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13 July 2005

Tuition Series (Part 3) - Philip

Philip was the son of my part-time housekeeper. He flunked his N-level and "Aunty" decided to ask me for help. Given my going rate, she would have ended up having to pay me to work for me but alas, the soft spot in me decided to take Philip pro-bono. After all, Aunty had been very good to me treating me like her own son all those years. So in a way, Philip was a kid brother to me. How to take money from them?

Philip hailed from a modest government school and a pretty good-looking Beng if I may add. So naturally, my gut instinct told me that he probably spent too much time chasing girls than actually sitting down to hit the books. Philip was a good kid at heart though I must say that he was pretty messed up in the head at times.

Tuition was at my place on Sunday mornings since I would be home from the hostel (read: need laundry) and besides, Aunty was coming to work on Sunday mornings anyway. I remembered our first session when I had a get-to-know-you session, in order to figure out the size of the task ahead of me. That was when he showed me his left inner forearm. It was full of scars and the scars read, "S H A R O N". The silly boy carved up his own arm with a penknife to spell a girl's name that she was chasing. Aiyoh! How she reacted to that gesture, I would never know. Kids these days! Really!

Teaching him was easy as his school syllabus was very much simplified given that it was N-Level. As per my two other tuition kids, Karen and Clara, I taught him also to learn about concepts and ideas rather than trying to bulldoze through the textbooks.

I remembered preparing him for his first math test since I came aboard. It was a test on vectors and we spent the entire week preparing for it.

Me: Harlow. Siang kar pay-geer?

Philip: Tai kor, guess how my result for the Math test?

Me: You pass lah. Tio bor?

Philip: Of course pass lah. But guess my score leh.

Me: Total score is how many?

Philip: 7.

Me: 5?

Philip: Lim Peh tio long zong 7 leh!! But then tai kor, got porbem leh.

Me: What?

Philip: Teacher say I cheat leh. Can you talk to her or not har?

Me:
...

So a phone call to his school to a certain Ms Lim and all was well thereafter. Aunty made me curry chicken that following Sunday. YUM!!

Philip's grades started to pick up steadily and passed his N-Level that year and proceeded to try for O-Level the following year.

Then there is this one incident somewhere along the road, that I remembered him most by.

It was a Saturday night and I was out cheonging with my buds at Fire Disco. For the younger readers out there who have not heard of Fire, it was located in Orchard Plaza before it closed down a few years back. It was a 2-level setup with a mezzanine level in between. Ground floor is the main dance pool where you see all the Ah Bengs/Sengs/Lians/Huays congregate to strut their tetno moves. Go up the stairs to the mezzanine level that's where you have pub tables and chairs overlooking the main dance floor below. Further up was where the live band performed, with Douglas Oliverio leading his band Energy (who had since relocated to BarNone). That's our hang out.

As I got onto the stairs leading to the upper level, I saw this kid with papers, files, books, calculator sprawled all over the pub table, busy scribbling away.

Me:
Wah lan eh, Philip! Lee chor si mi?

Philip: Tomolo morning got tuition mah. Homework haben finish.

Me: Do homework at Fire??!!??

Philip: Bor pian, peng yu jio come Fire, so I one time two bird kill by bringing homework here lor.

Me: ...

Like I said, this was one messed up kid, but his heart was at the right place.

At the end of it all, he got his 5 O-Level passes though not good enough to get into Poly. Last I heard from Aunty was that he decided to enroll in the Singapore Institute of Commerce (SIC) but that kinda fizzled out after a while too.

Aunty retired a few years later and I bumped into Philip once a few years back. He was working for an interior design contractor firm and had been doing ok all these years.

He crashed and burned with Sharon, by the way.
- Voxeros

1. jaschocolate left...
Wednesday, 13 July 2005 8:55 am
at least he turned out ok..


2. JayWalk left...
Wednesday, 13 July 2005 9:45 am :: 
jaschocolate: Yeah. Like I said, he was a good kid to begin with. Just messed up but good kid nonetheless.


3. Ed, Edd & Eddy left...
Wednesday, 13 July 2005 1:33 pm
Wow, doing homework at fire? That's something I like to see.

Your "Siang kar pay-geer" crack my up, reminds me of the good old days.


4. JayWalk left...
Wednesday, 13 July 2005 1:41 pm :: 
Ed, Edd & Eddy: Yah man.... Fire Lisco... I saw him there doing my homework, I si beh kum tong, lau bak sai siah....


5. ei|een left...
Wednesday, 13 July 2005 6:10 pm
HAHAHAHAHA! this post made me laugh damn loud. appeals to my inner (very hidden) ah lian. heh.

philip sounds like a really sweet kid. you did a great job on all you tuition kids :)

by the way. that carving of names thing. yeah, it was all the rage. what can i say? teen years. phase.


6. JayWalk left...
Wednesday, 13 July 2005 6:17 pm :: 
ei|een: Inner lian? Wah... I come back must jio you go cheong lisco lisco liao...
Carving was all the rage? You got carve before or not? Or got guy ever carve for you? Wow!


7. zhe bin left...
Wednesday, 13 July 2005 11:12 pm
haha this is the first time i'm here and i tell you i like all your posts!


8. pinafore left...
Thursday, 14 July 2005 2:40 am
Your siang kar pay geer very classic! Glad that Philip turned out alright.


9. JayWalk left...
Thursday, 14 July 2005 6:13 am :: 
zhe bin: Harlow! First time har? Give ang pow? hahahah....

pinafore: My "siang" got the Teochew slang slang one hokay? Mai siao siao hor...
Well, army daze was a time when anglo-Jay took a back seat and AhSeng-Jay took over.


10. akk left...
Thursday, 14 July 2005 12:41 pm
ur student very good, go clubbing and still got heart to study there. winner. :)


11. JayWalk left...
Thursday, 14 July 2005 12:45 pm :: 
akk: Yah lor... dunno whether to scold him or to kiss him. Haiz...


12. ei|een left...
Thursday, 14 July 2005 3:32 pm
hahaha! can, can! as long as got alcohol, i happy! haha.
as for the carving.. maybe i'll blog about it sometime. heh. :)


13. JayWalk left...
Thursday, 14 July 2005 3:57 pm ::
ei|een: ON you lah... wait till I get back.

As for the carving, you really got ah? Wah.... must blog hor... damn bladdy curious (read: kaypoh) now. hahahah


14. vandice left...
Saturday, 16 July 2005 12:38 am
I'm old enough to have been to Fire for tea dance. And I've seen ppl doing their hw there. But really, as a tutor you'll lao bak sai seeing your own student doing tt bcos of you. You must have gotten to him, inside. I had such a tough time when I was volunteering at the boys home. So much angst and rebelliousness.


15. JayWalk left...
Saturday, 16 July 2005 4:34 am :: 
vandice: Ahh... vandice, if you have been to Fire, then may I welcome you to my Old Folks' Blog. Tea Dance some more. Ahh the days of Rumours and Warehouse. ~LOL 

I guess I got lucky for half the battle was won when HE was the one who approached me through his mom and not the other way round. 

I know it's tough with the boys at Boys' Home. They will always treat you as an outsider and the tuition was forced upon them. They always have this "I-didn't-ask-for-this" attitude. 

It was often an uphill but losing battle. Still, you just do what you can and that's that.

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