June 2, 2010

U.P. Miag-ao

My memories flashing back since an old man grabbed my bag without my permission. I stayed calm even though he ran as fast as he can while I’m still paying for my cab. How I miss sweet moment like that where I don’t have to worry that a stranger will took advantage of me “Sa pula nga jeep ma’am, saka na to a” said him as he catches his breathe while pointing at the red jeepney that is about to leave going to Miag-ao. Indeed, I am going to visit Miag-ao once again. It’s been three years but it feels like yesterday.

Some remains the same. Passengers still complains on how fast the driver runs his jeep and how people puckered their brows every time there is new passengers even there seem to be no more seats for another. And it still surprised me on how wise they can always be to find one after all. Amazingly, each long seat designed for 8 people can actually occupy 10 or more. It’s funny that 7 years ago, I hated this kind of “Miag-ao jeep” scenario and now I actually love it.

I told the driver to drop me by the UPV Executive House. I should have said Barangay Mat-y so I can arrive at La Hacienda de Gwapa, officially known as Natonio’s Ladies Dormitory, as early as possible. During vacations or late afternoons, they don’t prioritize student thus they will go to the university after every one else’ places. I had chosen the longest route for me so I can still have a ride and can visit other Barangays again—we passed by places like Miag-ao Market, bay-bay Sur, gargarita, greenery Mart, Quezon, Noble beach, Ohms, Historical Church, Adoration Chapel where I spent my 15 mins everyday except for Sundays. Every place remains exactly the same except of course for some new establishments that has risen up.

Miag-ao has been the best place ever. My only anxiety back then lies on how to pull up my failing grades and my main priority is on how to get out alive with a Diploma. My concern is the academe and luxuries don’t matter. Although I can’t deny the fact that I did live in a very comfortable way. I was provided with my needs and my wants. My life was simple; when I’m depressed all I have to do is go to the city and treat my self with a cup of a sundae J and I can’t live a day without a bar of tofi-luk and a bag of chocolate nips. Afternoons was never complete without a cup of nescafe® coffee with a friend. I am very contented with every thing life could offer me.

In fact, life at the University is not at all fun, but challenging. Failure is part of everyday activities coupled by an effort to make one self better the next time around. It is where I learned that rebellion after an encounter with disappointments can never solve a problem, and that you have to make something to survive. I always considered myself a mediocre—unlike others, I supposed, I always needed an extra time to study in order for me pass a 3.0 unit lecture or my 2.0 unit of a laboratory class. My time is scheduled and every moment counts or else I’ll be having collection of a Singko on my transcript (5.0)—failed grades. I am the kind of student who learned along the process and will definitely make sure I learned when the semester ends. I was awarded once with “Improvement Award by a P.E. instructor. Well that doesn’t mean everything but it actually describes my quality—always willing to learn. I always believed that I was there to study and I’m not there to improve on whatever I got because I got nothing anyway.

 But I am not a faultless mediocre, I had my flaws and at times I was discouraged by failures. And most of the time I was jealous with the group of scholars belonging on the same block because they don’t have problems in rearranging their schedule. They’re the regular students and they were the one graduated on time. The division designed an outline for them on what subjects to be taken on a given semester. I, on the other hand, can sometimes enter a class not of my block. I can be a classmate of Mathematics, Psychology, broadcast Communication, Public Health, Chemistry majors of different levels. Regular students only got 14.0 units full load during the last semester, while I wrote a letter to the college secretary to allow me to enrol a 22.0 over loaded units. There were times I applied as an assessor during enrolment, sort of a student assistant, just to have a priority slots on subjects. Simple problems need a simple solution. I trained myself not to complicate things.

Going back, I was having a second thought if I made the right decision or I should have taken the Mat-y side instead. I almost made a call to a friend to asked if there is still a way going to La Hacienda from the Executive house. The Villa standing at the back of it confused me. I thought I was lost but the stepping stones—the one I hated before because it is widely spaced that you have to make a hop and a leap to one after the other—are an assurance that I am actually on the right way (picture on the right side is the same old path walks, no villa yet). La hacienda remains the same, the people taking care is still here. I always considered this place my home away from home. And I can still the spirit of being at home.

The first thing I did: I hurriedly went upstairs and headed myself to the rooftop. My favourite part of the dormitory—the place where I studied my lessons morning or night, mingled with my dorm mates, drunk our beers, lit a cigar, star gazed and among others. Rooftop is a place full of happy and sad memories. It is where we party and is the only place wherein we were free to shout our lungs out every time we hated the university.

Every corner of the dormitory has a special memory to put in the picture. There is the fire exit we used to climbed, the Salas where we slept at each time we lost our key or left it inside our room, the comfort rooms full of reminders regarding hygiene, the banging of the doors that annoyed us, the TV area where we spent times watching dramas, the dining area where you can eat big breakfast for 13php and lunch for 18php, the computer room where I sometimes spent my weekends. While checking the place, I was touched by the pictures hanging on the wall at the TV area—it is our pictures taken during the first acquaintance party. We were actually the first batch of residents.

The residents were good and I enjoyed their companies although during my 3rd year I decided to be alone and live downstairs in one of the private rooms. Little by little I lost connections with friends and focused myself on academics. It’s not that I wanted to but it is more of a need to be more serious. For three years that I spent in this dormitory I had made special connections with care takers and residents. I love this place. I love my memories here.
TV area of Natonio's Dormitory (La hacienda de Gwapa)

Honestly though, I never imagined that I could be thankful that I been here. I thought I was in hell during those times.

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