I dread the day when you have to finally throw me away. I can feel it and it hurts me. I understand and you don’t have to feel sorry, buddy. Right now, I am nothing but a useless, pathetic, old worn-out pair of shoes. But before you wedge me off, please give me this time, just this time, to air my sentiments.

 I could still remember the first time you put me on. A couple of years back, I was still new and crisp, fresh out from the shoe box. That day when you first held me in your hands, I was silently screaming with joy. I had dreamed of that day to come; and when you tried me on for the first time, I knew I was destined for your feet.

 The memory of the first day of school when you first wore me was ecstatic. I was as excited as you were. I was beaming with pride because you wore me in front of other people. For the past few years, I was with you in your day-to-day adventures from going to school to going home. I walked with you on the warm roads of Sitio Magabobo. I ran with you on the muddy grounds on rainy days of July 2019. I enjoyed with you as you stroll in the alleys and corridors of Salpad Integrated School. I marched with you every time you go from one classroom to another. We were inseparable.

However, as years passed by, it was inevitable for me to grow old. While you progressed from one-year level to the next, I progressed with you. In every year that came, I had developed more creases and lines. The mustered dust had gradually blurred my shine.

God knows how sorry I really was for what happened last July 8th. Early in the morning, I already felt you were doubtful to wear me. I felt ashamed of myself because I was the reason why you had second thoughts of going to school. And while you were putting me on, I saw the sad look in your eyes.

Nevertheless, I was deeply relieved when you wore your usual brave face and still slid your feet on me. I was beyond thankful when you opted to still go to school despite my bad condition. Even if you did not tell me, I could feel on your heavy breathing how you wished you had me replaced. I was worried you would not make it on time to school that morning.

What made me feel even worse was when you wrapped me with scotch tape so that my body and my sole would not break apart. The sticky tape enveloped around me was suffocating and tight. But, I endured the pain because I was truly embarrassed of myself. It was the only way I could make it up to you.

I felt guilty you were not able to join the flag raising ceremony. You rushed to your first period class and I myself hated the irritating sound I made while you were running. You knew you were late and I heard how you rehearsed your excuse to your first period teacher.

“Sir, sorry. Haanak immay naki-flag ceremony,” I heard you utter with a relenting voice.

“Apay ngamin, barok?” he inquired.

“Sir, kitam ngamin daytoy sapatosko a,” you replied.

I must admit I was deeply hurt; I already knew I was to be blamed but hearing those words came out from your own mouth made me guiltier. Nevertheless, you had your own way of making things less embarrassing.

“Isponsoranak man ketdi ti baro a sapatosko, sir,” you joked to your teacher.

“Agurayka ta picture-k sa kon to i-post ta Facebook. Barbareng adda agidonar,” he replied instead.

Although you took the situation jokingly, I could not help but feel doubly hurt because I felt like I was becoming a laughing stock. Moreover, what shattered my heart was when you said you were looking for a new one. Henceforth, your teacher took a photo of me for finding a generous soul who could replace me.

In a couple of hours after your teacher posted my photo, I heard I became viral. The story about me spread online like fire. It came by surprise when your teacher said many people were already asking for your shoe size. In the afternoon the same day, your teacher announced that someone came to give you a new pair of shoes. I saw how happy you were when they gave you a new pair of leather shoes. Moreover, they also gave you a new pair of sneakers, and two T-shirts. I saw how extremely thankful you were as you wiped the small teardrops on your eyes.

It did not stop there. Your teacher brought us to Laoag late in the afternoon to get another pair of new leather shoes. I heard the shoes went with three pair of socks. The same generous donor also gave you some amount to buy new pairs of pants. You went back home with big smiles from ear to ear. Your hands had too many to hold when you went home. All I heard from you that day were laughter and many “thank you’s”.

The day after, someone generously donated again. Then, your teacher said someone also gave additional three pairs of leather shoes. It also reached overseas as someone sent some dollars to buy you a new pair of shoes. For the next few days, donations and sponsorships kept coming. More shoes were given and delivered each day. I saw how overwhelming it was for you.

Because of the overflowing generosity, you decided to share these blessings to your schoolmates. That made me even more proud of you. You knew that your story is also the story of the other students of Salpad Integrated School. I was indeed happy when sixteen other students also received new pairs of shoes. Because of my photo that went viral online, you had the chance to help other students too.

You see, Christian? Your story has become an inspiration to many. I am a witness how you have worked hard at school. I am a witness on how you struggled working and building your self-confidence and self-esteem every time you wear me. I am a witness on how you manage to survive every single day of enduring stares and smirks from others who do not understand what you were going through. I am a witness how you many times you wanted to ran away from the family problems that almost drowned you.

With all of these, thank you, Christian. Thank you for the wonderful memories we spent together. Thank you for being proud of me on my brightest shine. Thank you for bearing with me on my weakest point. Thank you for taking care of me be it sunny or not. Thank you for the patience when I was shattering apart.

To you Christian, now that you have new pairs of shoes, may this be a reason for you to be more inspired and motivated to study even harder. I may not be with you on your journey from this day onwards, but please do know that I will always be proud of you and the person that you will become.

Shoes come and go just like people do; but your feet will always be my favorite. It has been my pleasure, Christian. I guess this is goodbye. Until then, buddy…

By: Mr. Kevin John A. Agpoon Head Teacher I of Salpad Integrated School (First Place for the Search for Best Stories and Testimonials)