Knowing I have some clothes at home, I didn’t bring any pambahay with me. The next day I was digging in my mom’s baul for some old shirts. I was delighted with what I found, there neatly folded inside a plastic bag…my old ROTC uniform.
The last time I wore this, we were in a shooting camp. That must probably the only part of the program that I liked. ROTC back then was an ample source of extra income for some officials (military, or anyone involved); that was our last day and we’ve learned we paid twice the amount of the bullets we used, not to mention the “scams” that have been going on years before I even entered college. I enjoyed being in the shooting range anyway. It was my first time to aim a gun at a target. I scored 8 points out of 15. LOL
Back to the uniform, it was just one of their money-making projects. I suspect we paid more than the normal price. Some even got theirs with missing patches, and notice how poorly sewn they were.
1. Hiding the un-prescribed haircut. Some of us would spend long time trying to fix their hairs with the aid of a hair gel. We always had to make sure it will look short enough and won’t fall when the beret is pulled off our heads.
2. It’s hard to wake up on a Sunday morning. If you’re a student, it was like the best time to sleep, especially in the cool weather of Baguio. We would all look sleepy, trying hard not to yawn or at least not to be caught yawning.
3. Our flight commander was as lazy as we were. He would bring us behind one of the college buildings, for us to get covered from the hot morning sunlight and stay there until we were asked to go to the classrooms, where we’re supposed to have lectures.
5. Tree planting at one of Baguio’s mountains. We trekked with our leather shoes (in our school, majority never used combat shoes for their entire ROTC years), up to that muddy hill about 5 kilometers away from the school campus. It was the only time our sensitive Baguio skins were exposed to direct sunlight (we usually spent most our time inside the classrooms if not on the covered court, or see number 3) . We had no tree-planting tools at hand; we had to dig the earth with anything we could get our hands of.
We were there. I hope the trees we planted have survived.
6. The snack worth 15 pesos. It was another profit-generating idea from them. A juice in tetra pack and bread. You could buy that in a sari-sari store for 10 pesos or less.
7. Donations. In cash or in kind (aside from donating blood, which I never did). We would donate canned goods or some old clothes meant to be given to communities hit by calamities. Part of it of course went to their tables.
8. Fixing the attendance record. For sure, nobody ever dared sign in behalf of someone on the attendance sheets. But the record-keepers can fix it. They were a group of gays who demanded exceptions and were given office works instead. I would sleep the entire Sunday morning without worries. And then spend the weekdays looking for them, and using all my charms, ask them the favor of editing my attendance record. At the end of the semester only 3 out of my 6 absences were recorded. At that time 4 absences means you have to take ROTC again the next year.
9. We were always on the front line during the Panagbenga flower festival, with rope on our hands trying to keep the unruly crowd. It wasn’t an easy job, but being right there in front in full view of the parade was all worth it.
Notice us, "men in uniform" at the background.
Jeez, looks like this is my longest post so far. Old things do bring memories, and long stories…