Happy birthday


I friend was candid enough to say that our pieces for the Saipan Tribune was “all about you.” In a sense, he was right. I used personal images to create alternative perspectives, and other ways of behaving, and at the end, it read “self-centered.”

Aug. 1, 1945 was when I wailed into existence. Some are kind enough to say that we do not look like a hovering old coot on the first day of 72! I do experience coffee to jump on its own to my nose in the morning. Great wonder. Then there are others of my age who inquire how I got old so fast. Either way, the years are borne by the scars of both the body and the mind, and we had not hesitated to share the reflections on both with our reading audience.

I did find out that we have a following who knew we wrote “opinion” pieces, and even points to the photo on this paper, but whether what we write was read at all is another matter. It seems enough that they knew I wrote. They’ve read enough and “know” what I write about, so they do not bother to read me again, and I do tend to repeat myself.

There are those who do read the pieces and often wonder loudly “why he used so obscure words when he could have said it in simpler terms.” We stand guilty as accused. While there is an implicit intent in widening our vocabulary, Herman Guerrero of the BoE once said when I was still teaching at SVES (and his son came through my watch for a year): “He wants us to learn how to use the dictionary!”

A fortnight ago, after an aborted trip to China that had us turned around in Tokyo, I decided to sleep with the wind and the waves at a San Isidro Beach shore and left both windows on the passenger and driver side open. I was evidently tired for I slept straight through the night “like a baby,” enough to want to write of the experience. After my host invited me in for a morning coffee, I hightailed it to my grade 1 classroom determined to write a reflection. That’s when I discovered that my whole backpack was missing and all the electronics and valuables I had were in it. Bummer

I repeat this in the telling only to point to how I’ve spent a couple of days downloading the articles ST printed since 2011 at the local library now that my laptop is gone and discover how much of what I’ve written is repeated several times. In one sense, I was horrified, and on the other, I understand how some readers slip down the slope of dismissing the articles as a “thing I read before.” What I write about could very well be a repetition of a previous experience or thought, though expressed differently.

It was also a red flag to finally cease writing. I’ve threatened to quit before, and as my colleagues like to say, “Mr. V likes to write, and we will let him.” The late ST publisher John Pangelinan for whom the Century building was named even offered an honorarium and a promise that whatever I wrote was going to be printed. There was trust established and in a sense, I’ve written for John ever since.

John is gone, and though Dave Sablan (who enjoys his meals with his wife and Fiesta) and Jayvee Vallejera took John’s place in my mind while writing for the paper, but now I’ve reached the end of my writing line at ST. This will be my opinionating last, finally.

What we will do is clear: teach Grade 4 elementary students for the school year 2016-17. A writing of the educational venture might probably take up a whole book, so we won’t get started on that one unless we are prepared to put the energy and time.

Then there is my neighbor Uncle Lino who has one Refalawasch dictionary to finish, and I am certainly going to be a prodding friend while pushing myself to get on with the hacking!

I started on an autobiographical account while still teaching in China on the first day of my 70th year, a one-page one-year at a time. It was lost in the laptop that got lifted out of my car while asleep in a CK seashore. Though it took some effort to write the stuff, it is probably just as well to rewrite it again, comfortably and not rushed, rehearsing my sense of selfhood capable of recalling sense experiences, honestly expressing inner feelings, opened to dialogue with the plethora of varied views, and more importantly, humble enough to be consensual with others.

We were on a sub-teaching contract with PSS at the end of the last school year but it was on a daily basis on-call, and that was not good enough to those who wondered why a 71-year old was not properly living off retirement benefits.

I was diagnosed with Spondylosis when GovCNMI was not remitting its share to the Retirement Fund. My contribution dealt with the diagnosis, traveling to Manila, Cebu, and Honolulu only to have everyone’s surgery prescription confirmed. I chanced on being in China and was looked at, handed two-weeks worth of herbs to deal with the pain, and a five-minute session on how to knead the cervical area. Been fine ever since!

Yup. We celebrate a happy b-day!

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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