My colleagues, especially Robyn, have been working very hard for the past few weeks for the event organized with UNHCR and the Department of Justice. June 20 marks “World Refugee Day” and our NGO has put up an exhibit of artworks done by refugees near the fountain in Shangri-la Mall . It was my first event and I even had to borrow Mon’s blazer because I realized I had none. LOL I have a barong from my graduation rites two months ago, but that would have been too formal for something that requires smart casual.
Yesterday afternoon was foreboding. After the sunny day during the early morning college graduation, it rained really hard that it made me worried about the fate of today’s weather. There was even a report of tornado and hail stones and somebody also sent me a message that there was a Low Pressure Area forming in Luzon. As the University-wide graduation would happen in an open area, the prospect of a bad weather will literally dampen our spirits. Looking back at my first University Graduation, I remember that it was so hot that I had been sweating a lot both from the influence of the direct sunlight and the uncomfortable barong that I was wearing. But for today, leaving our house at exactly 2:00 PM, the sky was gray and I was eagerly praying for another chance with the sun. LOL Our first itinerary upon reaching UP was to take pictures with the sunflowers along the University Avenue. My family was particularly excited about this as they kept on seeing news feature this entire week about the graduation in UP Diliman, and how the sunflowers were finally in full bloom just in time for the event. But frankly, I was disappointed to see that the sunflowers were no longer that perky because of the bad weather yesterday. The petals were no longer as nice-looking as the ones I’ve seen last Friday. =/ Anyway, that did not prevent my family, along with Mon, Lot and Lay to take lots of photos with the sunflowers. But the photo-op was cut short — it sporadically rained and we had to run for cover.
I was carefully evaluating the weather and I thought that it would eventually stop, with an overcast sky as the worst that could happen. I was right. Around fifteen minutes before the start of the program, the weather had sort of ‘stabilized’ and I was confident that it will no longer rain. When Erin and I went looking for the designated meeting place for our college, I chanced upon this small group of people: the UP Pep Squad captains for the school year. I was really happy to see them and who would have thought I would be finishing my graduate degree, the same time as these kids finished their undergrads. I suddenly felt old. I even remember my very last halftime (as an alumnus, because I was one of the ‘babysitters’) with Irish in 2007, when she was still a freshman.
Finding our line, I was happy to know that we were situated at the back, giving us more freedom to move and just budge when we were to finally go inside the Amphitheater. We even managed to buy a cone of ice cream each!
To be honest, it was tedious hearing the speech of the Guest Speaker. Apart from the low volume, it did not help that the speech he was delivering was written exactly on the pamphlets distributed on top of our chairs prior to occupying our seats. Why listen when I can always read it later? Just kidding. There was also, I think, a slight error in the sequence of the program. By the time we have already transferred our Sablay from right to left, majority of the graduates were no longer paying attention to the valedictory address. Poor kid. I could not even remember a lot of the things he said, apart from comparisons with national heroes and jokes that took me a moment to digest. But I’m happy to remember him saying about his advocacy to give back to the community by teaching along with a couple of students. I’m extremely happy to hear that. Gomz, though, asked me about my experience with my previous university graduation, and whether it was this unruly (he did not attend his university graduation in 2008). From what I can recall, everybody was quiet and intently listening to the valedictory address of Mikaela Fudolig, the Wunderkind who finished summa cum laude at 16 years old (Yikes!). I still remember about the “take not the road less traveled” from her speech. The whole event was festive but not unruly as the one we just had last Sunday. Oh well.
After the graduation — time to take photos! I have taken lots of photos with friends, classmates, family, etc. But I did not realize that I brought along UP Pep fans with me! Same as yesterday, some UP Pep drummers were present and I dropped by to take a picture of the drummers playing. I saw Kiko and Irish again, and the next thing I knew, Lot and Lay were begging me to ask the captains if it was okay to take a picture with them. LOL Same as the afternoon, I had little chance taking a photo with Oble. There was a very long queue of people waiting for their few seconds to have their picture taken, that I did not bother having one at all, except fpr a quick shot with Mon. I was too hungry for dinner.
I was really worried about getting a decent place to eat in. We did not have any reservation placed and when we reached Trinoma after rushing away from Diliman, we still did not know where to eat. We first thought of A Veneto but there were groups waiting outside, so we transferred to the seafood resto next to it (I forgot the name, was it Seafood Island?). But ‘lo and behold, we had to wait longer as we were the third in line, so we went back to A Veneto. By the time we finally made up our mind, we were seated within five minutes! =D Chicken, pizza and pasta galore, all of us were hungry that it took us less than thirty minutes as soon as all the dishes arrived to get our fill. Monday awaits all of us, and Mon, Lay, Lot, Kuya and Ate Ja had to leave to go home to Cavite and Makati. I can’t be thankful enough that they shared that special day with me.
I was on half-day leave the day before because today’s recognition rites (a.k.a. college graduation) took place very early in the morning. The assembly time was at 7:00 AM, even if the ceremony itself would not take place until 8:00 AM. I had a hard time sleeping because at 12:00 AM, I am normally on my way home, so sleep was difficult to come by. Perhaps I was a bit excited as well? =)
We arrived five minutes after 7:00 AM and there were already a lot of people outside the University Theater. The weather was good but I think the ladies were not particularly keen with the sun shining brightly over their freshly made up faces. However, there was a collective sense of anticipation in the air, and everyone was busy taking photos with their families and friends, and congratulating each other over finally making it. Around 8:00 AM, the first group (i.e. that was ‘us’) made our way inside the theater amidst the cheering crowd of graduates who were so delighted with the processional.
We were given a copy of the program, and I was delighted to see the name of former UP President Nemenzo as the guest speaker. He was the UP President when I entered UP Diliman in 2003, when he was eventually replaced by the President Roman in 2005. I was quite shocked, however, how elderly President Nemenzo was. I remember him being extremely energetic in an event in the Faculty Center before, but then that was almost a decade ago. Of course a lot of things has changed by 2013. I particularly loved his more than twenty minute-speech, because it has a lot of facts on realities of life in the Philippines (and also being Filipino in the impending economic integration of ASEAN in 2013), which would, honestly, not make sense years ago if I did not take International Studies. =D
From what I recall from his speech, he gave three pieces of advice to the graduates. First, he pointed out the importance of remaining a student forever, and how graduation is not the end of one’s education and it is a new beginning. His second advice was over the importance of the liberal arts and how it was wrong to question its relevance, given that it humanizes the impacts of technology because the latter has social implications. Lastly, he gave a very candor caveat “hope for the best and prepare for the worst”, warning on both the benefits and consequences of the neoliberal order, and the possibility of exploitation, especially on the Philippines if it will be furthermore integrated into the capitalist model of development. Marx, Engels and Wallerstein suddenly began speaking to me again. What struck me the most in his speech was the importance of having a critical mind, which gives the burden and challenge for the knowing to do something for others:
“With a critical mind, you can distinguish good from evil, right from wrong, wisdom from non-sense. It allows us into fits of outrage at corruption and the abuse of power; but it also obliges us to support, what is just, reasonable and progressive.” – former UP President Francisco Nemenzo Jr.
There was almost a mishap with Mama. When it was time for the graduates to go on stage and receive the diploma and medals (for some), we were just informed right there and then that our parents should be going on stage with us. I had to make a quick phone call to Mon, so that he can let Mama know and she can sprint all the way to the stage. She just made it in time when my name was called and in the process, she has almost slipped and has already lost her Php 100 corsage. It was a surreal moment for me, and I could not imagine how more surreal it was for her. She has never done this in any of my graduation and I could not believe it was finally happening. We walked hand in hand and she was almost teary-eyed while putting the medal on me. After more than two decades, I have a parent on stage with me. =D
It was a long ceremony and good thing Mon went outside to buy some snack from vendors selling street food. The two pieces of toasted bread I have eaten for breakfast seemed ages ago. At around 12 noon, the whole event was already over and that our group were so delighted that we did not bother finishing the recessional and headed straight to the stage to have our pictures taken with the big “CSSP@30″ on stage! After taking my photos with my classmates, I went looking for Mon and Mama, but turned out, they were already outside the theater. LOL I had to call them back inside because I needed my photos with them on stage. Yep, I am really that traditional with this sort of photos.
And of course, the sound of the bass and snare drums followed. It is usually customary that UP Pep Squad drummers and/or dancers go to the recognition rites of whatever college/institute/school inside the campus, as long as it has a graduating member. In 2007, I even had a short stunt with some of my teammates when my name was called. LOL That was quite a scene. This time, though, I was just a mere expectator and I was delighted over the support of the drummers to their CSSP graduates. I heard familair beats and it sent shivers down my spine. I can still ‘mentally’ do the routine on some of the things they have played, but alas, the mind was willing but the body was not yielding! =P
Nothing special when we went home after, because I was saving the dinner outside with my family and friends after the University Graduation tomorrow. I then thought of digging out the token I got from my college graduation and even if I was decimal-murdered, the Dean of the College of Arts and Letters that time, National Artist Virgilio S. Almario, was gracious enough to provide everybody with a medal. No one went home empty-handed, fair enough. Looking at these two, it was really amazing to think over how far I have come along. Few minutes after taking the photo above, I posted in on Facebook and made an official announcement about the leap from working in the corporate enviroment to an NGO/the humanitarian sector. Well, I will still be technically working in my old company but I am really excited to start working for the NGO. Meanwhile, I have to wash the barong tagalog and the camisa de chino, which I will be both using again tomorrow for the University Graduation!
First of all, my feet were clearly not accustomed to wearing something this quaint after months of donning leather boots. I was teetering while walking over inclined pathways because of fear that I might accidentally slip. It was like walking with flip flops, whose thong was on the brink of breaking. Not that I don’t love these Cervantes but I might just leave them in the office for future use, or if the occasion calls for it and I no longer have any other choice. I also noticed that three out of the four corners of my J. Peterman bag had sustained permanent damage, with the delicately stretched out leather being eventually worn. I don’t know how they made the old U.S. postal service’s bags, but hopefully they suffer the same problem as mine. LOL
When Monette was in the office yesterday, we were exchanging notes and tips regarding the exam I’m taking less than a month from now. From the format up to what will probably be the most tasking part, we also touched upon the management portion. She mentioned about this certain ‘effect’, named after a Greek mythology-related name. The name ‘Prometheus’ immediately came up but ‘Prometheus effect’ made no sense at all. Somebody has been watching too much Fassbender recently — no question on that! A quick Google with the search string ‘management concept greek god effect‘ yielded this: the Pygmalion effect. Close guess, though, as they both share the letters P, O and M. =D
The Pygmalion effect, or the Rosenthal effect (name after Robert Rosenthal) is a theory purporting that people will behave or act in the same way others expect them to. In some way, it is all about labels and the effect of such positive labels on how a person perceives himself. Last July, I went on thinking over how I honestly perceive myself and that overwhelming feeling of mediocrity in that precarious pre-comprehensive examination phase. Well, I passed my exams and I was very happy about it, but at times, I still have that nagging feeling of being undeserving. Come to think of it, I always get this feeling whenever I’m faced with a seemingly daunting task and the almost-year long selection process will surely be an arduous wait. But, hey, I am all for taking risks this year, right? What if I fail. There’s always next year but still, NAKAKAHIYANG BUMAGSAK. O_O
Of course, there’s no pressure and people around me never gave any overt pronouncement of expectations. But reading between the lines (as it is my eternal flaw), I give new meanings and interpretations to what people say to me. I honestly view words of encouragement as a form of pressure, and the truth of the matter is, I create my own problems. Humility aside, among the three of us kids, I was the one always in the receiving end of my parents’ compliments and expectations. I will not go into full detail but needless to say, I was eventually expected to fend for myself as I’m ideally the most self-sufficient. So amidst the feeling of mediocrity I perpetually have, I always do my best to live up to the expectations of the people around me because those were expected of me. A win-win situation, now that I look at it, but for how long can I sustain this?
Back to that ‘giving new meaning’ tendency of mine, I suddenly recall last week when I took a sort-of diagnostic exam for English to see where I need most work and improvement for reviewing. I took a 370-question exam for a timed hour and a half (I finished 15 minutes short of the timer), and I was able to get 324 correct answers. Now, the exam needed an 80 percent grade to qualify, maybe for each part, and I got about 87.50 percent. Of course, it will NEVER be the same set of questions but at least I now have an understanding where to start. But as I was looking over my wrong answers, it was funny/ridiculous how I got all correct answers for the ‘Reading Comprehension’ part, except that the incorrect ones were the give-the-appropriate-title questions — all of them were wrong. It was infuriating because I can’t understand why, as I was under the impression that I was giving an apt title, but the answer key ‘thought’ otherwise. Talk about giving new meaning to what I have read.
I have exactly twenty five days before that dreaded day — I just need to go past that first hurdle. I don’t even write nor indicate any tags pertaining to the exams because I don’t want to be searchable and lead people into clicking these entries. What if I fail? I shudder just thinking about it. Baby steps, baby steps. Meanwhile, I also submitted my CV to an organization looking for volunteers and hopefully I get at least a part-time participation in their activities. That’s the silver lining I was hoping for.