I first heard of the Philippine Science High School when I was a grade 6 student in a private school in Tarlac. My teacher was brandishing application forms in her hands and she announced, "Who wants to study in Philippine Science?" I'm sure my classmates have never heard of Philippine Science either but eager hands shot up in the air, and there was a chorus of "Me, Miss...Miss..." Miss I-don't-recall-her-name started handing out the precious few forms and when she came to me, she said, "You can't afford to study in Manila." She then moved on to the next keen student.
Now that I am older and wiser, and yes, more empowered, how I'd like to go back to that teacher and tell her, that 1) you get into Philippine Science High School as a government scholar so it was probably good that I couldn't "afford" it; 2) just because my parents were not big donors to the school doesn't mean that we were so poor they couldn't afford to send their childern to study in Manila; 3) not one of the students who got the forms passed the entrance exam; and 4) I did finally study in Manila, at a premiere university at that, and only one (that I know of) of my classmates who were so rich and privileged passed the UPCAT. But then again, she must have withered in her small mindedness so I should probably pity her and move on.
Yesterday, Diego and I watched the movie Pisay, Auraeus Solito's (Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros) entry to the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival 2007 at the CCP. Pisay is a movie about about six high school students in the country's premiere high school for the sciences. Set in the mid-eighties it brought back bitter-sweet memories. For me, watching Pisay was like going back and watching Philippine history and my personal story unfold. I was in 4th year high school when Ninoy Aquino was shot. I saw the shock and dismay in my parents' eyes but nobody talked about it, so I never really understood it. When Ninoy's body was brought in Tarlac, all of the high school students were required to stand up by the road to watch the hearse go by. Nobody explained to us why. My classmates and lined up several times to view Ninoy's bloodied corpse in the church. After which, not understanding the momentousness of it all, we all went out to eat spaghetti at Cindy's. It was only after I went to UP the next year that I began to understand.
So why am I telling you my personal story? What does it have to do with the movie? Well, I just want to show that you do not have to be a graduate of Pisay to appreciate the movie. The range of emotions and challenges that the major characters go through is universal. The watcher should be able to relate to them as they brilliantly played their roles.
Speaking of which, it came as a pleasant shock to me that the actor who played the school director was my former boss in Ford Found. I immediately texted her to say I just saw her in the movie. She asked me what I thought of the movie and if she is now eligible to run in 2010. I replied that the real MR I know would never stand for segregation and censorship and that yes, she has my vote anytime.
Watch Pisay when it has it's run in major theaters. If you have time, it will be showing on July 31, Tuesday, 5:00 PM at the U.P. Theater. Bring your hankies (or maybe that's just me. LOL.)