Category Archives: College

Retrospect: The Chronicles of a Half-Blood

“If imprisonment means I could stay here eternally, then arrest me; lock the door and throw the keys away because I have no plans of leaving.” -TQ (Credits to Emman for taking my picture)

Let me pause for a while as the earth busily rotates around its axis to complete a day. Let me stop for a moment as the world goes on its rapid pace like an F1 race. Let me tarry here for a day— in the past that is slowly slipping away or maybe completely slipped away. Let me, for one last time, sojourn in the four years gone-by before I set forth a whole new journey and an interlude becomes a luxury I might not afford. Let me remind myself of those grateful and glorious days called college through snippets of memories that I sealed in a treasure box buried somewhere in my heart.

Letter from Hogwarts

I am always this girl who loves magic and fairytale despite living in a reality that is oh-so-far from mermaids, castles, princes, wizards and whatnot. I am this weirdo who is a self confessed Harry Potter addict and believes that magic is all about perspective. Indeed fiction is my escapism— an escapism that is not the kind that runs away from this authentic universe but dives in it head first to create a better one.

It was one hot day of February 2010 and the sun was sitting-pretty in the clear blue sky while I felt like a pig slowly roasted under my long sleeves rolled up to my elbows as my thick skirt covered my legs until below the knee. Due to the lack of air-conditioning facilities in the classrooms and the fact that our uniforms made the heat unbearable, my friends and I were hanging out in the corridor where there was better ventilation. It was a vacant period so we had the liberty to roam around campus and chat with classmates which was what I was doing when the school security guard came up to me.

According to him, the principal was requesting for my presence in the office for certain reasons he was not quite sure of. It was not like I violated some campus rules. In fact it was a normal thing for me to be called in the faculty and principal’s offices due to my being part of the student body.

When I entered the room my high school principal produced a huge white envelope with a thick blue line on the top part of it. She handed it to me and said, “This arrived today, it’s for you”. I took the envelope from her and upon inspection I saw the Hogwarts’ (a.k.a. my college) insignia. Yes, it was an acceptance letter from my dream university.

Being an average half-blood with no special powers but the belief in the existence of magic, I hastily opened the letter. My heart was pumping more blood than ever in my life as I read its contents, for one I never thought I could do it and second there were only two of us from my high school who qualified– the other one was Angel who unlike me was one of our batch’s honor students. So yes I was more than surprised that I had those documents in my hands.

The Sorting Ceremony

Fast forward to June of that same year I was seated in the Great Hall (a.k.a. the covered courts) with 2,000 other young witches and wizards from different parts of the country. I barely knew anyone except of course Angel and the few others I was classmates with during my summer college entrance test review.

Chairs were arranged according to houses so even though Angel and I wanted to sit together we could not do so. I was in Gryffindor while she was in Ravenclaw. My designated seat was between two guys named Kenn and Jim who were my blockmates. They were not Harry Potter and Ron Weasley but they were Cedric Diggory and Seamus Finnigan respectively.

H to the One

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From 21 down to 14 ( Jim is not in the 2014 shot).

Aside from the House assignments we were also divided into blocks which were sections for each particular program. We started as 21 younglings in my male dominated block (around 100 plus in my course) where there were only six females. Although only 14 of us finished the course from our bunch (71 graduated from the same course in my batch) this little league gave me the most precious gems– of friends and memories.

Those 21 strangers turned mates were the ones I journeyed with in my transition phase from high school to college. They were the ones I ate lunch with like a pack of hungry lions until the day we learned to become independent. They were the people I spent hours with in the library reviewing and panicking for Mathematical Economics. They were the same faces who went through the same terrorizing adventures with me in Accounting and Finance. Likewise, they were the same company who shouted a roaring “YES!” with me for every hurdle we victoriously surpassed from 2010 to 2014.

The Love-Hate Relationship

For every bulging eye bag, for every zombie hour, for every heartbreaking F and for every sweet A the professors played a vital role. It is funny how we had this love-hate-love relationship. I resented them for putting me into provocative and stressful ordeals, yet, for every trial they subjected me my love for every single one of them grew even more.

Truly they were the ones who threw stones at me and to the other students. They were the ones who tormented me and my pals in the complicated obstacle course they created. They were on the other hand, the same heads who planned and strategized with me to beat the challenges they themselves prepared. They were the same folks who got disappointed when I was dissatisfied with my own mediocrity. They were the same people who cheered for me whenever I thrust myself for something better. Surely the old saying is true, “Love and hate are just two sides of the same coin”.

These professors were the people who held my hands and guided me. However, they were also the same people who let their grip loose and silently watched me as I stumble on my first few steps in my attempt to learn how to walk. They were the wrecking ball that broke my wall and pounded me to pieces opening my eyes, my mind, and myself to the world. Most importantly they were the cement that helped me build the genuine me.

In short my professors were the antagonists in that chapter of my life yet they were also my allies. Not only did they sharpened my mental acumen and stretched my mind, they also cultivated my heart. Moreso, they destroyed the “me” defined by society so that I could have a better view of who I truly am.

Dumbledore’s Army

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Credits to the photographers.

My college years did not merely revolve around grades and academics. My parents advised me not to join organizations before I left for university. They told me that it would just create a disturbance that would divert my attention from school to an unproductive waste of time that may lead to chronic org addiction.

Headstrong as I was (and still am), I listened to their advice and followed what I wanted to do– that was to be part of an organization and explore what those associations do. Hence, I joined several groups and stayed loyal to the Slug Club (a.k.a the Economics Association) and the Dumbledore’s Army (a.k.a. the organization for the cancer kids).

The Slug Club introduced me to some of the most intelligent budding witches and wizards in Hogwarts. Although I like the company of the people who were part of it, the Dumbledore’s Army was the one that truly touched my soul– the one that made me truly blossom as a person and appreciate life as well as other people more than ever.

It was not the organization devoted to parties, shindigs and the likes. The DA’s kind of fun was a celebration unlike any other because it was a celebration of life. I never thought that I would be attached to a cancer patient advocacy group, but I did.

The DA gave me the chance to work with passionate individuals, who despite knowing our incapacity to cure the children’s illnesses believed in the importance of a support group for the kids. In my time spent with the children beside their hospital beds, I got acquainted with death. More than so, I witnessed vitality in the faces of those little angels regardless of their sickness. Those little kids who were so fragile embodied with them the true meaning of strength and hope that I, an adult, pretended to have.

Becoming Mr. Weasley

Circa 2010. Credits to the Student Body page for this souvenir.

The DA was not the only one that tore me open and exposed me to a different universe. Apart from it, the non-academic formation that the school integrated in the curriculum in its aim for a holistic formation nurtured my sense of connectedness to others.

Contrary to popular belief– that Hogwarts students only mingle with fellow witches and wizards– the school actually encourages us to go outside of the campus walls and participate in the muggle world. The university aims to awaken the Mr. Weasley inside the students by pushing us to the harsh and scary muggle reality rarely explored and experienced by the magical.

Due to such endeavors of my school, I literally dirtied my hands and rigorously labored along with the others to witness a house stood and take its form. I may not have the physical strength of a man but my vigor to provide the homeless a decent shelter gave me the needed energy to carry gravels of sand in buckets [which although little still contributed to the building of that house] and stack hollow blocks together.

Moreover, I became a tutor in my sophomore year to those children and young adults in an urban poor community. My Saturday mornings were allotted for teaching Mathematics, English, and Sciences to kids who were ages four and above. Making them understand the lessons for each session and making sure that their attention was on me for three hours required a lot of effort. What posed as an even greater challenge though was ensuring that those young adults take the words of a 16 year old who was just of the same age as most of them and even younger relative to some. That experience earned me fortitude and helped improve my very limited patience.

My third year exploit in the muggle world was more fun yet more daring. If I would describe it in one phrase it would be, “Max undercover ala Nymphadora Tonks (who is a Metamorphmagus)”.  As a junior, I had a two day stint as a bagger, a PR system operator, and a baggage counter personnel while my mates played the roles of janitors, street sweepers, corn vendors, theater attendant, clerks and the likes.

Disguised in an employee uniform, I tried to stay in character like my comrades. The employees themselves as well as the other muggles nonetheless were good at spotting witches and wizards; thus, no matter how hard my companions and I tried to play our parts it was easy for them to identify who the pretenders were as if we had a huge sign painted on our foreheads.

My failure to blend in earned me comments from customers such as, “Do you really know how to pack?” The supermarkets’ patrons on the other hand would do a double take on me that would lead to a really long stare and a surprising smile to be followed by, “Are you new because you don’t seem to work in here. You look too young to be working.”

I had my script memorized in my head that was handy for such queries. Unfortunately the clients seemed not to be convinced by the act I pulled as well as the answers I gave out and soon they would arrive at the realization that I was an impostor, that the place had been infiltrated by witches and wizards pretending to be one of them– observing them in their natural habitat. [On my part, it hit me that I would never win an Oscars with such poor acting skills].

Two days of participating in the labor force surely was a short period of time; nevertheless, it brought me closer to humanity and helped me recognize the need of those on the lower step of the ladder. My eyes were opened in the unfair scheme corporations use to earn more wealth and the unjust treatment loyal employees experience simply because they were not able to get the proper education.

The bubbly security guard, the happy janitor, the helpful supermarket staff and god-knows-who-else, experience inhuman treatment from both their bosses and clients. These workers could not enjoy the benefits they were entitled to simply because their superiors thought it best to take advantage of their ignorance.

These people who took the menial but honest job that the members of the upper social strata did not want to do are being looked down and stepped on by the ones in “better” position for they are not deemed as “one of them”– a person. I witnessed how the customers gazed at the store employees, the supermarket personnel might not know it but I recognize the stares– it was the stare that saw someone less of a person, a slave.

I was there when one patron shouted and acted all bitchy at the cashier assigned in the counter where I was designated to pack groceries but behaved and talked cordially to me despite being unable to follow her orders regarding the arrangement of the goods; she heard the gentleman before her told me, “Hey, you can’t fool me you’re a junior at Hogwarts and you’re here to spy. My children graduated from there so I knew what you’re up to.” I was there when one customer ordered the other baggers to carry his boxes of goods in the parking lot as if he owned them but was too polite to say, “Oh it’s okay I can carry those”, when I lifted one of his shopping bags due to the reason that one staff addressed me “ma’am” and maybe he figured out that I was not really an employee. That undercover task showed me the true color of people, it showed me who genuinely deserves respect and who were the ones pretending to have honor.

To complete the “Arthur-Weasley-Project,” Hogwarts deployed us (seniors) in troops in various underprivileged areas like the informal settlements where my group was commissioned. It was a “Hermione-meets-District-12” kind of experience [yes, it’s a Harry Potter-Hunger Games fusion].

I was paired with Sam and we lived with a foster family who warmly welcomed both of us in their humble home with only 10 square meters of floor size [maybe my appraisal was incorrect, maybe it’s 12, but it’s really small]. The house was built using light materials and originally accommodated five muggles before Sam and I came to invade their residence.

The presence of two other matter meant more space occupied and less elbow room; two more bodies meant two more stomachs to be fed and less food per plate; and two additional mortals meant a hotter house in the mid of day and less comfort. Albeit the circumstances they allowed two random guests they barely knew to stay in their house.

My foster family showed me generosity in spite of having just enough for the five of them. They made sure that both Sam and I were always comfortable even if it cost them their own convenience. The one and only single bed they own was given to Sam and I in the span of our stay which resulted in them sleeping on the floor of their own home. The largest portion of the meal on the dining table [there was really no dining table, in fact we just formed a circle on the floor every time we ate] was given to Sam and I. Even one of their only two electric fans was not allowed to be moved, it was always meant to point to our direction to ensure that we would not sweat or feel hot.

If IMAX claims to provide the ultimate movie experience, my foster family gave me the ultimate-kindness-experience. They cracked the prejudice I had for them which my parents made me believe– their laziness and their wrong choices brought them to destitution [which is a pretty lame explanation as to the prevalence of poverty and why they came to be the way they are].

Based on what I saw and based on what I heard it was not their choice, it was fate coupled with other factors that brought them in such situation. No one wants to be poor, it was not their decision to be part of an already poor household. The same is true with every creature in this planet– we do not have the option to decide which family to belong to.

They were already poor to begin with and having limited resources it was impossible for them to enhance their skill or attain “quality” education.  I put emphasis on “quality” because even if education was free, a good one costs a fortune. With the lack of competencies they would usually settle on jobs that pay meager salary in order to sustain their lives.

Their situation was worsened by the kind of structure society built– social classes and marginalization. In order to retain the power in the hands of the few, the rich created classes, a segregation that ensured that everybody knew his/her position in the food chain. Such social construction dehumanizes for it does not deem the poor as persons, rather they are seen as merely medium of production.

I also observed that the efforts of the government aimed at the eradication of extreme poverty were not that effective for the reason that the projects they provided the community were not actually feasible. The resources did not match the requirements of the implemented project and most often than not there was no support system that guided the locality. I also noted that they were deprived of some privileges that one usually enjoys for there were provisions that did not trickle down from the top. Furthermore, the government was simply looking for solutions to the effects of the main problem and was really not attacking the root cause. Why blame the poor of their adversity when they are just victims of a cyclical pattern that has been there before their time?

My life four years ago was pretty simple– I did not care a bit. I was all too focused on reaching my dreams and on getting to the place I desire. Four years of everything I mentioned above however made life complicated. Today the world outside the portals of the school troubles me for there were faces that moved me. It is now difficult to go back to that once easy life when I already became aware of my responsibilities.

Inspiration and Expiration

Fly higher captain Kenn.

Fly higher captain Kenn.

 

College would not be complete without crushes and being crushed. I had a long list of boys I adored properly categorized according to their attractive characteristics like handsome crush, sporty crush, smart crush, voice crush, smile crush, good boy crush, bad ass crush, and whatnot. Even though my feelings for them were in various levels, all of my crushes contributed in my transformation from that hoydenish young girl to a more refined but still boyish lady. [Or maybe I did not change at all. It’s hard not to be boisterous and mischievous when I had been like that for 20 years. Besides, Mulan is never going to be Snow White; atleast I now know how to put on mascara.]

Of all those crushes Mateo was actually the one that had the most impact on me. There was nothing romantic between the two of us but I used him as an inspiration. He was not the kind of person who would be easily liked by everyone; nonetheless, he easily caught my heart by being his proud self. I studied harder in subjects wherein we were classmates to make sure I would earn remarkable grades and beat his marks in the hope of catching his attention. It was the only way I knew of for an eccentric and competitive guy like him to take notice of someone like me.

Even if I was perfectly aware that a story which revolves around the two of us would not actually happen I persisted on secretly loving him from a distance. I was already satisfied in our occasional conversations and exchanges inside the classroom. Moreso, sporadically seeing him accept defeat and hearing him request for a hand in understanding the articles and pieces assigned to us were already enough for me. There was really nothing between the two of us, yet I find him an important part of my formation.

Despite being my first love, Mateo was not my first college crush– it was my blockmate Kenn who ultimately became one of my friends. Usually good looking guys are full of themselves and oozing with confidence, but Kenn was different– he was a little awkward with himself.

On the first month of our freshmen year, his pretty face that perfectly matched his pleasing personality [minus the grade conscious attitude] made me swoon every day. In the long run I got accustomed to the handsome guy I walked with from English Literature class to Math class, the sweet guy I shared tables with at lunch time, and the adorable boy I exchanged worries and stories with over breaks. My feelings for him slowly dissolved as we became good friends.

I am quite sure that there are many girls who would kill to have a minute with Kenn. I am fortunate though that I never had to compete against them for such good looking man to chat with me when I was silent on my seat, to lend an ear when I needed to rant, to massage my shoulders when I was stressed out [forget about the awkward back massage in the library], and to remind me that I could do better when I felt terrible about an exam. What I liked about him is that no matter how many girls fell head over heels with him he stayed grounded. Thankfully I was able to brush off all my feelings for him quite easily because given my incapability to be friends with people I like, it would have been impossible for us to have became pals [I would never be comfortable].

Curtain Call

“I may not now where I am off too, but I am pretty sure this road leads somewhere.” -TQ (Credits to Emman for this picture of me.)

Like in plays, this particular scene entitled “College” came to a close. It ended just like any other performance, with the casts taking a dignified bow on that bright stage and the audience loudly applauding.

After all of it I am here, sitting silently in the four walls of this room, away from the noises of the universe. My little stroll down memory lane brought me in the state of heightened gratitude. It might not be that obvious that the “me” in 2010 went through a huge deal of transformation through this journey. I am still the same girl who entered the university four years ago but in some ways different from the lady who just went out.

I would be lying if I said I am excited to hop on a new odyssey because I am not. It is hard to simply let go of the comfortable and safe life that the gates of the university provided me. Bidding farewell to the people who became my family and the school that became my home is the most painful part. I am certain that I will never learn how to un-love them, besides I do not have to. I will always love those people [professors and non-teaching staffs] and the school; I am also sure that as the university promised, it will always love me only in a way different from before.

This excerpt of my college years may not have the elaborate experiences that contributed in my formation but I believe that this is enough to remind me of those colorful years and fuel my soul. Funny how those four great years can be contained in 4,050 words when I felt like it was eternity in each and every moment lived.

I honestly do not know how to conclude this really long entry, maybe I will just end it the same way as my university years ended– abruptly.

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Bird’s Eyeview

ROSE

It was the last night. It was the last chance.

The rose giving is a yearly university tradition which is the most awaited event of the graduating batch. (Yes, more than the graduation day). It is our version of the Harry Potter’s Leaving Feast in the Great Hall every after school year at Hogwarts, only ours is annually held at the college field. Very much like the Great Hall that simple college field transforms into a party ground with overflowing beer, roasted calf, good music and good company. (The sky is also the ceiling in such occasion which very Harry Potter indeed).

The event is actually symbolic of the culmination of our four to five years in the in the university. It is important for us seniors because it is the time when we get to bond together as a batch, the time when we could say our thanks to our professors, and the time when we could make the brave confession to the first college crush, to the professor crush, to the person who inspired us, and even to the person we were secretly in love with.

All of these with one blue rose.

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A week ago I discerned whom to give my blue rose to and the meaning I am putting on it. I didn’t want to go with the usual “first college crush”, I wanted my rose to convey a different message so I thought hard of the person who deserves it most. I went through all the diaries I kept in my college years (I looked through all six of my journals) only to find out that Mateo was the person who had the most impact in my college life.

He was a former classmate of mine in English Literature course during first year. I remember vividly the first time we met and how I liked him that very moment. That liking turned into loathing because of his proud disposition and strong demeanor which became love in the end.

I wanted to give my rose to him because even though he was not my first college crush (it was Kenn) he was my first love. And although the feeling was not mutual, I believe he deserves it for he is the first man I genuinely loved outside my family and friends. What I had for him was more than just a feeling, I am certain about it. But I was and still am one of the many girls who are not the main character in his story. So what I did was love him from a distance.

Hence, I told myself I would muster all the strength I could possibly get from the universe to finally make that brave confession to the guy I loved so much in the past four years. Besides, what is there to lose anyway? Yes it would be embarrassing but then it could be the last time we will be seeing each other so why not take the risk?

That night (March 26, 2014), I texted him and called him twice but all of those were not answered. I persisted on calling him even though the line got busy after my first two calls, I even used my friends’ phones just in case he blocked my number only to find out that the line could not be reached. I searched him in the crowd going rounds at the field not just twice but thrice. With alcohol induced self-esteem I even called his friend Makki to ask if he knew where Mateo could be. Unfortunately he did not know either.

I did not want to keep the rose until graduation day and give it to him so I decided to give it to Kevin who is my male best friend in college. At first he was hesitant in accepting the rose for he knew it was not meant for him but because I insisted he took it anyway.

It was sad that I was not able to give it to the man I love. But atleast I put effort in looking for him, in reaching out. I did what I could do at that moment to find him. The circumstances might have been perfect— the person, the occasion, the intention— except he was not present. Well that is life, at least I can say I tried only it was not successful.

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Disconnecting to Connect

How will I survive a weeklong of quietness and stillness? This was a question I posed myself when I signed up for the seniors’ silent retreat. For a person as loquacious and as hyperactive as I am, I couldn’t place myself in a situation where I won’t be moving too much or completely talking for one whole week.

With Mikee’s (my college bestfriend) persistence I decided to join the seven day silent retreat. My original plan was only three days but she insisted that we take the one week package instead. With the tenacity of my friends from the campus ministry office as well, I decided to give in. Besides, I thought it won’t bite to challenge myself.

*

DRAW3

I was using Joyce Rupp’s poem for meditation when a butterfly landed on me. I know it’s not a beautiful drawing but I tried. 🙂

March 10-16, 2014

I was in a state of excitement and nervousness as we travelled to our destination. We left the city at six in the morning for another city where the retreat house was located. Although it was an eight hour drive, Mikee and I (being seatmates in the bus) opted to lessen our story sharing session. We actually slept most of the ride.

It was around 2:30 in the afternoon when we arrived in the retreat house which is owned and run by the St. Paul sisters. Our school’s retreat house in the same area couldn’t accommodate the 80 students so we were divided into two groups— half lodged in the Society’s retreat house while the other half (my group) stayed in the nuns’ retreat place.

After gathering our luggage in the lobby we were called in the conference room. Sir Cholo (our campus minister) proceeded to the first business of that afternoon— the collection of gadgets. We were given each a zip lock where we put all our phones, digital cameras, ipod, ipad and other gizmos that might cause distraction during the retreat. We weren’t allowed books, magazines and other reading materials except for the Bible. In short, we disconnected ourselves to the world in the duration of our stay.

Silence didn’t start until we got settled in our rooms and finished mass at six in the evening. Entering the silence didn’t simply mean shutting up and disengaging oneself to the external noise of the universe outside. Total detachment was required; hence, we had to cut off our communication even to those in the retreat. Yes, eye contact must be avoided while slowing down was highly encouraged.

Thus, during meal times I would sit as far away as I could from Mikee and the other people I know of. I was pretty certain that if I happened to be seated side by side or facing someone I am friends with, I would not be able to avert politely gazing and smiling at that person. Even in the conferences I picked the seat farthest from my friends. [Mac who is also a friend of mine, however, occupied the chair in front of me which also became his permanent seat like me. So we were actually seatmates for seven days.]

The retreat did me good. It actually reset my body clock which had been altered due to school work. The bell would ring at 6:30AM which was our waking hour. Then it would be sounded again at 7:00 for breakfast which will be followed by the 8:30 ring for conference. At 10AM we would eat our morning snack to be followed by the 12noon lunch. Another conference happened every 2:30 in the afternoon while the afternoon snacks were served at 4:00PM. By 6:00PM we would assemble in the chapel for the mass to be followed by dinner at 7:00PM. After that, exposition commences at 7:45PM and ends an hour later. Although there was no defined lights off I hit the sack at 10PM. [So, this was the daily schedule that we followed].

Not only did the retreat fix my ‘broken body clock’ it also restored the rhythm I somehow lost. We were urged to passively do everything which implied slowing down our walking, our movements, and our eating. I actually had no problem with the eating part because I am a tortoise when it comes to that. I learned to do everything fast when I entered college to compromise with the very limited time. But I never adjusted my pace when it comes to showering and eating— I revel in them.

But more than what I mentioned above it was the quiet that I appreciated most in that week of silence. I get to appreciate the simple things I didn’t pay attention to like the chirping of birds, the vibrant flowers, the towering trees, the buzzing of bees, the cold climate, the laughter of children, the barking of dogs, the taste of food, and the beating of my heart. Since we were in total silence, all my senses were aroused that I noticed the little things around me which I rarely acknowledge in the everyday chaotic and humdrum life.

Moreover, my spirit was nourished. I was able to reconnect with myself and with God. Considering the gizmos and other distractions were taken away, I had no other thing to do but to reflect and to pray. The empty spaces within me were filled with graces and the noisy stirring inside me was subdued. As I went deeper in the silence, I slowly drifted away from the ‘real world’ while converging with my ‘real self’.

The time wasted doing nothing was not actually wasted; in fact it was utilized effectively for examen which made me acquainted with who I truly am— my hopes and my desires. Ironically, I also discovered that I am the person I thought and claimed I wasn’t. Most importantly, I was able to discern which path to take after graduation— things that were blurred became clearer.

Furthermore, I was able to practice drawing and coloring as there was nothing else to do. I couldn’t take pictures of the places I had epiphany or my favorite spots in the area for remembering, since my phone was with Sir Cholo along with everyone else’s. Thus, despite my lack of artistic demeanor I forced myself to sketch the sites that formed a special meaning in my heart.

Calvary Hill. Sorry for the bad drawing.

Cavalry Hill. Sorry for the bad drawing.

*

Sketched this while sitting on my favorite spot in Damascus. (I know I am a terrible artist)

Sketched this while sitting on my favorite spot in Damascus. (I know I am a terrible artist)

The breaking of silence. March 16, 2014. 9:00PM.

We were allowed to open our mouths and speak again after the small group sharing in the evening of Saturday. It was one hell of a zoo in the refectory where we were gathered for the agape (our celebratory feast for a successful retreat) because everyone was so ecstatic of the freedom to chat.

All the emotions that were contained in seven days were exploding like fireworks. Everyone was hugging friends and jumping with glee. The dining hall was filled with heartfelt and genuine laughter. People’s faces were so radiant; it was as if that week had washed everyone of his/her misery.

With new friendships made, we all went up the forest area and had our camp fire in there. We couldn’t attend the traditional university bonfire which was also happening that night. So we made our own mini one. We huddled around the fire to warm our bodies; it was insanely cold at dawn. I know it was a crazy idea to stay up until three in the morning outside in that kind of climate, but the feel of nature and the light of the moon that illuminates the darkness as well as the warmth of the bonfire were too beautiful to miss out. No one wanted to go inside and sleep.

What fascinated me was the relationship and the bond established among us, the retreatans. Even though we didn’t really have formal and proper interactions during the retreat, we were like long time friends already when the silence was broken. I am not quite sure how that happened because we weren’t conversing all throughout the week, but I presume that the quietness and stillness did help us form ties to one another.  We disconnected ourselves to the world and magically we connected to our own selves and to real people we met in the retreat.

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Tears and Fears

When I wrote the entry preceding this one it was not yet clear why I got too emotional that day of my last final examination as a college student. It was supposedly a day of celebration— of gladness that I had successfully finished the last leg of my university race. But it was the opposite for me for it became a day of weeping and tears.

People would surely laugh at my too dramatic display of uncontrolled agitation. I might have sounded like a little child who was having a crying fit over a lollipop. Shallow as it may seem, I just came to the realization as to why I was truly crying that night.

The tears that went running down my cheeks were not actually tears of joy. It was tears of pain— of sorrow and of fear. It is true that I was being sentimental that moment. Nostalgia was bringing in images of the past four years— of those good and not so good times. Every moment of yesterday became something of importance even though some were just merely fragments of wasteful non-sense.

Surely the memory is more perfect than the real [I forgot who spoke this line].

I am the type of person who always have a hard time when it comes to letting go. I cling on the past for too long, sometimes at an unhealthy length. It is not easy for me to just leave the professors, the friends, the campus, and the bullshit behind. Believe it or not it took me two years after high school before I fully opened up to university life. [Imagine, I was already a sophomore when I embraced the fact that I was off for a different path than my peers from high school.]

More than the wistful desire to turn back the hands of the clock at a particular juncture, it was actually anxiety of the future creeping out of the shadows that brought me to tears. It was actually the fear of the unknown which caused all the emotional commotion.

I am afraid of the world outside the campus.

This confession truly shows my weakness, nonetheless, I am making this public admission because it is the truth. I also think accepting that I am scared will help me move forward— will prevent me from getting petrified in one place.

Outside the gates of the school is an unfamiliar ground. I see it as a dark tunnel where I have to go in with no map or flash light. For a control freak like me it is scary because it means I have no power over the course of things in the bigger world. Without command I am like nothing, hence, the mystery out there is freaking me out.

Moreover, I am terror-stricken by the fact that the universe out of my own is a terribly harsh world. All these years I lived a sheltered life. I have gotten used to a reality that is safe, that is caring and that is true. Graduation for me simply means exposing myself to what the adults call the “real world”— the world that is full of lies, of corruption, and of dishonesty. [Why do they call it the real world when it is evidently not genuinely good?]

I am indeed frightened that the misguided and spurious system will eat me. Who am I anyway but a little girl who has a lot of ideals in her head and in her heart that is soon to become a tragicomedy? I am not prepared to bid college good bye. I am not yet ready to go out but I am choosing to move forward because that is the only way. It is my time to go out of my secured corner and take risks.

Time to be brave. Man up little girl. Good luck!

*

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“Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon.” – A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

Yes I am scared. I am definitely frightened of the darkness yet the only option I have is to go with courage. In the world full of pretensions, bravery is my shield and my sword. I surely have trepidations but the call to do the most loving thing to do is loud and clear— I am responding. It is now time to go down the hill, to be Magis.

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Max: The Drama Queen

People seemed to have aged over the span of two weeks. The effects of nights turned days and days that remained days can be seen in the thinning bodies of the once radiating youth. Hours spent behind books and computers for thesis and exams, in front of panelists and professors for defense and consulations, have sucked away their resonating glow. Tired looking eyes and the dark circles underneath them have transformed the little mortals into ghosts that are chasing time. Heavy sighs, joyful screams and sorrowful cries resonate around campus like a new mash-up hit.

Such a scene is an amusement for an on looker like Mister Boo (I don’t know what he’s called but I thought the name Mister Boo suits him). Maybe, just maybe, this is how the bulky silver-haired, green-eyed, Caucasian man wearing a baseball cap, a polo, a pair of loose blue jeans, and a Jesus Christ sandals who sits silently on the benches outside the humanities department would describe the last two weeks of a graduating senior.

*

The last two weeks of February was the most thrilling and the most excruciating of all the weeks in my academic life. Thrilling because we are nearly in the last leg of our university race and we’re about to set forth to a new journey on an unfamiliar grounds. However, it’s also excruciating for we know that we have consumed the allotted time to prepare for the bigger world— that very soon we are about to say good bye to the friends, professors, and the school that formed our home for four or five years.

The latter part of the month was actually allocated for panel defense, thesis revisions and submissions, and final exams for seniors like me. Hence, it wasn’t surprising to see people running around like Olympians to meet deadlines. It had become a natural thing to see someone walking and talking by him/herself sounding like a teacher before presentations and oral examinations. Messy hair and home clothes were the in thing matched with a tall tumbler filled with coffee. The libraries and study halls were also packed by heads buried in lecture notes and piles of readings. Restaurants nearby were also occupied by groups of undergraduates pulling all-nighters— cramming for synthesis papers.

Like many of my batchmates I was truly anxious to end the suffering that we were subjected to. I wanted to bid goodbye to tests, quizzes, projects and whatnot. I wanted to end the academic torment as soon as possible because I thought I would be happy after all of it.

I was TOTALLY wrong.

I couldn’t wait for my last philosophy oral examination to finish that Friday of February 28th. I was done with my finals for all of my subjects and philosophy was the only one left. All throughout the day I was busy contemplating about thesis number seven regarding the law and its nature according to Kant and Aquinas. I couldn’t actually claim that I was really focused while I was reviewing. In fact, I was more pre-occupied by the idea of liberation from stress after the exam than the test itself.

At around five in the afternoon I was already sitting on one of the plastic chairs lined in the hallways of the Philosophy department— my heart beating fast, my feet cold, and my hands sweaty. A male student was also waiting with me; he was more tensed than I was for he walked here and there reading his notes for the last time. On the other hand, I was trying to follow the advice of the legendary Mr. Eddie Boy, “Just relax,” written on a poster in front of me. I calmed myself down by slowly breathing in all the good vibes in the air and expelling all the tension I had in me.

When the clock struck 5:20PM I sauntered inside the department and waited another five minutes on one of the available seats. My professor fetched me from the anxiety area saying, “It’s your turn.” I walked with him towards the small consultation room on the left side of the department. He motioned me to sit as he took his on the chair across the table before me.

The first five or so minutes got wasted on his bullying antics targeted towards me. We actually have an awesome student-teacher relationship full of shenanigans and nonsense. However, his prank that time actually worked. My tears welled up my eyes even before I began because he made it look like he really was serious. When I was nearly on the verge of crying he guffawed like a hyena. [Oh… And he claims he’s the most normal in the Philo Dept. Well, I beg to disagree.]

I started to chop the thesis statement and began blurting out the ideas I have pondered over the day. Long have I waited for the last exam to come, but fast it ended—20 minutes, that’s what it took.  As I spoke of my concluding remarks my college life also came to a close.

My professor shook my hands after congratulating me and thanking me for a wonderful semester. I showed him my gratitude as well. And because I couldn’t handle too much joy in this little body of mine I exploded like dynamite– shouting, shaking, and jumping with glee— as I hugged Sir Mark. He exuberantly joined me in my little celebration by doing the same thing. A few seconds after we realized we had to stop the comical dance we were doing as well as the festive noise we were making because orals were still being held in the rooms beside us.

The energy died down after a while. It didn’t actually take that long before the euphoria left me. As soon as I closed the door behind me, I felt the pang of sadness lurking in the shadows of my heart. All my academic requirements were done, I had been released from the shackles of university work and yet it didn’t feel right.

I slowly ambled with no clear destination in mind, my tongue muted, my body exhausted, and my head silenced. With my placid walking I reached the university Church. The green trees, the calm twilight sky and the chirping birds, perfectly complemented such a serene place.

I entered the doors that were like arms open for embrace. It has become a place of refuge for me for four years. It’s the same place I asked for grace the summer when I was still in high school preparing and reviewing for my college entrance examinations. It’s the same place I ran to before I took my university’s test. It’s the same place I said my thanks when I got accepted. It’s the same place I ran to when I was most vulnerable. It’s the same place I visited that day of the curtain call.

There was no one inside but another student in his silent retreat on the last row of the numerous wooden chairs. I opted to seat at the front row to so I could have my own moment. I looked at the man on the cross, took a deep breath and closed my eyes. Soon I was lost in oblivion. I was deep within my own thoughts, my own feelings that the emotions just raged like flood. I couldn’t control the waterfall coming from my eyes. My defenses were down and I couldn’t stop sobbing hysterically.

It was already dark when I took my leave. One of our university guards was silently standing at the far corner behind the church near the water fountain. I am not quite sure how long had he been there or whether he witnessed me broke down. But on my way to the door he bowed and smiled at me, somehow I felt consoled.

The moment I got home, I texted my parents telling them that I just finished the last of all my final exams. The happiness transcends from their congratulatory remark yet I wasn’t really in the mood to rejoice. What I needed that time was emotional counsel. Hence, I messaged my mother to call me which she immediately did.

Apparently my father and my mother were out having dinner. I didn’t want to ruin my parents’ little date but I needed someone who could understand the situation I was going through. And who else can give me such comfort without judging me or without looking at me as a pathetic child— no one else but my mama and papa.

Ninety percent of the time I was the one talking in our conversation. My mother simply listens to my nostalgia (even though I haven’t left the university yet) and would interject with comforting words at times when I didn’t have enough energy to prevent my sob from drowning my sentences.

I know it was very dramatic, but what could I do? I grew to love my school in ways I never imagined that the thought of separation brought pain I never thought existed.

No, I don’t want college to end just yet.

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