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.’”