The Seventh-Grade Social Scene, Standing in the Sun, and other Memories of Manila

So right now I’m revising THE ASHLEYS #2: JEALOUS which, I think is just SO much fun and something you will really enjoy reading especially if you like the Au Pairs, even if it is about seventh-graders.

Because, hello, wasn’t seventh-grade like, soooo TRAUMATIC AND AWESOME AND MEMORABLE??? My seventh grade certainly was. For me it was the year I got asked to dance by the CUTEST seventh-grade boy in Manila. Sadly his name escapes me…it was something really boring, like Ray something…Ray… Tiongson? Or Cal Tiongson? Cal Tuazon? I have completely forgotten.

He was so cute that my BFF in seventh-grade DUMPED me because she thought she would be more popular if she wasn’t friends with me and instead befriended all the lame-ass popular bi-atches in our year. You see, in seventh-grade, I was not very cool.

Yes, people. It happens.

I was a big bookworm, and even nerdier, my so-called BFF and I called ourselves "booksnakes" because we thought this would make us sound cooler. It didn’t.

Anyway, Annali, as we’ll call her since it is her real name, and I bonded over everything–our love of The Outsiders, V.C. Andrews, Judy Blume, and we were co-editors of the Yearbook and Newspaper Clubs.

Then, high school beckoned. We didn’t have eighth-grade in Manila, just seventh and then you went straight to high school. In Manila, you can go to the SAME school from pre-kindergarten all the way to senior year in college. Weird, huh? And when you go from seventh-grade to high school, the administration asked us to write down the names of three friends that we wanted to make sure we would be placed in the same high-school class with, it’s not like in America where you go from class to class in different classrooms and everyone mixes. (And did I mention it’s an all-girls school. The only good co-ed school in Manila is the International School and everyone thinks they are really weird because they don’t wear uniforms and you have to go to school with–gasp!–Americans!)

In Manila, you get placed into "sections" and you just stay in the same classroom and different teachers come to teach all the different subjects. I guess it’s like grammar school here. So in high school, there are like eight different sections of 40 girls each, and to make sure you get placed with your friends, you have to write down the three people you want to be in the same section with.

Phew! That’s a long explanation isn’t it? More interesting facts about going to school in the Philippines: Discipline involved standing out in the sun (it’s notoriously hot there). If a class got rowdy, we all had to stand outside in the sun for like, half an hour or something. It would get so hot! Imagine it, having to stand at attention in the sun! When you are in second grade! The boys’ schools were even worse–you had to KNEEL in the sun! It was a form of torture, I tell you.

My cousin, who had grown up in Canada, went home with her family to Manila for one year, and when she was in high school, her class got punished and they all had to stand in the sun, and she ALMOST DIED. She has asthma and the 100-degree heat caused her to have a seizure. Terrible. She’s fine and she’s back in Canada now, where no one stands in the sun for punishment.

Anyway, back to the sorting. After we wrote down our three friends, Annali told me that instead of
writing my name down, as well as two other dorks we knew, she had written down
the names of the three most popular girls in our class. I was aghast!
And then she proceeded to hand me  an eleven-page letter,
double-sided, on yellow lined legal paper, exactly WHY she hated
everything about me and why she wanted to be one of the cool kids. The gist of the letter was: I would never be cool. High school was all about being cool. Good-bye.

People, this basically destroyed me in seventh-grade. I was so
looking forward to starting high school with my FRIEND. And here was my
BFF in the whole world telling me that she wanted NOTHING to do with me
and that she would never get a chance to hang out with BOYS if she hung
out with me.

Can you imagine???

Anyway, this happened right before graduation. And my ace in the
hole was a childhood friend of mine, Ram San Angelo, a very cool guy
whose dad was best friends with my dad in college, and me and Ram had been friends
since we were toddlers and Ram was like, the second cutest boy in
seventh-grade in Manila, next to the Cal Tuazon guy, but I didn’t have
a crush on him because hello, he was like, practically my BROTHER.
(Okay, so maybe I had a teeny crush on him when we were like, eight
years old, but that was ancient history by the time I was twelve!)

And Ram-even better, was a big soccer star, and very popular,
and because we were friends, invited me to the first-ever seventh-grade boy-girl party in Forbes
Park thrown by his class and he and his friend Cal, the cutest boy,
PICKED ME UP and drove me to the party, and at the party, Cal only
danced with ME!


The dork! The booksnake! The nerdy girl!

HA! It still remains one of the biggest triumphs in my life.

The funny thing was, Annali wasn’t even invited to the party. She
didn’t know my friend Ram, and she didn’t know any of the other girls who
were invited.

She had to hear about how I danced with Cal at the party from the gossip grapevine.

And you know, I didn’t even care about being popular when I was in
seventh-grade. It just seemed too alien. I liked being alone. I
liked to read. And Ram always invited me to parties, because we were
childhood friends, and sometimes some other girls tried to befriend me
because of this, which I thought was just silly. I would never befriend
anyone just to get close to a boy! Duh!

Besides, I had tons of good friends who were boys. Ram and I had
founded the BFO – the Best Friends Organization when we were in third
grade with a bunch of other kids–all of our parents had been at
college together–and if he was popular now, and I was nerdy, it didn’t
matter. We were still BFOs.

BFOs before Hos.


So that’s what seventh-grade was like for me…And I really wish I
could remember what that cute boy’s name was. I’m sure Ram would know,
I should email him.

Another funny thing–I didn’t even think the cutest boy was all that
cute. He was way too pretty for me. And the fact that all the
seventh-grade girls in my class thought he was the bomb only diminished his
appeal because for the most part I thought they were all idiots.