The ‘Bergamo’ and The ‘Perugia’

As of the time of writing, I just learned through CNN that Japan was hit by an 8.9 quake, triggering tsunamis and creating a massive wave that sent some debris inland. My heart goes out to all the people there who are severely affected by this crisis, including our fellow Filipinos who live there.  Recently, tsunami warnings has also been issued for the Philippines, especially for the 19 spots here which are located along coastline areas.

In times like this, you need a lot of patience, calmness, and prayers. With all what’s happening around the world, especially in the Middle East, New Zealand, and now Japan, I can’t help but think that doomsayers and Mayan calendar nimrods are having their field day, proudly pronouncing that the end is indeed near.

If these doofuses and cretins claim that they know the future, wouldn’t they at least have given you the winning lottery numbers?

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Bergamo and Perugia. These are two cities located in Italy. These two words was very much part of my growing-up years in school. Very significant, indeed.

In our school, students were categorized into the “Bergamos” and the “Perugias”. The Bergamos are also divided into 3 categories, simply known as Bergamos I, II, and III. The ones who average 90-95% are the I’s, the II’s average 85-89%, and the III’s average 80-84%. Normally, the Bergamos are the diligently studious fellows who did their homework on time and gleefully participated in various school activities.

On the other hand, the Perugia students are divided into two categories: the Perugia I and the Perugia II. The Perugia I people’s averages are from 75-79% and the Perugia II students average 65-74%, and thus comes up short to the 75% passing mark. You really can’t say it’s the lack of IQ or, some people will say, tanga, but rather, a disinterest towards the constraints of school work.

Now, although years removed from the great white edifice with the glowing facade of  the Victorious Angel, I still can’t help what has been the significance of categorizing students into the “Bergamo” ones and the “Perugia” ones. Are these two cities somehow induced a great deal of influence into the minds of our educators? Or are these just a spur of a moment decision? Why not put the bright, intelligent bibo students into categories named “Rome” or “Milan” where the sophisticated people are, and place the bad students into groups named “Palermo” or “Naples”, where it’s been said there’s a huge Mafioso presence. What if there are smart people in Perugia? (I’m sure there are!) What will they think of this grading system, especially when they learn that the perceived un-intelligent people are “Perugia”?

What if the great Maria Montessori grew up in New York? Would we categorize the students as Hampton I, II or III, and name the not-so-good pupils as Bronx I and II? And what if Maria Montessori was a Filipina, must it say that students should be divided into, say, “Forbes Park” or “Isla Puting Bato”?

Ano ba ‘yan, anak, Isla Puting Bato II ka na naman? Kelan ka titino? Gusto ko Forbes Park ka next quarter, ha? Mag-aral ka mabuti at tigilan mo nang makinig kay Triggerman! Bibilhan ko kayo sa suki ko bukas ng sapatos. Ano gusto mo? Palladium o Doc Martens?

I’ve enjoyed the best of both worlds, I’ve been a Bergamo I once and a Perugia II fellow once. When I became a Perugia student, my life went down faster than Charlie Sheen’s reputation, but I’ve recovered, and like they say, the high school’s not the end-all, be-all of everything.

They say if you’re a Bergamo guy, your shirt is tucked-in, your homework’s actually done at home, and has a high personality development grade. If you’re Perugia, you’re always “tuck-out”, cheats from your cheatmate, and homework is done 2 hours before submission. In addition, your freaking DARB (Daily Achievement Record Book, for those not in the know) is empty, except for the normal “See ntbk.” scribblings and the occassional “Dear Parent” written in red stuff.

A tale of two cities:


Bergamo (from the German word Bergheim, means “mountain home”) is a city located north of Italy, about 40 kms. from Milan. It is a city of approximately 120,000 inhabitants. It is the home of the large church of Santa Maria Maggiore, founded in 1137. The church has a rich tradition of teaching music and singing for more than 800 years. Bergamo is also located on the foothills of the Alps. It’s most notable city emblem is the lion, symbolizing its Venetian influence.

The name Bergamo also has its roots in a traditional folk dance called the bergamask or bergomasci which the dancers are known for their buffoonery. The character Bottom in William Shakespeare’s A Midnight Summer’s Dream was created due to the impression that residents from Bergamo are “very awkward in their manners”.

Bergamo is home to different places of interest, including museums and chapels, which give great examples of Venetian architecture. The upper city, called the citta alta, is an extremely expensive place to live in. Investing in a property in this location will cost you 2,000,000 euros, minimum.

Perugia, on the other hand, is the capital city of Umbria, in central Italy. It is widely known as one of the artistic places that you could ever visit in the country. The artist Pietro Vannucci, better known by his nickname Perugino, was the teacher of the great Renaissance artist Raphael. The word Perugia evolved from the Etruscan name Perusia, whose exact meaning is still unknown, although some pundits will say that Perugia means “in the fields”. It’s city emblem is the griffin. There are approximately 167,000 residents in this city.

Also in this city there are two universties, among them Stranieri, which is famous for its Italian culture learning for students coming from around the world.  Perugia is also known for its chocolate, and has a chocolate festival every October.

There are prominent churches in Perugia, among them are the Cathedral of San Lorenzo and the Church of San Pietro. Also, located in this city is an historical Templar church of San Bevignate.

What can we deduce from this information?

First of all, it beats me. Personally, I still don’t see the connection from the actual cities of Bergamo and Perugia to the grading system categories of Bergamo and Perugia. Bergamo is rooted from its famous folk dance, while at the same time, according to Shakespeare, people from Bergamo are rather “awkward”. On the flipside, Perugia is known for its rich artistic history and chocolates.

Are people from Bergamo smarter than the folks in Perugia? It still beats me. So, if you consistently got high marks, then you’re a Bergamo student, but then, you’re “awkward”? So what if I flunked a lot of quizzes and sucked at Math and have a high-level of disdain towards some teachers; you can put me in Perugia but I’m sophisticated and “artistic” because that’s what Perugia is rooted from.

From my own research, students from Bergamo and Perugia have the same performance levels. However, there are more prominent educational institutions in Perugia than in Bergamo. Perugia also has one of the lowest crime rates in the country, barring of course, if you count in the sensationalism of the Amanda Knox case. But in spite of that, Perugia has an age-old drug problem.

Is it also perhaps that the categories were based on the fact that Bergamo is in the north of Italy and Perugia is located in Central Italy? I’ve read some biographies of Maria Montessori and yes, even hers, but the answers are not there.

I think the question of “why Bergamo?” and “why Perugia?” will go down as one of history’s greatest mysteries like where is Amelia Earhart, who killed Ninoy Aquino, what makes the world go around, why Family Guy is cool and what the hell is a Snooki.

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Happy Birthday to my good ole’ pal Salus, who turns XXX years old today.

2 thoughts on “The ‘Bergamo’ and The ‘Perugia’

  1. Another great post pareng Mike. How can I forget that 2 classifications of an OBMC student?! I never had the privilege of joining the Bergamo I & II clubs during my 13-season “career” in OBMC (1986-1999); though I came close with the latter during our 4th year (3rd quarter top 11 at 84%, the highest I’ve ever been). From what I can remember, the only school years that I was never classified a “Perugia I” (never been a P-II thank goodness) in any quarter were grade VII (1994-1995), 3rd year (1997-1998) and 4th year (1998-1999)! Before that, I would average 2 Perugias per school year (PPS…lol!) with grades V (1992-1993, 3x) and VI (1993-1994, 4-quarter sweep; that’s why I went to summer class after that) being my worst seasons.

    If OBMC was to be believed, I guess I’m a ridiculously lazy grade school student with zero chance of making it to college! That “Perugia” classification for me was like having a large Scarlet Letter “P” in my chest. Even though your classmates don’t see it, they KNEW about it!

    Case in point: back in grades 2 and 3 when Ms. Tuvilla (I hated her!) and Mrs. Eva Reyes (one of the best!) respectively would ANNOUNCE to the whole class (every quarter except the 4th; because by that time, we’re already on vacation) the top 10 students (which was only appropriate) AND the rest of the “Bergamo” only students! With that reckoning, it would only be easy to narrow down who were the “Perugia rejects” in the “Bergamo” society. Oh how I felt so disgraced! Kulang nalang magpost din ng Top 10 Perugia students in contrast to Bergamo’s…but that would’ve been too insensitive. 😦

    Ah yes…so many fond memories “living” the life of a “Perugia reject.” I admit I was never a bright student like my parents who were both honor students during their ENTIRE student life. To be classified as a “Perugia” back in grade school really did give me a tough time; not only among peers but with my old man as well…especially with my old man! Back then, if papa finds out that I’m a “Perugia,” I’m toast! He would often lecture me (up to the point of insulting my intelligence; boy those were the sad times I want to forget) about his student days and compare that to mine…I never contested that; my performance paled WAY in comparison to his! I guess that’s his way of saying “Student VSA would trample Student JVBA” big time! Worse, papa would constantly threaten to transfer me to a “lower level” school with cheap-ass tuition (Faith Christian School was the best he could think of…probably due to its proximity to our house! lol)! Thank goodness, in spite of all that verbal beating and lecturing from “bosing” Vic, my mama was always there to be my constant rescuer and drum-beater. She once told me that I’m probably a late bloomer…and I guess she was right. Years after OBMC, I was able to excel in college…with the last 2 years as a dean’s lister + full scholarship. Heck, if I wasn’t a transferee (from SBC to Lyceum), I would’ve become a cum laude myself! Nonetheless, I was able to redeem myself to my “bosing.” I guess finishing college with a bang and not with a wimper made him forget that I was once an OBMC “Perugia reject” that he almost despised.

    While I’ve been aware that those 2 aforementioned are beautiful cities in Italy (with Perugia having a better-looking flag!), I remember having this silly theory on why “Perugia” was branded as such in OBMC’s lexicon. In 1911, an Italian named Vincenzo Peruggia (still the same pronunciation despite the double ‘G’) pulled off the greatest art theft of the 20th century when he stole the Mona Lisa in an attempt to bring it back to Italy where it really belongs. The intentions were patriotic to say the least. Nonetheless, it was done in a crude manner. As the saying goes, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Sa madaling salita, pag “Perugia” ka, kasuklam-suklam ka! LOL 😛

    I always believed Mrs. Soliven was aware of this incident…kaya lalong napasama ang bayan ng “Perugia” (I even thought back them that he’s a Perugia resident, pero taga Dumenza pala sya)! I guess that stunt by Vincenzo surely didn’t help the plight of the “Perugians” of OBMC who were seeking for acceptance from the Bergamos lol! Indios vs. Ilustrados anyone? ;-D

    Forbes Park vs. Isla Puting Bato? HAHAHAHA!!! 😀 How about Boracay I, II, III vs. Culion I & II? “Diyos ko anak, na-Culion ka na naman??? Pang ilan na yan?! Pag naulit yan, ililipat na kita sa FCS next year!” 😀

    What was Mrs. Soliven thinking??? The mystery continues… 😉

  2. Great tip about Vincenzo Peruggia! But that’s really unfair to the rest of the townspeople of Perugia, Italy. If an Italian from Perugia comes to visit our country and learns these things from OBMC, I’m 100% he’d be appalled!

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