Ulan Story No. 2: Teen's Stormy Angst
It’s been said that High School will always be considered as the best and most memorable in anyone’s life. I couldn’t agree more. This story happened on my 4th year high school; the last year of my life spent in a minor seminary; yup, I spent a good 4 years of my life in the confine of a seminary.
The year was 1983; the year made memorable because of the political storm that started with the assassination of Ninoy Aquino. Beneath the serene front of the seminary, another form of storm was brewing amongst its restless teen inhabitants; and for me and the rest of my batch mates, (the 4th year graduating class) the year would forever be embedded in our memory as the year the biggest storm in our young lives happened.
The age of puberty is the most interesting part of growing up, for it shapes and molds one’s future. It’s the stage of restlessness, exploration and vulnerability. It was very unfortunate that as we started that school year, we lost 3 of our beloved mentors: Father Rector, Father Prefect of Discipline and Father Confessor who were all given different assignments. It was very unfortunate as well, that they were replaced by two odd priests: Fr. Jack(ass) and Fr. Clementine (may he rest in peace). Fr. Jackass is relatively new; he was just ordained priest the previous year and naturally has no experience at all dealing with a bunch of rowdy kids. Fr. Clementine on the other hand is an old priest, somehow the years have already made him tired, restless and indifferent. Together, they really spell disaster as formators to a bunch of kids who are in the very delicate stage of adolescence.
Everything was still the usual routine as the schoolyear started as expected in a seminary: prayer and study. What happens in between prayer and study especially to a bunch of adolescent boys is a great deal important as well; and having an inexperienced and indifferent formators to handle all of these would really spell disaster for everyone. And everything, I would say really did get out of hand. Every imaginable thing that one would think cannot happen in a minor seminary did happen during those times. It was during that time that I started smoking, including weed/pot; It was there that I got my first taste of wine and alcohol: gin, rum, and what have you to make one really drunk; I have learned to scale wall, escape in town in order to have fun, watch movie, go on dates or simply just gallivant; It was there that I got to be conscious, tolerant and even had my first-hand experience of m2m sexual activities, though in my case never really consummated; We have done so many outrageous, shocking pranks to everyone including our formators; There were so many other things that parents would surely cringe knowing or dare not think that their kids are capable or are actually doing especially in a seminary.
1983 was also marred by one of the biggest typhoons that ever hit the country and the seminary was not spared. And so a day after the storm has passed, and as rain continues to pour, students were sent home. A handful of us volunteered to stay, supposedly to help clean up all the mess; and we really did a very good job cleaning the whole place. I can’t forget that night: it was a cold, wet Saturday night, with only candles for our light, as electric power was still out. It was way past our usual 9:30PM bedtime-light’s out when we decided to start a drinking session. One by one we sneaked into one of the large communal bathroom where we have rolled down a banig in the far end corner of the room. We started drinking a mix of rum and coke conveniently mixed in a big plastic jug, one glass filled half-full doing the rounds for us to drink. Supply of more bottles of rum and gin were stashed under the sink; Cigarettes were conveniently stashed underneath the banig and anyone who wishes to smoke has to stand and blow the smoke thru the open window. We must have been there for less than 30 minutes, as the jug was still halfway full and I was just having my first cigarette when suddenly Fr. Jackass came rushing in; everyone froze, I held my breath as he stopped in front of me and pointing his finger just inches away from my face he shouted “you!!! Of all the people here, akala ko matino ka!” he then proceeded to the center of banig and grabbed the plastic jug; lifted it to his nose and sniffed to smell and in a fit of rage shouted “punyeta” as he threw the jug to the wall with such force that it cracked into several pieces. I can’t recall anymore what other invectives he must have hurled. He left suddenly just as he came and we all just stood there in stunned silence.
I don’t know how we managed to get through the rest of the night, but we did sleep and woke up with the sun shining despite the rain. We must have spent the early part of the morning speculating on who could have possibly squealed on us; how we were found; we even shared a good laugh as one of us mimicked Fr. Jackass’ rage that night. It was mid-morning when we all sheepishly piled into his office and said our apology. He was still in rage, but much more in control of himself. He just dismissed us outright as he has not decided on what to do with us. We went out of the seminary grounds after that and spent almost the whole day wandering in the town’s park by the lake. We were all downhearted and afraid of what might become of us. We returned that afternoon just as the rest of the seminarians were also returning from their home-vacation; the story rapidly spread in a hush tone.
Fr. Jackass did not confront the issue head on as we had expected him. But it was a downward spiral of events after that; he played and caught us in our own game: one by one he was able to catch and punish the smokers, the escapees, and other truants. His biggest catch was when he got wind of the hazing we were conducting as part of the fraternity we have put up; all 24 of us, member of the senior class were actually part of the fraternity. He found a reason to kick us out. Putting up a fraternity or any secret or illegal association/organization is considered one of the mortal sins against the community; anyone involved will surely get the boot as it is considered a betrayal of the community that we belong to and serve.
And so one fateful day in September six members of our class were called into the Rector’s office together with their parents; speculations abound as they never went out of the room the whole morning, until about noon time when the rest of the class was called into the office one by one. As we enter the office and stand before a panel we never knew was there, the Fr. Rector would ask the leader of our group whether we stay in the office or go back to our classroom. We never knew what was going on but apparently it was decided that all those involve in the fraternity are to be kicked out, to be placed in respective town's catholic school. And so as we were called into the office we were told to either stay in there or go back to our classroom; it was only then that we were told of what was to happen.
We cried our hearts out ironically those who were kicked out were the ones left consoling those that are to be left behind; and those of us left behind somehow felt more the bitterness and betrayal for we felt we were denied our chance to prove our worth and loyalty to the group. But that afternoon as we spent our last hours together, everything was settled; we understood what they had to do just as they understood that we are with them all throughout and that we are one solid batch as we have promised ourselves, no matter what. They left that same afternoon; more tears were shed, not just by our batch but by the whole community including our lay teachers who were left clueless and helpless of the whole event.
And so it happened: our class of 24 was cut into half, 12 of us remained and finish our schooling in the confine of the seminary; the other half of the class were scattered into various catholic schools of the diocese, wherever that seminarian resides. Did the event change those left behind to kowtow? Not really, we still continued our mischief, albeit more carefully this time. We never lost touch; we regularly see each other every chance we had. We got reunited as one batch on our graduation day; that was one concession we got, that we will all march and graduate in the seminary grounds as one class.