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THEN THEY'RE THERE
By: Lorelee D. Asignacion, GFT Alumni

The home is the first school, the parents, the first teachers. When the kid comes out and confronts the real world, he actually projects how he was raised and nurtured during his years prior to school. Then he grows in every step… either sanitizing himself, or contaminating the society with the unwelcome character which will soon define him and his existence as an individual.
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It becomes a casual occurrence in schools where students enrol every beginning of school-year. Then, as events turn, some will drop out of school for one reason or another. Whichever, it doesn’t look and feel good.
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Meet pampered Joshua (not his real name), 15, third year high school. He has been enrolled in four different schools, three of which kicked him out. He transferred to another school and together with his parents, promised not to engage in the same habit he has had. Two days after, he began skipping and cutting classes which eventually led to habitual absences. Then the teacher called the parents, the parents pledged to follow-up on him, Joshua made a promise for the nth time. Then he began to play cat and mouse with his parents and teachers. Then he’s found in a computer café where he’s got a week’s perfect attendance and a hell of a score to beat in virtual games. He is just one of those.
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Meet Jaime (not her real name), 16, third year. She and her younger brother stay with their grandparents (from her mother’s side). Her parents decided to separate. Her two sisters are staying with their 42- year-old dad in Mindanao who married a 26- year- old and sired three more kids. Forty-two year-old mom used to work as a house-help in Manila and sent them one thousand pesos monthly allowance. She then decided to marry a semi-autistic 25-year-old who promised to keep her children as his own. There was nothing left of the promise. They both moved to the guy’s hometown in Iloilo and now plant and sell camote.

Her 18-year-old sister married a trisikad driver when she was 16, after years of suffering from sexual abuse courtesy of their own grandfather.

Jaime finally decides to drop out of school after she can no longer tolerate the acts of lasciviousness and serious sexual attempts inflicted by the same grandpa. Worse, the grandmother does not even believe her. She really wants to continue her studies but she’s left with no choice. In between sobs, she bade me her painful goodbye. She is just one of those.
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Meet Kris and Jun (not their real names), 14 and 12. They’re out at night to catch spiders, or gather junks for sale. They were shot for trespassing on private property. They were just one of those.
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I live in one city that will celebrate the grandest festivity ever. The expected merrymaking may hide the real scenario of the world of the young, but not the reality of their need- responsible parents.

Joshua is just there… so are Jaime, Kris and Jun. But their parents…where?

LESSON: “Parents wonder why the streams are bitter, when they themselves have poisoned the fountain.”– John Locke



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