Thursday, May 31, 2007

Baby of the Year

We went to Yoshi’s graduation from day care today. It was a summer program offered by Chester’s office for free. Which was a good thing coz Yosh also felt free to attend or not as he pleased.

On his first day his Ate Ann went with him but he didn’t want her around anymore the next day coz he felt shy as none of the other kids brought their yayas. (He was among the youngest in the group.) They’d sing and dance and read stories and run around. He even made me a Mothers’ Day card. They’re supposed to have a two-hour nap time after lunch, but he either ignored this completely or slept well into the night. The last weeks he wouldn’t even go to the day care anymore and just spent the entire day in daddy’s office, picking up documents from the printer for the girls and interns (who would buy him Chickenjoy for lunch and sundae for merienda), making even the bosses laugh with everything he says, and generally making sure that Ches doesn’t get any work done.

The graduation was a riot. The teachers chose the elder kids to say the prayer and sing solo and read speeches, but no matter whose turn it was to be on the mic, Yosh always got there first. Being among the smallest he was seated in front and had full access to the mic so at every lull he’d stand up and start singing ‘Maria Flordeluna’ (he has a major crush on the little girl) to the delight of everyone (and embarrassment of his parents). At one point he even managed to greet the entire household, including a pet dog named Garci, which is a not very safe name to mention in Malacanang, I think.

He was handed the Baby of the Year Award by PMS head Cerge Remonde and some Usecs and Asecs. (I guess it's one of those awards they give you when they have to give something for everyone and have ran out of more creative ideas and you're not particularly outstanding in Math or Science or whatever. Someone got Most Polite, and another Most Assertive. Duh. Ches mused as they were calling out the Most Behaved, that’s one award Yosh will never get. I so agree.) Even they found him irresistible as they took turns grabbing him for a hug. He won a lot of people over in the program. Ches’ colleagues would drop by his office or call to tell him how his son is so much funnier than him. I guess, the parents of the kids Yosh stole the spotlight from weren’t all that amused. Well, what can I say? It’s not like I taught him to be a little scene stealer, and it’s not like he did it out of ill will or something. It was just part of his toddler energy and enthusiasm. (One of the big bosses quipped in her speech, it’s so refreshing to see so many innocent faces in Malacanang for a change. Haha.)

It was a revelation for Ches and me. We always knew he was a little entertainer but this was always with relatives and friends. We didn’t know he’d still be so game in front of strangers in a formal setting. This came as a surprise too bcoz Ches and I are not really performer types. He’d rather be behind the scenes and I’d rather be a part of the audience bashing whoever it is I’m watching.

But I guess we should’ve seen this coming when, after five years in PMS, Ches would suddenly be greeted by people in the office, only a matter of weeks since Yosh started day care, “Sir, kayo po ba yung daddy ni Yoshi?”

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

On the Bright Side

We accomplished what is by far the most gratifying thing we’ve ever done and what is for me the lone bright spot in this whole Cebu chaos. We launched our classroom project, which involves the donation of two school buildings, or a total of six classrooms, to two public grade schools in Carmen municipality. The heat was scorching when we launched the project in the two schools, starting from early morning way into lunch, and I was panting midway thru the 70 or so steps you have to climb to get to the first school, but the teachers prepared lengthy programs where all VIPs present were given the chance to give their speeches, and the kids presented production numbers complete with costume and props, and there was eat-all-you-can lechon Cebu, so our bosses were smiling and happy, gratified, like us, at being able to do something that is without a doubt a good deed.

When we visited the schools in early March to check up on the status of the construction, Didoy and I were shocked to come face to face with facts we previously only just read about. One school had only 14 teachers (counting the principal) for 700 students. Not a single computer for the entire school. The library consists of a small shelf with dated and dusty books. The kids share textbooks, so they can’t even bring these home so they can study at night or on weekends, and they can’t answer the worksheets because the same things will be used by their classmates and many more students in the next school years.

The other school is situated on a hilly portion of the municipality (hence the numerous steps). It doesn’t even have electricity (so, while we donated computers and electric fans in the other school, these would be completely useless here). Most of the students come from nearby islands and they have to ride bancas in addition to climbing the steps to get to class, so they can’t go to school anymore when it rains. Two grade levels share the same classroom and the same teacher, so the teacher would give one class some seatwork just so she can move to the other class to give a lecture. (You wonder if anyone manages to learn anything under these circumstances.) Even the open stage is a used as a classroom so on sudden downpours the kids have to scramble to the rooms that have walls. They call a small hut their reading corner, and I didn’t see a single book in sight.

Really, it’s enough to break your heart.

Next stop for us is a book drive to give the schools encyclopedias, reference materials, interesting reads. It’s not much, but we know it’s going to be bringing smiles to the kids again. And if you can do something that you know will make others happy and that no one will question is a good thing – then what are you waiting for?