( If you still have not read chapter 1, do read it here.)

As soon as they arrived in Lubuagan, Guinnaban was baptized to Christianity by Fr. Belucci and named Benedict – after St. Benedict. To Guinnaban, the name symbolized hope and courage – and he liked the sound of it!

The abrupt change of environment though, had made him and his family uncomfortable. There were sad moments that they thought of going back to the simple life in the barrio. It was difficult for them to adjust to the ways of the progressively booming town. The good priest however, insisted that they stay on as he knew Benny was a brilliant boy who could pursue a much needed education for the sake of his people.

The following school year, Fr. Belucci enrolled him at the Parish secondary school.
On the very first day, Benny was already taunted by his classmates. “Hey, what’s your name?”

“Benedict” he would reply.

“Benedict? that’s a fancy name, huh? Far from your ugly, Kalinga name.” then the group would roar with laughter.

“ Let’s see if you can live up to it, “ laughing, they would leave him speechless at the center of the school’s quadrangle.

They frequently picked on him and made fun of him. “Here’s the native,” they taunted and ridiculed him.

On the 5th day of school, Francis the most intelligent of the class, challenged him to a spelling contest. Benedict was reluctant to participate, as he was brought up by his parents believing that a truly brave man did not have to prove himself.

But the whole class jeered at him:” C’mon, you – from Taloctoc, let’s see if you know something, ” and they refused to allow him to leave the room.

Thinking that it would do no harm to anyone, he accepted the challenge and stayed. They unceremoniously pushed him beside Francis; he could see the beads of sweat mushrooming in Francis’ excited face as he gleefully grinned at him.

Each of the students started yelling words for them to spell.

“pneumonia,” one shouted.

“Use the chalk dumbo! Write ” Francis snarled at him, “Let’s see if your teeny weeny brain recognizes words.”

” psychology”

Images from: All Free Clipart





There were two students assigned to both blackboards to check what they have written.

After each word, the uproar grew lesser and lesser as Benny had been able to spell the words correctly.

Unknown to them, since Benny’s first day with Fr. Belucci, he was allowed to use the old priests’ personal book collection. He devoured them like someone starving, and spent every free time savoring each page of the variety of books available for his perusal. He even started reading theology!

“And what is this all about?” a voice thundered from the doorway.

Everyone turned to meet Mrs. Garcia’s unsmiling face. “What are you up to, now Francis?” her piercing stare made Francis wince.

“Err… we were just having a spelling contest,” he was meek as a lamb in front of Mrs. Garcia.

The teacher took one long look at the board and said sternly, ” the two of you, come to my office, right now.” Her manner was succinct but there was a hint of pride in her tone.

Francis got most of the scolding as Mrs. Garcia was aware of his boisterous behavior at times.

“Let me finish what you started,” her voice was gentler now and there was a twinkle in her eye.

“Spell liaison” , she motioned to Francis.

Francis stood at attention and proudly blurted out, ” L – I – A – S – O – N” .

Mrs. Garcia – her face expressionless – nodded to Benny .

” L I A I S O N”, Benny enunciated each word deliberately.

The teacher happily tapped the shoulder of Francis, ” Now we have a new champion, Francis ,” she strode towards Benny and intoned excitedly, ” You are correct! I have high hopes we will win the championship this year. From now on, both of you should work together.”

As days laboriously passed , it was evident that academically, Benny performed better than Francis – to the other one’s obvious chagrin. In fact – he was the best in all categories – be it in Mathematics, English, Literature, or Music.

He had an eye and a heart for all extra-curricular and academic pursuits. He was the Grand Champion in the Math Quiz bee, the Spelling Bee and had won the Short Story Writing Contest sponsored by the English Society.

He then earned their respect and admiration. No one dared to taunt him anymore. Everyone wanted to be in his list of friends.

He graduated from St Theresa’s College as the Valedictorian of High School Class ‘ 76; with 6 medals: the gold, the leadership medal, the Insular Life gold, the Best in math, the Best in English, and was awarded “The Most Outstanding Graduate.”






  1. Well done again Jena. I’m looking forward to the next chapter in Benny’s story. And I like the choice of name for his rival ;).

  2. he he he. yes, you are right..I got it from you…he he he…you’re the quintessential artist. This comment coming from a better writer like yourself is indeed greatly appreciated. I hold it like a prized trophy. Thanks for commenting.

  3. hmmm, the story is getting more interesting. can’t wait for the next one!

    Oh, by the way, i don’t like Benedict’s rival’s name. Somebody by that name broke my heart some years ago he he he!

  4. Pinoy around the world, you can start your memoirs with that story. Time heals all wounds , don’t worry. I am sure with your positive attitude, Mr Right might be waiting just around the corner.

    God bless and thanks for dropping bu and commenting. I appreciate it a lot.

  5. Dear jena isle. I read this post enjoying myself. To compete in a spelling fight is an execellent idea. How could the priest stop the family from going back to the barrio? Is he that mighty?

  6. Hi, Ray,I like your questions they are constructive…and I will have to consider them when I edit this story.

    In towns, the priests are usually looked up to and what they say counts. They are usually well respected because they are religious personalities.

    Thanks for that thoughtful question.

  7. Jenaisle, Benny sounds like a boy after my own heart. I devoured books as a child, but I have to admit I would not have come any where near winning a spelling contest. LOL. Great story, and like I said I am now off to check your Kalinga Blog.

    PS Thanks for the link in your sidebar.

  8. Thanks Eric, you would have won probably if you participated.

    Books are a rich source of information about everything.

    Thanks for the visit.

  9. This reminded me of my childhood. I went to school very poor in a private school and I was so dark and very ugly. My classmates were bullying me because of how I looked and because I was poor. So I promised to myself "I'd be the student you will admire and look up to"…and I did. I won contests, always in the top 5, got medals and even performed great in sports.
    It's such an inspiring story Jen.
    Hey Jen, I have some awards for you. Please grab them at my recent blog post. You can post them in your other blogs if you don't want to display them here.

  10. Hi Bingkee,

    Really! That's good to know. I had thought you were the usual city Thanks and happy blog hopping.

    I'll pick up the awards for my other blog perhaps tomorrow. Thanks for the award. Cheers!

  11. Hi Jena. I'm sure I've read this before, but I am enjoying it. I'll look out for the next instalment, although as you know, I don't have much time at the moment.

  12. Hi Jean,

    Indeed you're very busy. Thanks for squeezing the time for me. It is highly appreciated. I owe you one!

    Take care.

  13. hi Josie,

    You're welcome to drop by anytime. I look forward to your visits.And thanks for the kind words. All the best.

  14. Hello Ailurophile,

    Thanks for the generous words and for dropping by again. It's appreciated. Happy blog hopping.


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