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By By Pablo A. Tariman
posted 12-Jun-2019  ·  
The columnist's grandson Emman at the Summer Palace in Beijing after winning Metro Manila-wide contest in Chinese history.

Just when you thought you were done with that routine, here you are again accompanying your grandson to attend to his school opening needs.

He cannot use the old uniforms as the school decided new ones for Grades 11 and 12 (the last two years in high school under K-12). The brown pants turned to maroon with matching neckties with the usual school logos in the white polo shirts.

One reminds him he will probably get a taste of ROTC in his last two years and he had better get way from that cell phone and get more physical exercise.

Back in the island in the old campus (that’s where the provincial capitol is now), you have that at the end of the class and you march in formation trying to look like real soldiers.

One remembers this routine every time I watch some scenes from The General’s Daughter and you see snappy hand salutes accompanying such lines as “Permission to leave, Sir.”

As usual, classmates with perfect bodies and good-looking faces get to be platoon leaders.

One of them got too hot for comfort and climbed the room of a classmate and in a few months, one in the class was pregnant and surprisingly, we didn’t make a big deal out of it.

Another platoon leader in the class looked like a Japanese matinee idol and indeed he could pass for an actor. After graduation, he was head of the ROTC unit of a private school in the island. One found him in FB, still good-looking and like many of us, happy and resigned to grandparent’s status.

I tell my grandson you better make good in your studies while I am still, so to speak, up and about.

Over breakfast, I tell him I will try to be alive till he finishes his college studies and the rest is up to one’s fate.

When the deadlines are done, you get to review your coming and going.

In your time (and up to the present), there is the usual pressure of pursuing your dream and coming back to the island with some kind of status. Some can’t wait to get some early recognitions announced in the island paper and indeed, the islander (just like the rest of humankind) is always under pressure to be prove himself.

Many years back, I struck a deal with the school principal that if I place first in the regional extemporaneous speaking contest, could I just be excused in that gardening and vocational chores that I hated in my high school years?

I only placed second and the deal is off.

(By destiny, the one who took the first prize -- from Masbate-- was destined to write for the same paper I write regularly, the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Every time I see Lindo Bolido, I’d deliver a line like, “It’s because of you that I did not finish high school on time.”

She replied with “It’s because of me that you finish high school at Quezon City High School with graduation rites at the Araneta Coliseum, not at the Catanduanes National High School grounds.”)

It’s when you come to terms with your coming and going that you hope your grandson would cope like you did, taking little crises in stride and aiming to do better every time you fall.

You know your grandson would cope better. He is excellent in Math which you hated and he can hurdle paper work with better results. And like most young people, he ends up your mentor in things you cannot understand about your cell phone and your computer.

And so, you hope you will cope better the rest of the year – arthritis and poor eyesight notwithstanding -- when the next recognition day comes.

Taking care of a grandson is like reviewing your own life. You always reflect on what you were doing when he was your age.

Then you come to terms with the larger picture.

That in this life, you come and go hoping to make a difference in this big wide world.

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