December 4, 2022

The pile of papers submitted by the students came at the teacher’s table in an antediluvian surge. What endless papers to be checked. The teacher howled as he gun-sprayed antibacterial mist to envelope handles, desks, door knobs and pens at his office. The paper trails came after the holiday break. Where did these papers come from?
Later that night, the teacher dreams of many papers scattered all over the town. Students carry their modules wherever they go. A walk through of memories of students at shanty shops, cityscapes, coastal beaches, and at some special corner of their house. I could even smell their ulam snug in their modules!
Was that coffee stains on the modules? The teacher thought of cozy coffee shops the students might have gone to. In search for answers, they could have spent an afternoon walk away from the crowded city, drop by at Tam-awan and saw wall paintings to relax their minds. They might have tried aromatic coffee at Igorot Charm Café and bite their Chilean empanada. Did they take photos of stone walls meandering at the famous Igorot Kingdom? The clouds could have settled too low and allowed rain drops to mark a memory in their worn-out modules.
At a distance came the smell of salty beaches of students crossing the lowlands. Did they travel out of town? The moist, sultry modules sprinkled by sands, dog-eared, with sea-shells souvenirs attached. The teacher could picture them bathing under the sun, running against the waves and breathing in fresh air from the sea.
The teacher picked-up the dirty and folded modules of hard-working students. Working part-time at the Trading posts, hauling veggies, or joining the neighborhood construction works, they are the students who are ahead of their time. Growth is not confined in the classroom alone, and our students are maturing unnoticeably despite this pandemic. They are those who are kind to give some vegetable surplus at the school with their modules for free!
Then there came the sweet smell of colorful flowers and pine weeds with some heart-shaped paper cuts inspired by some mountain trekking, or the kind of sky viewing at Warrior’s Nest at Long-long. The teacher imagined students walking down tall trees or forest bathing at the Japanese Trail unmindful of some couples sitting at the corner for a high-altitude kissing! Did they think of love, of hope, and the adult life?
Indeed, modules have witnessed students’ memories of people and places. The teachers are excited to grasps as much thought that came in every page of the students’ modules. At times, when modules came back to them folded, marked, answered with so much inspiration and creativity, it gives a smile to the teachers. For every week of module distribution, they expect that while the students answer those questions, they do not forget to live their youth and miss not the experiencing of this beautiful world. Mark every memory to it, whether dog-eared, coffee drips, hard-earned folds, love-torn modules – at least let the teachers know that the world is beautiful out there and that as the teacher sit behind their desks they joined dreams of which they become part of the student’s growth. (RICHARD A. GIYE)