To continue college, Annes parents brought her to their relative, a priest in the far far city, many kilometers away, which was traveled by land only. She would stay there for free lodging in one of the rented houses owned by the Priest.
The priest was the uncle of her Father. She met the priest many times before that, since almost every Christmas season, her parents would always visit the convent (which was situated previously in different place where the priest had been assigned) in which her eldest brother had lived before when hes still studying, however, her brother did something which caused him to be kicked out of school. His eldest brother enrolled under vocational course but haven finished it unluckily. Others mentioned that he did join in some kind of group which violated the schools regulation, they gathered in a rally and presented some complaints against the institution as what the others had said.
The priest was usually reshuffled and reassigned to different places and convents. Despite that, the poor relatives of his were always updated about it and wherever he was, they will visit as well. The priest would always give them gifts, money or food or any kind. The priest was known to help all his distant poor relatives, so many poor children were always going to him wherever he may be assigned.
The priest had a loyal maid or assistant that time, or lets say a loyal person, an old woman, a retired teacher who voluntarily stayed at him no matter where he went. She was called ”Nanay Nene ”, she was so busy in assisting always the priest, she did everything, from personal affairs to other things, shes an all around keeper, assistant, cleaner, cook and did the budget of everything in the convent, the school allowances of children who worked there in exchange of continuing their studies. And oftentimes, she was misinterpreted as being too tight or too thrifty in food or in money things; people misinterpreted her like hiding good food, that she would get and give to others only if the food is near spoil.
Annes eldest brother was in Manila already, though he got a job there, he hardly sent money to them. Anne had no idea why, maybe their eldest got no extra money for them and maybe he got difficult times also in a far away place. At that time, their eldest got a tailor job in a small garment company only, until they received news that he got a wife already, who was also his workmate (Annes family hadn seen them until Anne went to them later on after college graduation seeing her first nephew).
The second eldest brother stopped totally in his studies, hes only under elementary grade (maybe 4th grade). He was the one who permanently assisted their family, doing different odd jobs just to get money especially to buy their food; he did different heavy jobs especially in the field, in other sugarcane planters – plowing the field, cutting and carrying the harvested sugar cane up to the large trucks.
The 3rd sister was in college also at that time. She was already there in the city as Anne came in, prior to her arrival, and was enrolled in a Midwifery course.
Her parents went home as soon as they ushered Anne there. Their home was almost 3 hours away from there, so they immediately went back hurrying to take care of the rest of the kids at home.
Anne met her other relatives, in the two rented houses owned by the priest. The two houses are so big and built near each other. Those are old, big houses, designed for rent near, near the schools so most tenants there were students. The first house was rented for boys only and the 2nd house was rented for girls only. The houses were divided only by a wall with a tall tree in the backyard.
Both houses were two-story. It was big and had many rooms, which were mostly composed of wood and concrete floors on the ground.
The house for boys had a small restaurant below, which was owned by the Priests sister. His sister had 3 kids already, where the 2 daughters were in high school and the youngest son was in elementary that time. His 2nd husband was the one who always cooked together with her.
While the house for girls had a small office below for the Priests outreach program, employing a few staff – mostly social workers. The stockroom there was full of school supplies for the kids, school uniforms, bags and many others. There were many old typewriters too aligning there. Everyone was busy there during workdays, giving out school supplies for kids in different places under their program scope.
The priest was staying in a convent, one to two rides away from there and just visiting there whenever he had no other work schedule since hes a busy priest, always in demand in any small parish. But he always took time to go there, even staying for a few minutes only once a day. Hes like the boss there in the office.
Anne met her other distant relatives, they were mostly boys there, and some looked rude that time, shes still new so she had no idea yet who they were.
She met the 5 nephews of the priest, the 3 brothers (one of them was mute) from the elder sister of his, the other 2 brothers from the other sister of the Priest also.
And also she met one of the eldest nieces of the priest, which will become Annes roommate in the girls house who was working already at that time in a well known bakery as a Cashier.
The priest immediately gave an orientation to Anne on what to do, the house rules and everything about school. Theyll be provided a weekly allowance and needed to be budgeted everytime for her transportation everyday and the rest will be for her food. Its the same rule for everyone there like her sister and the nephews of the priest. The priest was already a grandfather to her and his nephews could be her distant uncles, she thought (it was confusing actually since they all seemed to be near in age).
Annes sister was assigned to the girls house. However, the priest assigned Anne in the house of boys to ensure its cleanliness everyday, and she should maintain it. Since the small restaurant was there, Anne couldn escape also to assist in serving the food or cleaning the dishes. And she cannot escape as well to the priests sister commands and strict rules.
The priest and his sister would always check everything, especially the bathrooms cleanliness. Anne would ensure everyday that the bathroom bowls were all white and clean.
She would clean the floor, mop it everyday especially every morning before doing anything or before going to school.
Annes sister rarely went out to the boys house, she would stay only with the girls, especially to one of the tenants there, who wasn working and not studying as well. That tenant just stayed in her room all day and would go out at night for dinner when someones car came. She said it was her father who always came to fetch her for dinner and whos the one giving her allowances everyday; otherwise her uncle according to her. No one dared to ask anymore about her personal matters, but rumors cannot be avoided especially from the eyes of the boys on the other side of the house. Annes sister and her were so close, that at times she was invited to sleepover in her room. Shes the only tenant who occupied a solo room, while the others were sharing in a room and they were all students. Everyone there needs to comply with the house curfew, at around 9pm, the gate should be closed and locked, and no ones allowed to go out or in any longer. However, it wasn followed at times, Anne and her sister were holding the keys of the gate and doors, and they
e considerate for them at times and would always open it for them no matter how late the time was, provided they could give a valid reason though, though sometimes its a made-up excuse only by the ”boarders ” (or tenants) after dating and nightlife.
Visitors and sleeping over were not allowed in the house. Anne and her sister should ensure it has been complied at all times.
Annes sister would always find extra jobs like washing the dirty laundry of the boarders to earn extra money, since sometimes she was too shy to ask for it to the Priest especially if she had some projects in school. The other boarders told Anne that her sister was ashamed and felt she was an extra burden to the priest aside from Anne. Her sister was too timid than Anne. She just kept on hiding there at times in the room of the girls and won go out to meet the priest especially when the priest called for a meeting (he usually did every Sunday before giving school allowances or at night if hes too busy at daytime).
Since Anne was assigned to the boys house, shes already used to talking to them all, especially to the priests nephews and his brother in law, Tyoy Rudy, who was a carpenter of the house. Anne was loved by Tyoy Rudy, the father of the 3 boys (one was mute). She would help Tyoy Rudy in cooking most of the time and preparing the food on the table. Then, she would call all the boys when its time to eat already. Then, the boys won let her stand unless she would finish everything on the table. They
e always teasing her, to eat all the remaining food since shes too thin at that time, on her first arrival there (unlike her elder sister thats slightly chubby). The boys were all teasing her, the 3 brothers and their cousin Peter.
The boys would join Anne always to their work, like painting the rooftop and the walls and everything. Anne was like the boys too, whatever and wherever the boys work was, there she was also. Procy, the eldest of the 3 brothers was so close to her. Hes like an older brother to her since he always taught Anne the boys work like how to paint, how to mix it to produce a better color and to apply it to the walls and the roofs. The boys were like 3-4 years older than her. Anne treated them all as her older brothers. She enjoyed working with them actually in the house and the boys would always play music every time they worked and would always tell any kind of joke to make Anne laugh.
Whenever Anne wasn there, they would always look for her , theyd notice it always as if she was their younger sister, especially Procy. He would call Anne always from the girls house and would drag her to help him to his work. Procy had curly hair (inherited from his father Tyoy Rudy), rounded eyes and brown skinned and would always smoke.
However, one of the boys was different, it was Peter. At first, he got that long hair until the shoulder. Then, one day, everyone was surprised, he cut his hair and got a new look. Peter had smaller eyes like the Korean or Chinese, brown skinned and oval face. He had no other vices. At first he was too silent, it seemed hes unable to express what hes feeling and Anne find him so behaved at the first meeting.
Anne always kept on calling the boys asking for their assistance every time whenever theres something that needed to be repaired in the girls house.
And she kept on calling Peter many times and it was noticed by Tyoy Jojo, the 2nd husband of Priests sister, who was too malicious. Anne had no idea about whatever they
e talking behind her back. However, she had noticed the different look on their eyes, especially those boys and Tyoy Jojo. And the boys and him would always give some hints or malicious remarks, as if teasing someone but Anne hardly understood it. Most of the time their words were too slanderous, it was like they
e used to it like those street guys with that slang words full of malice. Anne didn give any malice to anyone since she regarded them as her own relatives. However, she had heard stories from them, from the boys about what had happened to their other relatives, it was not a nice story. There, she realized they were too different and their thoughts weren the same with her. She learned that some of the relatives of the boys got involved with their relatives also, though they were related by blood, they
e not hesitant to court the others.
The boys would always look for Anne and would always wait for her every meal time. She didn know what they
e talking about when one of the nieces of the Priest, named Imee said this,
”Anne and I were just the same, we
e both girls. Whatever Anne has, I have as well. What does Anne have that is lacking from me? ”
Days passed by then, Anne went to the University to enroll herself alone. She just rode a jeep and asked anyone for directions going there.
She got some money from the Priest as her allowance and that time the promised yearly allowance from the Sugar Milling Company hadn come yet.
The University was so big, it was managed by the religious order too, a private catholic university managed by the Order of Augustinian recollects.
It was composed of different colleges, a high school and elementary school. At the right side, near the gate situated the large chapel of the University. The left side was the very big auditorium, a wide tracking field inside in the center where many students were playing baseball and a wide agriculture college at the very back of the school.
The University was employing many working students there as office assistants to every administrator, faculty and staff; library assistants in their 3 story, air conditioned big library and laboratory assistants to every department. At that time, since Anne was 100% free in tuition fee, she believed she would not pay anymore.
She just kept on asking how to proceed there in the enrollment and she enrolled herself in the College of Engineering.
She saw a long line in the counter to pay an amount for the enrollment. However, she had just learned that there were some miscellaneous fees to pay still despite that shes an entrance scholar. She was in a dilemma, her money wasn enough for the payment.
Then, she saw Melanie, her future classmate there in College of Engineering. It was coincidence, they enrolled in the same day and they knew each other already through one of the inter school activities. Melanie was the first person she met, they met in one of the inter-school activities previously, prior there. Its like a fate to them, to meet each other again in the university. Melanie came from the Northern part of the region, while Anne was from the Southern part, though their local dialects are slightly different, still they could understand each other. They instantly clicked together ever since the day they first met (it was high school days). They met in an orchard seminar, its about an environmental related seminar, a whole week activity where the participants slept there and were involved in many activities. She remembered, it was a fun activity, meeting different students from different schools. Anne was sent by the school at that time (3rd year high school), together with Jonathan (her senior, 4th yr student). Unexpectedly, they met again upon enrolling in the University.
Luckily, Melanie was accompanied by her mother who was a teacher in their hometown. They did understand her current problem and her mother offered her some money. Anne didn hesitate anymore, she just accepted the offer and promised them to pay the amount as soon as possible. Melanies mother just smiled widely and just said
”No problem. Its okay! ”.
The old woman was so good, she lent an amount to her. Shes so thankful she met them. Its like a blessing in disguise for her. So, after a long wait, her line finally approached near the Cashier of the school. She finally paid the amount of the enrollment fee. Then, they bade each other goodbye afterwards and went home separately.
Anne and her sister had no problems with school supplies since in the priests office, there were many of it. Every school opening, everyone will receive school supplies from the outreach program of the priest. According to others, the priest had a sponsor from another country and would give it to the beneficiaries worthy of help.
At the start of the College days, Anne had no idea what Chemical Engineering was all about. The first days in the College are horrible, it was General Engineering. Anne could hardly catch up with the calculations and the worst part, she was not good at drawing, well, thats the start of her dilemma. At the end of the period, she got an almost passing grade, 75. For the first time in her life, she got that lowest grade, but still shes thankful, she didn fail otherwise everything will be forfeited not only her entrance scholarship in the University but the Sugar Milling Scholarship as well from her hometown.
Anne knew to herself she couldn maintain the high grade of 90 in the University scholarship anymore. Thus, in the next period, she was dropped out from the University scholarship. She frankly told the priest about it and asked for further assistance financially during exams. She could see through his face the disappointment, its an additional burden to him but she couldn ask help from anyone aside from him. She did understand that the priest got many problems especially financially since he was financing all of his nephews and nieces there as well in school.
The priest and the other social workers talked about it and one of the social workers had an Aunt in the University, her Aunt was the HR director and shes also managing the working students there.
So they advised Anne to take an exam for that program called as STUDENT ASSISTANT PROGRAM (SAP), designed for all poor students who couldn afford paying the tuition fees.
The university was so kind, especially to poor students. Wherever you go, there was a working student, as if the university was all composed of them.
One of the social workers in the office, accompanied Anne to introduce to her Aunt, the HR director, she emphasized that Anne was the priests great-grandniece and that Anne wanted to take the exam for the student assistants. It seemed the priest was popular all along in that city.
They talked for a while, and advised Anne to return the next day to take the exam.
It was near the end of March, year 2001, Anne took the exam and successfully passed it. There were thousands of applicants and hundreds got successfully passed after a series of interviews. Anne was one of the lucky students who got included in that great benefits bestowed by the University.
The University campus was so big and had the biggest library Anne ever seen for the first time. The Library was 3 story and air-conditioned one. She was fond of visiting there though she would sit only, reading anything, like the Guinness World records, encyclopedia; and the biggest bible shes ever seen thats just openly displayed on a table.
The first floor of the library was intended for kinder, elementary and high school students only. The 2nd floor of the library was for the Colleges of Commerce and Arts, Education, Accountancy and Information technology. And Anne was always on the 3rd floor, for the College of Engineering and Graduate studies.
Anne enjoyed her stay there a lot, especially in the library and strolling on the vast area of the campus especially the area near the Engineering building where you could enjoy the wide football court, watching the playing varsity there and students doing their P.E. Class. And on the far left backyard of the building of Engineering, was the College of Agriculture, a vast area also where animals can be found as part of their studies.
It was like a silent sanctuary for Anne, she could hear the tweeting of the birds when sitting near the agriculture college which was overlooking also to the football field; the sweet caress of the wind and she could barely hear the outside noise like the crowd and horn of the vehicles outside the university.
Each working student was assigned to different offices. Some were placed in the most quiet places like the friars office alone, and some in the most crowded areas thats so busy all the time like the library. There were many working students assigned in the library and they
e the busiest working students among all. They could hardly cope up with their subjects during their vacant time, so most of them got back subjects and others would force to fit all subjects in their vacant time especially during summer class, they would take other subjects in advance so they could still catch up to the normal students upon graduation.
Luckily, Anne was assigned to the College of Engineering, where she was enrolled. She was assigned to the Engineering laboratory only and would help the engineering office every enrollment time only. The Machine shop was the assembly area of all the working students in the engineering laboratories. The supervisor of the Machine Shop at that time was a licensed Mechanical Engineer and a part time Instructor as well there. He was the one managing them all and giving them assignments and will assign them to the laboratory they may fit in. Not all of them were Engineering in the Machine Shop, some are IT, criminology, accounting, etc. At that time, the IT building was newly built and the nursing college. The Computer Engineering laboratory was in the tall IT building.
Anne belonged to Machine Shop student assistants, and most people there in the campus called them Machine Shop people. The Machine Shop working students were the one incharge in opening and closing of all Engineering laboratories such as the Chemical lab, Electrical lab, Hydropower lab, Computer lab (in IT tallest floor), Civil lab, Machine Shop, etc. They were in charge of maintaining cleanliness, orderliness, and the inventory of all items, reagents, chemicals and equipment. They should need to familiarize all the equipment as well to assist every Instructor in class.
Since Annes course was Chemical Engineering, she was assigned to the Chemical Laboratory. She should maintain the cleanliness and orderliness there and would assist every student when they borrow laboratory apparatus and prepare chemicals they
e requiring. She should be present in every chemical laboratory class to assist the Instructor in giving out their required items.
Anne would ensure that she won miss out a subject needed thats needed in that regular semester like the regular students. Every enrollment time, they
e required to help in the office to enroll regular students in the College of Engineering thus it was her advantage really, she would enroll in advance first and take all the subjects offered and at times would take another subject she desired in advance. Through the help of her co-student assistants there, she could take all the required subjects.
They were very busy every enrollment time and before the class started. They would plot their schedule carefully to ensure that there was a working student assigned in every laboratory time. All student assistants could hardly have a vacant time. They were all required to report starting 7 am and would usually go home at 9pm after closing all laboratory doors and offices, the very first to arrive to open the offices and the very last person to leave to close everything.
And every Saturday was their required overall cleaning time where at times their machine shop supervisor would treat them for food taken from his own pocket solely. And every first Sunday, they
e required to attend a Sunday service in the University Chapel managed by the Friars of the University also.
Anne experienced such a meaningful life starting that time, she met different students with different backgrounds, met new people with kind hearts and people with sunny disposition in life despite their struggles. She felt that from that moment she understood the meaning of life, she found people where she can relate to, an experience that no money could buy, its a profound experience for her; no words can explain.
Shes a student assistant in school, yet still shes required to help in the boarding house where shes staying because they
e still providing her fare everyday and the food she ate.
Together with her companions in the Machine shop, they usually bought their lunch outside the school since its cheaper than in the school canteen, aside from the crowd there. At times they just dined in but usually they returned back to the machine shop (their headquarter always) to eat together, sharing their food with each other . One of her classmates in some minor subjects was Allen, he was also a working student together with her but hes a Civil engineering and also a working student since first year.
Allen would bring his cooked rice always in a big cellophane or plastic bag and he would share it with Anne. They
e so close together, since they
e classmates in other minor subjects. Allen, though he was a boy, was like slightly feminine in his bodily gesture. He was soft spoken too and a little sensitive that sometimes he won speak to Anne when Anne missed out something or she had uttered some remarks he cannot accept.
Every lunch break, they would close all laboratory doors and would proceed to the Machine Shop, as if its automatically their assembly time. The machine shop supervisor would go home that time, so the working students would ensure to close the door first of the office before doing anything like using the Computer of their boss, borrowing his metal heater to boil water using his own cup too to have a coffee. Their machine shop supervisor already knew it, and they just let them borrow everything. He was a very good man, a silent type, rarely talk, with a soft voice. You could hardly hear his voice, its so little and would always wear a smile as he talked to others. His eyes were like the Chinese that when he laughed you cannot see it.
Anne was so lucky that she was assigned there in the good supervisor that rarely complained, not a bossy one. He was like a father to all of them in the shop, at times, he would offer some money to Anne freely, without Anne asking for it, whenever he would know she had no money to buy for her project and would assist Anne as well in making her project especially related to the Chemical Course.
Anne would always borrow his books there in the shop; hes one of the topnotchers in licensure exams with high passing grades, he got many books and reviewer in there.
The University required a passing grade only to maintain the scholarship of being a working student, so she maintained the passing rate without failing grades luckily until the 5th year, until the engineering college graduation.
She rarely went home starting from her first year in college il 5th year, its maybe once or twice a year when shes free from any obligation in school and in the boarding house.
(September 23, 2020 6:12pm, Wednesday)