His name is Jason. Jason Talingdan.
Jason is a small-but-terrible kid in class. He’s a smart kid, but the quizzes he missed due to consecutive abscences pulled his grades down.
Now that I had the chance to visit him, I would get to know why he never missed a week without an abscence.
Their house took the same route as Mark’s, only a little farther. He was the second of four children of which the youngest was still a baby. His mother was breast feeding his baby brother when I arrived.
“Bakit ho ma’am may inaway po ba si Jason?” His mother asked.
“Wala naman ho. Sadyang binibisita ko lang ho talaga lahat sila.” I replied, “May baby ho pala kayo. Parang dati nakita ko malaki pa tiyan niyo.”
“Ay December 23 ako nanganak. Sayang nga di pa umabot ng 24.”
“Kamusta ho si Jason dito sa bahay?”
“Ayun, medyo makulit. Eh minsan nga ayaw pumasok.”
“Ha? Bakit naman po?”
“Eh papaano may nakikita kasi siyang mga bata diyan na hindi na pumapasok, tiga Old Balara. Minsan, napapagaya. Ayaw na din niyang pumasok.”
“Ayy,” I called Jason, “Hindi dapat ganon. Kaunti na lang mag grade 4 ka na. Papasa ka naman eh, matalino ka. Pero kung absent ka ng absent eh di wala din.”
I turned to his mother again, “Alam niyo ba ma’am top 10 dapat kasama yan. Kaso nalaglag kasi sunud-sunod yung absent. Matalino ho si Jason eh, sayang.”
“Eh ayon. Minsan napapagod ako kakapilit diyan pumasok eh may baby pa nga ako. Eh ito hong isa,” she pointed to her other son, “Hindi na rin pumapasok.”
“Hala, bakit naman?”
“Eh kasi binubully sa school.”
Sigh. Bullying–how I hate that term.
“Pumunta ka sa school, mag-aral ka. Ipakita mo sa kanila na magaling ka.” I told Jason’s brother, “Eh paano makakarating ng grade 2 diba?”
Though, I could not really transform what I feel into words. That kid should be embraced; someone’s got to tell him that he should love himself in what he felt he was.
During our conversation, I learned that Jason would be transferring to another school next year. I hope he would be a good student, better than the Jason I first knew.
I also learned that he preferred coffee than milo.
“Jason, paano ka tatangkad?! Kailangan mo uminom ng gatas… Bata ka pa lang…”
I think I began drinking coffee in fourth year high school, can’t remember. But I was sure it was not elementary.
I’m torn between two issues. One, why did the parents let this happen? Two, the child would not want to go to school because of the other kids who bully them and/or kids who influence them not to go to school anymore.
Though inside me was, what did the teacher do?
I tried my best to push that thought away. “I was thinking like a parent”, I told myself. “I could not be an organizer for each of my students every single second.”
I decided to leave these issues for a while, because I need time to analyze the situation. I would not want to jump into a short-term solution.
Student number 29, check.