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ciento FRESHIEnto :)

MAY 5th, Monday

I woke up earlier than usual. My dad's driver picked me and my mom up at six in the morning. I picked my best casual-yet-serious-looking shirt, donned my favorite jeans, used my new white bag, and wore my new YSL sandals (aka Yari sa Liliw, haha), checked my Blue Clearbook of Important Documents, and off I went. This is it, I told myself.

I was greeted by the huge banner, "Mabuhay mga bagong Iskolar ng KAL!" as I arrived at the College of Arts and Letters, or Kolehiyo ng Arte at Literatura (KAL). I munched on my McDonald's fries with anxiety as I step inside the halls of my soon-to-be building. We were led by the security guard to the second KAL building at the back. There we were greeted by another welcome banner, and several students with their moms. All were eagerly waiting for the start of the briefing which will be given to us at eight o'clock. There I sat down and tried my best straight-not-excited face just so I won't look to eager, but I'm not sure how well I did, I'm not a theater major anyway. A few moments a later, another mother and daughter pair arrived and sat next to us. Our moms started talking, and so we started talking. Thus, my first ever friend in UP, Haila. She's from Marikina Science High School and is going to take up BA English Studies. After a while, we were escorted up the building and were welcomed warmly by the secretary of the dean of CAL, Señor Maranan. He was an old, kind gentleman who emitted that grandfather vibe. He told us his role in our lives as CAL students, and advised us as we take on this new journey. He kept on telling us that we are UP students, therefore we must be proud of what we have achieved just by getting into the school. So, a huge responsibility is on us: to study well and do good. Our school may not be as class or as "sosi" as the others, but we must get by because this is life inside the UP, everyone is equal, everyone is up for the same challenges. He gave us his two basic rules: 1.) We are not allowed to joined fraternities and sororities, and 2.) We should truly prioritize our studies -- no more gala or tambay. This made our parents extremely happy, my mom especially. More reminders later, and we were escorted to the other building to meet with our respective advisers.

I claimed my Form 5A and Student Directory, then immediately went to the second floor, Room 2061. It was there I was supposed to meet my future adviser, Prof. Los Baños (immediately followed by a chuckle inside my head, "LB in Diliman! Hahaha, funny,") By the stairs, I saw three other students waiting. One of them asked me, "Creative Writing ka ba?" to which I replied, "Oo." So we sat there, waiting and chatting. Two more arrived, and thus the completion of the Creative Writing students block B-11: Karla, Andee, Rose, Jamie, and Catherine. Yes, there were only five of us. We fooled ourselves into thinking that more will be coming but alas, no one else did. So we just spent the time chatting and getting to know each other. To my surprise, there were three Paulinians in our block! Andee was from St. Paul Pasig, Rose was from St. Paul QC, and of course, yours truly from Parañaque. I saw it as a blessing in disguise because we all got along really well already. But of course, our other two blockmates were great as well. We joked and laughed about different things, talking like we've been friends for a long time. After what seemed like an eternity of waiting, a tall, bald, macho man came and asked us, "Are you all CW?" Stunned, we nodded in unison with the realization finally dawning on us: It was Professor Los Baños.

I entered the room, with huge butterflies pterodactyls flying aroudn my stomach. I was dying to make a good impression. Thoughts circled and swirled inside my head as I walked to his desk. Should I smile? Do I introduce myself right away or wait for him to ask? Was I supposed to speak in English? What if I make a mistake? Should I tell him how eager I am with this course? What was I supposed to say and do? This was, after all, my future adviser, the person who will check me up with my grades, advise me on my subjects, and basically guide me through my whole CW experience. Nervous would probably be an understatement for that kind of feeling. "Good morning, sir," I finally said. He asked me to sat down and I handed him my Form 5A and directory. "Complete na pala ang mga subjects mo. Okay, fill this up," He handed me a form, wrote my name, and copied my subjects. He got one of the two directories, returned the other forms to me and mumbled, "Okay, submit this to the OUR. You may go." And that was it.

I came out of the room probably with a stunned-slash-relieved expression on my face, which I'm afraid, kind of scared Andee. But I managed to smile at her before she went in, and I was finally able to breathe. I immediately went to my mom, telling her the story as I gasped my breath. We walked to the Office of the University Registrar (OUR) to finally get enrolled. Upon arriving, I told my mom I'll go in already since parents weren't allowed inside. And thus my first taste of the University of Pila. Everywhere you go, there's a queue waiting for you. Some long, some short, some quickly moving, some not moving -- but a line all the same. Thankfully there were a lot of student assistants who were there to guide us and help make everything easier for us freshmen. And good thing too that we were seated so it wasn't really much of a struggle. It was in the line that I saw Inna, who came from the College of Engineering. We didn't get to talk much though because the line moved right away and we were separated. I went to window after window, floor after floor, form after form. I was looking at my neatly arranged Blue Clearbook of Important Documents (special thanks to my Mom, who graciously and voluntarily did that for me -- because that's what moms are for right, Mommy?) and ensuring that I was doing the right thing on the particular step. And then it hit me, I was doing everything on my own. No Inna, no Mommy, no one to complain to or to ask someone else to do the job. Just me and my Blue Clearbook of Important Documents. Hence, another realization: in college, kanya-kanya na talaga.

After a perpituity of windows and tables, I was finally assessed. I still can't help telling myself that "Ang mura talaga sa UP," in spite of its overtness. I paid cold hard blue-green cash at the cashier, took my receipt and finally, finally -- I'M ENROLLED. Yahoo! :)

MAY 6th, Tuesday

Once again, I woke up earlier than usual. Tuesday is the orientation of the May 5 enrollees. With me is Inna, who asked if she could go with me because her parents are out of the country. We were both so nervous and yet, very excited. We didn't know what's in store for us but we're pretty sure we're ready for it. With huge dirty ice cream cones in hand, we braced ourselves as we made our way to the Diosdado Macapagal Hall in the College of Economics, where the orientation will be held.

Outside, I immediately saw my blockmates Jamie, Andee, and Rose. The other one, Catherine, was missing. But nevertheless we stuck together already. I introduced them to Inna and told them that we should sit together inside. One man approached the two of us and gave us fliers. Apparently, it's a group against the tuition fee increase in UP. We looked at each other and couldn't help but laugh -- not at them of course, but the fact that it's just our first day, and already there were people inviting us. Haha. Anyway, we entered the big hall after registering and sat there, anxiously but eagerly. Several minutes later, after everyone has settled, the program started.

The theme was: "Ciento FRESHIEnto, Isko Ako! The Centennial Freshmen Orientation." Just the title itself was already exhilirating. Obviously, this year is very special for us since it is UP's 100th (Centennial) year, and we are the Centennial Freshmen. That in itself is already quite a recognition :)

The emcees were very engaging, telling us to shout "Cheeseburger!" if they ask us how we were. It was funny, actually, especially when they ask all the colleges one by one and get different responses from each. The College of Engineering reply with such low voices because most of them are boys (except for Inna! Haha). The College of Music meanwhile, had someone shouting in a very high voice. And the Department of Library and Information Science -- well let's just say, he had no one else to say Cheeseburger but him. Yep, all alone. May mas konti pa sa course namin, thank God! :) They were extremely hilarious, even spoofing the other colleges that weren't there (haha, sorry College of Science, Home Eco, Educ, and the others! Haha) and giving us trivia, tips, and other whatnots about our future school. They got us really excited about the UP Fair and other events too! Now I can't wait for everything!

The Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Prof. Dr. Elizabeth Enriquez later gave her welcoming remarks. "Fresh na fresh pa talaga kayo, hindi pa nakakatikim ng kwatro (4) at singko (5)!" she said, to which an uproar of nervous laughter from the freshies followed. She told us how extremely lucky we were by giving us facts and numbers: we were one of the 12,000 who passed among the 66,000 who took the UPCAT, and 2,000 of the 40,000 who aspired to go to UP Diliman. Indeed we should be proud that we are Iskolars and are studying in the flagship campus of the state university. All throughout the program, the emcees kept on telling and reminding us how many great scientists, presidents, lawyers, national artists and other successful people graduated from UP. It was very overwhelming, definitely, but gratifying all the same.

The UP Concert Chorale and the UP Pep Squad were also there to welcome us! Grabe, I was amazed by the UPCC's performance. They just came from Switzerland and Italy by the way, bringing home the grand prize for excellence in various competitions there. They were definitely world-class. Then the UP Pep Squad came and taught us the school cheers! Inna and I were looking at each other, already concocting plans inside our heads for the UAAP games. We live for UAAP, and now we're actually going to cheer for a school -- OUR SCHOOL! I had goosebumps while shouting the ever famous "U! nibersidad! ng Pilipinas!" cheer, with matching drums and actions! And yes, it was defnitely better than cheering with the UP crowd on TV.. and that was just the orientation! What more for the real actual games? :) They also taught us the UP hymn, "UP Naming Mahal." It was of course going to take some getting used to since twelve years of "Hark, children of the great St. Paul!" and "My goal as a Paulinian is this.." will forever be etched in our memory. But Inna and I swore that we're going to practice all the cheers and songs, and really shout our hearts out in upcoming events! Haha. School spirit, anyone? :)

After all has been said and done, we came out of the hall feeling the exact same way we did when we entered; nervous and very, very excited. But I'm going to be the first to say that the orientation only sparked our excitement even more. Now we're starting to bleed Maroon, and we wouldn't have it any other way -- or color :)