It happened many years ago when I was a second-year high school student at Ateneo de Manila, an elite institution where parents send their children with the hope and expectation of providing the best education while at the same time moulding their child’s character to be future leaders of the nation.
I am not ashamed to share a dark chapter of my school days at the nation’s premier university, the alma mater of our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal.
Yes, I had to repeat second year high school, not because it was my fault but because of the vindictive bullying of Ateneo High School teacher Ramon Opinion. He is most probably dead by this time. But as William Shakespeare wrote in Julius Caesar, “The evil that men do lives after them.” I sincerely hope he made it past the pearly gates.
Last December 2018, I attended the Ateneo de Manila University Homecoming at Loyola Heights, Quezon City as a Diamond Jubilarian of grade school class 1958. I met quite a few of my former classmates who have remained alive to this day. They remember the same teacher Ramon Opinion and they too were among his victims. The same teacher also slapped the back of their heads. The reason? They had a new haircut.
I was quietly taking a quiz in English Literature when I felt the teacher’s right hand hit the back of my head with an ear-splitting hard wallop. Only because I had a new haircut. I couldn’t help but cry. I was shocked.
I was still crying when I arrived home. My parents asked why. I had to tell them what happened. From Cavite City where we lived, my father went to Loyola Heights in Quezon City to see the school principal who was not available. He was entertained by School Registrar Mr. Cadiz who must have apprehended Ramon Opinion. I doubt if the matter ever reached any Jesuit priest but it resulted in failing grades in three subjects ━ English Literature, English Composition and Pilipino ━ all being handled by Ramon Opinion.
I know I did not deserve to fail in any of those subjects because I was doing good in class recitations, quizzes and exams. But Mr. Opinion was very vindictive, as if he had the right to slap any student who had a new haircut. Unfortunately, no one questioned the school records. If ever anyone did, he would not have shown it to anyone.
Failure in three subjects resulted in having to repeat second year in high school ━ unnecessary expense for my parents.
Ergo, when I attended our Diamond Jubilee last December, I was at least one year older than many of my former classmates. But thanks to Bigen hair dye, I also looked younger than some who had no hair. ━ Dino Crescini