As a young child, I had always dreamed of going to the “Pisay” that my parents talked about. They said it was for the best of the best, the creme de la creme de la creme.
And so, there it stood, the imposing and irresistible figure enshrined in a blinding halo of light. Philippine Science High School.
Already, I could see it in my mind’s eye.
Students everywhere, wandering around the idyllic grounds. Everyone studying all the time, noses buried in books. People use Newton and Galileo and Aristotle in everyday conversation; they gossip on disproving theorems, not such trivialities as love lives.
I thought I would be with the cream of the crop, the best of the nation, the scholars of the nation. Iskolar ng bayan – putting the pursuit of knowledge and truth above all else.
The Pisay that I found upon entering three years ago was definitely not the Pisay of my reckonings.
Of couse, that is not to say that I haven’t learned a lot in my time here.
First of all? Pisay students misbehave just as much as any other students would. We laugh about anything and everything – whether or not it’s funny. Not even geometry or chemistry is spared from the relentless pursuit of jokesters and pick-up line artists.
“What’s your favorite element? Mine is Uranium, because I love U.”
“I was only a scalar until you gave me direction.”
The classrooms are filled with noise, despite ongoing classes. The hallways are never really complete without a group of friends laughing crazily – more suited to side alleys with the drunks than to a high school for the sciences.
Secondly: not all Pisay students are hardworking.
You’ll be sure to see lazy students, those who love to cram, and those who just don’t want to learn at all. It doesn’t matter how good you’re study habits are – by the time you graduate (or even before) you’ll have perfected the art of cramming. School motto? Due tomorrow, do tomorrow!
Of course, we’re very good at technology, being a science school. Especially the Internet. Practically every single day, a Pisay student stays up until the wee hours of the morning, seated over at the most convenient computer possible – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, oh my!
And, if ever you get tired of the games and social networking sites, there are always people willing to be your text mates; people will respond to your GM’s any hour of the day or night.
Third: Not all scholars are model students. Students are rude – some even fighting with the teachers for just one point added to their long test.
There are also those who are great at partying. There are those who would be well-suited to PBB Teens – the kings and queens of lascivious behavior. They’ll laugh and joke about everything – except their love lives, which they take so seriously it’s miraculous they have any time for anything else at all.
There are those who must have been reincarnated umalohokans (Note: I must admit that I belong to this category) – voices reaching over to the surrounding mountains. Shrieking loudly as anything of any consequence at all happens, rarely even pausing to take a breath.
Fourth: the life of a scholar is not easy. Stress is as natural as breathing here.
There will be days where, although you avoid any forms of distraction, you still won’t get any sleep. There will be lessons you won’t understand, no matter what. There will be teachers who are terrifying, looking for any chance at all to dock points from you. There will be classmates that you just wish you could punch in the face. There will be times when you just want to sit and the corner and cry because there’s still so much to be done, and not enough time to do it all.
Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Math in all its reincarnations throughout the years – what terrors they are. And, on top of that, may the Lord have mercy on your soul if you happen to choose an elective that requires more effort. Add that to your constant subjects of English, Filipino, PEHM, Social Science, Computer Science, and Research (for your third and fourth years), and it all makes for a very stressed high school student.
Lastly: despite all of that, you will get through it. Because, in Pisay, teamwork will always be in style. We pass together, and we fail together. If you don’t understand the lesson, there’s sure to be a genius (or two) who will be willing to teach you. And, if all else fails, there will always be classmates who will willingly let you copy from them.
A Pisayer is not selfish. Noisy? Yes. Condescending? Sometimes. Irritable? Probably. But definitely not selfish.
And, at the end of the day, you’ll learn to love the noise-filled halls filled with patronizing superiority. You’ll learn to love the laughter and the crazy schedules. You’ll learn to love the terror teachers and impossible requirements. You’ll love Noli and El Fili, vectors and forces, trigonometry and number theory, Aristotle and Rizal.
Because all that really matters is that we’re Pisay.
It might not be the Pisay I dreamed about all those years ago. But this is my Pisay. And I wouldn’t give it up for the world.
You’ll learn to love it all one day. It might take days, or weeks, or months, or even years. But you’ll love it too, in the end.
Because these are our lives – iskolar ng bayan through and through.
This picture is from an article called “The Rescuing Hug”. The article details the first week of life of a set of twins. Each were in their respective incubators and one was not expected to live. A hospital nurse fought against the hospital rules and placed the babies in one incubator. When they were placed together, the healthier of the two, threw an arm over her sister in an endearing embrace. The smaller baby’s heart stabilized and temperature rose to normal.
life is so beautiful.