By May Miasco (The Freeman) | Updated September 17, 2017 – 12:00am
CEBU, Philippines — As a young boy, Teofilo Camomot had the nickname “Lolong.” Like most kids, his first teacher was her mother Angela. She tutored the boy how to read and write at home before he was sent to the Carcar Elementary School at the age seven – the mandatory school age under the prevailing American rule then.
At school, Lolong further learned reading, writing, and arithmetic. At the time, native languages had no place in the classroom, and so the boy learned to express himself in English, on top of the Spanish and Cebuano languages that were used back at home. The young Lolong didn’t escape being bullied by bigger boys. But he never fought back – not one single occasion. It was his younger brother Tereso who would rush to Teofilo’s side and get into a brawl to defend him.
Teofilo completed his elementary education in 1928; he was 14 years old. Instead of proceeding to high school, he left school and chose to help his father at the farm. Working in the corn fields he developed a love for agriculture. He then wanted to take up his secondary education at an agricultural school in Mindanao. At the time, agriculture courses were only offered in Mindanao, nowhere else in the country. But his mother didn’t want to send her boy to Mindanao. She feared that Teofilo might be made to do hard labor. The obedient son stayed put.
Published in The Freeman.