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Postcard from Diliman.

The familiar shade of green and gray welcomed me as the jeep took a right to the Acad Oval that I have always called my own. The sun said hello in between the shadows of leaves that hit my legs, and it was comforting the way it always is. Despite the frantic rush that this campus thrives in everyday, there is always a quiet reassurance that greets me once I catch a glimpse of the lush trees and the people below them. This was how it felt like the first time I looked at it through the eyes of a soon-to-be freshman. And this was the way it has been since, me looking on with much calm as the greenness of the university embraces me.

It is ironic that it should be this way, given that the last four years have been nothing but maddening. My spirits have been defeated, crushed, and trampled in every imaginable way – from having a paper thrown at my face to losing friends in the sea of hostility. It was nothing like the experience I’d had in my head all those years in my life before my name appeared on the list that everyone hoped to be on. As a kid, I grew up seeing UP only through the eyes of others – those who had walked the same halls, carried the same fears, sought the same dream. It seemed perfect and ideal. But it was not yet real. Only much later would I realize that the allure came not from its faultlessness, but from its sharp edges.

I ride this jeep and I look at these trees and buildings, and things are different. UP is no rapture, no dreamland. It has no place for easiness, no time for apathy. Once you step onto its halls, the solid ground you are standing on is pulled out from underneath you and you lose a part of yourself you’ve always thought secure. But UP stirs you to realization – it agitates you so you can straighten out, it unnerves you so you can reconcile. It has certainly made me question my own beliefs, my own thoughts, my own ideals, but it led me to my own answers I wouldn’t have found anywhere else.

Within its space, stories have been told, friends have been made. Interests have been shared and questions have been raised. I began as a stranger overwhelmed by the daunting brusqueness of the place, but now more like a friend endeared by its complexities. Amidst the hubbub of everyday, I have learned to see the colors hiding beneath the blacks and whites, to hear the silences between the noise – the small, minute but powerful silences, the almost unnoticeable and very minute quiet pauses that we often neglect but so evidently piece together the bigger moments that make up the days of our lives. This silence can mean so many things: a yes, a no, a refusal, an acceptance. It can spell the difference between giving up and pushing yourself. It can be a powerful weapon or an unforgivable mistake. It can keep you together or pull you apart.

I ride this jeep and I look at these trees and buildings, and they are looking back at me. It has been four years. Four years is not always a long time, but in this case, four years is enough to wipe away the rose-colored glasses and put on better, clearer ones. I have been changed, just as the buildings no longer stand for just bricks and concrete but words and thoughts and dreams and ideals. UP is not the same, just as I no longer am. And I am thankful. Sometimes, I wonder if I can take a slice out of UP and put it in my pocket, carrying all clamor and calm with me wherever I go, if only to comfort myself as the end of college draws closer. Then I look at myself, the shadows of leaves on my legs and the sun hitting my hands and my face, and I realize that maybe even when I go, I will never really leave; even in my goodbye, I will always say hello.


This is from one of my pieces from my thesis, entitled "Postcard from Diliman." When I wrote this in late February or early March, my future was still very much uncertain - I didn't know if I was going to finish my thesis in time for the April 2 deadline, I had no idea where I would go after my graduation, and I was unsure if I was ready for the changes that was about to come in the next few months. But more than anything really, I was scared of leaving UP - this was the predominant feeling. I have gotten myself in too deep that I knew going anywhere else would prove to be extremely difficult. I was trying my best to be realistic and not pin all my hopes in getting into UP because I didn't want to end up devastated (although I knew that would be the case anyway). So the last few weeks of school had me relishing every little bit of UP - from the jeepney rides to the many different faces. It was like psyching yourself for the break-up, but ending up reminiscing on all the good times instead.

Such is life in UP. It gets to the very core of your being, underneath every inch of skin, and it settles there like a fever that would not go away. UP gets to you - it just does. For all the misery and heartache you are bound to experience is a cone of dirty ice cream, a great talk with friends, or a beautiful, smiling sunflower that will always, always make you want to stay.

It's probably why graduation season is always bittersweet. UP tells us our purpose is to go out there and do great things for our country. But fulfilling that would mean saying goodbye and leaving the very place that has taught us to do so.

This is it. Graduation this weekend.

Maraming salamat, Unibersidad ng Pilipinas.