Getting good academics and drinking do not mix

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By Atty. Antonio P. Pekas

“Most of those older boys never finished college. Some did not even go beyond high school. Yet they were able to etch in my then impressionistic mind how good it must have been to be drinking.”

Our village’s sunset. The sun would be glowing red as it slowly becomes smaller going down the side of Tirad Pass. It was, and will always be, a sight to behold. Then it becomes night time.
I was there, a scrawny kid, struggling to grow up. Our place is Besao (Sao-be), Mtn. Province.
Except for the once in a while trips to Baguio, one to Manila (pre-school days) for an older sister’s nursing graduation at St. Luke’s, and another one when I was a little bit older (Grade 5) for another sister’s nursing graduation at Lucena City which meant passing by Manila, the world outside the village’s magnificent mountain tops was totally beyond me.
Three years of high school was in Baguio where I discovered the joy of gambling with the much older photographers of Burnham Park. While I learned some of what the world offered beyond classrooms, I almost failed third year. Thus, back to the village so I could complete then say goodbye to high school.
While still a toddler I was enamored by the stories of older boys who stowed away and became “bulakbols” in Baguio City. Oh, how good were their tales of being treated to drinking sprees at Lapu-lapu St. by kailian miners who hit jackpots in their high-grading operations. As related, the miners could individually pass through the guards of a mine tunnel with a small Ligo Sardines can containing a substantial amount of gold hidden deep in their anus(es).
When they were down and out, in order to survive, they took to stealing laundry from clothes lines. (Agtatakaw ti binilag). They also were good in stealing dogs even those teetered to their leashes. Some trade secret or of their “profession.”
Their other ventures involved being komboys at the public market or as truck helpers often just hanging around at the then terminal beside what is now Pilando Center. After sometime they would eventually learn how to drive a truck, or a cab, or a jeepney. Back then, drivers were well respected and people would reserve for them the brain of cows or carabaos during kanyaos.
Most of those older boys never finished college. Some did not even go beyond high school. Yet they were able to etch in my then impressionistic mind how good it must have been to be drinking.
I thought I would do better by finishing college even while drinking.
So on my first night at UP Los Banos in 1972, I was happy having been initiated by older Cordillerans into the drinking world. I thought it was the beginning of a dream coming true. Finishing college while drinking. As it turned out I was lousy when it came to drinking. I got drunk with a lot less compared to the rest. One way of coping was by eating a lot of the pulutan as if it was dinner which counteracted a little bit the effect of the alcohol.
After about three years of that wretched but happy life, I found an idol in a younger Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity brod who often drunk with abandon. Then he reformed after joining the Ananda Marga Yoga group. I became his follower as I found out that getting good grades and drinking or other vices did not mix.. He brought me to the Friday night meditations at the soccer grounds. He taught me the yoga exercises at their Men’s Dorm room.
Then we parted ways as I came up to UP Baguio to get into the Social Sciences, particularly, into Economics and Political Science. And also to be able to maintain my newfound lifestyle.
But it was a boy’s dream come true or a sense of wonder getting satisfied. Or it was realizing what was right the hard way.
As to the brod who taught me yoga, he slid back to drinking. He then went to study to become a pilot and he became one. Sadly, he died several years back due to come disease.**


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