Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Justice Cruz noted in his column last weekend how Philippine schools confer "scores of awards" on every graduate during commencement exercises. While I barely received any honorific after elementary school, it brought to mind the one and only award I received from my "beloved alma meyter" (their pronunciation, not mine) many years ago.

It was an award given to me by default, since I was the editor of the school paper that year (I actually shared the award with the valedictorian, who was that year's editor of the Filipino paper). I presume that all previous editors of the paper received the same award in all the years past since its inception. I guess it was mine to lose, and apparently, I did not piss enough people off to lose it (This, notwithstanding the fact that I was summoned to the principal's office, and was personally approached by two teachers, who gave unsolicited advice, because of what was published in the first issue. The adviser later publicly claimed all responsibility, as he should have).

(During my junior year, someone who was bold and presumptuous enough, through sheer confidence and audacity, conceitedly claimed to know who was going to be the next editor, and announced the same to everybody who cared to listen - nevermind that she was in no way, shape or form, connected with the paper. Had she been right, I wouldn't have received this token honorific at all. Why do I still remember these things?)

(That year's Corps Commander - a classmate and a friend - may have pissed off one person too many - the Commandant. He lost the Cadet of the Year award to the Corps Ex-O that year; not that I cared about the CAT - if I remember correctly, I was one of only three persons with the rank of Cadet Private in our class, and I am, to this day, very proud of it.)

Justice Cruz likewise mentioned that he congratulated his grandson "for being the only graduate in his big class who did not receive a single award, not even for being handsome." With that qualification I can no longer say that I can completely feel the Justice's grandson's pain (or bliss, depending on how you look at it) - not that I do not deserve an award for being mouth-watering - my name was, after all, printed twice in the program (the second being in the class list). What prompted this random rant, however, was Justice Cruz' observation that his grandson was able to later accomplish something, that in my really biased opinion, more than adequately made up for whatever it is he missed on his graduation. To that, I can totally, absolutely, completely empathize with.

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