I was all set to go to class at Ateneo de Davao yesterday when two guards accosted me at the entrance. One guard was in the standard uniform, the other was in a barong. I flashed them my school card, which, instead of a graduate school ID, was an undergrad's.
"Why aren't you in uniform?" the uniformed guard asked.
"I only have two classes this semester," I said.
"Are you a second-courser?" Sigh. They so love that word around here.
"Where's your pink slip? You need a pink slip."
"What the...? I've been coming here for three months now!"
"I'll call admin to check," the guard in the barong said. He picked up the phone on his small table.
By then, I had had it. "Forget it!" I said, "I'm not attending classes today."
I headed back to our store, seriously reconsidering the wisdom of proceeding with a degree in Ateneo de Davao. For this sort of hasslin', I pay P11,000+ per semester? I fumed. AdDU is a freakin' sandbox!
In deference to my professor, I sent him a text message summarizing what happened. Then came the reply:
"Haven't you heard? A deplorable thing happened this morning. A student was stabbed."
That certainly put my troubles in perspective. No wonder security was so tight. They were checking everyone who went in.
By this morning, the lines outside the school were snaking as the guards throughly inspected bags and people. Not even the women were exempt. Which all struck me as a little silly -- after all, the crime had already been committed. This was like closing the proverbial barn door after the proverbial horse had run away...proverbially, of course.
But what could have happened? Several scenarios swirled in mind. Was it frat-related? That seems to be all in the news today.
Perhaps an outsider in civvies had gone in under false pretenses to seek out a rival? Then follows the requisite confrontation ending in violence.
Or perhaps it was a theft gone horribly wrong? What if the thief was found out, and in desperation, stabbed his victim?
I texted my classmate to ask if she had the details of the news. All I got was a cryptic "It's a long story, too long to explain over text." I shrugged it off. I would simply find some voluble Atenean to spin out all the sordid details.
This morning, waiting in line for a printout at the corner cybercafe frequented by Ateneo students, I pounced on a skinny freshman in glasses.
"Heard about the stabbing yesterday," I said without much preamble. "What happened?"
"Yeah, it was pretty bad," he said.
"Was it an outsider that did it?"
"Oh, no. It was a student that stabbed another."
"Why? What reason?"
"Over some guy."
"What?! Are you serious? So you mean...they were girls?"
I'm sure my jaw must have gone slack at this revelation. Truth, as they say, is stranger than fiction. I couldn't have imagined one girl going at it with another, much less going so far as to stab her. And even less so while they were both wearing their immaculate Ateneo uniforms. I couldn't think what else to ask.
A fellow classmate of his, obviously less informed than he, picked up the thread where I left off. "Is that so?" she said. "Details, c'mon!"
"Well, one gal had the hots for this guy. Turns out the other gal was also the close friend of the guy. And I guess they fell into some argument."
"What did she stab him with? A box cutter?"
"No. It was a balisong."
"Cripes!" I said.
"Yep. She stabbed the other girl right here." He pointed to a spot just below his left ribcage.
"So what happened to the victim? She all right?"
"They brought her to San Pedro. Stable, I think."
"And the attacker? They take her to jail?"
"Couldn't. They were both freshmen. She was underaged, so they couldn't take her to police custody. She's at DSWD, I think."
I let out a sigh. It was all a bit too much to take in. Two first-year college girls, fighting over a guy: one girl takes out a fan knife from her bag (was it unfolded already? was she just so quick with it?) and stabs another. I wanted to laugh at the absurdity of it all, the shallow depth of the reason, the unthinking instinct to violence, and at my own incredulity that two young girls should be at the center of it all.
And then I thought of the two lives ruined, or at the very least, spun out of control. Of the victim, recovering in the hospital: one hopes that the blade missed the vital organs and that her young body can bounce back from the trauma. But would she be able to face coming back to school?
And of the attacker, too: for her one thoughtless moment of passion. What faces her? Expulsion, certainly. With that blight on her record, what school would take her in? What of the parents, now probably wrapped in fury and disappointment and doubt and pity?
What a waste, what a waste.
"Thanks for the info, man," I told my informer, as I picked up my printouts.
"No problem." He smiled back.
I waded through the crowd of Ateneans in their blue and white uniforms, waiting for their turn at the printing station. With the exception of stricter security, life seems pretty much back to normal in Ateneo.