pinapabasa sa kanya, okay lang din. Pero sa pagsulat ho, wala na. Kaya minsan pag may spelling quiz, mababa ho siya.”
“Eh kasi tong si Carl pag sabay kami nagbabasa, nakakalimutan agad. Eh imbis na mapalo ko at iiyak, eh sasakit pa yung ulo ko, sabihin ko na lang doon na lang muna siya.”
“Spoiled kasi tong bunso sa amin, ” his father continued, “Eh minsan pag pinatitigil sa paglalaro nagtatampo.”
“Jhon Carl, kailangan mo magbasa para makapasa ng grade 3.” I told him.
After a talk on how they could help Jhon Carl in his studies, I decided to go home.
“Ang tarik ho pala ng lugar niyo,” I said to his mom, “At kapit-bahay niyo lang pala ho si Ma’am Tafalla.”
“Oho jan lang ho.” She replied. “Eh ito ho dati hagdan. Pero ginawang ganito para sa mga motorsiklo. Nga lang pagumuulan, madaming nadudulas.”
“Oo nga ho eh. Ngayon pa nga lang ho na hindi umuulan, nakakadulas na.”
When I got home and graded the exams, I sighed.
Exams are to check whether the student is ready for the next grade. But then, many would tell us to change the grade for ‘huminatarian’ reasons. Like, ‘mga bata pa ho sila’ or ‘late bloomer kasi ang mga bata’. Deep inside, I was thinking–then why was this rubric made then?! Is this for decoration? Just to say that our country has zero-based grading when the truth is, teachers really transmute them for “humanitarian” reasons?! Why would those in higher positions not change this grading system rather than produce teachers who would actually lie about the real kids’ grades because of they-are-just-kids reasons?
How about, develop kids’ creativity first? Morals? Problem solving skills? No exams and everything… Is that possible in our country?
So many questions… So many dreams… The same dreams that were once dreamt so long ago too.
Student number 26, check.