And Just Like That


Just a couple of days ago, my high school batch hosted our grand alumni homecoming. That means it has been 25 years since I donned my white polo and khaki pants, put on my backpack and trekked the streets of Juna on the way to school. I still had pimples and a head full of hair back then.

We were the last of the 80’s and the first of the 90’s. We grew up with BMX bikes and breakdancing, Madonna and Michael Jackson, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, Hardy Boys and Sweet Valley High, the A-Team and Knight Rider.

I was a computer geek even as a kid and my father indulged my hobby by subscribing to U.S. magazines like Personal Computing and PC Magazine. I saw the debut of the first Macintosh, the IBM PC (XT and AT), and the slow demise of the Apple II, where I had so much fun with pixelated games on a screen that showed no other color but green.

16 kilobytes (kb) was standard memory. You were a power-user if you had 64kb, and if you had 128kb, you were at the top of the food chain. For today’s users who are so used to Gigabytes (GB) of memory, a kilobyte is what you get when you divide a gigabyte by one million.

But enough of the geekiness. We were witnesses to Ninoy’s assassination and the original EDSA revolution. Marcos vs. Cory was a hotly debated topic in English classes. Unfortunately that’s about all I remember of politics in that era as I was more interested in computers. Seems like I can’t escape from the geekiness.

I have my elementary math teacher, Mrs. Salinas, to thank for introducing me to the world of computers when I was just in Grade 4. The school had just acquired a number of low-end Zenith computers and she offered to teach programming in BASIC for those who were interested. So that’s how I spent a number of Saturdays learning about variables and loops, on a machine that only had 1 kilobyte of memory (yep, that’s not a typo) and didn’t save any of my work. I had to retype any programs that I had made before if I wanted to run them again.

Speaking of teachers, I met a few at the reunion. There was my Montessori (pre-school) teacher, Ms. Vikki Ravarra, who had to put up with my constant fear of not seeing my mother at the back of the classroom. Ms. Nelia Sanchez, the ever patient and kind grade 1 teacher, who made the transition from kinder to elementary less scary experience. Ms. Edna Royo, my grade 5 teacher who tied my rubber shoes to the teacher’s table for defying the school rules of wearing black leather shoes (which I detested) once too often. She was strict and firm, but always fair in class. She taught me to love softball, actively coaching our team to be the softball champions for that year.

There was, of course, fellow columnist and toastmaster, Mr. Rene Lizada — who was my inspiration for becoming a teacher, speaker, writer, and heckler. I even saw my college physics professor and department head, Fr. Dan Mcnamara, who has transferred here from the Ateneo de Manila. He had a deep booming voice and his lectures on the third floor could be heard on the ground. I frequently hung out in his office trying to figure out the quantum physics chart that hung on a wall, and I ran to him for advice when I considered shifting out of physics and into computer science.

It’s hard to believe all those happened more than 2 decades ago. Some of them seem just like yesterday.

And just like that, it’s 2016.

Happy New Year!

Originally published in Sunstar Davao.

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