Back when I took my UPCAT almost two decades ago (yes, I am that old), my first choice of campus was UP Diliman. Although I passed my second choice, UP Baguio, due to my parents' decision of staying within the city, or at least in Metro Manila, I ended up in UST. But UP Diliman has always been like a first love for me. I still remember in high school (yes, the 90's), every time I roamed the campus with my friends during UP Fairs, mini-concerts where held in different colleges. And while waiting and going to one college to another, the lovely scenery of rows and rows of trees, the seemingly different world of the lagoon, and stargazing at the sunken garden has always left my jaw dropped in awe.
The 90’s was an awesome decade. The country just survived the Martial Law, and people's self-expression seeped out from years of suppression. Filipino music had its peak in the 90’s as the underground and alternative scene thrived. Artists and bands emerged making art and singing songs (and take note, not just silly love songs) but against the government and the society, their school and being an adolescent, their neighbors and social commentary, openly. There were no more military restrictions unlike the two previous decades. Eventually, there was an outbreak of creativity. I felt lucky to be in this generation. And during this decade, the general impression was that being a UP student meant either you are a radical or an eccentric (that was meant as a compliment), and for the most exceptional ones, sometimes even both.
I used to write for our school paper in high school, and my editorial column was entitled "Twisted Thoughts". I named it after Jessica Zafra's column in the Philippine Star, "Twisted". She was my favorite Filipino writer that time. I used to cut out her works from the newspaper and kept it filed in a folder. And when her first book came out, I saved more than half of my allowance just to buy her book. For me, Jessica Zafra's straight-forward, in your face sarcasm and play of words were eccentric and lovely at the same time.
Aside from Jessica Zafra, there are other notable UP Diliman graduates who have such a huge impact for me, even life-changing ones. First on my list is Jose Maria Sison, for his historical value (go figure, or should I say, “go google”?), great musicians and lyricists Dong Abay of Yano, Grace Nono, and of course, the Eraserheads! Another notable artist that I have admired is Benedicto Cabrera also known as "Bencab". I first learned about him when he had an art show in Megamall showcasing his paintings of local rock singers and bands. I traveled all the way then to buy his book of postcards but, too bad I lost it when we moved a few years back.
My most favorite artist from UP Diliman is Maningning Miclat. A visual artist and poet, whose artistic sensitivity unfortunately cost her her own life. And as I always say about artists who have left this earth at their own terms, her "beautiful soul is too pure for this cruel world" (Read more about her work and sudden departure here). She has always been a dreamer. Too bad that her dreams were not always pleasant, as her own nightmares consumed her.
Zooming now to the present, with all the trials and nightmares that I have lived and survived, I am so thankful to finally have the chance to study again. And as a fulfilled dream, here at UP. This is my first term in UPOU and although I felt reluctant at first, I am still trying to catch up with today's generation. There are a few private messages here and there asking for my assistance and opinions, despite of my being a new student. And of course, I always try to help as much as I can. I can be a friend and an "ate" to everyone, and hopefully I would be able to help others as well as learn from each other.
I have a great feeling that this is the start of another great chapter in my life. And I am happy to be able to share it with you. Hopefully, we will all get the chance to live up to our goals and dreams and eventually fulfill them.
Now this reminds me of my first write-up for this term. Allow me to quote what I have written, while not disclosing the subject and topic:
“...His thirst for knowledge and adhering to his own dreams... It is in having these childish imagination and naivety that pushes someone... to challenge the norm and the accepted science by making his own experiments and discoveries.
In this we have to remember to never stop questioning. Never stop exploring the “what ifs”. Simply encourage the children to think outside the box. And maybe in doing so, we as adults, will learn for ourselves that when we go back and start dreaming again, that’s when new boundaries will be reached and new discoveries will fulfil us. As I believe the same principle that Pope Francis taught us recently. We should not lose the ability to dream. For if we lose the capacity to dream, we lose the capacity to love, and eventually to live.”
So to my fellow students and whoever may read this, let me end my first blog entry with a reminder: Never Stop Dreaming.
photo credits: UP Oblation at Sunset by Momiska | Sampaloc Lake at Sunrise by Mel Dolorico