One afternoon, I was in the school canteen spending my vacant hours for a complimentary snack care off an informal tutee – a sporadic twist to my otherwise routinary studying and cramming on break periods. I say informal because there was no teaching tariff hanging on my neck. We were in a mutualism where he benefited from my need to excessively talk and I got to put that garrulousness into good use – teaching.
My phone rang. [Mamang calling..] “To (an Ilonggo endearment term), I and your Papang are boiling cardava banana ‘cause we don’t have rice to steam. His allowance hasn’t reached yet.” I nearly choked on my 12-Peso gratis arroz caldo when I heard that from the very persons who provided my transportation allowance that very day – only having bananas to fill growling stomachs just to send me to my classes.
Stories of heedless students born with a silver spoon on their mouths became a cliché already. What’s worse is that I personally knew students from low-income families who were irresponsible to their studies and inconsiderate to their parents’ labor. I was thinking back then of a father who probably sold a cow for a final exam or a mother who washed her neighbors’ clothes to send money while her prodigal son gulped this beer and sniffed that smoke.
My story isn’t the most heart-wrenching. I take my hat off to those brave and praiseworthy students who worked while studying to alleviate their parents’ burden. The least that I did was to bear with my parents and compensated what was worthy of their efforts. I remember a workmate of Papang in DPWH who sarcastically asked him, “What’s your son taking in college? Your money?” And I remember my father just getting my report card out of his wallet without words. His workmate uttered the signature Ilonggo cuss while complimenting my father after that. I’m not over milking these stories for borderline bragging or anything but to inspire and persuade. Education has been a privilege instead of a right. Not everyone is given a chance. So to those whose parents are able, be considerate to their efforts because IT. REALLY. PAYS. OFF.
-Engineer Romyr Zamora Iwayan