Thursday, August 14, 2008

One of the things that I never really got to experience back in Highschool is having my own locker, a small lockable storage of sorts allocated to you at the start of a quarter/schoolyear where you can store your books and other belongings. You'd think at this day and age, a private school would already have this sort of convenience that probably existed long before many other inventions like the automobile and textspeak.

No, we didn't have those. It was actually forbidden to use such tools of satan. We asked our teachers why the school admin refuses to let us keep some of our books in school, you know, so we don't look like homeless people who carry around everything we own in our backs, they had a simple answer: carrying books fosters diligence and teaches us the values of hard work.

I swear to God they really said that. The only thing fostered by carrying some 200 kilos worth of schoolgear everyday is a hunchback the size of a regulation-sized volleyball. And for somebody like me who has to commute everday some 20 kilometers from Paranaque to Cavite, I probably could've done summer jobs as a beast of burden.

Like many things in highschool however, the problem is only as intolerable as one's inability to find "workarounds". If my memory serves me right, there were four primary ways of circumventing the problem of having to carry a very heavy bag to school:

1. Tearing the book into sections and brining to school only what's needed - A generally good idea if you are a single kid who doesn't have a brother who will need the book as a hand-me-down, but a definite bad idea when the teacher asks the book to be submitted, if in case it's a workbook. Good luck trying to explain the anorexic state of your book.

2. Borrow books from another class
The beauty of highschool education is that normally, no two classes on the same level take the same subject at the same time. That means books not being used by the other class can be borrowed by a class currently taking the subject. Smuggling books in between classrooms can be quite a bitch however, because students are rarely allowed to loiter outside in between classes.

3. Not bringing anything at all.
This method is not for the weakhearted. Practitioners are often dubbed "Scholar ng Bayan" for some reason I never really understood. The best bet I can think of is that scholars are too poor/smart for books. It takes balls to face a teacher who asks you where your book is and "bring it" by saying "I didn't bring it."

4. Hide the books in school
The most popular method, people resort to just finding nook and crannies to hide books. Some of the more popular locations include, but are defintitely not limited to:

- Under the teaching platform in front of the classroom
- Houses of friends who live nearby
- In between the trusses of the scaffolding behind the blackboard
- Among workbooks that are kept in school for exception
- Between newspapers during newspaper fund drives (sometimes they get accidentally donated)
- Inside other people's bags (typically, people who don't study at home and hence don't notice their additional burden until the following day when the book is retrieved by the owner)
- CAT Room, though for officers only
- Inside teacher's desks
- Under the chairs (for the very lazy people)
- Abandoned coca-cola shack behind the Church

While not exactly capital crime, hiding books in school is discouraged, frowned upon, and punished with different penalties ranging from a deduction in the student's conduct ratings. confiscations of the found books, and putting hefty fines per book (20 pesos per piece at the time was heavy indeed)

Book raids were conducted every now and then by the class advisers so hiding books was a constant game of cloak and dagger, with its own set of sympathizers, traitors and the like. Sometimes though, books just take a life of their own and turn themselves in. There was one time my professor was writing on the blackboard when he hit the board a bit too hard, presumably because we were being the inattentive dicks we've always been. Three books promptly fell from behind the blackboard.

Classrooms were definitely hard places to hide in so books were often stored outside classrooms but within the school grounds. One big problem that this posed though, is that books that get stored this way tend to get hidden a bit too well, by that I mean "stolen". I remember losing my Algebra book and Biology book that way. Since it was midschoolyear and I still needed to get educated somehow, I did what any normal student in my school would.

I stole somebody else's.

There are days I think of going back to my school and telling our teachers and school admin the effects of their policies, but then again I get to think, it's not all too bad. If we did have lockers in the first place, I wouldn't have learned a lot of life's lessons and skills I will need to survive in the real world.

Like hiding things, and making sure nobody fucks with them.

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