04 February 2017

Sitting Next to Basketball's Tonichi Yturri


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The person from whom I first heard that even farm team players were entitled to join the athletes’ platoon in ROTC was, in fact, one Jose Antonio Yturri. Yes, the very same Tonichi Yturri who would later attain a bit of fame playing for the national team in the Jones Cup under the legendary coach Ron Jacobs and even in the PBA for clubs like San Miguel, Pepsi and Gi┼łebra.

We weren’t buddies by any means and I doubt that he even recalls me in the present day; but he sat right next to me at the back row of the room in Economics I, a sophomore subject. He was tall and skinny and always seemed like he was in utter discomfort trying to fit all of his 6’ 3” or 4” frame behind the desk and on the chair that didn’t seem like it was built for giants like him at all.

The star players at DLSU at the time were the likes of Kenneth Yap and Jong Uichico, both of whom would also have careers in the PBA. Even Edu Manzano, who would later become a famous entertainment industry personality, was also part of the varsity team. He barely got a game, though; and was always humorously heckled by the La Salle crowd on the rare occasions that he was sent in. From what I heard, he apparently had a reputation as a campus joker.

Yturri was only in the farm team, and one of our classmates doubted that he could even get into the NCAA team because he was “just way too slow.” A lot he knew about basketball, as Yturri himself would show in the ensuing years.

I soon found out that Economics in college was a lot more technical and complicated than how I remembered it to be back when I was in high school. For starters, it was turning out to be another numbers subject. I never imagined that the same subject which I enjoyed very much as a third year student in high school could actually involve so many computations.

I was mystified! Not that it offered me any consolation, but Yturri was just as mystified as I was. I couldn’t avoid the subject even if I had already dropped the Commerce side of my original program. Economics was part of the General Education curriculum.

Our professor was this young woman whom we would later discover hadn’t even graduated from college yet. Those who had the utter gall to actually take up Economics and Accounting as their majors in the Lia-Com program were looked upon as demigods by other students. Our professor was apparently one of those, and she was also in the running for honors.

Apparently, the university sometimes employed the brightest students in the graduating classes to teach underclassmen like us. I don’t think that this is still possible in the present day because law mandates that college professors possess at least a master’s degree.

I barely passed Economics, of course, no thanks to this student-professor of ours. I can’t even recall her name, and this alone speaks volumes about the impression – or lack of it – that she made on me. As I had already said, subject expertise doesn’t necessarily translate into ability to teach. Who knows, though? It looked a lot like we were the first class that she every taught. Perhaps, had she stayed on as a teacher, she got better with the passage of time.

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