The motto that didn’t make sense

When I was a Grade 4 newbie at the Kamuning Elementary School (having transferred from the neighborhood annex near K-D or what is now Erestain St.), I was a highly focused student who observed all goings-on, obeyed all my teachers, followed all the drills and assignments, and mostly kept to myself except for a handful of co-nerds (or were we co-dorks?) like Raymond Co and Goldwyn Azul.

But as the school year wore on, I gained more confidence, indulged my curiosity, and began to show my incipient rule-breaking tendencies. One early object of this curiosity was the Chi Rho sign that some of the girls in class always wrote on top of the test papers, quizzes, and theme papers that they passed.

I saw Grace Hilemann write that sign on her papers. So did Marilou Merritt and Rosemarie del Rosario. I had a crush on a girl or two, but was too shy to make friends upfront. Eventually I worked up enough courage to approach and ask Rosemarie, who wore her hair in braids and spoke with a lisp. In my mind, I liked to call her Rothe.

Tho I athked Rothe, “Hi, Rothe, what’th that thign you alwayth put on top of your paperth?”

And sweet Rothe explained that it was Chi Rho, the two Greek symbols that, when combined, stood for Christ the Savior. I understood from her explanation that it was a habit among Catholic-school girls. Maybe all my Chi-Rho classmates came from Catholic schools. I looked at the Chi Rho sign, and it was cool. But we were attending a public school, so putting the sign on schoolwork barely made sense to me. In my young and malleable mind, it looked cool. And I wanted to be cool. I wanted to belong. But my innerd voice told me it didn’t make sense at all.

So throughout Grade 4 all the way to Grade 6, I thought up my own motto, which I began to write at the center-top of all my schoolwork—test papers, quizzes, theme papers, homework submissions. I don’t exactly recall now, but the words just came to me while I was reading my favorite Sunday comics strip, “Peanuts.” I think it was Linus who first stated it.

My motto was:

It doesn't make sense.

One of my teachers asked me once what that motto was supposed to mean. And I gave her an honest answer and a shrug. “I don’t know. It doesn’t make sense to me either.”

Soon, some of my classmates started imitating me—perhaps to make fun of the Chi Rho girls, perhaps to compete with them as a group, perhaps to make friends with me, I don’t know—by writing the “It doesn’t make sense” motto on their own papers.

I remember the cousins Rey and Rene Sule, plus one or two other classmates, who picked up my motto. We agreed to form a very loose club. Often, during afternoons after class, those who considered themselves club members would shoot half-court basketball somewhere near K-B Street (now Tomas Gener St). Or we would scramble to the opposite end of Kamuning, our beloved Bernardo Park on both sides of the creek, to just hang out and shoot the breeze.

I no longer recall the name or the purpose of that club. I remember someone suggested “Playmates Club” and we all giggled. I think we had none. We didn’t even elect officers. We simply ran and tumbled and rolled on the grass—the park had lush, green, well-trimmed grass back then—or lay down under the shade and talked about all sort of stuff that ran and tumbled and rolled out of the mouths of 10, 11-year-old schoolboys. Looking back at our silly motto and shapeless club in that park, I now realize that we didn’t make any sense at all.

And so, now as I try to rearrange some portions of my daily routine, and rearrange some of the draft and unfinished paperwork I see on my desk, this motto returns into my conscious mind. I look at this very blog, and browse at a few other blogs I keep in draft mode, and silently nod. They don’t make sense either.

But life’s struggles are like that. Viewed as scattered pieces, especially up close, they don’t make sense. So we plod along just the same and try to make sense of them. Then, like some giant jigsaw puzzle that we’ve been trying to piece together for years, suddenly in a flash, they crystallize into a breath-taking, panoramic picture. Suddenly, in a flash, it all makes perfect sense. #

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