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Home Sections Education & Technology Becoming Sorsogon’s Visionary Beginning in Sixth Grade
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Written by Bobby M. Reyes   
Thursday, 06 October 2011 12:28

 

First in a Series of “Visionary-and-Educational Articles”

 

By Lolo Bobby M. Reyes

 

S everal Sorsoganons know how I first demonstrated my gift of being a farsighted person who could make a vision happen. It occurred when I was this tall in the sixth grade in a Sorsogon’s public school. The year was 1958. Here is the rest of the story …

 

I was then a student at the so-called “Demonstration School” in the capitol town of Sorsogon, Province of Sorsogon, where supposedly the town’s brightest elementary students were sent. From the fifth to the sixth grades, three girl classmates of mine always had higher scores than what I earned. They were (in alphabetical order) Lirio de Leon, Evelyn Frejas and Yolanda Paje. Since we were all going to high school the next school year, I asked the three girls where they intended to enroll. Yoly Paje said that she would go to the all-girls’ High School Department of the Colegio de la Milagrosa, which was run by the Sisters of Charity. Lirio and Evelyn said that they wanted to enroll at the Sorsogon Provincial (now National) High School (SPHS), which was the biggest and probably the best high school in the town at that time. My father, Dominador Sesbreño Reyes, was an alumnus of SPHS and who graduated as salutatorian. He wanted me to enroll at his alma mater.

 

All I wanted was to graduate as high-school valedictorian, so that I could avail of the usual full scholarship in college. My uncle, Dr. Jose (Papa Peping) Sesbreño Reyes, owned the Bulusan Institute (BI) in our ancestral hometown of Bulusan. He offered me a working scholarship at BI but I was to work at his pili-nut farm during weekends. The offer was tempting, as I would also stay for free at his house, the first floor of which was BI’s library. The high school was just across the street. But then I realized that my first cousin, Patricio F. Reyes (a son of the late Gov. Juan S. Reyes), would become my high-school classmate. Pat Reyes was very intelligent, too, just like Lirio, Evelyn and Yoly. So I said “Thanks but no thanks” to Papa Peping.

 

So my only option was the Lyceum of Sorsogon, which was run by the secular priests of the Parish of Sorsogon. The Lyceum was the smallest high school in town. The priests normally conducted an entrance exam and the topnotcher was given free tuition (at 100 pesos per school year). So I took the exam and topped it. To maintain the free-tuition benefit, I had to top the class (two sections) every year and I did. Because of attrition and due to the fact that several students were kicked out for violations of school regulations, our graduating class was reduced to one section in our senior year. But at the end, I graduated as valedictorian. The school was bought by the SVD Fathers during our junior year and after our class graduated, it was renamed the Divine Word High School. There was also an added incentive that was promised by my father, Dominador S. Reyes. He said that if I graduated as the class valedictorian, he would give me his Omega watch. He did give me his prized Swiss watch during the graduation ceremony.

 

O ne of the definitions of a “visionary” is being a person of unusually keen foresight. Well, I certainly demonstrated good foresight as Lirio de Leon, Yoly Paje and Pat Reyes all graduated as valedictorian of their respective classes. Evelyn Frejas was the salutatorian at the SPHS, coming in a very-close second to Lirio. Whew, I said that had I enrolled at the SPHS, perhaps I would have landed third. (Pat would eventually earn a medical degree at the University of the Philippines and he is now a brain surgeon in Philadelphia, PA.)

 

I went on to enroll with full scholarship at San Beda College, a Benedictine-run school in Manila, where I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. I majored in journalism, as per the advice of my English teacher at the Lyceum of Sorsogon, Mrs. Maria Jamoralin, and Papa Peping Reyes. I maintained the full scholarship for eight semesters but I did not graduate even as Cum Laude, as my grades were not that high enough. Yes, I was not that bright but I was street-smart enough to work hard to achieve my goal of earning and keeping the full scholarship.

 

In reality, life does not require a person to be the brightest in town but only to be the best in any given situation.

This narrative would have been part of a Commencement speech at the BI (now renamed the Jose S. Reyes Memorial High School) had I been able to go home to Bulusan. My first cousin, Teresita Reyes-de Leon (now also deceased) kept on inviting me when she was running the high school in the 1990s to address a graduating class. Perhaps in 2013 or 2014, I would finally be able to do a Commencement speech in Bulusan and in other towns.

 

If asked again to speak, I would repeat to a graduating class my story of succeeding in achieving a vision or an ambition even if I was not the brightest student of my generation. All that it takes are a doable visionary strategy and of course hard work. To cast modesty aside, just to be smart or street-wise might be good enough. Of course the person has to put all his or her heart and mind in doing the vision. For in reality, life does not require a person to be the brightest in town but only to be the best in any given situation, no matter how small the circumstance happens to be.

 

In the next installment of this series, I would relate how I developed a vision of heading an American moving firm. I did it at age 24 after four years in the job and then I became its regional director at age 25. # # #



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