Memoirs of a Navy Brat






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Garita Elementary School Education



My elementary school education was both fun and productive, judging from the things I learned at such a young age.

I was an incoming 4th grader when we moved back to Cavite Naval Base, from Plaza Militar in Manila. Mom had me enrolled at the Garita Elementary School, the nearest public school from the base, about two kilometers away.  Going to and from school was no problem since children of Navy personnel were serviced by a school bus.  Initially, our school "bus” was a 6 x 6 military truck, later replaced by a bus when the Navy was able to procure one. Aside from the navy driver, an armed escort was provided for security.

During our time, the elementary school education program already taught the boys at that young age the rudiments of gardening, which I think is not being done with our present crops of students. We would all troop to a nearby vacant lot where each of us was assigned a piece of lot as our individual plot, which we cultivated, planted in peanuts, watered and weeded regularly, until we harvested the fruits of our labor. You see, I was already a peanut planter long before Jimmy Carter became one. Lol!

Our elementary school curriculum also included woodworking craft for the boys. For our individual projects for that particular school year, each of us was tasked to make a functional wooden rocking horse. I enjoyed this one, laboring on and seeing to fruition something done from scratch to a finished usable product. The feeling of pride for an accomplishment well done was soul-inspiring for a young lad like me.

Based on the pattern and guidance provided by our teacher, we started by cutting our wood, the type used for crates, into the rocking horse parts, with our jigsaw. Once we had all the parts ready, we assembled it by nailing the parts together. Then, we smoothened the surface with sandpaper, before finally painting it according to our individual preferences. Except for help from our parents in procuring the needed materials, we did everything on our own. We brought home our rocking horses at the end of the school year, testaments to the woodworking skills we learned from school. I know my younger siblings and I were able to use and enjoy it at home for quite a bit of time.

I also had my first taste of “authority" when I joined the Boy Scouts. During weekdays, a scout was assigned to conduct traffic in front of the school during flag-raising ceremonies. A scout would come to school in his scout uniform on his assigned days, and would take position in the middle of the road just prior to the start of ceremonies. Imagine a preteen like me, in my scout uniform, commanding all vehicles to stop on their tracks with my hand signal and sound of my whistle, and make those poor drivers watch as I execute a snappy hand salute while the flag was being raised up to the tune of our national anthem. Ha ha ha! That was “authority,” even if exercised only fleetingly. But then, the concept of authority was still vague to me at that time, and I really didn't feel I was exercising one.

[Cavite National High School Years]


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