August 19, 2007

Linggo ng Wika

Among the more memorable school activities that spiced up my otherwise humdrum academic life was the commemoration of Filipino Week. The nuns at school took it to literal heights. For one week, English and Bicol were forgotten. Lessons (except in Language and Spelling and Reading and Phonics) were conducted in Filipino, and we had to converse in nothing but pure Tagalog. There was a price to pay, too, for every wayward work spoken: five centavos.

And so for one week, we were forced to write on our kuwaderno, we borrowed books from the aklatan and we had our lessons in the silid-aralan. The nuns made like hawks, ever ready to swoop down on pupils who violated the all-Filipino rule. They had as assistants the pupils who "told."

Back then, you had to be a nerd or a cad to go running to Sor Teresa to tell on the violators. Nerds, by their very nature, were easily forgiven: telling, after all, was the closest they could get to having fun. Cads, on the other hand, took some time to forgive, especially since they deprived most of us with our precious Coke-and-Chippy money.

Not that I was on the watchlist. My textbook Tagalog passed, stilted though it was. Besides, there were "bigger" fish out there: The nuns and their minions constantly tailed the couple of FilAms, who eventually resorted to being miserably speechless for one whole "Linggo ng Wika."


Another "disciplinary" tool that the nuns imposed on us in between subjects and on breaks was the NSP Roll: a monitor (okay, a nerd) listed down the noisy, "standing" pupils on a section of the chalkboard. Any pupil caught standing and chattering got a stick. Five sticks meant a fine of--ta dah--five centavos, which went into the pot as "floorwax" money.

Most times, when the monitor went on a power trip, the list would be expanded to include pupils being "absent" (not on one's assigned seat), eating, laughing, and just about any gerund the monitor can think of. Once a bully punched a classmate, so the list included "punching" as well. Before the monitor could add "erasing," though, the bully went up front and erased the entire list. So much for floorwax money, huh?

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