Grades and speeches

Summer, if you grade-grub one more time, I will send you back to the first grade, you got it? – Dewey Finn, The School Of Rock


Despite growing up in a family that boasts of high scholastic and academic background as well as outlook, I was, at best, a mediocre student.

A bit funny because I always thought of myself as a nerd during my school days. Not so much in college, where I decided to shift to the “cool,laidback, beat poem-reading kuno hipster” (long before the term hipster meant what it currently means).

In elementary school, I was considered one of the most “studious” in class, mostly because I suspect the competition were kids with no access to the kind of reading and viewing materials we have at home. I had an edge, so to speak, because my parents were both graduates of good universities and voracious readers as well as in possession of moderately sophisticated tastes in the arts. This was a province in the boondocks so you really can’t expect people to talk about H.R. Giger or The Rolling Stones anytime soon, right? Right.

Books, comics, LPs, cassette tapes, and betamax/VHS tapes were just lying around in the house. Materials from every known Western, Eastern or whatever ‘ern’ you can think of to the most “pang-masa” fare. Name it, you got it.

I even had this ambition of becoming a scientist when I grow up. So that maybe one day, a chemical accident might transform me into a superhero. That Swamp Thing was also transformed like that did not really cross my mind back then. So I studied hard in my elementary days because of that dream. A scientist.


Then I got accepted as a scholar in the science program of a provincial high school, and I found that the road to being a scientist was littered by numbers, equations and assorted torture equations that might as well have been written in Aramaic. In a class of 30, the highest I ever got to the rankings was 28. And that was just once during my entire four years in high school. It was a steady 29 or 30 the rest of the time.

Knowing you only have one competition to elevate your scholastic achievements at that time works wonders for your ego. I felt sorry for my father every time the semester ends and he had to see my name in the lower end of the pecking order. But at the same time I was a bit perplexed that my folks never really pressured me to at least try a bit harder. Maybe aim for 27 or something. Not a word. They weren’t even seem bothered when I almost got kicked out because of a failing grade in chemistry when I was in third year.

I ditched any delusions of being a scientist as early as freshman year. The reality of realizing that dream and the fantasy scenarios illustrated in comic books and shown in the movies were just too hard to reconcile. Besides, having classmates who can comprehend equations with a quickness that’s contrasted to your own pace that will shame a sloth, it was best to re-assess one’s limitations and re-evaluate a survival strategy that will hold for the next three years.

Thankfully I graduated, and even delivered a speech. One that, modesty aside, spoke for all my classmates the way Brian Johnson‘s essay did in the ending of that 1985 John Hughes classic. I even got a standing ovation for it. Take that, valedictorian! [Peace, Ganz.=)]

If only Krisel Mallari had not been so uptight.

Or was it her father?

I. Thank. You. Bow.

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