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Da duh!… Do I Know You?

Because of age, there are occasions in my life that I cannot remember the name of a person. It is so frustrating because you sometimes know the first letter of the name of the person and you have a mental picture of him or her. This phenomenon is referred to as tip-of-the-tongue or sometimes called presque vu, as Wikipedia puts it. This is normal for all people by become frequent when one ages, like me.


The condition of not knowing the name of the person becomes more disappointing when you are face-to-face to that person. It happens many times in our organization. When I call in to the room of the manager, he always introduces me to whoever visitor presents in his room. Because my mind is preoccupied with so many things when entering his room, I always do not quite recall the name of the visitor because I did not attend to him at all. The problem becomes worst when that visitor visits again and my boss will say, “Do you remember, Mr. So and So?” In this occasion I just nod my head and hand shakes the caller. After leaving my boss’s office, my mind says “Who’s that guy?”


The Information Processing Theory has an explanation for how information is perceived, attended to, stored and retrieved from the human brain. In the multi-store stage model suggested by Richard Atkinson and Richard Shiffrin, all sensory stimuli (visual, touch, smell, feeling or emotion) are first perceived in the sensory memory. Only those information that are attended to my the individual because of uniqueness or relevance will pass through the short-tem memory (STM) where the working memory resides. In there, these chosen information or items that George Miller coined as Magical Seven Plus or Minus or  the memory span of the individual, undergoes a process of elimination. However, Miller clarifies that this number does not correspond to a bit but rather a chunk – a portion of a whole – which differs from individual to individual. This memory span is still under controversy and no one exactly knows how many information an individual can retain at a given time.

Information in the working memory must be rehearsed or repeated several times before they can go into the long-term memory (LTM), where they reside there for a moment or a life time. Some researchers suggest that rehearsal should not be done immediately. Considerable time should pass before repetition takes place. The rehearsed information that entered the LTM shall then be organized in different ways and whether the existing schema or prior knowledge assimilate or accommodate the new information. The stored information becomes knowledge only when an individual is able to recall, access or retrieve them.

There are 2 types of organized memory in the LTM, the declarative (explicit)memory , which is composed of episodic  memory – personal experiences and events – and semantic memory – general facts and concepts of the world, and procedural (implicit) memory – sequential, logical, step by steps knowledge involving motor skill or the body.


Right now, I can easily recall my personal experiences from my declarative/explicit/episodic memory in the LTM the time when I was in the first grade. I was already 7 ½ years old, being born in December, when I entered Grade 1 because the school did not accept me when I was 6 ½ years old. My first teacher was Mrs. Flerida Balajadia. I can still imagine her face and stature – fair-skinned, slim and authoritarian.  She was branded as “matapang” and “masungit”. The only time I remember her “kasungitan” when we were told to get out of the room, lined up and received a spank while re-entering the classroom.

I can also recall the big boy who was bullying us small kids. He was the brother of one of my girl classmates. I forgot his real name but I remembered his nickname – Apeng – because of his two big front teeth, just like Apeng Daldal.

I was second honor when I graduated from Grade 1. I remembered how the ranking was conducted. Five of us in the top of the class had to answer in our pad paper 20 questions written on the board. The first honor, Annabel  (I forgot the surname but it starts with M and she has a little brother named Arnold and they are Filipino-Americans) got 15 points and I got 14. We could be tie in the top honor if I did not misspell dilaw (yellow) as diliw, as one of the colors of the Philippine flag.

I can still remember our room and figured it out in my mind. It was a semi-concrete structure, second to the last of a 7 or 8 classrooms. The windows were of the jalousie type but made of wood. There were only three rows of seat and we were about 30 students. My entrepreneurial skill was already manifested in the first grade when I made “pabunot” where in I rolled 9 pieces of paper with the number 0 (4x), 1 (3x) and 2 (2X) on it. My classmate paid me 1 pad paper to draw. When they picked 1, I gave them back their paper. I doubled their paper when they chose 2 but I collected their pad paper when they selected 0. I did not know fraction and probability then but I know now that their chance of winning is only 22.23%. This game of luck provided me with lots of pad papers that I seldom buy.

By the way, I can still recall my school bag then. It was the plastic bag of a one-kilo sugar. One whole pad paper, 2 big black pencils, one ruler, one eraser and sharpener could be accommodated in that bag. I remember also our textbook entitled “Doon Po Sa Amin.” I can still recall some passages of that book: “Nanay! Tatay! Hinog na ang saging!”

Fast track, I can still remember the word that I misspelled that I lost my chance of being  the spelling bee representative of our elementary school. The word is DISCREPANCY. I will never forget this word.

Below is our elementary graduation song which I can recall by heart:



Sa munti kong nayon inyong makikita,

Ang maraming landas na gawa ng paa.

Sa latag na damo na parang alpombra,

Daming landas doon kung saan papunta.

May patungo roon sa dakong taniman,

May patungo rine sa ilug-ilogan.

Mayroon ang tungo sa magulong bayan,

Na maraming tao at mga sasakyan.

Datapwa’t saan man ako makarating,

May iisang landas na mahal sa akin;

Kinasasabikang yapakan at tahakin,

Ang landas patungo sa tahanan namin.

Because of my age and inattentiveness, sorry I cannot remember your name. Don’t worry, however, because I have a mental picture of yourself and your name is still in the tip-of-my-tongue.


Images from




Atkinson–Shiffrin memory model. (2013, May 27). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 08:16, July 11, 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Atkinson%E2%80%93Shiffrin_memory_model&oldid=557007232


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