I’m proud to have been chosen as the Valedictorian of our class in elementary and high school, but the feeling of receiving the award is not greater than the feeling and excitement when delivering the valedictory speech. It’s not because I want to show off my public speaking skills or to prove that I am worthy of being the valedictorian, but because of the message I want to say to my fellow graduates and to everyone in attendance. I want to make all of them happy by letting them realize about several things why such a momentous day is more than just celebrating the accomplishment of finishing 6 years or 4 years of studies.
My first valedictory speech was made by Uncle John, the husband of Tita Gina who is my mother’s sister. Uncle John is a British who worked as a microbiologist before. I delivered the speech beside the podium because I was too small then. Our graduation was held in a gym, which was jam-packed with parents and relatives of the graduates. I memorized and delivered the speech without a copy.
For my second valedictory speech, I made it on my own. It was longer than the first one but I still memorized and delivered it without looking at a copy, though I printed one and put it in a folder just in case I get a mental block. Our high school graduation was held in our town’s cathedral. To this date, that speech stands to be the best that I have delivered in my life.
We arrived in Digos City on June 12, 1994. There’s no way I can forget the exact date because at the time the vehicles especially the tricycles had small Philippine flags decorated to them commemorating Philippine Independence Day.
Two days later, I continued my 3rd grade education in Don Mariano Marcos Elementary School, which is just situated in front of the house where we lived. I was brought to school in the afternoon so I skipped the morning session of the day.
I was in section SPED-A under Mrs. Ando (her twin sister is adviser of SPED-B). Later I learned that these twin sisters had a crush on my biological father (RIP). Anyway, Mrs. Ando asked Ken Bryan, who later became my best friend, to find me a seat in the classroom. The classroom has four long tables arranged in a peculiar way. The first two tables are side by side perpendicular to the blackboard. The two other tables are perpendicularly placed after the first two tables.
I was seated at the 3rd table, so almost at the back part of the room. The first friend that I met was Joel who was my seatmate. He told me the names about everyone in the room including a little background of their personalities. After that, we had our first subject that afternoon. And for our first subject, we had a quiz first. It’s the least of all things that I expected. I think I got a grade of 95% for that one, not bad for my first time.
What made that day difficult for me to adjust with is the language barrier. I was a straight Tagalog speaker at that time and my classmates are primarily Cebuano/Visayan speakers. Overall, it was a really good day.
During my elementary years in Don Mariano Marcos Elementary School, I was part of our school’s drum and bugle (lyre) band from half of grade 4 to grade 6. I first played the snare drum in grade 4. I quit the band during the second half of the school year. When I returned to the band in grade 5, I started playing the bass drum even though my height doesn’t pass the qualifications for a bass drummer: tall, big and strong. In fact, the bass drum is bigger than me, but since I’m good with rhythm and beats I was given an exception by our coach (and I think there’s none other than me and two others who is brave enough to carry the bass drum). I think our coach liked me because of my dedication to the band and I’m not one of those drummers who gets into his nerves.
I remember a time during a Sinulog contest where we played for like 8 hours or so with only as much as 15 minutes of break. My right hand’s fingers are covered with blisters already. That’s the toughest part with being a bass drummer because we have no subs and we can’t lower our beat of the drum because the band might lose the rhythm. Though there are three of us, the two others, one of them being my best friend, are already having a hard time so I decided to keep up the volume of my beat. In the end, the blister hurt so much that I can’t even hold a spoon during dinner that night.
Lesson learned that day: wear gloves when playing for long hours.