Educating values. Valuing education.

by Evans Yonson

Ben and I love it when April and May come because clients would be coming for their and their children’s annual office and school uniforms. I just turn the electric fan on when it gets very hot or Ben, the ever energy-saver, would take out her paipai[1] and make stronger strokes to cool us both. Some enterprising would bring fried bananas with sugar or hot pan de sal[2] with margarine. During the May Festival, young boys and girls go to the Saint Augustine Cathedral for the annual flores de Mayo.[3] The girls would come to our shop for their white dresses, which Ben would sew the whole day. Dong helps us make the girls’ wings as angels of the Virgin Mary. Our shop would look like a scene from heaven at the end of May, full of young girls in the white dresses with their flapping wings.

April and May are the summer months of the Philippines. It gets very hot during this time of the year so Nanay would encourage us to explore other places. We would go to other provinces and live with relatives for a month and move to another province on the second month. When we were younger, we went in pairs. But as we got older, we went alone to different relatives. I learned a lot of things while I was away from home. I learned to do menial jobs like being a storekeeper, feeding the animals in a farm, or helping in the vegetable garden. Our relatives gave us a small amount of money for our work. I always cried during my first summer away but I soon got over the homesickness and appreciated the idea of being away from home. Before reaching my tenth orbit, I have been out of my city for four summers. It was tiresome but amusing at the same time. It was only later on in life that I realized that Nanay prepared us for life of independence.

I moved to all-boys high school with a set of friends who stuck with me through thick and thin. My older brother was on his fourth year when I joined him but he was about to graduate then. I became a consistent honor on my first year. I spent my summer away from the city in a little town called Nasipit, my Tatay’s hometown. There I met a new friend. Sonny took particular interest on me because I was from the big city. He always asked me questions about Cagayan de Oro or about my school. He brought me to Nasipit’s famous spots and unfamiliar territories and there we would talk endlessly. We rode in his bike. We kissed in the forest. We brought food wherever we went to picnic and we kissed again and again. He played the guitar and he was a great singer. He sang Bee Gees and Beatles music. When I was about to leave, we promised to write each other. The letter writing went on for almost a year and every week I would receive news from him. He told me stories from his town. The last letter I received from him was the news that he was getting married to his girlfriend.

To be a tailor and a businessman, one must excel in delivering quality service or product to his or her clients. Customer satisfaction is an important factor in our business. Early on in life, I have taught my children to excel in whatever they do in their lives, be it in the academics, in business, or in relationships. To excel in studies, one must focus attention on the rigors and demands of the educational process that they are facing at the moment. To stand out in the business, one must never cease to innovate and try new different things that clients are looking for in every product that they are interested on. To do extremely well in a relationship, one must try to please both lovers and never one over the other. These are very important that I believe that everyone should have to be successful in whatever one chooses to be in the present or in the future.

To be an accountant and a government employee, one must dedicate himself or herself to the ideals of what it takes to be one. As an accountant, one must be honest and truthful in reporting all financial transactions. I still have this value my Nanay and Tatay taught me when I was growing up in the tailoring shop. If one is honest, customer satisfaction is high and increasing sales revenues for the business. I have been promoted several times because of my dedication to government service. More than half of my life has been spent with the same office that I started when I was 21 years old. As a government employee, we are expected to be of service to the taxpaying public. Our clients, the public, deserve nothing but the best service. I have helped design programs for the city government to increase client satisfaction in terms of paying taxes on time by coordinating payments through commercial and local banks.
On my second year, I was assigned to the honors’ class. The brightest among the students were grouped and made to compete against each other. I have always been afraid of standing infront of a crowd. I was a total wreck in delivering speeches. I felt sick whenever the professor told us about standing in class and read a poem for everybody. It was simply not my thing. But I continued to excel in English and Mathematics. By the time I had my complete 14th orbit, algebra and English grammar were just small play for me. Every quarter, we would outwit and outplay each other in all subjects. It was a survival of the fittest kind of thing. After that school year, I was exhausted and wanted out of the class. My professors advised me against my plans. Don’t stop now, I was told. I felt that competition is really draining and it was unhealthy for me to be slugging it out with my friends. I just wanted to be a normal kid who wanted to fail and learn.

Prior to celebrating my birthday in 1984, my father came home for good. To us, he was a total stranger. We had difficulties dealing with him because he was away for 7 years. He was back in the Department of Labor office. He was staying longer this time. His office was just in front of the school where I went to. He picked me up for lunch and brought me to school after. In August of that year, a former political rival of President Marcos, Benigno Aquino came home after several years of exile in the US. Aquino was gunned at the international airport. The assassination made a strong impact in the country that students were mobilized by politicians to take a stand and fight the dictatorship of Marcos. We were encouraged to wear mourning pins, marked “Hindi ka nag-iisa!,”[4] as a sign of protest against the Marcos rule. My father, who was trained in the Martial Law, was a Marcos loyalist and he believed that Aquino represented instability and chaos in the country. One day, I wore the pin at home. During lunch, he asked me explain what I was wearing and what it was for. I made clear that I was standing against the oppression of the current government on its people. He felt insulted that he shouted at me and asked me to leave the table. I stood up and never went with him after lunch anymore. It was a personal uprising against someone who was a stranger to all of us at home.

(to be continued)

[1] Fan made of palm leaves.[2] Bread flavored with salt.[3] A one-month cathecism program sponsored by the church.[4] “You are not alone!” An anti-Marcos slogan.