25. We were still there, and we were both quite busy. We knew that Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated in Memphis and that Richard M. Nixon was elected president, but we missed the riots and police brutality that marked the Democratic Convention in Chicago. I wasn’t surprised that LBJ didn’t run again, and we waved at Hubert Humphrey as his motorcade passed in front of the school where we lived in Hawaii. But once Peggy and I got involved in the Philippines, we missed almost everything at home.
We didn’t know that Debra Dene Barnes (Kansas) won Miss America, that Placido Domingo debuted at the Met, or that Dr. Benjamin Spock was indicted for anti-war activities. It would be six years after Big Mac hit McDonald’s menu (in 1968) before I’d eat one in New Mexico. We also missed Mickey Mouse’s 40th birthday celebration. At the same time I was involved with three shows and Peggy, as she said, was sometimes challenged and sometimes discouraged with her fourth-grade class … the lowest section in school. And at the opposite extreme, she worked closely with the teacher who had the highest third-grade section. Those children were really a joy for Peggy to teach and watch, and the teacher had improved tremendously since she began working with her.
Peggy tried to observe the third-grade teachers as often as possible, in order to help them get on their feet in new math. A couple of them were fairly good, but most had a long way to go. At least, most of the third-grade teachers wanted to learn. The fourth-grade teachers … all of whom were completely traditional in their math … were less enthusiastic. Peggy began with them by working with a teacher who had the two highest morning sections. And this teacher began to show a little interest, but Peggy found it hard to believe that her students were supposed to be the best fourth graders. She was afraid that if she couldn’t get this teacher to change her techniques … “or else the joyful third-graders of that year would become the sad fourth-graders of the following year.”
Meanwhile I became involved with children’s drama, and one of my children’s dramatic classes had a program involving over 300 children. Fortunately we pulled it off. Every Saturday there for a while I had rehearsals for children’s shows of which I was the director … and which were presented on Sunday afternoons. And there for a while my Sunday mornings were devoted to taping the children’s shows for television.
And back home the price of bread (lb.) was $.22, the price of coffee (lb.) $.76, the price of eggs (lb.) $.53, margarine (lb.)$.28, milk (1/2 gal.) $.61, and round steak (lb.) $1.14). The hit films that year were Charly, Faces, Funny Girl, The Producers, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. (Occasionally we took in an American movie (with Tagalog subtitles) with our friend Lino Brocka. We usually bought bags of Lansones and sat in the balcony.) The hit songs then were “Chain Of Fools,” “Hello, I love You,” “Hey Jude,” “Mrs.Robinson,” and “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay.” Wherever we went in the Philippines we heard kids singing “Hey Jude.” Meanwhile, Peggy’s Tagalog came and went, and our maid Linda’s English improved.
26. There were two weeks at school when Peggy had nothing to do because of testing. One of those weeks they had four days of tests … two of those days there were practice tests for big city-wide tests and they lasted from Tuesday through Friday, which meant everybody was madly reviewing on Monday. That week Peggy taught only one class, and that was all she had to do all week. This led her to say that “it’s easy to understand why Filipino college students seem to know so much less than American college students because they only have ten years of school before college, and half of it is taken up with testing and holidays.”
While Peggy had nothing to do, I couldn’t have been busier. One of the private schools in Manila produced an operetta, which they wanted to present at Fort Santiago, so I spent all day Friday and all day Saturday working with children trying to adapt the piece to the stage at the fort. I didn’t get see the production, but from what I gathered it wasn’t too bad … especially considering the little time I had to work with the children. I didn’t get to see the production at the fort because my directing class at the University of the Philippines was presenting their final exam that evening: three one act plays directed by the students. Although each play had several major flaws, they were pretty good considering how little experience the directors had. I, of course, was quite critical, but I gave each of them a good grade.
That same week the Philippine Educational Theater Association staged an Afro-Asian Week. I was house manager (or something of the sort), so I was at the theater every evening. It was interesting because something different was scheduled every night.
Peggy’s birthday fell on the same week, and Linda didn’t bake her a cake … we had no oven. We cooked on a two-burner electric hot plate. Peggy had a good birthday anyway, and that was in spite of what happened at school. She tried to keep her birthday secret, but the president of the teacher’s club looked it up on a card Peggy filled out when she first started working there. Then since one of the office clerks greeted her with “Is it your birthday today?” she knew the word had been spread around. What she didn’t know though was that she was expected to give a “blowout” (a big party) on her birthday, and there was nothing she could do but disappoint people by not following the custom.
Peggy and Randy Ford