UP, to me, is such a many-splendored entity. It’s treated as a geographic space characterized by grand staircases and Acacia trees. It’s seen as a socio-political definition. It’s seen as a brand — it’s seen as a symbol of pag-unlad. I’ve always had this romantic, Hogwarts-kind of picture of the university. You know how, in our younger days in a homeroom classroom, there were these people who were constantly zoned out reading books? At that time, nobody cared that they were such bookfreaks. Everybody talked about sports, the latest TV shows, romance. Well, take all those bookfreaks in the whole Philippines and put them in one place — UP. That’s what you get. (Of course that’s only rhetorically generalistic.)
During the earlier days my college experience, I saw cliques form like oil mixed with water — droplets together, in little unmoving bubbles. First year in college is nothing like first year in high school. In high school, you were still naive. Unknowing. Shy and unopened. I mean, you still couldn’t tell who was gay and who wasn’t! In college, social skills have sharpened. You know how to read people, you know whom you like and you know whom you’ll loath. You’ve become judgemental and presumptuous. So you find your best, closest friends and stick with them for the remainder of your undergraduate course. But a point of reflection here, I believe, is the criteria by which you chose your friends. Why did you you guys end up together? It’s not like a party that your parents dragged you to attend, where you meet some other random kids and within 10 minutes the bunch of you were already running around sweaty. Imagine a group of friends clustered together in a circle. Emerging from their backs are individual strings. Along those strings, tied in gift knots: diplomas, certificates, class pictures, awards, BFFs, high school romance, an infinite number of artefacts that define each person’s history. Hidden from this unbreakable bond of friendship is that history that none of them ever knew of each other.
Soon enough, the roads fork again and these four-year old networks of friendship will disintegrate into sealed memory. When I grow older and find new friends in my new places of work, I know I’ll enjoy myself. It’s just the same Christmas parties, nights with beer, going to the mall, and trips to Batangas — but with different people this time. Then, while at the cafeteria, someone cracks a joke and we’ll all laugh I’ll be reminded of my old friends in UP, in Ateneo, here in the sunny streets of Filinvest II. I’ll say to my friend, ay naalala ko sayo yung friend ko! Oh ehm lang talaga, sana nakilala mo siya.. Sigurado ako magkakasundo kayo. But they couldn’t meet, could they?
Within the corners of my reflections, I know that I used to be someone else. Whenever I see myself today — how I talk, how I think, how I behave, I know that things have changed. Nobody knows that. Nobody knows it except me. And as friends pass, I think of these chronicles in my head: pictures, laugther, petty scenes that just keep replaying in my mind. As I move into different worlds, my hopes and dreams start to swell. With the memory of our friends and prospects of the future, we proceed.