Yesterday, UE finally sent me a letter requesting UST that they authorize me to personally send them my credentials. UST, because of unknown reasons, had failed throughout my semester of stay with UE in sending my grades. When I went there, the Registrar promised me that the documents would all be ready by Friday.
I somehow felt an inner peace hearing that. My last stance as a Thomasian law student would be officially finished as soon as all my records are sent to UE. Probably, this clear idea would help me with the final arch of letting UST go.
After that, I walked around UST. I went to Dapitan and went on an obstacle relay on its street which is heavily under repair just to go to Simple Line, my favourite tea store. I ordered the usual large black milk tea with tapioca and talked to the lady there that I was amazed that people still go there despite how hard it is to go to their place because of Dapitan’s heavy repairs. She told me that because of the quality of their teas that made people still buy their products. I smiled and sipped my way to UST.
To kill time, I decided to walk around the campus by myself. Yesterday afternoon was one of the most breathtaking scenes of UST in my memory. There were very few students who were coping with summer lessons hence it was more tranquil than the usual. The afternoon sun was warm but it was very breezy. The clouds were high and are like feathers scattered in the sky. Some trees were now flowering with blazing red and yellow blossoms.
It was a perfect afternoon.
I tell you now that it was the hardest thing that I had ever went through in my life besides losing my grandparents which coincidentally all died on January but with different dates and years. I, who valued my sleep so much, had not rested for days. I can’t sleep. I always felt like crying. I lost my appetite (just kidding, I hope I did though). Once, even the sight of my jackets, which were an essential part of my uniform, was enough to let me burst out crying. I was pathetic. I was such a loser. I was so angry, frustrated, ashamed, insane and desperate. At some points, I wanted to quit law. At one point, I wanted to die badly because I felt useless and dim-witted.
Living in the suburban part of Quezon City almost all my life, I remembered how terrified I was initially when I discovered Manila. Before going to college, I usually go to Manila once a year to visit my grandfather’s sister in her lonely mansion in Malate. I was a very talkative and playful child (as I am today) so I barely paid attention on the streets of Manila while my father is driving on our way there. But I had to grow up and among the three schools which I had passed for college entrance examination, I find UST the best (the other two was PUP and Miriam College).
So after begging to my parents to let me study in UST, I found out that life in it would be harder than I thought. One reason is because I was a sheltered child. I am one of the few people in my batch who was still a service rider at her senior year. Commuting was harder for me. It’s initially like asking a child who is still used with someone feeding her make her own meal all of a sudden. I am not used in crossing the streets. I am kind of scared with a lot of different people from all walks of life commute with me every day. I am scared of the sellers which may trick me. I am scared of the taong grasas scattered in corners of Manila begging for food and money. I was disgusted seeing rugby boys in Dapitan. Secondly, I also have a very poor sense of direction. This is very embarrassing to admit, but I cannot differentiate Dapitan from Padre Noval or Lacson from Espana. I cannot remember where I had eaten or where was the loading station. Thirdly, I cannot stand the pollution. It’s a good thing that I outgrown asthma attacks but I sometimes still get sick because of this.
But I have to withstand it not only because of my parents or my personal ambitions, but because I developed a deep love for UST. It was so deep that all the offshoots that I had enumerated above turned nothing for me. I loved almost everything about UST—the long and esteemed history, the very Catholic and conservative beliefs and traditions, the highly respected faculties and colleges, the facilities, the field, the chapel, the hospital, the teachers and graduates that it supplied and the classmates that it had given me. Though I fear the City of Manila, I feel very safe in UST. I am always early in going to school. I think I was late for only once or twice in my whole stay in UST. I hated being absent. I must be having a high fever in order for me to miss a class. UST almost always inspired me to go to class.
The inevitable came. After four years, I had to graduate from my undergrad course. But I already envisioned myself as a Thomasian lawyer just after four years. There is just no other way.
But, let us fast forward to that fateful night of the 28th day of October 2010. I saw myself holding back the tears as I impatiently wait for that taxi. I need to go to Timog Avenue as soon as I can. One taxi stopped for me and after explaining the place I want to go to, the taxi driver asked for dagdag because the place that I was going to was traffic. Yes, I agreed with his scheme. I am desperate to go anywhere at that time even to Egypt, where there was an unrest, or to the moon, or to the Andromeda galaxy.
One minute later after the taxi driver stepped on the gas, I wailed to him, “Mama, bakit ngayon ka lang dumating! Kanina pa kita hinihintay!” It was a pitiful and funny scene.
Unfortunately for that driver, just about twenty minutes before I went in his taxi, the Faculty Secretary had positively declared me as debarred BUT at the same time, I must get rid of those emotions as soon as I can because the reason why I was going to Timog Avenue is to go to a Chinese restaurant to celebrate the graduation my my cousin, Kuya Doy. He graduated with a degree of Doctor of Medicine earlier that day, too. I told the taxi driver everything while sobbing, sniffling and wailing occasionally. I don’t know if he had understood me but he tried his best comforting me by saying that there is no way that I am stupid because I’m taking up law and God has better plans for me. However, at the height of emotions, nothing makes sense. The pain was overpowering. I can’t see or hear clearly. My body was shaking. But I have to stay strong temporarily for Kuya and our families. I have to smile as soon as they arrived.
I was lucky that I arrived there earlier than expected. My family was already there but Kuya’s family was stuck in the traffic of EDSA so they arrived much later. My family already knew about the sad truth because I phoned them inside the taxi. Everyone was down, especially my father, who didn’t know what to do. I asked for forgiveness. I’m happy that they understood. After that night, I was living on the nightmares of self-denial and despair.
I prayed. I prayed. I prayed.
I know that I would enter UE. It was an easy option because Dad studied there although I tried inquiring at PUP but they didn’t let me enter because I had failures from my transcript. I considered Arellano or San Sebastian but Dad already made up his mind so I agreed though I was a bit reluctant to continue with law as I felt so depressed and tired that I just want to rest at home but I didn’t tell him that.
UE was relatively a smaller school if compared to UST. Everything that UST has, you could find an equivalent in UE but on a smaller scale. There were hardly any trees except those in the Tan Yan Kee, which is a very small garden. I kind of dislike UE because all I could see were buildings and it suffocates me in a way. Anyway, UE Law also has fewer students compared to UST and perhaps more than its half is working. I was surprised in learning there was more irregulars than regulars. The class size could be as small as five or more than thirty. It was difficult at first in adjusting. UST has may heart and soul which I could not overnight recall from it. I still go down at UST sometimes and pray to the chapel there before walking to UE though one day, I outgrown it. I also don’t know anyone there except for Miko, who was my classmate in UST. I come to class about fifteen minutes before the time and had never studied in the library, thus, I remain a mystery to UE except to my few classmates and some office staff who I really talked to. But I enjoy my independence. I liked now staying at home studying by myself. I also take pride of doing well in exams without any sample exams. I also like my classmates who were generally nicer than my classmates in UST Law.
Nevertheless, I must completely relinquish all the negative feelings inside now. I must let go one and fully embrace the latter. The dream on being a lawyer does not start or end in what school you’re studying in but in your ability alone when you take the bar. I must take that one big step away from UST finally for the betterment of me.
I’ll always be a true Thomasian . But I wrote this to finally let myself walk away under the shadows of UST. Thank you, UST. I am absolutely grateful in you. I don’t think I’ll ever finish my list of reasons why I am forever thankful in you. However, this is also the time for me to understand fully what it means to be a Red Amazon because after all, the end of the journey for me is not simply being as a Thomasian Lawyer but a Thomasian-Amazon Lawyer.
I’ll forever be proud carrying the colours of gold and red—the colors of dignity and passion which would always guide me in my profession as lawyer someday.
I am now stepping out to forever.