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Layag Na

Natapos na ang graduation pero nandito pa rin ako, nakaupo sa harapan ng aking laptop at nag-iisip kung paano ko ba isusulat ang isang farewell column.

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SAN DIEGONatapos na ang graduation pero nandito pa rin ako, nakaupo sa harapan ng aking laptop at nag-iisip kung paano ko ba isusulat ang isang farewell column. Ito na yata ang pinaka-mahirap dahil parang hindi ko kaya o sadyang hindi ko ginagawa dahil alam kong ‘pag natapos ko ito’y tapos na talaga. Tinanong ko ang sarili ko ng maraming beses, “Paano ba bumitiw sa institusyong lubusan kong minahal?” Ngunit wala akong nakuhang kasagutan.

Kinuwento sa akin ng tatay ko na noong bata pa ako, may alaga kaming ibon na nakatira sa hawla ngunit kinalaunan ay aking pinakawalan dahil naaawa ang batang ako. Akala ko ‘nun, manipestasyon ito na madali akong mag-let go sa mga bagay bagay at mag-adjust sa mga bago pero mali ako.

Isang araw bago ang graduation ay naglinis ako ng kwarto at nakita ang ilang bagay na iniwan sa akin ng apat na taon ko sa Unibersidad ng Santo Tomas: mga papel, uniporme, litrato, tiket at ID.

Ang sandamukal na papel ng pinaghalong hand-outs, readings, quizzes, exams at thesis-related papers.  Sa pang-ilang beses, tinanong ko kung paano bibitawan ang mga ito. Itatapon ko ba? Ibebenta? Ang mga ito’y nagpapaalala ng mga araw na halos wala nang tulog makapag-aral lang o mga pinaglamayang proyekto na nagresulta sa malalaki at maiitim na eyebags, mga araw na hindi alam ang uunahin dahil sabay-sabay ang deadline at higit sa lahat, mga aral na nakapaloob sa mga sulatin sa mga papel na ‘to. Basura na siguro sa paningin ng iba, ngunit hindi ko pa rin mapakawalan dahil baka dumating ang araw na kailanganin ko pa.

Navy Blue na palda, puting pang-itaas at lambda. Hindi ako makapaniwala na hindi ko na masusuot ang unipormeng ‘to araw-araw. Naalala ko na lagi akong nalalaglagan ng lambda at pakiramdam ko, hindi ako kumpleto kung wala ito kaya naghahanap ako ng ibang mahuhulugan rin ng lambda. May mga pagkakataon na muntik na akong hindi papasukin sa mall dahil mas mukha akong nasa high school kaysa kolehiyala. Gayon pa man, ito’y nagsisimbolo ng aking pinanggalingan, ang Fakultad ng Sining at Panitik (AB). Sa pagpasok ko sa mundong ito’y natuto akong huwag mahiya at matakot magpahayag ng aking hinaing at opinyon. Kadalasan ay open minded ang mga tao. (Huwag kang mag-alala dahil hindi ito networking o scam. Sadyang handa lang silang makinig sa iba’t ibang perspektibo.) Noong una, na-culture shock ako. “Bakit parang sobrang extreme ng napuntahan ko?” Nag-duda pa ako kung para dito ba ako pero kinalaunan ay napagtanto kong ganito pala sa AB: na may sari-saring personalidad ang bawat isa. Minsan ay nagkakasundo at nagkakabanggaan subalit natututong tanggapin ang pagkakaiba’t nangingibabaw ang respeto sa isa’t isa. Kaya nagpapasalamat ako sa’yo, AB, dahil tinuruan mo akong makinig, binigyan mo ng ako ng tinig at lakas ng loob na iparinig ito sa iba. Minamaliit ka man ng iba, huwag kang mag-alala dahil papatunayan ng mga Artlet na mali sila.

Ang class picture ng aking block, 4JRN1, noong freshman pa lamang kami. Malaki na ang pinagbago ng aming itsura dahil apat na taon na ang nakalipas pero ang mas mahalagang ay ang pagbabago sa pagtingin sa aming kursong kinuha. Hindi lahat ay pumasok ng Journalism na buo ang puso para rito. ‘Yung iba, napilitan at ang iba naman, hindi alam kung bakit nga ba sila narito. Sa aming pag-aaral, binigyang-diin ng aming mga propesor na ang unang hangarin ng mga mamamahayag ay ang pagsasabi ng katotohanan. Na sa bawat artikulo na aming isinusulat ay kailangang bigyan ng hustisya ang kwento sa likod nito. Na sa bawat mainit na isyu ay tuklasin ang kasagutan at bigyan ito ng konteksto upang malaman ng publiko. Mahirap ang sumulat at may mga panahong ku-kwestyunin mo ang iyong kakayanan. May mga paper na kahit ilang ulit mo nang i-edit at i-revise ay parang wala pa ring kwenta. Pero sabi nga nila, practice is the best teacher. At ngayong lilisanin na namin ang Unibersidad, handa na ba kaming maging tunay na Tomasinong mamamahayag?

Wala naman sigurong handa para rito pero babaunin ko ang sinabi sa akin ng isang propesor: “Huwag lang kayong maging korap, proud na sa inyo ang University.”

Mga tiket ng UAAP Basketball at Cheer dance. Hindi ko makakalimutan ang mga sandali na naging parte ako ng UST crowd, sinasabayan ang cheer ng Yellow Jackets at pilit na binibigyan ng kumpiyansa ang mga manlalaro. ‘Yung mga sandali na kahit talo ay hindi umaalis at kinakanta ng buong puso ang hymn at sinisigaw ang “Imbued with an ending grace” sa dulo. Tatlong beses akong nabigo pero dahil dito, natuto akong tumanggap ng pagkatalo kahit gaano man ito kasakit.

Ang Press ID ng TomasinoWeb. Game-changer ang TomasinoWeb sa buhay ko sa Unibersidad. Late bloomer kasi ako pagdating sa pagkakaroon ng organization dahil natakot akong ma-reject. Buti nalang, nagkaroon ako ng lakas ng loob na sumubok sa TomasinoWeb sa aking ikatlong taon at mapalad naman na natanggap bilang writer sa News Section at naging Assistant News Editor sa sumunod na taon. Gusto kong magpasalamat sa TomasinoWeb dahil ito ang unang tumanggap sa akin at naniwala sa aking kakayahan na mag-sulat. Sa pamamalagi ko rito, nahasa ang aking kakayanan at nahubog ang aking etika.

Kaya ko bang pakawalan ang mga bagay na ito? Mga bagay na naging  bahagi ng aking paglalakbay sa UST na siyang nagturo sa akin kung paano lumusong sa baha ng hamon ng buhay. Nagturo sa akin na kailangan laging maging handa at laging dalhin ang payong upang ipanangga sa ulan. Ngunit sabi nga, a little rain won’t hurt. Matuto kang sumayaw sa ulan. At iyon nga ang ginawa namin sa paglabas ng Arch of the Centuries. Literal na sumayaw sa ulan.

Sa aking pagmumuni-muni, naisip kong ako pala ang ibon at ang UST ay ang hawla. Nagsisilbi itong silid para sa pagsasanay at bawat taon nagpapakawala ito ng mga ibong handa nang lumipad sa himpapawid. At ito na ang panahon na papakawalan ako sa napakalawak na alapaap. Papakawalan na ako ng Unibersidad kong mahal upang makita ang nasa itaas, upang marating ang mga lugar na hindi ko mararating kung nasa loob lamang ako ng hawla. Kaya pala wala akong mahanap na kasagutan kung paano bibitiw – dahil sa umpisa pa lang ay hindi ko kailangan ‘yun, bagkus ay kailangan kong dalhin ang lahat ng ito at gamitin sa hinaharap.

Sa pag-buka ng aking pakpak, tinignan kong muli ang UST. Parang sinasabi nito sa akin, “Layag na!”

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Opinion

‘Why are you so hateful?’

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Often after the publication of a scathing critique or an explosive exclusive on TomasinoWeb, several individuals would go on Twitter and comment on how the article is supposedly seething with hatred. Of course, the commentaries from Twitter are usually less eloquently worded — some simply say, “this article is full of hate” — but regardless of the lack of linguistic finesse, the message they are trying to communicate is clear: The people behind the official digital media organization of this University is propagating hate.

But first, let us define “hate.” According to the ever-trusty Merriam-Webster Dictionary, hate is “intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury.”

Looking back at my last year in the University, I have felt all three sources of hate: I have been afraid of not finishing my degree, of not accomplishing my thesis, of failing to submit crucial requirements, of failing TomasinoWeb, and of failing myself. I have been angry at incompetent groupmates, at heavy traffic and LRT disruptions, at jeepney drivers who insist that I have not paid, at friends, at my family, and at myself. Many times over the past year, I found myself hurt by the product of my shortcomings — all the failures haunted me at night and it made me angry, it made me afraid, and the cycle of hatred continued.

Even beyond the personal, I also felt fear, anger and a sense of injury.

I feared policies and systems in place which only served to repress people. I was angry at those too, and even furious at people who were capable of addressing these unrestrained exercises of power, but chose to turn a blind eye or worse, participate — all for their personal gain. I felt hurt and betrayed by these people, some of whom I believed and trusted in and eventually voted for. Moreover, I was hurt during times when I, TomasinoWeb, members of the campus press, ordinary students and ordinary citizens became targets of repression.

Perhaps, people were correct to tell me that I was hateful: I hated systems that oppress and repress people. I hated the people who continue to enable and perpetuate these systems. But is it wrong? Is it morally incorrect to feel repulsion towards injustice?

During our retreat at Caleruega in Batangas, we were told of a quote by anti-Nazi German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “Silence in the face of evil is evil itself: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

When our block went to Pansol, Laguna for a swimming trip, I and The Varsitarian Editor-in-Chief Kathryn Baylon got to talk while we splashed around in the hot spring pool. At one point in our intoxicated babble, we told each other that we have developed a dislike for our job. It is far too demanding for hardly any recognition. We had to deal with staffers, complaints from readers and deadlines while dealing with papers and projects for our classes. We could have chosen the life of an ordinary Journalism student at the Faculty of Arts and Letters. We could have quit earlier and lived a quieter collegiate existence. It was just easier to not care about pressing issues in the University.

But as much as we disliked doing our job, we did it anyway. Both of us felt that we were morally obliged to our publications and to the students. We needed to tell stories — both good and bad — not because we were serving an agenda or we hated the subjects of our stories. Kathryn put it best, “Baka kasi mahal pa rin natin ito.”

I believe that there is no love which is not difficult, and loving this University is no different. It was hard to love an institution marred by controversies and I would have to admit that at one point, I found myself saying that I hated this institution — but UST taught me better. Early on, I learned that hate is not the opposite of love, but indifference. Apathy is the antithesis of compassion and not antipathy.

Turning a blind eye is easier than gluing both eyes and telling stories. But I cannot bear the heavy burden of indifference, especially if I love this institution so much that I want it to change for the better.

A mother does not hate her drug-addicted son if she turns him in to the police. Love is what moved her to choose losing constant contact with her son rather than allow his self-destructive lifestyle to continue. It is a difficult kind of love, but it is a noble one.

Xave Gregorio, Editor-in-Chief

At this point, I would like to thank my parents for loving me so much that they sent me to UST and spent a hefty sum of money to earn a degree of my own choice. Thank you for feeding, clothing and sheltering me, and for constantly guiding and affirming me, especially in times when I felt lost and worthless.

I am grateful for the love of Lorenzo Gantuangco that had kept me moving. These past two years would have been far more difficult without you.

I thank Roselle Habana, Michelle Del Agua, Armando Razon, Penny Cuenca, Marla Papas, Tovy Bordado and Anna Mogato for their various expressions of love. You are people I could always count on. Trust that you can always count on me too.

To the crazy kids of 4JRN1, I love all of you. I am proud of what we have achieved. I know that we can get to greater heights.

My fellow TomasinoWeb editors and Core officers, I admire the love that you have poured out for our organization to keep it running. For those who will remain and become the next set of editors and officers, I hope you exhibit the same love that we have shown. Make TomasinoWeb your partner (or third party, if you already have a partner.)

To my teachers from nursery up to my senior year in college, your love for educating students put me where I am now. Thank you for everything.

Finally, for my fellow Thomasian graduates, always be moved by love to speak out against injustice and to serve the people.

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Opinion

Remember to remember yourself

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After four grueling years, my college days have come to an end. My stay in the University of Santo Tomas has concluded, and with a heavy heart, I bid my home goodbye. If anything, this has a personal touch. I am writing this piece for Thomasians I will be leaving behind because there is so much that I want to impart.

Having graduated as an achiever in elementary, I entered high school with a head held high. I was enrolled in one with a science curriculum, so I felt highly and remarkable. I thought I was invincible, that I can do anything. Two months in, however, and I knew I was wrong. Suddenly I was slapped with the brutal reality that I cannot do and process a lot of things. I’m not wholly good in Physics, my brain isn’t wired for Biology, and General Chemistry is Greek to me. I was failing my math subjects, and my sciences started to look grim. Because of these, the way I looked at myself changed — I felt dumb, and I often compared myself with others. How did they get a 95, when all I got was 70? I then developed a habit of always looking down on myself. I never expected that I will be able to achieve something, let alone be enough for anything. I started hating myself for the things I couldn’t do.

I brought this negativity with me in college. Because I met new people, I had to set up the pretentious façade of happiness. Don’t we all? We engage in the thought of setting up a new persona just because we entered a new stage in life. Unfortunately, the thought backfired. On the outside, I was happy and carefree. In actuality, however, I grew more emotionally distant, and more dangerously comparing. On the other hand, the expectations people had for me stuck, and I dragged each of them as if they’re heavy weights.

Imee Advincula, Vice President for Publicity and Communications

As both a motivation and an inspiration to work harder, I used my self-disappointment and others’ expectations to propel myself forward. I engulfed myself with the reassuring thought of doing things for those who believed in me. In my journey towards my erroneous notion of success, I experienced testing not my mental and emotional limits, but my physical health. I came to know the feeling of being awake for 52 hours, the palpitations that come after consuming three Red Bulls and five coffees, the hellish pain of having consecutive episodes of tension headaches. I reached my breaking point, and I even stood on top of it. I gave my all, hoping that the negativity will leave my mind.

Guess what? They didn’t.

Pressure flashed through me. Self-doubt creeped in. Disappointment came in waves. Fun fact: I can’t swim. I sank even lower, and I drowned.

And maybe, just maybe, that is my biggest mistake. I focused on all the wrong things. I got so lost in the cycle that I forgot what truly mattered. Don’t get me wrong — education matters. Experience matters. Success obviously matters. But I became too obsessed with all the “important” stuff that I lost sight of myself. I became too committed to being competent and compassionate for others that I disregarded any compassion I should have for myself. I traded my peace for anxiety, my calm for distress.

As I entered Senior year, I concentrated in healing myself. I let go of all my worries, and I positively accepted everything that came my way. I returned the value, confidence, and self-respect I denied myself for three college years. It’s hard, and I haven’t fully recovered yet. I am recuperating, and I am having better days.

Thus, I say this to you who will be left behind: please do remember to value yourself. Your worth as a human being is not tantamount to the numbers they use to evaluate you, and your success as a person is not dependent on the number of expectations you meet. It feels good to be committed, competent, and compassionate, but it’s completely alright if the person you are wholeheartedly compassionate for is yourself. Just enjoy the process, study carefree, and do not mind what others think, as long as you’re not doing anything wrong.

The world is vast, and much lie beyond. There will be harder times. Remember yourself, and do not get lost.

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Opinion

An unforgettable journey

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Back in 2013, I immediately went home after entering the Arch of the Centuries during our Welcome Walk. As I left the campus, I watched the other freshmen waving their balloons and clappers and cheering proudly “Go USTe” in unison. They seemed to be enjoying their first day in college, but I wasn’t.

I thought I was going to have the worst four years of my life. Every day, I struggled to keep my head above water. I would always call my mom and tell her I couldn’t do it. She would always tell me to just give it some time. Well, it’s always hard in the beginning.

I had a rough start in college, knowing that I was pursuing a degree that I’m not interested in. I always asked myself before, “how am I going to survive for four years just by doing this?”

Humphrey Litan, former Assistant Creative Director

So I decided to join TomasinoWeb, where I was able to practice my passion in graphic arts. Juggling both my studies and extra-curricular activities was not easy, but I was glad to have an avenue where I can practice my craft. Joining the organization, I felt empowered being surrounded by people who shared the same passion. I was able to meet new people and gain friends from different colleges. Since then, UST started to feel like home.

I was deeply rooted into my comfort zone, but I discovered a lot of things about myself by joining organizations. This helped me unleash my potentials and skills that I’m not aware of. My range of interest had gone vast as well, as I was able to explore other fields. Thus, this experience has opened doors for me and inspired me to learn new things.

Moving forward to the Baccalaureate Mass, I’m now part of the same crowd which merrily entered the Arch of the Centuries three years ago. We prayed, pledged, sang, cheered, and, for the last time, watched the fireworks illuminate the sky. It was heartbreaking knowing that I would miss this University so much. It’s amazing how time could change the way you see things, how it could fix you, and help you to love what you used to hate before.

I guess, I made the best decision in my life. Recalling my Welcome Walk, I entered the Arch with doubts. But this time, I exited with a huge smile on my face- the face of triumph. I felt grateful to have withstood all the obstacles before I reached the finish line. I learned that in life there’s no such thing as losing. It’s either you win or you learn. All the rejections, pains, heartbreaks, and hardships served as opportunities to help you become a better person. I know I still have a long way to go, but I’m glad I’m already taking steps in becoming a better version of myself.

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