Nothing beats the two-tailed mermaid

Every coffee experience is significant for me. The mere scent of coffee stimulates my senses.

Caffeine was the only thing that kept me awake during my college days. Coffee helped me survive the days of extra long quizzes, practical exams and extra-curricular projects. There was a time when coffee didn’t have an effect on me anymore. I stopped drinking coffee right after graduation to give my “bitter” taste buds some kind of ‘rest.’ About a month ago, my coffee abstinence ended.

Gloria Jean’s
I had my first taste of Gloria Jean’s coffee during Maksim’s concert at PICC four years ago. Maksim’s piano concerto was more memorable than the taste of Gloria Jeans coffee. If not for the stickers Gloria Jeans gave away, I wouldn’t remember the name of the coffee company. When a GJ coffee shop opened a few blocks away from our office building, it became a big hit. I tried their Coco Loco iced blended coffee and it tasted good, but not at par with that of other coffee shops.

Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf
The name ‘Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf’ is too long for a coffee company – no wonder some people prefer to go to “Seattle’s” or “Starbucks” or “Bo’s” (beat that two-letter name!) Products of CBTF are more expensive than other local shops. Their coffee servings are ‘so-so.’ Their teas, on the other hand, are delicious. I suggest they change their name to “T” (short for ‘tea’).

UCC
That’s Ueshima Coffee Co. Their “Good Coffee Smile” tagline certainly fits the culture of ‘friendliness’ among their employees. In my recent visit to one UCC café, I was happy about the service. I’m happy that UCC offers more than bitter coffee, tasteless cakes and expensive candies. The setback: add more sugar to their bland coffee.

Seattle’s Best
For those who wants the all-American way of coffee life, Seattle’s Best is the perfect choice. I don’t remember the taste of the coffee but I cannot forget the ambiance of one SB shop. Buy their big big mugs. My college classmate gave me one and whenever I use that oversized mug, it’s as if it never runs out of coffee.

Starbucks
Starbucks is the perfect coffee shop for me. Nothing beats that feeling whenever they shout ‘One mocha frapuccino for Earl.’ The whole Starbucks experience is very memorable for me. I wonder what makes that two-tailed mermaid so magnetic to Filipinos. I’ve been to countless Starbucks branches – may it be in Manila, Baguio, or the expressway. I have a Starbucks planner, and I meet with my closest friends in that ‘free wi-fi socialization hub.

For others, being in Starbucks is equivalent to flaunting. For me, it’s all about the simple talks ‘over a cup of coffee.’ To be honest, I cried, laughed, answered assignments and did thesis work while sipping an iced blended coffee from Starbucks.

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Wow

While writing this entry, the volume of my music player is pumped while playing Kylie Minogue’s new single entitled Wow. For several years, I have always admired Kylie, her music and reinvention. Some call it a guilty pleasure – Kylie that is. I was able to catch the video of Wow while scanning through some channels one Friday morning. The rhythm is very fit for the summer season. When I first heard it, I was thumping my fingers over my lap. The video, on the other hand, was another signature video by Kylie. The dash of neon fluorescent lights with disco colors complemented her sexy moves. Launched formally during the beginning of this year, Wow already made it to the top twenty of the charts. The song makes me groove and the video is very enticing.

Corporate Summer
Mastering the art of corporate summer requires a lot of adjustments. After graduation, I was employed by a local corporation as an Integrated Communications Assistant. At first I had no idea what it was, aside from the fact that the HR department told me that it involves a lot of writing (which I certainly love doing). I took the job and here I am being paid for editing the company newsletter, making ad copies, grammar-checking brochures and making business cards for the 30+ companies of a known conglomerate here in Central Luzon. I find my office mates very interesting. Most of them boys, they are all very creative in their own crafts. Instead of spending my summer wearing board shorts, I am obliged to be in corporate attire – long sleeves and slacks. Well, although I find it amusing at times, I honestly enjoy it here in our office. Good thing I am not experiencing the scourging heat of the sun out in the open, but instead, I am enjoying the freezing air-conditioning system in our office.

Choir Boy
I found a group of people very similar to the group I left in Manila. These people love to sing and consider their colleague as family. I’m glad I am now one of them – a member of the Metropolitan Cathedral Choir of the Archdiocese of San Fernando. Aside from having a motivating drive when it comes to attending Sunday services, I found a new set of friends here in my hometown.

Summer for me has been very exhausting not because of the excursions and heat, but because of the new things I’m now serious about – work and church. Well, the tedious pre-employment was really tiring as well. For a week I had to visit several offices for my NBI Clearance, Community Tax Cetificate, etc. During those times cursed and hated government services for their low quality service and apathy. Well, all is done and I’m now employed. I just realized that with my new singing commitment plus my Monday to Saturday job, I have no more break. Good thing I still manage to get enough sleep and unwind at home. This is far better than college days and all I can say is… WOW!

High Society Issues

Blogging has come a long way.

Australian blogger Brian Gorrell claims that he is one of the victims of Pinoy socialite Delfin (DJ) Justiniano Montano II. Through his blog, a lot of issues were raised, not only about the supposed $70,000 that Montano owed Gorrell but also some revelations involving Manila’s high society – Celine Lopez, Tim Yap, Tina Tinio, and Marcel Cuerpo to name a few. My interest in his blog started when I read an article on the Sunday Inquirer focusing on the issue. I read his 133 posts which started a month ago (it was previously shut down due to legal matters). Now I get the picture – Gorrell wants his money back and he urges Montano to pay him and for this to happen, he has to involve other people to push Montano.

Third World High Society
I agree with Gorrell when it comes to all his observations about the Philippine society. At present, we are encountering problems with rice (which is our staple food) and we are fully aware of the millions of Filipinos who are suffering from poverty. How can some elite groups in Manila live so lavishly while beggars flank them when they come out of their bars and restaurants?

There is nothing wrong with rewarding yourself with life’s perks, but there is a borderline. I know a lot of rich people who pamper themselves a lot, go to trips abroad, eat good food, drive luxurious cars and ‘live the life’ but these are people who earned their worth. People should spend their own money and it should not come from corruption, swindling or stealing. Gorrell is right. We should all look at the world unselfishly and see for ourselves that there are people around us – richer, greater and better – while there are those who are dirtier, poorer and more deprived. I am not impressed with the third world high society. If you are in New York or Paris, well done! But in the Philippines, wealth should be backed up with integrity and morals before you should be considered great (Metro Society Magazine should now trim down their list of socialites).

Gucci Gang and Drugs
It is true that the people involved in this issue are rich. No matter how they attained such wealth (passed on, business, or corruption), they are rich. But where does their money go? Gorrell claims they all sniff drugs (or ‘coke’ as he puts it). Drugs are worth hundreds of thousands of pesos and their addiction made them do anything just to get a dose of ‘coke.’ Because of their expenditures, glamorous lifestyle and drug addiction, their money cannot accommodate all their expenses (specifically that of DJ).

With Gorrell’s blog, one may think that Manila’s high society is just a bunch of trying hard spoiled brats. Well, not all of them, but at least some of them do not have breeding. One can also analyze why they have been like this. Maybe their parents did not raise them well. Pity them – all were raised in a Catholic country and entered Catholic schools. You’re right Gorrell, if only they would give to charity! In fact, these people should stand as role models for the Filipino youth, but instead, they entice budding young professionals to indulge in a life of clubbing, spending and sniffing (drugs).

Fairness
Gorrell’s anger triggered his blog. He cannot do anything in the Philippines, he can be slain, or face a lot of libel charges. I admire his courage in terms of bringing out the truth yet there are flaws of course. I cannot blame his rage but he should not have gone overboard, specially tagging prominent figures in the country. But if this is the way he wants to fight, then so be it. In this age of technology, we are still unsure how powerful the internet is, how free we are whenever we write blogs, and how far our writings can go. Gorrell made a breakthrough, and it is up to the people involved on how to resolve this issue.

Brian Gorrell’s blog: http://delfindjmontano.blogspot.com/

6,136

Life is really a daily race against time. College for me has now come to an end. Last March 14, I was one of the 6,136 graduates of the University of Santo Tomas – Manila seated on plastic chairs and faced the Grandstand for this year’s Baccalaureate Mass. Four days after (March 18), I officially obtained my degree B.S. in Biology during the Solemn Investiture held at the Philippine International Convention Center Plenary Hall.

Last Supper

Before the Baccalaureate Mass, all students from the College of Science were met by assigned faculty advisers for the distribution of graduation tickets and payment of some dues. What I was happy about was the food, of course. A chicken meal from McDonald’s and a fluffy bread became our so-called ‘Last Supper’ before candles, pins, and souvenirs were given away. When the Mass at the Grandstand was about to start, we all walked together forming a straight line per section. There was a feeling of fulfilment as this was for us, the last time that we will walk together in that same floor. Before the Mass, every student was going nuts taking pictures of each other, their professors, and school landscapes. It was as if it was the last time we will all see each other. Actually, nobody knows when we will all be together.

Mass and Gimmicks
Every faculty and college in UST had their own gimmicks. Some had party poppers, colorful balloons, streamers and noise-makers. The homily of Acting Rector Rev. Fr. Rolando V. dela Rosa was very meaningful. “Don’t think about the future which is full of uncertainty, think of where you are now,” he said. What Fr. Dela Rosa said was actually true. Finishing college is something that is historical for a human person. It is what parents have worked for. After four years, every Thomasian graduate is tasked – to be a competent, compassionate and committed individual who stands by truth. The ceremonies ended with an audio-visual presentation and an eight-minute grand fireworks display. All graduates were then asked to pass through the Arch of the Centuries.

Pacquiao Day

So it was Graduation Day, and at the same time, the day Manny Pacquiao won against Marquez. Well, for some 450 students from the College of Science in UST, Easter Sunday meant the official end of dissection, test, discussions, memorization and experimentation. I was very happy that my whole family was there to witness my college graduation day. I did not cry unlike the melodramatic people around me, but deep inside I am sad. I will miss college. But there is an end in everything and a new beginning to look forward to. The cliché “Isang Bagong Paglalakbay” was surprisingly very appropriate for the graduation theme of our college. I really loved the small-scale version of the UST letters together with the stuffed tiger that ornamented the stage. I also loved the Filpiniana theme. Thanks to the program, I learned a lot of Filipino words:
Vice Rector for Religious Affairs = Bise Rektor Para Sa Mga Gawaing Pangrelihiyoso
Dean = Dekano
Asst. Dean =Katuwang na Dekano
Bachelor of Science = Batsilyer ng Agham
And I enjoyed mentioning our college courses in Filipino like Biolohiya (Biology), Kimika (Chemistry), Matematika at Pisika (Math and Physics), Agham Aktwaryal (Actuarial Science) and Sikolohiya (Psychology). I wonder why they didn’t have a Tagalog translation for Microbiology (can it be Biolohiya Para sa Mga Sobrang Liit na Bagay?).

I still have to get my alumni card, transcript of records, diploma, and yearbook. I will come back, but not as a student, but as a Thomasian alumni. Congratulations Batch 2008! See you in 2011.

Blue Iris

At last, one heavy year ends!

The year 2007 has been 525,600 minutes (yes, the song from RENT) of primetime soap opera, a little comedy, some suspense, and more drama. Recalling what happened to me would be an information-overload so while writing down the notable moments of the year that had passed, I am guided by my small diary planner.

During the past year, I spent most of my time at the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex counting house dust mites. Our thesis group reaped the fruits of our labour as we finished our research paper and was even accepted for an oral presentation for a national convention of scientists. Academic life for me has been stressful because of Biochemistry, Embryology, and Cell and Molecular Biology. I took the National Medical Admission Test twice, and application to the UST Faculty of Medicine and Surgery added some more pressure. I gave up serving as a leader for the UST Biology Society and ended up having a career in hosting (1 acquaintance party, 1 quiz bee, 1 seminar, and 1 organization launching). I have been promoted as Copy Editor of our college-based publication (now I have my own column) and I became part of the college glee club (did I say we’re officially the third best chorale in UST?)

Off-campus, my schedule was fully-booked. I met new friends; I was able to read seven books (5 of which were bestsellers); I was able to see the wonderful sites of Bohol, swim in the serene beaches of Boracay, and experience the cold climate of Baguio; I enjoyed our class retreat in Caleruega; I was able to watch several movies; I attended some parties; and I spent a lot of time figuring out how to gain some weight. I felt burdened throughout the year, but because of the things that balanced my life – the travels, the diversions, and the people – I survived. I learned that life is unfair and it is up to us to look at the other side of the cruel truth. Toward the end of the year, I fell several times. I thought I wouldn’t be able to stand up, but hey, now I’m welcoming a new year like everybody else! One time, I felt empty. I lost a special part of me along the way. I stopped. It took me several cups of coffee before I came to my senses and gradually move on.

Looking back left a smile on my face. Yes, year 2007 has been heavy, but its weight made the past 365 days full of meaning. The year I left my teenage years truly became a leap to maturity. Before, I used to carry only the memories I would love to keep, but now, I have lessons to treasure. I am not that old, but I am getting old. I am 20 and I am about to finish undergraduate studies. I am hopeful that year 2008 will be a smooth ride.

The “Colour of the Year” is Blue Iris, a shade of somewhat blue mixed with purple. No one might even care what the ‘Colour of the Year” is (except for fashion gurus and my mom) but today, I realized its value. It heightened my expectations. When I ‘Googled’ the colour, I saw a calm and enlightening shade. The effect of the colour is quite relaxing and cool. Because of this, I am looking forward for a year that is filled with happiness, peace of mind, prosperity and success. Don’t let me down Blue Iris.

Busy Advent

Good old reliable Wikipedia.com defines advent as a season of the Christian church, the period of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Christ (from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming”). Well, we all get tired of waiting. Since the first candle of the advent wreath has been lit, it seemed like my busy days never stopped.

Chua-ay!
After more than three months of practice, 10 o’clock prayers, vocalization and rehearsals, we won! My first and last experience as a member of the UST College of Science Glee Club has been very fruitful. Our group won 2nd Runner-up among the eight chorales who joined the UST-wide song festival. I am so amazed by our performance I can’t still believe I was part of it, not until the 10th time I watched our video through Youtube.com (Behold, I was really there!). A massive improvement can be observed in the way the organizers held the contest. It was also the first time I was given a bouquet of flowers (courtesy of my block). I love wearing the purple monochromatic Barong Tagalog costume. One side effect: I still sing “Kaisa-isa Niyan” and “Scenes from the North” while taking a shower (weird, but true).

Teen No More
Gone are my teenage years. I’m twenty. Interestingly, I turned twenty in Los Banos, Laguna during the time my thesis group mates (Sherry, Tina, Krizia and TJ) and I were presenting our thesis in UPLB for the 12th Annual Convention of the Natural Products Society of the Philippines. During the afternoon of December 6, TJ presented our thesis. A guy from UP-Diliman made a ‘comment’ about our research. This was graciously honoured by our group and TJ answered back well. (People from UP tend to be very inquisitive!) After socializing with other young scientists, the real activity began – vacacion engrande!

We went back to our hotel (Anest Tower) around 5pm and changed into our swimming attire. After packing, we went straight to Splash Mountain Hot Springs Resort and checked out the amenities. We left the place to grab dinner at Pizza Hut and went back to the resort where we plunged into four pools with water coming from the mountain hot springs. It was a relaxing experience. It was my first time to dive into hot springs and I enjoyed the smoky mist while swimming. We came back to our hotel room before midnight. When December 7 came (around 12 MN), my friends sang a birthday song for me, gave me a weird-looking cake, and poured some mudslide, but all of us were sleepy so after about five minutes of smiles, everyone was knocked-out and went to bed.

The next day, we took more pictures of Laguna, stuffed ourselves with more food, and hurriedly drove our way back to Manila.

Pasko
Christmas cheers me up. Whenever we put up our Christmas tree and I see trimmings of red and green wherever I go, it means that my birthday is fast approaching… and more importantly, the birth of Jesus is near. The mood carries me away. The December breeze relaxes my tired muscles, the Christmas songs make me sing along, and the colourful campus lights make me smile. No matter how crowded the mall gets, how traffic the roads be, and how hectic my schedule turns out, I am still happy during the holiday season. There is still that excitement whenever I receive a gift (knowing that I’ll have another mug, candle or organizer). December is also a party-filled month. It is also during this season that I ran out of money because I have to buy gifts. Even if telephone companies crash, and we all have hard times in sending SMS messages or calling our loved ones, we still do it. It is a yearly tradition that runs forever.
Behind the festivities, I think people must always be reminded of Christ’s birth. If it wasn’t for Jesus who lived among us, there will be no Christmas. Throughout the holiday season, one song keeps on playing inside my head. It is entitled ‘Munting Sanggol’ by Ryan Cayabyab. Its lines capture the real meaning of ‘Pasko,’ and since I heard the UST Singers’ interpretation, it has been etched in my eardrum. Here it is:

Munting sanggol kalung-kalong ng iyong ina
Munting sanggol may ningning ang iyong mga mata
Batid mo bang kay raming naghihintay sa’yo
Nananabik, nag-aabang sa pagsilang mo

Mga pastol sa sabsaban ay nagpupugay
Tatlong hari mula silangan ay nag-aalay
Dala’y ginto, kamanyang at mira
Para sa’yo Hesus hari ng sanlibutan

At nagsisiawit ang mga anghel sa langit
Luwalhati sa Diyos sa kaitaasan
At sa lupa’y kapayapaan
Gloria in excelsis deo

Kakaibang Enrolment

Hindi ko alam kung bakit kahit na halos 400 years old na ang UST ay hindi pa din nito ma-perfect ang sistema sa enrolment. Inabot ng 20 araw bago ko na-enrol ang isang three-unit subject. At ito din ang kauna-unahang pagkakataon na ma-experience ko ang pagiging isang ‘irregluar overloaded graduating student.’ Hindi ko inakalang malalampasan ko ang pila, gulo, at perwisyo ng pag-eenrol na mas mahirap pa sa pag-aapply ng VISA.

Eto ang simula – October 25 – maaga akong lumuwas para sa ‘Advising.’ Sa mga hindi taga-UST, o sa mga taga-UST pero hindi nakakaranas magka-singko, ang ‘Advsing’ ay ang araw kung saan magsasama-sama ang lahat ng bagsak, pipila sa faculty room, at ipapapirma ang isang papel bago ka tuluyang makapag-enrol. Pag nalampasan mo ang pilang ‘yon, ayun! Next step ka na. Pero ako wala pa sa stage na’to. 10AM dumeretso na ako sa 3rd floor ng Main Building. Dali dali akong kumuha ng ‘Advising Form’ sa mala-aquarium na Dean’s Office at nilagay ko na lahat ng subjects ko (kasama na ang mga uulitin ko). Nakapila na nga ako e, tapos nadaanan ko ang isang bulletin board ng schedule ng buong kolehiyo. Tumambad sa mata ko ang schedule ng special class ko (yung uulitin kong subject). OMG! Tinamaan ang 3 subjects, MWF pa! Huminga ako ng malalim, pinikit ko ang mga mata ko at umasa akong namamalik-mata lang ako… Pero hindi! Pagmulat ko yun talaga. OK, easy lang. Sa totoo lang, hindi ko kasi alam kung papano mag-ayos ng schedule lalo pa at block naman ako taun-taon. Mabuti na lang at nag-lunch break. Ayos! May oras mag-isip at gumising sa katotohanan.

Sa taranta ko e umuwi muna ako sa dorm para kumain, magcharge ng cellphone, at sumaklolo kay Lord. Kung birthday ko lang sana nung araw na yun nag-wish na sana may isang anghel na bumaba sa langit para tulungan ako. At ayun, dumating ang tagapagligtas ng daigdig ko sa araw na ‘yon. Limang minuto bago magbukas muli ang mga opisina sa USTe e nagkita kami ng kaklase kong kamukha kong sawi. Tinanong nya sakin kung ano na ang nagawa ko. Sabi ko “kumuha ng ‘Advising Form… at… uhm….yun pa lang”

“Nge! Fourth year ka na, dapat kumuha ka muna ng overload form, ayusin ang schedule mo, magpa-advise, at ipapirma ang request to overload sa Asst. Dean,” ang sabi niya sakin. “Fine!” sabi ko naman. Mukhang madali. Ala-una na at dumeretso ako sa Information Office para kumuha ng Request for Overload. Pagkabigay sakin ng working student yung form sa window, aba, sabay hingi ng bayad. Sus! At ang tatlong pirasong papel nagkakahalaga pala ng bente singko! (Basta parang ganun, di ko na binilang ang sukli ko e) Hindi naman ako cheap, pero naisip ko lang na kahit 10 beses kong ipa-photocopy yung form e hindi naman aabot ng 25 yun a!

Ayan, madami pang oras. Finill-up-an ko ang form. Daming blanks. Nung matapos ko na, balik ako sa bulletin board ng schedule buong College of Science. Dumugo ang utak ko kaka-arrange ng schedule. Inabot ng almost 1 hour! Isipin mo nalang, 4-7pm sa block class ko ang tinamaan ng lintik na special class; tatlong subjects yun. San ko sisingit yun? Gulu-gulo na! Hindi ko na ikukwento kung paanong nagkahimala at naayos ko na ang schedule ko. Mag ti-three-o’clock prayer na nang maubos ang pila at ako na isa sa mga panghuling magpa-advice.

Ako: Good afternoon ma’m. Magpapa-sign po.

Ma’m: Naku hijo, wala pang Cell and Molecular Bio (yung isa sa mga uulitin kong subjects)

Ako: E ma’m paano ko po mapapapirma sa Asst Dean ang request ko e di pa kumpleto?

Ma’m: Balikan mo bukas.

Ako: (deep inside lang – Paalis ako papuntang Bora ‘no? Haller!)

Pero ang totoong sinabi ko:

Ok po.

Hindi ko binalikan. Ano ‘yun, ipagpapalit ko ba ang pirma ng Asst. Dean sa trip to Bora? Never! Ayun, at habang nagtatampisaw ako sa white sand mula Oct. 26-28, iniisip ko kung magiging available na ang subject na yun sa Oct. 29.

Luwas ulit ako sa UST. Habang lahat ay nag-uuwian na sa probinsya, ang mga irreg ng Science ay nakapila sa Asst. Dean para sa Request for Overload. Kahit na wala pa yung 1 subject, naisip kona ipapirma na para ma-enrol ko na ang ibang subjects. Dumating ako 11AM, kumuha ako ng number dun sa dispenser sa Dean’s Office na kamukha ng makikita sa mga bangko. Paghila ko – number 182! Oo, one hundred and eighty two! Tinanong ko sa super sungit na tagabantay ng pinto ng Dean’s Office kung anong number na ba ang nagpapa-advice, at sabi, 35 pa lang. Sabi ko sa sarili ko – “Putek! E kahit hanggang alas-ocho ng gabi ang opisina e ‘di matatapos ang pila a!” Nagdesisyon akong umuwi nalang at bumalik kinabukasan. Pero ang bilin ko sa mga kasama kong nakapila e magtirik ng mga kandila, i-usod sa pintuan ang rebulto ni Albert the Great at mag-vigil nalang sila para kinabukasan e may magse-save na ng pwesto ko sa pila. Walang tumawa sa joke ko.

Kinabukasan, Oct. 30, asa nanaman ako na makakapagpa-advice ako. Hindi pa rin pala. Papano ba naman, tinotoo yata ng mga tao ang biro ko about sa “Vigil” thing, ayun! 9am pa lang e number 49 na ako! Leche talaga. Bakit ba kelangan pang magpa-advice? Dinatnan ako ng sipag pumila hanggang mag-lunch break pero uminit din ang ulo ko sa gutom. Sa inis ko (actually dalawa kami), nag-dare kami na wag na pumila at ipagduldulan nalang kay Ma’m Beth (ang dakilang secretary) na ilakad ang papel namin. Bahala na.

Undas na! Balik nanaman ako sa skul kahit karamihan ng tao ay nasa mga sementeryo na. Una kong pinuntahan ay ang secretary na pinag-iwanan ko ng form. Siyempre todo pray ako na sana napirmahan na ang form ko. At last! Nasagot ang prayer ko at ready to enrol na ako dahil approved na ang overload form ko. Derecho ako sa Seminary Gym na puno ng mga enrolees kahit na Undas na (mukha na nga din akong bangkay sa sobrang ngarag). Aba at ang Cell and Molecular Bio (CMB) ay hindi pa din pala available! Ano ito? Hindi na ba ako ga-graduate? Inenroll ko na muna ang iba kong subject at bumalik sa department para tanungin ang CMB.

Ako: Ma’m yung CMB po available na?

Ma’m: Naku hindi pa.

Ako: E ma’m, pasukan na po sa Lunes e

Ma’m: Oo nga, pero walang prof na magtuturo, wala na ding available na room.

Ako: E ma’m ano pa pong option?

Ma’m: Gagawan ko ng paraan.

Aba at first day of school na ng second sem. Ang CMB? Wala pa din. Para kaming mga asong gala sa UST na naghahanap ng mag-aalaga sa amin. Pwede na nga ulit akong tumakbong Batch Rep dahil ang dami kong nakakatext na sawimpalad. Pagkatapos ng isang linggo, aba wala pa rin! Nakapgpasa na nga ako ng application para mag Medicine sa UST hindi pa pala ako ga-graduate? Akalain mo yon? Ayun pati NMAT form ko naproseso pa rin, pero ang isang subject na kailangan ko, hindi ko pa rin mai-enrol. Kailangan pa daw naming gumawa ng “Letter of Eagerness to Enroll.” Ang sabi ko “Leche, sinu ba naman ang hindi gusting gumraduate?” (Pero deep inside lang yun syempre). Edi yun, follow the leader kami at gawa ng letter ek-ek.

Sa wakas, dumating din ang takdang oras. Ang pagkakataong hinihintay ng 18 estudyanteng nasa pareho kong kalagayan… Ang sandaling makakapagbayad na para makuha ang CMB! Umaga ng November 19 ay pumunta agad ako sa Dean’s Office at kinuha ko na ang petition form namin na na-aprubahan na (siguro na-touch si Dean sa letter namin na “Eagerness to Enrol). Mahabang proseso pa pala ulit – papirma sa Registrar, papirma sa Accounting, encoding sa Computer Center – bago tuluyang maka-enrol. In short, inabutan nanaman ako ng Lunch break! (Sana nga robot nalang ang lahat ng empleyado para di nalang kumakain diba?) Ala-una ng araw na yon nang makuha ko ang aking revised load. Ayun! Enroled nako sa wakas – pagkatapos ng 20 working days na paghihintay.

Naisip ko tuloy kung ganito ba kagulo ang sistema sa UST noong panahon ni Rizal at hindi niya ito naexperience kaya hindi niya ito na kwento. Pwes, eto, kinwento ko na!

Maraming salamat kay:
James Matias, na tinulungan ako sa paggawa ng schedule ko.

Kay Joy Gavadan, ang nag-forward sa akin ng “BIR story” ni Jol Ong na nagbigay sa akin ng ideya kung papaano ko isusulat ang karanasan kong ito sa Kolehiyo ng Agham sa UST.

Consumed

A lot of things happen for a reason, but there are things which reasoning cannot explain. I never thought I would encounter such misery. My mind shifted from clear to cloudy, getting darker as days of pure torture pass. We all make mistakes and a wrong move can change the course of our lives forever – this is what I have realized.

Time became very slow. Patience left my heart and my longing has never been more intense. I tried to savor every drop of happy moments I had with love, hoping that the taste won’t leave me. The sudden change left me wasted, useless and pityful. I took a risk worth taking and not a thought of regret entered my beaten being. But why the flood of tears?

An invisible conversation with the Creator became an option. Questions were raised but were all left unanswered. More chances were asked, more signs were wanted, but only hope came. Take note that everything that enters your life may leave. Mere company is not enough and simple presence is not want I really want. I thought of angels who are there yet remain unseen. I knew it! I am not one of them but at least I tried to be one – even better because I can interact.

Giving up may be one of the best solutions. No other options are left. I’m looking for the road I left; the one I knew so well but I can’t find it. Maybe there is a reason why I settle for these things that make me insane. When you give something away, it is hard to get it back. What if you gave away yourself?

My smile became a defense mechanism. All of my plans are not anymore followed. Riddles challenge everyday of my life. Many times I wondered how I survived, but here I am, an empty vessel for a lonely soul. I know everything will end when I become consumed.

Psalm 84 and beyond

When I started writing news for our college publication, I was assigned by my editor to follow every move of the UST College of Science Glee Club (CSGC). Now, I can’t believe that I am now part of the singing group I constantly covered during their college gigs, university-wide stints, and even in when the President calls them (see related blog entitled “Some Culture”). It was last July 2, 2007 when I saw my name posted as one of the applicants who passed the first and second screenings for the new breed of singers for the CSGC. Psalm 84 (How Lovely Is Your Dwelling Place) was the song I chose as my audition piece. And during the final test – the so-called ‘Judgement Day’ – I passed. Thanks to the one month training and to the support of my friends, I was able to prove to myself that I can really sing. Plus, those videoke nights were quite helpful as well!

The first three months of my singing experience as a ‘gleepol’ (as we CSGC members call ourselves) has been very memorable for me *pardon my mushiness*. Aside from the usual invocation and national anthems in school, I, together with two colleagues, were invited to sing in a wedding. Although I was shaky and nervous, I was happy to have sung for the first time in front of a wedding banquet in Laguna. (Alas, an alternative to hosting!) Next exciting performance for me was during one of the La Naval masses in Santo Domingo Church Quezon City. Singing for a mass offered to the miraculous Our Lady of the Holy Rosary was a very inspirational moment.

Because of CSGC, my name became part of the ‘Most Wanted’ list of the SOCC (Student Organizations Coordinating Council) and OSA (Office for Student Affairs). It’s a complicated story but I guess it’s the price to pay for bringing out the truth. My article (which I wrote six months before I became a gleepol) was noticed by the said UST offices because I relayed the ruckus that happened to last year’s Intercollegiate Song Festival (ICSF) in Momentum Vol. 45 No. 1. It may be a small matter for some journalists who face bigger libel cases and related stuff, but facing the said issue has been one of my most trying times as a campus journalist. Well, I already talked to the SOCC president and I have no intention of destroying the Council. Long story cut short – problem was solved and I was able to get my Certificate of Good Moral Character (which I thought wouldn’t be released because of all the brouhaha over the published article).

Soon, I will be experiencing ICSF myself and I can’t wait to see the difference. This time, I will be the one to be covered. I never thought that singing would be part of my last year as a college student. Psalm 84 has led me to this new and melodious world of chorale life. Almost every night I have to vocalize, practice and sing. I am serious and I will make this ‘first and last’ gleepol gig of mine very fruitful. Besides, this is something beyond karaoke.

Distractibility

One point was stressed by our Marriage and Family professor about the Stages of Identifying Weaknesses, and that is Distractibility. He said that a person keeps himself preoccupied in order to escape from problems and forget about reality. Before, I considered myself strong, but now, the only thing that keep me going are happy thoughts – similar to how Peter Pan is able to hang on up in the sky.

For 3 years, I have been active in college organizations. Activities somehow lowered my grades but I never blamed any of my extra-curricular activities for that. In fact, I always told my family that I would have had lower grades if I weren’t inspired to study harder because of time pressure and workload. Every year, I followed the lives of upperclassmen who I befriended. Most of them are now in medical school. With their guidance and support, I made it past 3 years. Honestly, I do not have the grades of a Cum Laude but I have made myself a stronger, more mature and better person with the help of the organization I belonged to.

My last year as a college student began last June and drastic changes manoeuvred my supposedly ‘pre-med’ life. I decided to quit one service-oriented org and chose to stay in the college publication where less sweat is consumed. After a month, one of my research group colleagues persuaded me to join the glee club. I gave in. Instead of pulling myself away from other stuff and focusing on academics, it seems like I attracting the same busy schedule just like before. There is something wrong with me. One of my batch mates even told me “I thought you were to focus on academics and get yourself out of org trouble?” and I plainly said, “I now belong to a different kind of group.” I didn’t actually answer the question because I was so embarrassed to face the fact that I was escaping from something else.

Sometimes we make decisions wherein we have no idea how much it would affect our routine. We meet people whom we thought will help us become more productive individuals but actually, these people consume us little by little. We all have problems and how easy it is to share it to anyone we want, but what if it becomes very hard for us to disclose it to anybody? Or it becomes so big and complicated that you yourself can hardly understand what is happening?

During summer, I already felt this heaviness in my heart. They say that tears fall when the soul perspires. Indeed, my soul is exhausted. I am bothered by thoughts which are hard for me to grasp. There is denial and hatred, and often, there is sadness. But I was raised not to spread my unhappiness to the people around me. They see that nothing is wrong and I am conditioning myself that way as well.

I thought of ways on how to treat myself. My curious mind drew me to searching about ‘manic depression’ over the internet. I found entertainment. I tried to smile. I sang. I wrote more. If singing would be a diversion, then let it be. If writing would be a way to release what’s inside of my beaten heart, then so be it. At this point, I am simply distracted.