The ongoing Reproductive Health debate brings to mind one of HCHS Batch 83’s most memorable experiences – a debate between Mrs. Elnora Lapa, our guidance counselor vs the whole St. Peter’s Class about the subject of Population Explosion.

Maam Lapa and her hubby - grabbed from his Facebook account

At that time (1980-1981),there was only one top section and for second year it was the explosive St. Peter’s Class. We had  a special way of making teachers happy and we had ultraspecial way to make teachers cry. After all, we were the first classroom to make an extra effort in decorating and putting plastic covers in our arm chairs – complete with photo frames and flower vase so there was no room to write.

If my memory serves me well, it started in a Biology Class of Mrs. Ramona Palapar. As was the practice those days (from first year to fourth year), classes were given by the students (we took turns giving class reports and in between we had role plays and art reflections, heck!). It was about the human population and the reporter mentioned something about the Philippines as having the problem of population explosion.

Our beautiful classmate Irene Joan Lapa stood up and said she disagreed. There is no such thing as population explosion in the Philippines. Why? “Because Mrs. Lapa said so.” Mrs. Lapa is Irene’s mom who happened to be our school’s guidance counselor. The resulting commotion necessitated a new round debate., Next meeting, we had the esteemed Mrs. Lapa as guest.

“You believe in population explosion and you are Catholics? SHAME ON YOU!” This was her opening statement. Too strong for a second year class but we were not intimidated.

Then she went on about how a lot of places in the Philippines are not even populated. “Look at Mount Kitanglad. Do you see houses of people? Look at the vast pineapple field. If there was a population explosion, then we won’t have spaces for pineapples.” And so on and so forth. We were shocked and alarmed that we couldn’t fight back aside from reading what our textbook said. Mrs. Palapar was quiet in her corner.

?A lot of people hated Irene Lapa after that episode. Why bring your mother to a classroom debate But I loved it. It was exciting. It was enlightening.

Looking back, perhaps she was right. This is what the bishops are saying today – more than 25 years after that incident: that there is no population problem in the country, and that the problem is distribution of wealth.  Memories like this make you believe that it was so great to be part of Batch 83.

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