Thinking of things to say about graduating takes me back to the last few weeks of summer vacation in 2007, when I spent my idle time walking around my room and looking blankly into the window while trying to imagine the kind of life I would have in the next four years. Maybe I would get to be more sociable, considering that I didn't have much of a social life in high school. Maybe I would be able to do something really cool, like take part in an interschool competition like I did in my senior year in high school. Maybe I would find that girl who would sweep me off my feet.
Let me enumerate my plans for college, as they were back then:
- Shift into Engineering after a year
- Maintain a GWA of above 1.75 - in other words, strive to be at least a College Scholar all the time
- Do more extracurricular stuff
- Do something cool and try to earn recognition for something
- Be more sociable
Have I managed to turn these plans into reality? Well, to some extent, yes. Except of course for number one, which, to be honest, I regretted a few times before. Because of number two experimentation with GE subjects was never an option, as I had to make sure that the subjects I took were easy enough and the professors were generous in giving grades. My membership in a student organization is a testament to number three. For number four, it's probably obvious. And for number five, well, I must say that it was during my college life that I actually became part of a barkada (as popular definition of the term goes).
What sets the past four years from the four years before it, aside from the fact that they involved different sets of people, places, and things, is that when I graduated high school I only had the latter half of it to think about. I wasted my first two years in high school doing very little when I could have done much more. It was a mistake I dared not repeat during my college life, and so I took every opportunity to "do something cool", to try to stand out, and simply to make the most out of those eight semesters. And sure enough, my efforts paid off.
Another thing I kept in mind as I went through my college life was the need for me to be more sociable. That's one of the reasons I joined an organization after not much encouragement, and perhaps why I always looked forward to the first day of classes, mainly for the prospect of meeting new people. I tried to be friendly, though at one point I became so afraid of people that I retreated to my shell. That didn't stop me though. I remember my English teacher back in high school telling me that there is nothing wrong with befriending people. It took me quite a while to understand that, but thinking of all the friends I made just in the past four years, I can say that I managed to have some sort of social life this time.
And as for doing something "cool," maybe the coolest thing I managed to do these past four years is be really good at multimedia arts. The video thing was not in my agenda, and I really wasn't expecting myself to be so engrossed in it. Yet that's exactly what happened. I managed to earn recognition for it, and now one of my problems is figuring out the most effective way to train younger students on video production.
So much for plans, now for the "remarkable" and "dramatic" stuff.
One thing I find remarkable about this whole experience is that all my hard work - including the extraneous ones - paid off. For days I couldn't help but pick up my thesis from the shelf, flick through the pages, and ask "Man, I wrote all these?" Which reminds me of the moment when Martin told me who the other nominees for Best Thesis were - I thought, "Man, there's no way in hell that I'm getting that award, given those contenders." I never wanted it, I never asked for it, yet it came.
The past four years have been about changes, mainly. Changes in how I and the people around me think, speak, act, and work. It is these transformations, in myself and in the people who have touched my life in one way or another, that somehow added color to those eight semesters. I watched my friends as they grew up, and they watched me grow up as well. And this afternoon we marched on, being the well-rounded individuals we have managed to become. I could enumerate all the changes in my personality and way of thinking, but that would take too much time (and bytes) so I'll just leave it at that.
As I walked into my seat this afternoon, it was as if a videotape was rewinding then fast-forwarding in my head. Images of the past four years flashed back as I glanced on the maroon and green hues of my sablay, from the moment I first set foot on campus as a bona fide UP student, right to the very moment that the revered fabric was draped over my shoulder. There's no denying the fact that I'll miss life in UP - I'll miss spending my idle time at the library, having meals with friends, engaging in oft-nonsensical chatter with them, embarking on IKOT and TOKI "joyrides", many things - even arguing with people over almost anything. I may not feel it much now, but it'll definitely come back to haunt me some time in the future.
Later this day it all became clear to me that indeed this was it, especially when Albus Dumbledo-- I mean, the UP President, conferred our degrees and I flung my sablay around. "Parati ninyong sinasabi sa akin, mag-aral ako nang mabuti. Yan, nag-aral na ako nang mabuti!" (You always told me to study well, so I did!) That's what I told my mother many times. In the coming years grades will no longer matter. There will be no more CRS and long enrollment lines to worry about. Life shall no longer be a matter of how much I learn from my teachers, but rather of how I use what I learned in the past eighteen years not just for my own good but for the good of others as well. That's my new challenge - to prove my worth as a member of society, armed with the knowledge I have acquired through the years and the wisdom brought about by numerous experiences, both good and bad.
Now I'd like to express my deepest gratitude, first to our Heavenly Father, for without Him virtually none of these would have come to exist.
To my parents, for their unconditional love, support, and encouragement for being patient with me and never giving up in the toughest of times and when I sometimes became so stubborn. I believe that one reason I managed to become the best I can ever be is that I have the best parents a guy can ever have. To my dear parents, your twenty years of hard work have finally paid off.
My sister, for teaching me the true meaning of patience and responsibility.
My mentors - teachers, professors, and coaches - who believed in my abilities, imparted their knowledge and wisdom, and guided me along the path to what I have become. They are the very reason I have so much respect for educators; my success is theirs as well.
My relatives, for their love and support, for being there to boost my morale and lighten up my mood whenever I became too engrossed in academics or some other hard work.
My friends - orgmates, my BRO barkada, etc. - who have always been there to cheer me up and give me a boost whether or not I actually needed those, and simply for being great friends. You, guys and gals, are proof enough that I am not as socially inept as I used to think.
And all the people who made the past four years colorful and memorable, thank you so much. There are a lot of you that if I had to enumerate I'm surely gonna skip some; you know who you are, anyway.
For all the memories, for all the moments - laughter, sadness, and everything in between - and everything that came to be in the past four years, a million thanks.
On to the next chapter…