In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Tight Corner.”

Twenty pesos daily allowance. I had to manage my cash flows soundly. Taking a ride from home to school entailed five pesos. I had to go back home during lunch breaks so by the end of every day, nothing would be left out of my allowance.

“I’m full.” This was my consistent response to anyone who invited me during recess time. Not a single pint of hunger may be traced from my face as I accompanied that line with a smile and a pair of dimples. But my body reflected otherwise. Whenever I would browse my high school pictures, I always tell myself, “I look emaciated here— too lean and skinny for a fourteen year-old lad.”

No books attached. Buying books was not within our means. We resorted to renting books from those who had already graduated. Those I used were one to three editions older. Substantially, the content has not changed at all. I had to photocopy the “exercises” portion only. My classmates would usually cover their books with plastic; I had to cover mine with gift wrappers or magazine pages. As I leafed through the yellowed pages of  my books the books I borrowed, I could only imagine how tight the condition our family had to experience was.

With the grace of God, those seemingly unyielding situations had molded me into a more productive individual. Our humble abode is made neither out of cement nor of wood, but of plasterboard. It has no ceiling and the frameworks of the roof are made possible by robust bamboo. I can bring back to mind the time when my aunt visited us before her flight to Australia. She told my father, “Bebot, the air here in your house is so humid. Ah! I guess this keeps your offspring performing very well in academics. Perhaps the heat activates their brain cells. Too much motivation, eh?”

That four-year, high school experience of stringency served as a compelling influence for me to strive hard for excellence. In fact, I graduated as the Batch Valedictorian with a record of garnering the highest honors in all terms throughout my four-year stay.

We all have the ability to convert negativity into positivity. We just have to look at the other side. Changing our perspective can result to accomplishment. One can always penetrate through what seems impermeable.


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