Everyday that summer, I hauled my rear end to the second floor of the Palma Hall for my Level 1 Spanish class. Our Spanish professor, Sra. Montano had taught the Castilian language to generations of students as far back as ex-President Marcos. She was so old, we hypothesized that the strong ammonia scent that flooded the humid room was, not from the next-door men’s toilets, but from embalming oils that kept her face from disintegrating.
“Señorita Moreno, tu atención por favor.” My rear end had not yet warmed my seat and already, she had her wrinkled eyes on me. My seemingly mild-mannered professor pounded on an open page of the Spanish textbook like a small wild monkey. “¿Dónde vive usted?”
I nervously opened my book to where we left off. “Vivo en Manila, Señora.”
“No es Ma-NUL-a.” My teacher sneered, “Es Ma-NEEL-a! Otra vez!”
I struggled, “Yo vivo en Manil …”
“Ma-NEEL-a! Ma-NEEL-a! Ma-NEEL-a! Otra vez!” She screamed like a woman a shade away from a heart attack.
As I bowed my head, my spirit defeated, I noticed letters scribbled on my newly-varnished desk. Beside the words was the sketch of a push-button — something the janitors must have intentionally left untouched for its entertainment value. It read: “Push button to eject teacher.” I pushed my finger on the imaginary key in grim, wishful reverie.
The class stopped as a faint whirring sound — like distant helicopter — reverberated in the small room. A strong gust then began to blow, creating a twister of papers and books, making the ground shake.
As the sound escalated to a deafening boom, the class watched Sra. Montano fly up and through the roof so fast, her empty shoes smoldered. The class dashed to the hole in the roof and watched our professor shriek helplessly into space.
I broke the confused silence: “Anyone for a movie?”