They say you can look back at your life and find a few defining moments, those moments when your life took a turn and changed it forever.
College was my first one. This was when I started to become the person I am now. Pre-college I was a nerdy kid who had few friends and did nothing but read and study, which was also fine, I suppose, but I enjoyed life so much more when I started to crawl out of my shell. Here are some of my college memories.
(1) The Perks of NOT Being a Wallflower
I was very shy before college, and hated having to talk in front of a huge crowd. Then I joined an org called the SALT community, solely because of advance enrolment privileges. I had no idea that it would change my life forever.
It turns out the org was in charge of helping the admissions office with all kinds of stuff, including recruiting students to enrol in our school. This involved going to high schools all over the city and delivering a speech in front of many strangers. It was terrifying. But thanks to all the practice, I eventually overcame my fear of public speaking. Nowadays, people find it hard to believe that I was ever shy!
Aside from that, our org moderator, Sir Emir, who was also a Religious Studies teacher, came up with a lot of activities that made us appreciate life, love, and community, such as tasking us to do random acts of kindness, holding meetings where he would just read inspirational stories, and holding programs that forced us to crawl out of our shell and perform.
I was not exaggerating when I said that SALT changed my life forever. I am the much better person I am today because of it.
(2) Ateneo Fiesta
Every first week of December we would have the Ateneo Fiesta, an occasion we looked forward to not only because we didn’t have classes, but because we got to participate in the festivities which involved booths selling food and knick knacks, inter-department contests, homecoming parades, and the like.
We were required to participate in the contests for our colleges, and I would always end up being a yeller. What’s that, you say? It’s someone who yells the cheers in the background while the cheer dancers performed their stunts. It always involved night time practice sessions which made for great bonding.
I also joined an essay-writing contest, debate, and a cooking contest, and helped sell stuff in a booth for the SALT org.
(3) Creative Performances
In our sophomore year, we were required to join a choral recitation contest. That also involved a lot of night time practices, most of them at my classmate Tyne’s house. I was happy to be able to contribute in the brainstorming sessions on our actions and gimmicks, something that never happened back in high school because… see #1. We managed to land in the top 3. I’ve always regretted that we did not have any pictures or videos of our performance.
Two other creative performances that I’m proud of happened in 2 different English classes.
(1) We were asked to rap a poem, and I came up with the idea of rap-singing How Do I Love Thee to the tune of Mariah Carey’s Heartbreaker. Our group won a bag of chips as the grand prize.
(2) We were asked to perform an Egyptian poem, so I choreographed our performance which ended with Maya humming the Little Mermaid song as we drew closer. After our heads snapped up and we said the final line together, the whole classroom gave us a standing ovation, including our teacher. We got 100%
(4) My First Broken Heart
Should I even be talking about this? LOL.
I had my first boyfriend and first heartbreak in college. I was so devastated that I cried overnight and lost 2 inches off my waist in a week because I couldn’t eat anything except an apple a day. People stopped me in hallways and in the canteen to ask me what happened and tell me to drink milk.
Boy I wish I could get my heart broken right about now. Anyone wanna volunteer?
It was also around this time that I had my first sip of alcohol and got so drunk that I drunk-dialled said ex and got mad when he hung up on me, so I threw my cellphone across the room where it broke… a cookie jar. The phone was perfectly fine, though. It was a Nokia, you see.
No, I did not get tattooed in college, or ever. That was our yearbook’s theme. I had no idea it meant being tattooed! What we did mean, though, was the ink of the pen, likening ink to our college experiences, as I stated in the yearbook prologue I wrote:
The world lay before us then like a whole book of blank pages. As potential authors holding pens in our hands, it was up to us what would end up on these pages. At that point there was endless potential. But of course, we didn’t realize it at that time.
And so we scribbled on, taking up page after page after page, thinking that there were still so many pages left unused, that these were mere drafts and that we would be struck by inspiration later on and write that masterpiece somewhere in the end. Until we got to the last page and realized that we had used up all the pages. Reading through the entire thing, we realized that we had wasted all our ink on nonsensical drivel. And of course, it was too late. We had wasted our college years away.
But wait… was it really such a waste? Take another look at all that ink. At all the marks made upon the pages. Read through all the experiences we wrote down. All those names. All those memories. It’s down in ink, for other people to read. Down in ink, for you to reread and learn something from.
And you know what? You realize that you can’t really waste ink. Not if you use it to write something down.
Being in the editorial staff of the Beacon yearbook was really fun. We had our own office and our own computer (which got stolen, omg) so we always had somewhere to hang out. We even got to travel to Davao city where we were having the yearbook printed.
(6) JPIA Journeys
JPIA stands for Junior Philippine Institute of Accountants, and we were mandatory members because of our course (Bachelor of Science in Accountancy). We had a lot of fun moments thanks to this org. We got to stay in a hotel in our own city when we attended a conference held there. This was a big deal because we couldn’t afford hotel stays before.
We also once travelled to Pagadian for a regional meeting for officers, and while on a boat, a kid showed up and asked us for food. My classmate Cocoy gave him a sandwich, but the kid didn’t want it and wanted the bag of chips. A frustrated Cocoy said, “You know, kid, there’s a saying, beggars can’t be choosers.” 😆
Then during our senior year, our entire class managed to raise funds to travel to Dipolog City to attend the regional convention. The 6-hour bus ride was so bumpy that at one point, my classmate Cate and I woke up to our classmate Junjun rubbing our heads for us because they had smashed so hard against the front window glass. We were so tired that we went right back to sleep.
It was also thanks to JPIA that I met my second boyfriend, but that didn’t really work out because I realized I didn’t really like him after all and accidentally sent a text about that topic to him. Worst wrong sent text ever. 😳
Since we went to a catholic school, we were required to attend recollections every year and a retreat during our last year. The main difference between the two is that the retreat is an overnight, I think.
Anyway, while one of my roommates was taking a shower, a piercing scream came from our bathroom and she emerged, wrapped in a towel and pointing towards the ceiling. There was someone up there who had moved one of the squares to make a hole for viewing, OMG.
After that all the girls were so scared that we decided to huddle together in one room (not ours). They never did catch whoever that peeping tom was.
(8) Terror Teachers
One of our most difficult subjects to pass was not a major subject, but Religious Studies, which was taught by a “terror” Jesuit priest who was notorious for making his subject sadistically hard. Even our own Accounting professor, who is so smart that he went on to become a CPA lawyer, was not able to graduate on time just because of him.
When I got a line of 7 for my midterms grade, I wanted to die because my scholarship required me to have no grade below 80. I miraculously managed to get a final grade of 80, which was the exact minimum grade I needed to both keep my scholarship and graduate as cum laude.
A few friends were not so lucky, and did not get latin honors just because of that one measly subject. One of these classmates even refused to attend our graduation ceremony as a protest.
Looking back, I realize just how ridiculously unfair that was. How could my school have allowed someone like that to keep teaching? If he were a major subject teacher, it’s fine, but a minor one? Boo.
That wasn’t the only teacher-prevents-graduation issue we had. Shortly before our supposed graduation day, one of our Accounting professors said that we wouldn’t march if we did not pass her final exam. That affected a majority of the class. It was a crazy day that involved seeing men in tears while sitting on the floor, something I had never witnessed them do in the entire 4 years we were together.
One of our other teachers, another Jesuit priest who, even though he had a reputation for being a “terror teacher” as well, turned out to be someone who was such a brilliant, passionate teacher, commiserated with us and even pulled out some mats from the Jesuit house and laid them on our soccer field’s grassy floor so we could all lie down and look at the stars while emoting. Love that man.
We were all eventually allowed to graduate when all the parents marched over to the school and staged a loud protest.
(9) Graduation Day
I don’t think I need to explain how sweet this moment was. After all the blood and sweat and tears, I was finally here, my rented toga hat perched precariously on top of my head and held in place with a lot of hairpins because my head is literally bigger than the average college graduate’s.
Our batch valedictorian, Ronald, came from our class, and he asked me and our other friend Tupe to help him with his speech, so it felt great to have a contribution to the ceremony aside from just going up on stage to accept my (fake) diploma and medals (I got one for loyalty award, too, for having gone to the same school since kindergarten).
(10) College Extension – Board Exam Review Days
After graduation, we were not yet done studying, as we had to take the CPA board exam. Back then, the exam was only available in certain cities in the Philippines, so we had to spend a few months in Manila to review before taking the exam, too.
It was my first time to live away from home and experience independence, so I was so excited. I shared a room with the same 3 girls who went on to become my roommates in Makati for 4 years.
A lot of interesting events happened during our review days, but the most memorable one for me is that time we cosplayed as the then popular F4 guys of the Meteor Garden series.
It was for a contest for our all female dorm, and the moment we stood up on the stage, everyone screamed and did not stop the entire time we performed. For one brief moment I wondered, do these girls know we’re not the real F4? It felt great to feel famous, even for that one moment.
And oh yeah, there was that time we saw the celebrity Piolo Pascual in a mall and had our picture taken with him. That little boy he was holding is now a teenage celebrity as well. Waahhh, I feel so old.
I still have way too many memories that I want to mention, like my friendships and the everyday things we did, like studying in the library then taking breaks to eat fried bananas dipped in barbecue sauce, but since this is way too long already, you can just read about those here:
What were your most memorable moments in college?
This is a tandem post with my friend Tyne, who was my college classmate. Go check our her blog to see what she wrote about the same era! I might have a cameo appearance. 😛