Kuya TutorAugust 9, 2007
I have a degree in Engineering. I was trained with the skills of an engineer, and something once learned is very difficult to unlearn especially if you get to teach others about it. Take this incident in one of my Anatomy and Physiology classes.
“I still haven’t finished my assignment,” said one girl. “I’ve had some help in the other room but it’s still not done.”
“I can help,” I offered as I leaned close to the paper bearing their dreaded questions.
“Are you good in Math,” asked another girl.
“Yes,” I answered hesitantly. I knew that it was no time to be modest, but proclaiming what I believed to be true still left a bitter taste in my mouth. Besides, hey wouldn’t have agreed to have me help if I hadn’t made that pronouncement.
And thus was my fate sealed. All eyes in the class were peeled on me as I dissected problem after problem. It was about radicals, and I love radicals. I solved them in my usual pace, not hurrying or slowing down. Solving was routine, but the expressions from my classmates were far from it.
“Wow. You’re so fast,” said another classmate.
“It’s like he’s not even thinking about it at all,” added another.
“Can you wear a kumbong* and take the exam for me,” an apparently Muslim girl said to the laughter of the class.
So I smiled and grunted a little, never slowing down my pace until it was done.
“There,” I said. “That’s about it.”
“Your final answer is 1?” asked the girl who was given this assignment.
“Yeah,” I continued, “Oops, it’s 3. I forgot to multiply it to 3.”
“Yey, I’m right,” she told her friend. “I told you it was 3; you just didn’t believe me.”
And so I became a tutor for a few minutes, and I was surprised by the surprise I saw in their reactions. I don’t think they lack mental skills. I think they are just so ingrained with self defeating thoughts of math incompetence that they’ve taught themselves to not learn Math. They’re not the only ones. I’ve seen a whole lot of people like them in UP, especially CAL students.
Revealing my Math skills was not the only thing I revealed that day. Now they know that I’ve already finished Engineering. And now they call me kuya**. I can no longer pretend to be one of them, and that sucks. Now, I’ll have to do way better than I used to. It wouldn’t be right for an Engineering degree holder to get a low grade in something as “simple” as Anatomy and Physiology.
*The veil a Muslim woman wears to cover her face.
** Big brother. An honorific for guys older than the speaker.