My ship was pulling into Singapore in 1995; I was due to rotate off and go on two months vacation back in the Philippines. My tickets were booked and my stateroom was empty, when I received a phone call from the Chief Mate requesting I come and see him.
As I entered his office I noticed my fellow worker Ernie was there with a long sad face. The Mate asked me if Ernie could take my relief and would I wait and take his in 9 days time. “Why would I want to do that?” I asked?. Then Ernie said this daughter was graduating from school and if he did not fly home the next day, he would miss it. Seeing the validity of his request I thought more about it, thinking I should do my co-worker and shipmate a good turn. I asked if it was High School or College that she was graduating from. To which he replied; “Kindergarten”, the Chief Mate looked at me and thanked me for my time, and told me to enjoy my trip home tomorrow.
That was my introduction to the Pinoy’s way of viewing graduation. My two girls already knew that I would not be at any of their graduations unless it was High School or College, as the rest is a simple promotion. BTW I did attend both of those graduations!
But I’m home now forever, but the rules stay the same, I’ll attend when it means something. My niece Shay-shay, was graduating the other from the sixth grade and starting 1st year high school next term, that means something. Shay has always been special to me, as she was born right after I retired and when I can’t remember how long ago that was, I just ask her age and I know. Her mother is Clara, Mayang’s (My Wife) twin sister.
Of course I will be there, she’s my buddy, and the assistant “Coco the Flying Labrador walker on other than school days. We took her shopping for new shoes and an outfit to wear and yet not be seen, under her graduation robes.
My memory flashed back (No chemicals were involved) to the day that our daughter Ymir Thea graduated from College where I was told to be there at 15:00 in the afternoon, and waited until 21:00 in the evening until the Bishop of Eba decided he would join in the fun. It concluded at 01:30 in the wee hours and I went home.
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But this one was scheduled for 15:00 in the afternoon and I showed up at 18:00 as it was just starting. Your thinking I m pretty smart? Hell no, but I was smart enough to give Shay a cell phone for her last birthday and she texted to me when it was starting.
I looked at the crowd of graduating students and was shocked that the girls were only twelve years old! Plus I’ll wager that 90% had a cell phone in their hand, and all were texting as the procession moved forward towards the sitting area, by the stage.
Now the speeches commenced, anybody who was running for office, or had ran for office in the past were lined up on the dais with sheet(S) of notes in their hot little hands, and were rambling on an on. One guy even gave his speech in English, it afforded a lot of texting time to the kids.
I’m snapping pictures as fast as I can, and was planning my escape; I knew that Shay would understand, and then there she was standing beside me with a big smile, as her and her school friend had snuck out to take a break. Leaving her mother Clara stuck on the other side of the crowd not knowing her daughter was even gone. I for sure will not be the one to tell her, Shay and I are buddies!
A while later I snapped the obligatory pictures of Shay and her mother walking up to the stage to receive the Diploma. Well, not so much a diploma but a rolled up piece of paper wrapped in a red ribbon.
I also noticed a professional Photog guy, the same one you see at every wedding here in the Philippines. Then I thunk to myself, I can buy copies of his pictures and sent a text to Shay telling her that I wanted to buy the Photog guys pictures. (I could have been home an hour ago having a cool one if I’d known he was showing up)
Thinking it was over I started to leave, and then outside I found Shay again with her classmate buying snacks. I gave her a kiss and told her I’d see her later at the house. I was wrong, as the politicians, stated talking again, and no one got out of there before 22:00 later that night. Why on God’s Green Earth did those people stay to hear that tripe?
So to my fellow travelers here in the Philippines, if you are invited to attend a Graduation here, arrive very late and you’ll find that you are really on time. Bring your car even if you live close, as car trunks will hold your cooler filled with iced down adult beverages’ which I failed to do. I’m quite ashamed of my lack of remembering my own rule. It will never happen again!