Teaching in high school does throw one back to memories of high school. I was just thinking particularly about my own time during CAT (for the uninitiated, Citizen Army Training that was mandatory for all seniors in high school in the Philippines, male or female – the only way you could get out of it was to be chronically sick, be a member of the choir, be a member of the scout clubs, be one of those math people who did training for school contests, or have citizenship abroad).
It sounds a lot more impressive than what it really was. It was just weekly training for a year, marching in platoons, carrying rifles, recognizing basic military commands, shining combat boots and brass belt buckles, doing push-ups eighteen-sir-nineteen-sir-twenty-sir-permission-to-faint-now-sir, and sir, I can’t stand to attention properly if the major keeps poking me on the ribs for fun, and all that fluff of saluting and yelling and inspection. We never had to sleep in barracks or fire a shot, but you could have taken an M16 apart and we could have identified each piece for you and chant all the names of the officers of the entire commanding body in rank of order.
It was ridiculous drudgery having to wake up early on Saturday morning and lace up your boots and think that we were all playing soldier, really, for a mark on the report card under “Extracurricular Activity.” Our high school doesn’t have the CAT program now; too many parents had complained. But in some small way, I actually had enjoyed a bit of it. For one, I think that was the point in my life when I was the healthiest and the most physically fit, ever, and that’s always a nice feeling. And perhaps because I had friends in high places; quite a number of my friends had gone the previous summer to train as officers while I went holidaying with my family and was stuck being a basic cadette the following school year. Not that I had an easier time with the commanding officers, but it’s nice when they don’t suspect the worst about you all the time because they know you can follow in step. And also because despite the seeming pointlessness of the matter, it was still nice to see platoons moving in such an orderly and disciplined fashion, rifles going up all at the same time with accompanying thud of guns on shoulders, and heavy boots spacing out simultaneously when everyone’s ordered to stand at ease. I think it’s just brought about by me being a teacher and having to exercise my own authority in disciplining my students. I was having dinner with a colleague some months ago and she was saying that our students could really use a bit of boot camp treatment because they can be such softies, with which I agree. You cannot help but appreciate clear, ordered discipline when you’re a teacher. It’s funny, when I was having a rough spot with some of my students during the earlier part of term, the one helping me deal with it was a friend of mine who had been the CAT corps commander of her year in high school, and being corps-comm is so not funny.
I remember when the reserve officers from the army would come to inspect us. Hilarious event in which it would be our commanding officers’ turn to be under fire and spit. Of course we lowly cadets would be ordered to turn our backs, but we could so hear all the yelling on the other side of the field. And it took so long too.
In any case, still, silly nostalgic memories that’s fun to look back upon. Our CAT year in high school was the same year when former Pres. Estrada was impeached and current Pres. Arroyo came in, and this had happened exactly when my friends and I were having lunch just after CAT, and one of them announced, “Ladies, we have just had a change in our commander-in-chief.” Geez. Has it already been that long?
Wow. Seems only yesterday when my own English teacher in high school was a reserve officer in the army.