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snopes 13 March 2012 07:54 PM

Snappy answers
There is an urban legend in the Ateneo on how the late Fr. Jose A. Cruz (grandnephew of Jose Rizal and university president) once surprised his philosophy students when he entered the classroom with a saw and a piece of wood. Without saying a word he began to saw and continued doing so for about 20 minutes, making his students uncomfortable. When he was done he turned to them and asked: “What was I doing?” Naturally, everyone answered: “You were sawing wood!” To which he replied: “Why are you so sure of that? What if I tell you that I was making sawdust?”

This story inspired me to create my own Zen or Eureka moment in my history course, resulting in oversubscribed classes known on campus as “The Ambeth Ocampo Experience.” One of the urban legends on me goes thus: For an exam I told students to describe the Battle of Mactan from the point of view of a fish. One student filled six pages of his blue book with “glub glub glub,” and wrote at the end: “I’m sorry, sir, I don’t understand fish language.” I gave this student an “A” for effort, honesty and creativity.

The truth is that I gave the student a “C” for effort and wrote this on his paper: “If you can translate this into human language, I will give you an ‘A.’”

GenYus234 13 March 2012 07:57 PM

You can't make sawdust. The tree made the sawdust. You can only free the sawdust from its confines.

ganzfeld 13 March 2012 08:15 PM

I wonder how he ever get tenure without being able to read fish.

Richard W 13 March 2012 08:28 PM

"Well, there I was, swimming about, and ... I think some boats might have gone past overhead, and ... well, I carried on swimming about, and then I ate some weed, and ... that's about it, really..."

(It's the battle in the Philippines that Ferdinand Magellan was killed at, for those who, like me, had never heard of it. The professor is in the Philippines so it's not totally random).

It doesn't seem to have anything much to do with fish, except for being on an island. I was wondering if it involved lots of corpses falling in the water so that the fish might have been able to tell who was winning at each point. Or even a river full of blood or something. But if so, it's not obvious. They did apparently name a kind of fish after Lapu-Lapu, the victor, but I doubt the fish knew about it.

I wonder what the professor was expecting people to write?

ganzfeld 13 March 2012 08:44 PM

I'm pretty sure he's having a pull at the reader's leg, Richard. (Or fin, perhaps.)

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