A full bloom summer


I took photos of the flame trees at my school the other day. The flowers were in full bloom though the flame tree festival on island occurred a few days back. The reddish flowers were resplendent in their glory.

My summer 2016 is, at best, uncertain on the details. To begin with, I had applied to stay at one of our new low-income housing when I was told that the certification from PSS was that my employment was only up to June 6. I thought I had a full year contract as a substitute teacher but I guess, since I was not among those on a 12-month employment contract, mine specifically says that I am on call on a daily basis though the payroll record shows that I was “called” daily since the first week of April.

No matter. It is just that the housing project had paperwork to do, and technically, I am without a projected income after June 6 on the basis of PSS central office’s record.  Bummer. The housing project lady working to have me come in (I was #54 when I applied a year ago) is clear of my ability to pay, given all the history and records, but she has rules to follow, and I am without guaranteed income. Bummer.

No problem. I wish I was on the ranks of PSS retiree double dipping but I am not. I am retired on record, all right, since I took out my contributions to the retirement fund in 2007 after teaching at San Vicente to deal with a case of spondylosis, a condition of which I knew nothing about then. All I knew was that I had painful neck bone flares on occasion, and Saipan, Honolulu, and Pea Eye that took x-rays all recommended surgery, deemed a simple procedure, but I was personally wary that the scalpel would wander over my spinal cord that bode no possibility of error, a prospect I was not looking forward to.

Then I chanced on being in Jiangsu in China outside of Shanghai, went to a Chinese community clinic while nursing a cold, and the MD looked examined my spondylosis. I left the place with a two-week supply of anti-pain herbal medicine and instructions on how to massage my neck when the spondylosis flares up again. I skipped surgery, and the spondylosis turned out to be a knead and a herb here and there!

Now I do not even need to deal with the spondylosis since I rotate my neck regularly and never have neck pains, but rarely. But the facticity of age intruded again, not formally at PSS, though I am sure it is a consideration whether this old coot labeled an “educator” elsewhere is capable on toeing the line so that I am in sync with other teachers to promote the curriculum that addresses directly provisions of the Standard Core components that PSS follows.

I ran into the age thing in China. Knocking just a couple of years into the 7th decade, Beijing decided to go by the books, and on the books, it is written that local pedagogues were not to be older than 60 for the male (I think it is 50 or 55 for the females); foreign teachers were not to be older that 65.

My university failed to get a working visa for moi because of age, though I had already taught three years beyond the age of retirement, and had the stamina and desire to stay the course another seven years.

Now we have perfectly able and young Chinese teachers playing dominoes and checkers at the park receiving their retirement income but bored to death, their status taken away.  The under 60s are only too happy with the new senior positions!

I returned to PSS CNMI, which follows non-discrimination of age by law. I have been guiding the journey of first graders since April who up until now had never bothered to map the journey of 16-years toward college and beyond. But because I have publicly indicated that endurance wanes past noon, my principal is determined to locate me to higher learning levels and not deal with the peculiarities of the lowest elementary grade in the system.

I do not have any reluctance in remaining on the first grade level now that endurance is not an issue, the prospect of dealing with 7-year-olds next year is very much welcomed.  However, the judgment call on personnel staffing is in the hands of my supervisors.

Meanwhile, summer blooms and though I shall be pinching my pennies, the prospect of lounging on the comfortable summer breeze of the island (it is actually summer all year round, with temperature ranging from lower 70s to upper 80s all year round) is an inviting enough lull to the hustle and bustle elsewhere.

Whether I bloom or the season does, is immaterial. We live in a comfortable place in the world, desired by some, a tour destination for many, and we are often do not appreciative the treasure we have over the rest of the world that spend most of their lives on highways, or trains and subways.  We are no more than an hour on this 12-by-5-mile size of an island to any destination, enticingly so because it is summer all year round.

I did not visit the Smithsonian while living in Washington, D.C. though I drove many guests there. I will not make a similar mistake to the summer of my isle!

Jaime R. Vergara | Special to the Saipan Tribune
Jaime Vergara previously taught at SVES in the CNMI. A peripatetic pedagogue, he last taught in China but makes Honolulu, Shenyang, and Saipan home. He can be reached at pinoypanda2031@aol.com.

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