Posted by: nastypen | June 18, 2008

Love of My Life

Well, I’ve stayed longer at this system, longer than any job I had, longer than the relationship I have. This gave me both a sense of place and purpose. This is the place that made me an artist. This is the place that introduced me to friends who I never imagined I would make back in insular and cloistered Cebu. How fortunate that this place which I considered to be a love of my life introduced me to THE love of my life (Hello, Addie!). This is the place made me fall in love even more with history and saw that our culture and nation are damaged but healing. This is the place that both forced me to reality with blatant injustices, inefficiencies and allowed me to retreat among its corridors for good conversations with professors and classmates. Love is a deep word and U.P. gave me depth.

I see this bright light in the eyes of my students. This exuberance for them to achieve and make a difference. I see this bright light in varying degrees from the quiet studious turning of pages to peeking at the door to ask a professor something to descending the stairs with friends in wafts of laughter and suspended disappointment. I never imagined myself in any other university. Never. I think my students feel the same way.

I am still aglow that I am now in the service of the University. Salary woes, heaped stress, failing if not absent facilities aside, it never fails to make me smile as I walk around the halls teeming with dreams and aspirations pulsating from the faces of the students. I wanted to tell to my students of the hurtful disappointments they may encounter. To be ready for that belly smacker feeling of failure and inadequacy. But why should I? I know whatever situation thrown at them, the UP students are resourceful enough to counter it eventually.

June 18 was declared the Centennial Day of the University of the Philippines. Though there was a show at UP Manila, I decided to go to UP Diliman to pay respect to a place that gave me so much for so little.

I won’t go into sable rattling with “we are the best” chants….like how, for such a young school, UP changed the face of the country for ill or good… how it is hard to get in… how it is even harder to stay…. how people who bitched about UP being overrated are those who weren’t able to get in nor had the guts to get in….I won’t defend UP’s place of significance. There is no need to.

I write this exhausted from the memories. I see all the places I walked around for the past 13 years. 13 years. I never really left. It’s a relationship that I have taken for granted and yet have trouble walking away from.  Today, i walked from the College of Fine Arts to Quezon Hall then to Vinzons, and from Vinzons I walked to Philcoa.  I remember the times I walked with friends in this route and I weighed half of my current heft.  There are new paths and yet there are still the same cracks somewhere.  My feet hurt and my skin is burnt but the elation hasn’t faded.

Check out the photos I took of the Centennial Celebrations here (At the Quezon Hall), here(Protest Rally), here (At Vinzons Hall) and here (The Centennial Oblation run-NSFW).

They say that some of the best education is still outside of the classroom. I agree. I learned more from my UP friends and drinking sessions with my professors than being stymied in neat rows of desks. I learned more from all those hours I lost myself in the libraries. But, of course, I love the classroom as well especially if the professors were firebrands.

A couple of weeks ago, I visited UP Diliman. I saw my only professor crush. He taught Philosophy and challenged us to work for a thankless job that might offer a glimpse of change afoot. My goodness. I had to stop walking when I saw him talking to his students. He still looks the same. I never realized that things can happen in slow motion. He glided past me and he looked at me and smiled. For a moment there was so sound except his exhalation of his smile. He still had that smile.

I smiled like I had cement on my teeth.

I wanted to yell at him, “You!!!! You!!!! It’s your fault I have major distrust towards big salary and corporations!!!! I should have been happily blindly working for the money. But noooo!!! I had to teach!!!! At UP!!!!! Do you love me now?!?!?!?!?” I let out a chuckle. I imagine grabbing him by the shoulders after screaming that and planting a kiss and skipping away with my “teeheeheee’s”.

This is why I love UP. A lot of my best memories are attached to this place of limited resources but unlimited wonder. And of course UP taught me more than any school that I went to.

When they played UP Naming Mahal, I remember the revised lyrics sung at the musical about the slain UP activist Lean Alejandro:

Malayong lupain
Di kailangang marating
Dito maglilingkod sa bayan natin
Dito maglilingkod sa bayan natin

I stayed, damn it. I stay not because i am hero (OH, PLEASE!), UP, but because I wanted to repay you. I stay because I believe. It is impractical but I stayed. I stay with such a punishment from the fear of the unknown and the fangs of insecurity. And yet, I never felt this light in all my years as an employee.

Maybe someday I will fly away into the cliched greener pastures. But I will return. Or, perhaps, UP, I will never leave your side? Who knows? What I do know is what I saw today. I see these UP professors singing the alma mater song with such gaiety and resolve. I see students with defiant clenched left fists up in the air. I see alumni with their children as if offering their child to the oblation. I see UP all beautiful with cracks and walls heaving in exhaustion and yet all these disrepair cannot crumble how massive UP’s meaning is to those who walked the halls.

As I was snapping photos for the Centennial Celebration, I never saw such intensity and fervor among some  students and employees for UP. Obviously, I am not alone when I call UP a love of my life.



  1. haha.

    its not the years in your life in UP that matters, its the life in your years. 🙂

    looking forward to a semester of sit-in’s in your hum2 class, sir. 🙂

  2. sir… wow… nostalgic… 🙂 hehe… maybe I feel what you feel. Actually I want to stay in UP even longer than the usual 4 yr course in UPM… hehe… I really want to prolong my graduation if it is possible but I can’t. I can just opt to take a 2nd undergrad course (preferrably in UPD, BA history hehe…) in order to integrate my BA Phil Arts with Phil history… 🙂 Plus, eventhough student council work is really sometimes stressful, I enjoy it because everyday I learn new practical lessons in life… I can’t imagine myself if I have studied in another school other than UP. As I imagine it I feel like I am being choked, maybe because of the rules that they implemend to students which can be categorized as facist but these schools define it as discipinary measures…

  3. As the rain pours down in sheets while writing this, so does the memory come crashing through of how we became friends in UP. Thank you for befriending me. It is one of the best memories I’ve had in the University. More than the lessons I’ve learned, it’s the magic of relationships that I’ve learned to love with UP. And from your entry, I guess you could pretty much say the same thing.

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