What I remember are the legs. Best gams in town and some of the snazziest shoes, too.
She could afford the shoes and the matching leather bags, the pair always a shade lighter than her dress. Miss (she snorted at Ms) Rosario Perocho was single, from a middle class family with surplus income. I never saw her in heels shorter than three inches. And these were always tapered, mirrors of how her calves swept down gently into ankles with smooth knobs and white valleys even in areas that normally catch dirt.
Miss Sayo loved flowing georgette dresses and the occasional pencil skirt. All the feminity was from the neck down.
She tried her best to present a grim face. She often sported a bulldog's ferocious snarl, the kind you see before the bite. Other teachers screeched and yelled and, from time to time, swung books and bags at hooligans. Ms. Sayo froze even the most rambunctious high school kids with a glare atop those spread legs and the hands on her hips.
But up close, that effect was often ruined by the mischievous glint in her eyes. She also liked to chortle, and her wards, especially the girls, took that as a message: We could give the world some concessions -- and then do darn well as we please.
She taught algebra. Math was the bane of my life. But for some reason, she refused to believe that. Miss Perocho got through my addled brain; and taught me to overcome fear of math. Then again, this was the teacher who transformed my older sister, Manang Grace, from an almost-failing math student into regional math champion -- in less than a year.
She often scolded me for reading secretly from pocketbooks hidden behind the bigger math book. But then she'd tell a different class a few hours later that if students must read on the sly, she'd rather have them like Ma. Salvacion, reading Greek mythology, instead of trashy romance novels -- which I also devoured, hehehe, but she didn't know that.
She read perfect scores -- and the zeros -- after quizzes. I squirmed and cringed as she terrorized dear old boyfriend for getting zero while girlfriend aced the test.
But this is the scene I shall always remember. Ms. Perocho calling on a classmate, Francisco Catalan... Aaaah!
"Catalan!" (waving the results of a quiz)
"Catalan, stand up!" (Walks around the poor boy.)
"Tell me, Catalan, what do you want to be when you grow up?"
Catalan says, "seaman, ma'am."
Walks right into it....
"Aha! A seaman!" (Striding off and gliding back. Stands with arms akimbo.)
"A seaman? A seaman!" (Stares down at the quivering boy.)
"And when they ask you to calculate the distance between Manila and Guam, you will end up in Cotabato!!!!"
Poor Francisco. But that must have done him some good. Last I heard he was a high-ranking merchant marine officer :)
They don't make them like the old dragons anymore....