Last weekend, I heard that there was a huge celebration in Surigao City in time for the school’s centennial. Graduates from everywhere, some of them abroad, trooped to their alma matter.
My sister and I, too poor to go home, had an interesting and funny discussion of our school days instead, which left us laughing like crazy.
When I graduated from high school in 1997 I received a loyalty award for spending my entire school years there; that is from kinder to high school. God, that’s about eleven years of being a Nicolanian (rolls eyes).
If the Saint Paul nuns who educated me would see me now they would probably writhe in shame and disappointment over what I’ve become - a sinner in every sense.
A few years back my mom, frustrated over my firm refusal to go to church one Sunday, said, “If I had known what a heretic you’d become one day I would’ve not spent money to send you to a Catholic school. I should’ve enrolled you to the public school instead.”
Honestly, I do not know what to make out of that remark from my mom.
Looking back, Catholic education was absurd, surreal, and even tragic.
It rammed me with too much doctrine, which for a fag like me only bred guilt. At that time it seemed irreconcilable to me that even if I would be the best Catholic I could ever be but on account of being gay I was destined to rot in hell nonetheless.
I’ve abandoned all my religious inclinations for so many years now, together with any trace of guilt for who I am. Thank god.
Who would’ve have known however that I used to be so devout, especially during grade school. I did not miss Sunday mass. For Christ’s sake I was even an altar boy. I would often read in the school mass and regularly sung in the choir. I read the bible. I went to confession in earnest. I excelled in Religion.
One of the most bizarre periods of my Catholic education was joining the Eucharistic Crusade in Grade 5 to 6. It was an odd group of students under the guidance of the school principal no less. She was called Sister Mercedes, SPC (or Saint Paul de Chartes).
Her name was so Thalia no?
Most of the members of the Crusaders, as we were called, were in the honor roll. We had this white uniform with blue (for boys) or red (for girls) blazers and a beret. That’s Sister Mercedes’ fashion sense.
At the start of the monthly mass we would join the priest in the procession, wearing our blazers and berets of course. Being the tallest among the boys I would carry the Crusaders’ flag at head of the pack. We would then occupy the front pews, a statement of our so-called status as soldiers of the Catholic faith (the fag rolls his eyes and pouts as I write this).
We also had these small notebooks in which we list all the good deeds that we do on a daily basis. Every Friday we would then report to Sister Mercedes and she would tally how many good deeds we’ve done for the week.
God, I would even consistently land among the top five Crusaders who have the most number of good deeds for the week.
Everyday after class, we were required to pray the rosary as a group at the school chapel. Of course that would be my second time to pray the rosary that day having already gone through the beads first thing in the morning.
All in the name of being a Crusader.
How clueless I was then to the atrocities of the original crusades who acted in the name of a religion that was distorted in unimaginable ways. But I was one naïve fag who was at the mercy of Catholic education and its instrument in the persona of Sister Mercedes, SPC, her fashion sense and all.
Next year, it would be ten years since I graduated from high school.
Below is a picture of my high school batch. This was taken a couple of years back in Surigao City during our batch’s Christmas party. I’m wearing black in the right side of the picture.