The Trail to Malipay
(Molino 4, Bacoor City)
By Apolinario Villalobos
My curiosity about Malipay Elementary School (Main), was kindled by a story about it, as a “small school that could be reached on a long trail that snakes through tall talahib grass”.
August 18, a Tuesday, saw me preparing for my jaunt to Malipay which is a Visayan word for “happy”. I was curious about “Amore”, the terminus of my trip on a multi-cab public transport. That was the information given to me by Mr. Antonio Laurio, Teacher In-Charge of the Malipay Elementary School (Main). I thought Amore was a sitio or barangay. To reach it, I took a multi-cab at the SM City-Bacoor for a 20-minute ride to SM-Molino where I took another multi-cab to Amore which I finally reached after 10 minutes of smooth travel along Daang Hari. There was no traffic as I made the trip at 7:00AM. I found out that Amore was a high-end subdivision, owned by the Villars. The locals use the subdivision as a landmark.
A fifteen minute walk from the highway took me to a junction where a foot trail starts for Malipay. There was a complete transformation of scenery. Behind me was the site of the high-end Amore and the wide road, while before me was the rolling terrain covered with talahib. The trail really wound through clusters of talahib, as I found out, without a single tree around for even a bit of shade. At 9:00 AM, the heat was harsh and with the uneven corduroy trail, I had to gingerly find secure foothold most of the time. I surmised that the clayish soil must be giving locals hell on rainy days. After about twenty minutes of lonely trek, a motor rider overtook me. I asked the driver if I was taking the right trail to my destination. Aside from giving me a confirmation, he also invited me for a ride which I declined when I saw the almost deflated back tire of his motorbike. He was Jomell Flores whose house was incidentally, right behind the school.
When I reached the school vicinity, I went straight to the house of Mr. Flores who offered me a refreshing drink. After a short respite, I proceeded to the school where I was entertained by Mrs. Levie Laurio, the school’s Guidance Counselor and wife of Mr. Antonio Laurio who incidentally left that morning for a very important meeting. Mrs Laurio showed me the seven buildings shaded by moss-covered acacia trees, some of which were planted by her husband during his early days as one of the pioneering teachers. The buildings occupy the northern portion of the almost five thousand square meters campus. Their pink color contrasted well with the green surrounding, with one small area occupied by their “Aero Garden”.
One of the buildings is an unpainted structure intended for the clinic. Another small building has multi-functions – that of reception area, office of the Guidance Counselor, Teacher In-charge, and work area for the teachers. All rooms are observably spick and span with waxed floors. Mrs. Laurio confided that the small area occupied by the school campus and some houses outside the perimeter fence is the only piece of land left with trees. The rest of the sprawling and rolling areas are covered with talahib. From a distance, the area referred to is like an oasis of relief under the scorching beating of the sun.
The school has no library, but to remedy the situation, books are distributed among the rooms depending on the subject, with some accommodated at the multi-functioning small building which is a clever idea. There is no stage, not even a low or a small structure that could be used for special outdoor occasions. Just like their drainage system, the construction of which was sponsored by an NGO, it is hoped that another benefactor would donate a stage. During my visit, I also found out that the hand-pump of their deep well broke down again, which perhaps was an indication that it needs a total replacement, not just a repair.
The pupils numbering 231 and who belong to kindergarten up to grade six, live several kilometers away from the school. While trekking is good enough to reach the school during rainless days, it is a different story when the rainy season sets in according to Mr. Alejo Ignacio, one of the teachers. During the wet season, teachers with motorbikes leave their reliable two-wheeled contraption at the guardhouse of Amore, roll up their pants and slip into rubber boots to brave the almost ankle-deep slippery mud and nerve-wracking and almost an hour of hike to school. Meanwhile, I cannot just imagine how the children do it without rubber boots!
The children of Malipay Elementary School showed that, for the less fortunate like them, education really has to be earned the hard way. Their teachers on the other hand, not only share their knowledge with them, but practically go through the same sacrifice. And for such, I believe nobody ever complains, as the name of their school implies that despite their travails, they are trying their best to remain “malipay” or “happy”.
The Malipay elementary schoolchildren need general reference and story books for kindergarten and higher levels, as well as, pencils, ballpens, notebooks, raincoats, and umbrellas. And, in addition to those needs are a stage and brand new deep-well pump, too. This blog is trying to reach out to the viewers with sympathetic heart…