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My Unforgettable Third Grade Memories

Updated on June 26, 2009

In the Philippines, the month of June culminates the dry summer months of April and May, and heralds the onset of the rainy season. This month also marks the opening of regular classes in the country.

This year, President Arroyo declared an earlier than usual school opening – June 1st for the public schools and either June 8th or 15th for the private schools.

My eight-year-old daughter Zara, who’s turning nine come December, is going to be in third grade this school year. And she is very excited to be going back to school after summer vacation. She has been in the same private school since Nursery – all in all, this is her 6th year in school since she entered Nursery when she was only 3.

In a few days’ time, Zara would be going to school as a third grader. Last weekend, we went to the bookstore to buy her school materials. And when we got home, I couldn’t help watching her arranging her things in her old school bag as I told her we would be buying a new bag before the end of June yet. Her excitement was so contagious that as I was watching her, my mind took off to the days when I was in the same grade.

Although I was then a year younger than she is now as I entered Grade I at 5, most of my third grade memories have remained till now. I guess, third graders have the capacity to absorb a lot of things happening around them. They possess a photographic memory that captures everything from TV commercials to conversation tidbits.

However, my third grade experience during the mid-70’s was very far from that of my daughter. I grew up in a small city located in the southern part of the country, while she was born and raised in Manila. We had no television then, and the only forms of entertainment we had were music played on a turntable or a transistor radio. But my third grade memories were filled with the joys of childhood and dotted with friends.


My Third Grade Memories

Among my memories of third grade that have made a significant impact on my present life include:

1) The awakening of my love for reading

Unlike my daughter who learned to read during kindergarten, I learned to read basic syllables during first grade as I did not attend pre-school. And it was during third grade, when I could read well, that I developed a passion for reading. I could still remember reading my favorite storybook – Stories on Parade – unmindful of its torn cover and tattered pages.

2) Self- discovery of my flair for writing

Although I did not think of becoming a writer then, I started to enjoy studying English very much that I would always look forward to our Communication Arts in English subject to grasp whatever our teacher taught us. I particularly loved writing exercises such as composition writing and sentence construction, when most of my classmates would cower at such activities.

3) Learning the value of a healthy competition

It was during third grade that my sense of competitiveness was first stimulated. I was among the honors of the class and my childhood friend and neighbor was my strongest rival. Although I can’t remember now our final rankings at the end of the school year, we grew up as very good friends and playmates even if we were not in the same class from 4th grade to 6th grade. And when we graduated, she ended up to be our school’s Valedictorian while I emerged as the Salutatorian.

4) Realizing the value of life and friendship

When I was in Grade III, a horrible disaster devastated our city and nearby provinces, claiming thousands of lives. This catastrophe was easily the most unforgettable experience I had of third grade; and is among the most memorable experiences of my entire life. It has paved a way for me to value life now more than ever, knowing that in one instant, you could lose someone dear to you. My older sister lost a classmate who was also her best friend during this tragic event in 1976 that put our city in the world map .


Do you have unforgettable memories when you were in third grade?

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The Earthquake and Tsunami of 1976

At a little past 12 midnight of August 17, 1976, a tremendous earthquake shook the Moro Gulf, sweeping through the various provinces in Mindanao, including our city, Pagadian. The quake was then followed by a series of tsunamis that killed many people and left thousands of families homeless.

Our city sustained the worst effects with our very own district – the largest and the most populous among the city’s 11 coastal districts – posting the most number of fatalities. And, had it happened during the day when kids were in school, the casualties would have been greater; and would have even included my siblings and me.

As I mentioned earlier, our district lies in the lowest section of our hilly city. I and my two older siblings went to a public elementary school near the sea. Our school was greatly devastated by the tsunamis. Its buildings were uprooted and displaced by the tragic event leaving us without classrooms for several weeks. I could still remember having classes at the front yard of our class adviser’s residence weeks after the tragedy.

For a more detailed account of my family’s experiences during this disaster, you may read, Remembering the 1976 and Earthquake and Tsunami that Devastated My City.

Looking back to that terrible event that occurred when I was in third grade, I am so thankful to God for saving me and my family. And every time I think about it, I really feel for those who suffered and lost their loved ones in that disaster.

Now that Zara is about to enter third grade, I couldn’t help remembering that terrible tragedy I had gone through when I was her age. Although the terror of it all did not quite sink in to me then as none of my family was hurt, I could still remember the aftermath of the event, and how it affected our lives for the next few months. The 1976 earthquake and tsunami that wreaked havoc in my hometown will definitely hold the most unforgettable part of my third grade memories.

Have you ever experienced a great tragedy like a tsunami?

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    • profile image

      Mochamad 3 years ago

      I wanted to cmnoemt on your Charleston post. My all time favorite place to visit, to me it is so romantic. We've been at least 3 times and were scheduled to go last year but work canceled it. Mills House is a good place. Check out March Southern Living for a good deal. We stayed near the Aquarium last time. Just outside the Historic district but close enough to walk. Plan on lots of walking if you stay in the district and I advice it. You can walk to the Battery, shops, restaurants, tour houses. You can use the car to drive out to the beach and plantation tours. Plan to spend at least two days in the district. June will be very humid. Walk early in the morning, take siesta, walk in the evening. I hope you enjoy it and tell us abut it. lives there.

    • profile image

      Sanne 3 years ago

      I feel so much happier now I unsdterand all this. Thanks!

    • Melody Lagrimas profile image

      Melody Lagrimas 8 years ago from Philippines

      Thanks, my friends for dropping by and for your wonderful comments.

    • Godslittlechild profile image

      Godslittlechild 8 years ago

      I am glad I was here to read this. Very good.

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 9 years ago

      Your 3rd grade experience was probably terribly heart-wrenching. Thank God He kept you and your family.

      I wish Zara all the best for the coming year. Make memories and lots of them, they grow up so fast.

    • Melody Lagrimas profile image

      Melody Lagrimas 9 years ago from Philippines

      Kiran8, Peggy, thank you for your comments. Life indeed need to becherished as it can be taken anytime.

      R Burow, yes, God certainly spared me for a purpose and for Zara. God bless you and your family too. Thanks a lot.

      Jerilee, I highly appreciate your taking time to read and comment. Thank you very much.

      Krislan, thanks for that wonderful comment too - amen to that. God bless.

    • profile image

      Krislan 9 years ago

      There is always a reason for everything.... God just wants us to keep our faith in Him and He will grant us not the good things but the best things in life..

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 9 years ago from United States

      I quite agree, 3rd grade is a magical year in learning for children around the world. They are at that perfect age in terms of understanding and thirst for knowledge.

    • R Burow profile image

      R Burow 9 years ago from Florida, United States

      I join you in your thankfulness to God for sparing you and your family. Had He not  done so, there would be no Zara. Obviously He has purposes for you both.  May God continue to bless you in achieving it.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Events like that cannot help but be seared into our memories. Hopefully your daughter and family will never have to suffer through a similar event. Life certainly must be relished and enjoyed each and every day as no one can predict the future.

    • kiran8 profile image

      kiran8 9 years ago from Mangalore, India

      Life can be so unexpected ...

    • Melody Lagrimas profile image

      Melody Lagrimas 9 years ago from Philippines

      Hi Krislan, thanks for dropping by. That's quite a sad memory.

    • profile image

      Krislan 9 years ago

      hmmm.. third grade.. it was when I knew my Dad wasn't coming back anymore.

    • Melody Lagrimas profile image

      Melody Lagrimas 9 years ago from Philippines

      I guess you're right, dianacharles. Hope that is not true either. The people back there in my hometown (especially the survivors) tend to get very apprehensive at the first sign of an earthquake.

      Thank you very much.

    • dianacharles profile image

      dianacharles 9 years ago from India

      Your country is so similar in some ways to mine Melody. I don't remember much of my 3rd grade. You probably remember it in graphic detail because of all the earth-shattering events that happened then. One does tend to value life more, when we see how easily it can be taken from us. There are some predictions of another tsunami on July 21st...I just hope it is not true.

      I wish Zara a very enjoyable year in school. :)


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