Hello Dumaguete

I still managed to go around Dumaguete and see the sights, as well as taste their food and learn about the place. I had read up on it before I went, and I was given some tips on where to go by my online friend Zerisse, who is from Dumaguete. Still, nothing quite beats the actual experience.

On the plane again
The only time I’ve been in a plane was when I went to Cebu last 2006. The experience was truly amazing, from the moment I arrived at the airport until the plane landed in Mactan. I still felt excited, as giddy as any kid who still finds wonder in something so ordinary (though I think flying is not an ordinary thing).

I was disappointed that neither Lolo Sal nor I got a window seat. The plane (we took Philippine Airlines) was a small one, with three seats at either side. I was in the middle, and Lolo had the aisle seat so he could stretch a bit. Occasionally, I’d peek over my seatmate’s shoulder to the world outside.

The weather wasn’t good when we left. It was raining really hard since the morning, and the flight had been delayed for nearly thirty minutes: first, the call to board was about ten minutes late, while the weather hindered take off for nearly 20 minutes. There were already five planes behind us and two ahead before we were cleared.

Other than that. It was a rather quiet flight. When the captain announced that we were descending, I took a look outside and was surprised that the plane was flying very low above the sea. That had me worried because my previous experience with flying had us above land at that height. Soon, the water was so close, I nearly asked my seatmate “Kuya, wala pa ba lupa?” The next thing I knew, I felt the thud of the plane’s wheels as it hit the runway. I learned then that the Dumaguete airport’s runway starts/ends at the shore of the beach. Continue reading Hello Dumaguete

Discoveries

I had often said that reunions should occur on happy moments, not on times when there is a loss. However, it is not often the case. My trip to Dumagete was just that. Though I was excited to visit my relatives and see the place, I wish that I had better reasons to be there.

I barely remember my great aunt, Lola Auring. I think I met her only once, when she was in Candelaria for my Lola Lilay’s funeral. I remember her children more, my aunt Marilyn and my uncle Melvin (who had also passed away not long after Lola Lilay) and I haven’t met any of my cousins from that side of the family.

So I was both excited and apprehensive.

The first cousins I met were my aunt Marilyn’s sons, Jun Jun and Biboy. When Tita texted me about who will pick us up from the airport, I was worried because I don’t know them from Adam. When we went out of the arrival area, Lolo immediately walked towards two young men I didn’t know, whereas I was trying to hold him back. Thank God he knew them.

At the funeral parlor, I greeted my aunts and another great aunt, Lolo’s youngest sister Juliet. I talked a bit with my aunts and uncles, who introduced me to more cousins.

What hit me the most was that these cousins of mine had strong similarities to my brothers. That’s when it dawned on to me that my lifelong belief that we got our looks either from the Banares side or the De La Llana side was shattered. A good chunk of it came from the Sales side, and it was rather amusing to note.

I must have stared at them for a long time. Jude looked uncannily like Dion, while several aunts said Carl and I share similarities around the eyes and cheekbones (though I think he looks like Nunik). Finally, I know where my cousin Jordan got his most distinct feature, because my cousin Neil has it too.

Amidst the sadness of the loss, I made discoveries. Perhaps this is the silver lining in the cloud.

And no regrets

I’m sure that almost every person in this world has uttered the words “If only” at least once in their lifetime. Possibly during moments when things aren’t going as smoothly as they had hoped or planned; when life seems to be against them in all aspects. Uttering “If only…” somehow gives us the feeling that had we made a different choice (because for sure, there was a choice somehow in that point of time that we lament), things would be better.

Or would they?

The “If only” and “What if’s” of life.

Sometimes, I play that game. I take a look at where I am now, go back to a point in my life where I made a choice and ask myself, “What if I took the other road?” Definitely, I wouldn’t be where I am. I would probably be somewhere else doing something different. I imagine that perhaps now I’ll be off traveling the world, or writing a novel, or maybe married with kids. I let my imagination run to how life would be and how far from what it is now would it be.

I return to reality not with a thud but with a graceful landing. Despite these occasional musings, I feel no regrets in choosing the paths that I did. For one, there is no guarantee that the life I imagined would be real had a chosen the other path. For another, I wouldn’t have the experiences that I did when I picked this path. Lastly, I know for certain I wouldn’t even have half of the people I know now as friends had I gone the other route. I am happy.

Who’s to say that I can’t have what I dream of anyway? There’s plenty of time for world travel, plenty of opportunity for great adventures and writing that great novel. The family too, will come in time.

So enjoy your life. Don’t live in regret that you didn’t choose the other option. Make the most of what you have and where you are and if you don’t like it, well, you can always find a way to change it.

Hola!

So I did it.

I closed down (well, in the process of, anyway) my first blog and am moving on here. Still on Blogspot, still with the same title, but this time, no excess baggage.

Not that I’d call my old posts excess baggage (which connotes a negative meaning of sorts), but more of things that should be retired from the blogsphere (though probably, it can be found by a Google search or something).

Does this mean I’ll be blogging more often? I don’t really know, but I’ll definitely try.

UP Baguio Homecoming 2008 Part 2

Read UP Baguio Homecoming Part 1

Lunch
Alumni trooped to the Bulwagang Juan Luna for lunch. There was a program where TABAK did their trademark performance of a day in the life of Juana de la Cruz, bringing back memories of freshman year and various presentations over the years. It was also nice to see some of the alumni joining the presentation.

After lunch, the older alumni had an informal program of sorts where they introduced themselves and updated each other of what they were doing now. During the “roll call” of graduates, we were the youngest, having graduated in 2000’s, while there were graduated from the 80s and up.

We younger alumni listened and just had fun. I felt that we were too young to share anything yet, maybe in five years. Still, it was great to see them, learn about who they are and watch them reminisce about their days in UP Baguio. It was also a learning experience of sorts because you get to hear about how UP was before and what had changed. Everyone seemed to have something to share and that made it really interesting.

Someone was able to identify the picture of UPB faculty that was posted on sayoterepublic before. I only recognized two, and when we learned that one of them was Sir Delfin Tolentino, you could hear the people in our table gasp in surprised amusement.

Towards the end, one alumnus led a rousing rendition of UP Naming Mahal, but it was the English version (the one my grandfather knows). We also heard our manongs from Batch 60+ share a cheer they had way back then.

My batchmates and I were in fangirl (and guys, I guess hehe) spasms with Kidlat Tahimik sitting on the table next to ours. I was really thrilled because he had Sir Rolly and Sir Jawo there too. When they were finished eating, we snagged them for a photo. Priceless!

I finally met Kidlat Tahimik when he went around, asking people to sign the petition against the commercialization of the forest next to the Convention Center. He’s nice, and quite funny too. We saw him around the campus for the rest of the day, and chatted with him too. Got to chat with his wife too, and their youngest, Kabunyan, was also there.

Tambay
We spent the afternoon just hanging around the “park”, as we called it. Later on, Thet and I went around the campus. I haven’t been to the new College of Arts and Communications building, or the Social Sciences, so we went there.

It’s interesting to note that the CAC and CSS are now at the “bottom”. What was the FA and Court B is now the CAC building, and the HS/Math division is now the CSS. I was admiring the CSS building and even the comfort room, when I spied a tree that looked very familiar. Stepping out, I realized that it was one of the trees we used to hold on to when we’d go down to Court B. As amazed as I was with the new buildings, I can’t help but feel a bit of sadness for the loss of some of the places we used to hang around in. You could even see the lines of the volleyball court.

And I can’t get over the fact that the Mass Comm kids had these brand spanking new equipment that my batchmates and I could only dream of back then. Several batches would have to compete over two V8 video cameras and be creative in taking shots because that was all we had. Nowadays, they had HD cameras with boom mikes, a control for those cameras to switch views etc. No need to rent from outside huh? Lupit!

Thet and I went into the library, still manned mainly by the same people. It didn’t really seem to have changed much, though some of the chairs were now monoblocks instead of the big, wooden chairs that were surprisingly comfortable.

I wanted to ask if I could see my thesis (a copy of which I don’t have), but no one was around the reserved area and I wasn’t sure if I had to go through the usual procedure of getting it (do you guys still remember how to?). So Thet and I went to the second floor and had our pictures taken among the bookshelves. Yay, pasaway.

I tried looking for any of the books that I used to borrow, hoping perhaps that the card there would still contain my name. Unfortunately, I wasn’t successful.

I did see some new books, which was cool. Still, on the overall, it didn’t look like the library changed much. I would’ve loved to sit at the very back and sleep read like I used to.

More friends
Towards the later part of the afternoon, we were debating on whether we’d go join the Torch Parade or just hang around at the campus. Tiki relived his days as SC Chair (2000-2001) by calling for people to join the parade. For some reason, the student who was supposed to do it had an attack of shyness, so Tiki stepped in.

Thet and I went to take some pictures, after we decided to stay behind. On our way to the Oble, someone called my name. Turning, I saw my blockmate Honey, I immediately gave her a big hug, then included Thet in it. We almost got run over by a car too. Then, Honey turned to someone behind her and said, “Eto pa isa o.” I saw Kim (whom Onats christened Kabute way back then), another blockmate and good friend. I would’ve screeched again, had it not been for the baby she was holding. Instead, I carefully hugged her as so not to squash little Raquim (I don’t know the correct spelling though). Since we were not joining the parade, we decided to head back to the booth, took pictures and talked.

Kim had to leave a little later, but before she did, she introduced me to a girl who happened to be the younger sister of our blockmate Masikap. Masi was one of the few who went to Diliman during our second year, and we somehow lost touch over the years. I asked his sister about him and told her to give him my regards.

Our classmate Migs Canilao also dropped by with his brods. I dubbed our photo as a Korean telenovela cast shot of sorts.

Early Pasiklaban?
The sun had set by the time the parade started. I originally planned to just take pictures as they left the campus, but the lure of the festive atmosphere was too strong to pass up. So I said goodbye to Thet and joined the other alumni who were there.

The walk wasn’t bad because there were plenty of people. The air was chilly and invigorating, coupled with the good humor of the alumni made it a lot fun. There were a few marshals, who looked to be part of the student council. They were giving us instructions on where to go and we jokingly replied, “We know what to do!”

It was good fun.

Since we were at the head of the line, we had to wait a bit before the Oblation Run and the fireworks. I went back to the booth to rest. Turns out our location was ideal because the participants for the Oblation Run would pass behind us. I literally ran with them to the crowd waiting at the Oble grounds.

The spot I got was right behind Oble, next to a few people for whom this was their first time, based on their comments and their shrieks. I stayed put for the fireworks, and with my handy Ixus, took shots of Oble’s silhouette as the sky was lit up. Nice.

There were more people during the dinner, alumni and their families who had just arrived, along with currents students who joined in on the festivities. Kat said later that the number of attendees were way beyond the expected, much to the delight of Ma’am Costina. The audi was so packed; many had to eat their dinners outside. Registration was halted because there were just too many people. Still, that didn’t stop everyone from having a good time.

For the dinner program, it was the alumni who shared their talents to the crowd. Among the night’s entertainment were performances from faculty of the various colleges, a reading of “The Vagina Monologues” from various faculty and alumni (including Ma’am Costina and Angel Aquino), a hula dance number from TAYAW alumni and a very lively performance from Kidlat Tahimik.

The program lasted well into the night, capped by a singing of UP Naming Mahal. We cleaned up our booth and headed home, though I have a feeling that many of the others didn’t go to sleep until the wee hours of the morning.

Day 2
I went with my sister Otki to school. I introduced her to my friends, then had brunch at the Upper Canteen. Afterwards, I took her around the campus and visited the Human Kinetics Program building. As amazed as I am with the building, I couldn’t help but feel a bit sad that the archery range is gone. There was a small area inside for shooting, but it wasn’t quite the same.

I couldn’t help wonder if they found our lost arrows when they dug up the ground next to the range. If you find any arrows with a pink fletch, that’s mine.
We didn’t do much, and we didn’t really spend it at campus either. We visited Manang Mane and bought our favorite mangga’t bagoon. No price increase! We also visited the student council office, with Tiki and Jang reminiscing about how it was like and how things have changed.

I got to talk to Sir Francis Macansantos, who was my professor in Comm 10. He may not fully remember my name, but he remembered me as the student who loved anime. Well, that counts for something, hehe. He recently won a Palanca, and he told me to go ahead and submit something. Nothing to lose, he said, and you’ll never know.

One last trip around the campus with my sister, while telling stories of what I used to do here and there, then we broke for lunch.

I didn’t get to go back to the campus after that, but spent the rest of the day walking around Session and experiencing the Baguio nightlife (which I never really got to do in college).

Kat said it in her blog entry. We all fell in love with Baguio all over again. In a time when it’s getting overly crowded, these few days of fun in UP made me remember why I love it, and why I didn’t move to Diliman in the first place. It was great to spend time with my friends, and see people who were in UPB way before I was even old enough to realize there was a UP in Baguio.

2011 is UP Baguio’s 50th anniversary. Plans of another homecoming is in the works. Hopefully, my batchmates will be able to go (hint, hint).

Whew, that was long! For the rest of the pictures, you can check them out here, or at my Multiply.

UP Baguio Homecoming 2008

I probably am one of the few people who passed the UPCAT never got the typical “congratulations” acceptance letter. Instead, mine read “Due to the planned expansion of UP College Baguio…” and was told I can enroll in any course, except Com Sci.

I’ve yet to meet anyone who has the same type of letter that I did.

I went back to UP Baguio a few weeks ago, to get a copies of my diploma and transcript authenticated. I had seen some familiar people, met with a few of my former mentors and gone around the campus just to see how things have changed.

As interesting an experience that was, it was far more exhilarating to actually be in UP Baguio with your friends and classmates and be surrounded by familiar people, bringing in memories of the great times you had when you were still in school. In that weekend, I was called ading by many of the admin and staff, and I felt like a freshman once again, mostly due to the fact the buildings were all so new… and the fact that I saw a lot of my upperclassmen (the seniors and up when I was a freshman).

In the words of Ma’am Macansantos when she gave her speech during the lunch program, “Welcome home.”

Welcome home indeed.

Day 1: Friday
I arrived around 7 AM in Baguio of December 5. I took a day’s leave from work and got the 1 AM trip from Manila. Initially, I didn’t want to go because I felt that I was the only one who will be there. Somehow, at the last minute, I changed my mind and decided to go, even if my batch’s attendance would be small.

I dropped my things off at my sister’s dorm (who was also studying in Baguio) and slept for approximately an hour. I met her later for breakfast (almost getting lost because I didn’t know there was a Jollibee in Assumption Road) then headed to UP. Baguio has changed a lot, but in some way, it hasn’t changed at all.

The atmosphere was festive. Students were milling about the campus, probably preparing for the activities later in the afternoon, or perhaps doing their projects and other requirements before Christmas vacation rolls in.

I headed towards the lobby, hoping to spot anyone that I know. I was about an hour early in meeting my friends, and I wasn’t fond of the idea of going around on my own.

I saw Ma’am Vicky Costina talking with a few of the staff about the registration tables. I saw several people in similar shirts, taking pictures, and talking. I figured they were alumni from years before I went to UP. Then, I heard a loud voice talking and when I turned to look, I saw Ma’am Claur. I couldn’t help but smile at her, remembering how intimidated I was during PE 1 (which we call fondly called Bio 1). She was talking to another alumnus, and rude as it may seem, I just stood there watching them. In my mind’s eye, she looked thinner than she did before, but on the whole, she looked the same.

Finally, my friends arrived. I think it was ok to greet them with shrieks and hugs, after all, it had been years since we last saw each other… well, years for my blockmate Thet and myself, though I saw Kat, Jang and Tiki sometime before.

We were among the first to register for the homecoming (I was #13 haha), so we were still able to choose our shirt sizes. We milled around the lobby for a bit, and saw the arrival of more familiar faces: Ma’am Helen from the clinic (retired now, and with whom I chatted with briefly about the many changes around the campus), Ma’am Brawner (my archery mentor and the team’s kakulitan during practice), and a few upperclassmen.

Afterwards we helped Tiki set-up a table for the memorabilia he was selling. We got a table from Ma’am Costina at the OPA office and found a good spot in front of the audi. There were a lot of people milling around waiting for the opening of the “Pagpupugay kay Sir Darnay” art exhibit.

My friends and I took that time to take pictures. I was sad that there were only four of us from our batch’s division (uy, college na siya ngayon!), but decided to make the most of it. Later, we found a few more batchmates from the Social Scienes and Nat Sci division, er, colleges.

We really didn’t do anything much except hang around, do some catching up and take pictures. Manang Mane came by and we just had to pose with her. Then I heard someone say “Sir Rolly” and saw him coming from the lobby. I’m sorry, I couldn’t help it. I literally jumped out of my chair, raised my arms and screeched “Sir Rolly!” I immediately corralled him for a picture with Thet, Kat and myself. I think I was hyperventilating. Oh well, that was heaps better than the last time I saw him, where I was so tongue-tied I could only grin at him idiotically.

Of course, we also tried to sell the memorabilia and chatted with a few of the alumni. It was cool to see the turnout from the earlier batches, and I was even more amazed when I spied a man who came from Class 1967! He was by his lonesome, which I thought was sad, but later on, he was with a few other people who were his friends back then. Cool.

Read on “UP Baguio Homecoming 2008: Part 2”