Friday, June 08, 2007

Hanging Out at THE National University

I visited my
alma mater this morning, U.P. It will soon be known as THE national university, if all goes well and the bicameral conference committee report on the UP Charter is approved by the House and PGMA signs it into law. Earlier this week, the Senate approved the said charter, which gives greater autonomy to the Board of Regents, exempts the UP faculty from the Salary Standardization Law, and categorically states the tax-exempt status of all revenues and assets, donations and importation related to its educational function, including all academic awards. Read more about it in this Manila Times article.

More than giving teeth to the school pride deeply ingrained in all UP students and alumni, the UP charter would allow brilliant professors to stay and not seek greener pastures.

I had a breakfast meeting in the area. Since I live 10 minutes away from UP, I often pass by the campus but seldom take time to savor my favorite spots. So this morning, I decided to have some quiet time in my favorite place in all of Quezon City (notwithstanding the rise of TriNoma mall).

It turned out to be a good idea. The sun was up but was not all out to toast my skin. The grass was freshly-cut and the scent reminded me of many Junes where the opening of classes gave me new hope for a better schoolyear. I packed my Bible, iPod, journal, pen, three-fold umbrella, and wide sunglasses. My first stop was the Shopping Center as I had to photocopy some piano pieces for Mama. Then I drove to the chapel. The gates were closed! I had to move closer to read the sign "CLOSED from 8:30-10:30 a.m." The Adoration Chapel was open through another gate, but I wanted to be inside the chapel, where for years I talked to Jesus, Crucified on one side and Resurrected on the other.

I passed by the Sunken Garden, but it was too busy with jeepneys and cars that I felt I would just be distracted if I had stayed there. I tried to park beside the Admin building but I was not allowed to. I only wanted to go to the lagoon! I settled on the A.S. parking lot and enjoyed the brief stroll to the lagoon. Many students were already there, occupying the stone tables and benches, lost in their little worlds with their mp3 players. My plan was not so original. I found a small bench under a tree and I sat, inspecting my surroundings and planning my next move. Ants started to crawl on my skin and clothes, so I had to give up on that romantic idea.

Finally a student gave up the stone table and I had it all to myself. I had a view of the Carillon, the College of Music, and the lagoon. When I was a freshman, we staged a play for my Humanities class right there on the lagoon. I wondered where my classmates were. I was bad at keeping in touch with them. I stared at the College of Music and remembered my days as a student in the Piano Extension Program. I had one recital at Abelardo Hall. I was asked to take an exam to qualify to take up Piano as my Minor. But with Business Economics as my major, and law school as my goal, I passed up that chance. My teacher was disappointed.

I did not want to spend the beautiful morning on regrets, and let my thoughts go elsewhere. I remembered my Humanities professor. She showed me how fond I was of run-on sentences. She made me appreciate poetry and prose more. Best of all, she gave me a flat grade of 1.0. I once saw her walking around the Oval behind the
Bahay ng Alumni. She had her Walkman on so I didn't get to say Hi. It would probably have thrilled her. Wow, that was another regret.

I opened my journal and wrote down a prayer. I asked God if I was doing what He wanted me to do with my life. I presented to Him my hopes as a student then and as a graduate now. Then I asked Him to direct my steps, to show me the way, to allow me to listen to the people He would use as messengers, and to give me courage to resist people who would insist on their own opinions about my life. My Resurrection had not yet come. Turning 33 next month, I could well be just entering Crucifixion. I hoped not. I begged the Lord to let the time of uncertainty end. I had learned some lessons. I had grown in surrender. I had taken a step back and not been as much of a control freak as I was.

Then I realized I was doing all the talking. I put down my pen, closed my eyes, and listened.

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