Travelogue – Batanes, the Secret Places in the Philippines

A sprawling public park stood in front of the school, across the street from it. Maybe because of the climate, the building was designed with huge windows which were covered with ash colored iron grilles on the outside. On the inside were folding wooden panels with glass, which were always rolled back for ventilation. The open space at front and rear of the building made it possible for Mother Nature to wash the classrooms with fresh air and dissipate the body heat generated by forty odd students that occupied each of them driveway bollards forum.

Though it defied common sense, the school authorities designed the summer schedule to start the session earlier than normal and be over an hour past noon. The idea was to let the students off early so that they could beat the heat by going home and staying put. But cutting the kids loose when the sun was at its hottest, wasn’t exactly the brightest idea and in fact, counterproductive. From early in the morning, the students would start to stream in. The affluent amongst them were dropped off in their chauffeur driven cars, while the less fortunate had to make do with a ride in a public transportation followed by a short trudge on foot.

Interestingly, a percentage of the students were accompanied by very possessive parents, especially the mothers who refused to part company with their kids even for the length of the school session. As soon as their kids bolted inside past the silver collapsible gates, the women folk made haste to join the ladies’ club of other mothers. On the long staircase in front of the main entrance, they were strung out like birds on a transmission line, equally divided on either side of the gate. Yes, they were as colorful and equally chattering. Secure under a roof and in good company, they would start their animated conversation boasting of things they did or didn’t, which stretched all the way till the school was over for the day.

The students were on the receiving end – they had to contend with the extreme heat on one hand, and the threat of being gored by textbooks, mathematics, class monitors and teachers on the other. Pursuit of knowledge was damning. Then there was that all-season class bully to contend with. The situation could be overwhelming. The school uniform with the suffocating neck tie didn’t help either. With high humidity and heat, the buttoned-up, tie-on uniform ran rivulets of sweat snaking down. It wet the collar first and in extreme cases, had the shirt backs plastered against the bodies that wore them.

Inside classrooms, relief was available in the form of mechanical contraptions whirring from the ceiling. The flat metal arms lazily tried to circulate the air in the rooms, in a vain effort to keep tempers cool. Pulling back the thick blue curtains across the windows helped cut the sun’s glare which was welcome. However with teachers constantly spouting complex theories and explanations about an otherwise simple life didn’t make things any easier. The only way to punctuate the agony was to ask for a timeout to go visit the restroom and hope for the recess time to come soon.

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