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An old dog visiting his old schoolyard

Earlier this afternoon, after spending a lot of time surfing the net, I really got bored pretty fast. I decided to hop on my bike and just roam around wherever my wheels take me. I’ve spent three hours already just roaming around when a sudden thought came up to me. It’s been three or four years since I’ve passed by my old elementary school. Seven years since I’ve last been inside there. Since my last route would draw me near the old schoolyard, I decided to pass by there before heading home.

On my way there, I quickly noticed that the old muddy roads were now cemented. There were new houses built around the area. I got so unfamiliar with the place, I didn’t notice that I was already passing by the old school again. Ah, Davao City Integrated Special School. The school where I started. The school where I trained in my earlier days. The place that started to mold some of my talents, skills and personalities. The place that I always thought I will stay until I graduate high school. So many fond memories of that school, both sweet and bitter.

I could still remember when it was still named Davao City Special School. I started there at kindergarten as a small chubby boy then who would cry when my mother would left me inside the classroom. I would eventually learn to be a hyperactive kid, someone who plays a lot but at the same time, excels well in class. As every school year passed and as I grew, that school became a huge part of me. It gave me an identity, as a “Speder”. All through those years I have achieved and experienced so many things. It already came to a point that I just wished to stay there forever. Not thinking of an idea of ever leaving that place.

As I was checking the old school, I notice that there was already a covered court inside. Some high school kids were playing basketball. It made me jealous and wished that it was built when I was still there. It would have been a much more great childhood for me. Nevertheless, the area where the court was built still gave me a lot of childhood memories. It was still a huge grassy area of land back then. Everyone would be running around, playing a lot of games. I could still remember playing “Taga-anay” (Tag), “Tagu-anay” (Hide and Seek), “Labo-labo” (Ball Throwing), the very popular “Tigso” (Base Defense) and so many other traditional games. Despite being fat, I was already athletic then to play all those games. I could probably say I’m  a “varsity” at those games. That huge land of area may not have a basketball court, but it still gave me a lot of memories, something no game of basketball could duplicate.

Still strolling along, I came upon a group of students who were laughing out loud. I notice that they had different uniforms,  gray strips and not those old red and white strips students wear in my days. As I went along, I saw students hanging out on stores I’ve never seen before. And I quickly remembered my friends and classmates that I had a great time hanging-out with. There were a lot, but a special group will always be a big part of me, and that’s my ACCE (Accelerated) classmates. I spend two years with those guys so it was with them that I truly have ever lasting memories. From always having to learn fast, practicing for school presentations, the time when everyone called me “Danger” because I get high blood a lot, it was those times that really made me appreciate my time there. And seeing those new generation of Speders, it made me proud that I came there.

There were a lot of students passing by, so I had to go slow. I suddenly came face to face with the old gate. Everything flash back to me, my last few days in that school. It was the end of my 2nd year high school. Due to a sudden change, the program was now zero-base. I had a hard time adjusting, since I wasn’t studying well during my high school days there, it caused me to get low grades. My grades were actually going up at first, but when the change happened, I couldn’t overcome it. Let alone, I was being bullied by my own friends. I couldn’t study well, thus, I failed. I was having my clearance signed. I was saying goodbye to everyone. I remembered that I actually had tears when I was slowly walking away from that school. I was just two years away from getting that huge Loyalty Award Medal. I didn’t want to leave, but I had to. I need to. I walked pass by the grassy field one last time. Stare at the classrooms one last time. I went out on the gate, giving the school one last look, not knowing what the future will hold. Seven years after, I was staring at it again.

I’ve been an Atenean for the last six years. It was the one that molded me to who I am today. It was the one that molded the skills I had and made it more great. Ateneo was the bigger part of who I am. Being an Atenean was now my identity. But it sometimes overshadowed the fact that I was once a “Speder”. A student from a small public school. A kid who went through all those great childhood memories. But I knew that being a Speder was now just something part of my past. It was an identity I used to have. I may have been an Atenean for far too long, but I’ll never gorfet where I started. As I gave the school one last look, I kicked the pedal and went along my way. But passing by that school, I will be forever be proud that I have been there, to be a Speder, to be in Davao City Integrated Special School.