Break-up Blues


This is what happens after a break-up.

First comes the overwhelming sense of empowerment. Finally, you are that single woman who needs no man in her life. You are independent. You are unstoppable.

Then, stealthily, loneliness creeps in. You are happy yet there is no one to come home to and tell why. Or you had a crappy day and there is no one to rant on. There is no one to share food with (and hell, food tastes so much better when shared).

Suddenly, you miss his soft hands and purring voice. You miss his scent.

There really is a price for choosing yourself. Is it worth it? I hope it is.

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Unsent Letter: To L., the friend I have lost


Dear L.,

Hi! It’s a tad weird, isn’t it, that I’m writing you this rambling letter when we haven’t seen each other for almost five years and haven’t talked for almost seven years. Even weirder, I just realized that in a way, I miss you.

Today had been a rough day for me. Two of my kids (two of my students, I mean) got into a quite messy relationship squabble and dealing with each, sobbing but unapologetic, drained me so much. Trying to reason with 16-year-olds that some of the things they do now may become their future regrets is a pointless case. They are so in love with love just like almost every teenager out there. Just like I was. Just like you were (probably).

As I was scrolling down my feed earlier this night, trying to distract myself from the issue, I saw you instead. The heartbreak of losing a friend and the gnawing feeling that I did something stupid came back. Then I realized, you are one of my regrets.

Do you remember how I would sneak in your room just so I can talk with you? Do you remember when you calmly tried to teach a panicking me how to twirl the baton only a few days before the demo? Do you remember when you used to teach me physics because I was not ashamed to admit to you that I understood zilch in class? Do you remember that I had my first cup of coffee with you and I pretended that I like it strong because I was too lazy to go back and get sugar and cream?

I look back on these memories with a bittersweet smile. If that thing (you know what I mean) did not happen, who do you think we are today? Maybe we could still be the same as we were when we were fourteen — the inseparable twinsies. Or maybe, not inseparable but still good friends, always catching up on each other with a cup of coffee. I truly regret the friends we could have been.

Maybe someday, when we are women enough to actually face each other, we can meet up for coffee. I miss you, L. I really do. And yes, I have forgiven you.

With love,

Wencey ❤

On Flashbacks and Accepting My Teenage Self


Most people would cringe upon seeing their Facebook memories from six years ago for it seems that we all dread who we were as younger men and women. I, for example, was cheesy and oftentimes irrelevant. I used to flirt online and posted the most random things about myself, making my present self ask in disgust, Do people really have to know that? I was such a KSP*. Eww.

But one memory from six years ago made me rethink about the judgment I so proudly formed against my fifteen-year-old self. Here it is:

facebook-colt-memory
There is no such word as “boldlessly.” Who would have thought my former grammar Nazi self could ever make such an unforgivable mistake?

A friend has once joked that the past is past; hence, Facebook has no right to bring back the memories of our embarrassing younger selves. Facebook must let us move on, he said. How I laughed when he told me that. Back then, I shared the same sentiments — I have moved on and my embarrassing past has no space in my life now.  Except, not quite, as I realize now after remembering this particular moment.

I cannot say that I recall moment vividly but I do remember the paralyzing fear that gripped me. It was a weekend and I was preparing my school things — five  sets of school uniform, underwear and nighties, and some extra clothes. But on this particular night, there are some few extra things in my luggage that I would be bringing with me every week for the rest of the year — dark denim trousers, a military belt, and an intimidating pair of combat boots. Yeahp, against everyone’s better judgment, I enlisted for the Cadet/Cadette Officer Leadership Training (COLT), the training program for aspirant CAT officers.

That night, as I pack my things, I kept asking myself, What were you thinking? The training was rumored to be excruciatingly difficult and it seems to all, including myself, that my physical strength is not enough for what the training calls for. Everybody knows that I was not cut out for it. Hence, just as I said in my six-year-old post, I was scared to death. Now, I look back both amused and proud of myself (that seldom happens). Truthfully, the training was as harsh as it can be and was way beyond what I thought I could handle. But I survived it and lived on to serve as a company commander for the next year. Most importantly, the experience developed in me the emotional strength that got me through college. Indeed, the most wonderful experiences we ever have are the difficult ones.

Usually, such memories brought back by Facebook make me criticize my teenage self. I would often say I was stupid and again, irrelevant. Usually, I am ashamed of my younger self. Now I realize that I have no right to do so for that person that I so openly mock now is the one responsible for the person that I am now. The reason that I now have a relatively happier life is the fact that this foolish and cheesy teenager chose to take risks, made mistakes and learned from them, got up, and moved on.  Yes, she did a lot of crazy things that would make this twenty-one-year-old me cringe but I have no right to be ashamed of her because she was brave and strong enough to make this current me possible.

So here is a reminder for everyone: Let us accept our younger selves, no matter how embarrassing they were because whoever we are today, we have them to thank.

* Kulang sa pansin. It literally means, “lacks attention”. It is used to refer to a person who actively seeks attention.

Strictly Mine?


Last month, I started a six-part series telling the story of my uneventful college life and how I managed to survive it. I intended to end the series on my graduation day. Now, it has been more than a month since I posted the third part and the fourth is still a shabby first draft.

I can give a handful excuses as to why I could not write it:

  1. reading
  2. getting as much shut-eye as I could to make up for the sleepless nights
  3. watching T.V. because I have not in months
  4. job applications
  5. some more reading

But to be honest, there is just one reason why I cannot proceed to writing it:

Some stories are painful to tell because they are built by memories that we would rather forget.

My junior year in college was the toughest year of my school life that I used to worry so much for my mental health. I got past through it, alive and whole, but thinking about it now opens up a hodgepodge of distasteful emotions that I fought so hard to keep bottled deeply inside all these years. They are just too intimate that I could just not find the right equations to show you how I came to here. It feels like I should not be sharing it because it is strictly mine. But still, a part of me wants to tell it — to unleash the monster that I managed to tame. A part of me wants to say that it is possible to fix your own brokenness, to make yourself whole again — not necessarily the same but whole and new.

Right now, apart from typing this rambling post, I am trying to write it for the nth time — not exactly writing sentences but rather gathering the courage to share a story that I believe is strictly mine. Wish me luck.

The College Playlist: Sophomore Year


This post is 3rd in a six-post series.

It’s four more days before my eighteenth birthday. Thus, I write:

In a few more days, I will be turning 18. I believe every girl waits for this special day — her debut to the society as a full-fledged woman. I can see that most see this coming of age as a rite to liberation, the grant of freedom to drive her own car in this road of life. It sounds enticing — I would not deny that— but I must admit that it scares me more than it excites me. If there is a name for the fear of independence, then I guess I have that. It is not something to be proud of but honestly, I am afraid of being left to care for my own self.

When I turned fifteen, it dawned on me that, though legally a minor, I am no longer a child. Since then, I began to feel what Wendy Darling must have felt ―longing to go back to Neverland to escape the growing complexity in life. But Neverland is now just a memory that I can only treasure but never relive.

To be a child is the most wonderful experience any person can have. When an older person reminisces her childhood days, it is often that she will recall fond memories of a life full of laughter and hope and devoid of worries and fears.It was an uncomplicated life that is so full of magic. Then, she can be anything ― a princess, a mermaid, or even a ninja! But slowly, the magic wore off,taking away the identity she had created for herself. From someone who viewed her life and herself with certainty, she becomes someone searching for the person she is made to be. She becomes lost for the magic is gone and all her hopes went with it.

Where has the magic gone? Why is it that as a person grows up, she seems to slowly lose the hopes that she once held dear as a child? Why is it that learning more of this world creates worries and fears in an adult who should have been more confident for being more equipped with knowledge acquired from experience? They say it is because a child is innocent for her world is usually and merely confined within the home and the classroom.Growing up is accompanied with the gradual but eventual expansion of her little world into a place that widens her perspective of life. It is then that she sees the life beyond the delicate bubble she was clothed in as a younger person. She sees reality as opposed to the sweet and perfect little world that her family created for her. When the curtain is drawn, the reality that she sees is vulgar and prejudiced, never serene and perfect.

The world is not always fair. Sometimes, no matter how hard you work for the things you want so badly, you cannot even come close to your goal.  The lack of justice in the circumstances in life used to depress me. I used to stand up indignantly and tried to defy it but I never did. It was a way too strong force that I cannot manage to vanquish. I guess I am really not the brave soul I was trying to be. Maybe I am just a vulnerable girl with a fragile spirit. This is why I cling so much to my family. I need them to live. I cannot survive on my own.

Nowadays, I live by fear. Being fearful has become a way of life for me and it keeps me living. Every single day since Daddy died, I have feared for tomorrow. That fateful episode of my life showed me how hostile life can be. Since then, I have waited for tomorrow with fearful anxiety, knowing there is so much more misfortunes that could happen. I start each day with a prayer asking God to please ease my qualms and conclude with a yet another prayer with gratitude for another day passed. Thankfully, He has never let me down but still, the fears remain.

I admire the children who live each day looking forward to the next, beaming with so much hope. I was once such a child, optimistic about my future and sure of my place in this world. Now, I no longer know who I am or what I want. The future is vague and I can hardly have a glimpse of the imminent life that the present offers me. I have no choice but to simply keep walking, my childhood dreams in tow, serving as my lamp to combat the darkness of my chosen path. You see, childhood is a brimming cup of hope and I need to take a sip every now and then to rouse my sullen spirit.

I wish to be a child again. I wish to go back to the carefree days when no one expects me to be independent. I wish to be whisked back to Neverland and be eternally a child. But Neverland is a “never” land. It never existed and will never exist. At the stroke of midnight, the magic will wear off and the fancy dress and the carriage drawn by horses will soon be gone. There will be no magic carpets to bring me to places I have to go to. I have to carry myself from place to place by foot or public transport. A frog will remain a frog no matter how hard I try to love it. Kissing it will just give me a salmonella infection. Beasts will be beasts and they are not princes in disguise. There will be no three fairies to protect from the curse of an evil witch and a kiss will only bring me into a deeper slumber. Yes, the magic is all gone. You cannot simply live with hakuna matata.

As much as I want to be a child forever, I can never turn the days back. I must now start to look ahead and face adulthood to embrace it. No one ceases to grow up. We must and that is the only choice we have. Besides, it may not be that difficult. Even if friends and acquaintances come and go, I know my family will forever be with me in this struggle. And of course, there is my mom who never gave up on me.

So yeah, 18th birthday, I dread your arrival but I am here to welcome you nevertheless.

I am sitting at the cafeteria, having a breakfast of stale donut and iced coffee, nervously waiting for the release of grades in Inorganic Chemistry. Having failed Organic Chemistry in the summer, I don’t think I can afford to fail another chemistry subject again. Or any subject, actually, or else I lose my scholarship and losing it means having to drop out of school for good. It is unthinkable. I don’t want to break my mother’s heart.

Nibbling on my donut, I push the coffee cup away. It is not helping my nerves. A little while later, a classmate comes and joins me. He, too, is waiting for the grades. Being strictly acquaintances and having nothing to talk about, we make a polite conversation about school, especially Inorganic Chemistry. For some reason, I end up telling him about how I find chemistry subjects difficult and how I can’t afford to fail this one, too. Thus, he asks: “’Di pa ‘pag Pisay grad magaling sa DPSM subjects? Bakit…

He need not say anymore for I know exactly what he is trying to tell me: How come you’re not as smart as they are?

I shrug. I don’t know either.

We have reached an uncomfortable silence. He has a struck a sore point of mine and I do not know how to react because he is partly correct — I am not smart, at least, in his (and probably everybody else’s) perspective. But then, there is one thing that I do know: I am not stupid either; I can be smart in different circumstances. But I don’t know how to tell him that. He will not understand just as I still don’t.

He says nothing, seemingly waiting for my answer. I don’t know what sort of answer he is expecting (maybe an admission of arrogance and laziness) so I shut my mouth. After all, he thinks I am not smart enough so any answer will not matter to him.

Sensing my irritation, he excuses himself. He extricates himself from the awkward situation he started while I am left to torturously ponder why, after four years of special science education in high school, I still suck at science. Why I am not as smart as my fellow Pisay graduates.

I don’t know, I whisper to myself. That’s all I can give as an answer as tears stain my cheeks.

**********

“Ah, you’re going to med school!”

I have to stop myself from rolling my eyes. “Uh, no. I’m not.” I look away.

“But why?”

“Because I don’t want to.” Why can’t most people understand that?

She looks at me like I’m mad and I bite my tongue to keep myself from screaming, MED SCHOOL IS NOT THE ONLY OPTION! But then, I ask myself, Indeed, what other options do you have?

As if she can hear my mind, she answers, “Research — you can go into research.” I shudder. I don’t know. I don’t think so.

Despite the superb training that we are being provided by the school, I still don’t think research is a niche that I can dwell on comfortably. While I love learning, I am not naturally probing as a scientist should be. I have no deep-seated interest in what I am studying and instead, I just want to read the books and absorb as much as I can so I can pass. With all due honesty, science is not really my passion. I am no science geek.

Instead, I am a bibliophile — I love literature, I adore the written word. In a parallel universe, I am a literature major, preparing to be a high school English teacher — that’s the dream since I was little (although I originally planned to be a grade school teacher).

“I am actually planning to teach after college,” I say truthfully.

Her face lights up. “Ah, prof sa college.”

“Uh, no. High school.”

She looks at me, open-mouthed. “But why?”

“Because that’s what I want.”

“Why?”

I shrug. I don’t know how I can make people understand.

**********

“What will you talk about?” We are supposed to give an inspirational speech in a speech class and everyone’s been asking everyone this question.

“Hmmm… I dunno,” I answer, without looking up from my chemistry notebook. “Do I look inspiring to you?”

My friends laugh. They always love my self-deprecating humor. But underneath the badass student façade I like to keep, there is an anxious creature lurking, wondering what indeed should I talk about.

My problem, unlike most of my friends, is not what to talk about. Rather, it is which one to talk about. With a life that is very much like pushing a cart uphill only to let it drag you downhill uncontrollably, I can talk about so many life challenges.

I can talk about my family and my father’s death — Filipinos are notorious for being such suckers for the sob story. But then, I do not want to look kawawa because I don’t think I am.

I can talk about the contract I signed as a thirteen-year-old that practically bars me from taking all other paths except for one. But then, I do not want to offend people who would gladly switch places me because of that privilege I was granted when I was thirteen. I do not want to sound ungrateful, especially to the Filipino taxpayers who has sent me to school for the last six years.

I can talk about my school problems — how I can’t cope and catch up, how I am starting to believe I am really stupid. But then, I don’t want to sound like I’m whining because I hate whiners myself. Besides, my classmates, with their relatively comfortable lives, would never understand anyway. For them, I am just lazy.

Still pretending to read my chemistry notebook, I keep thinking what I will share to the class. I just know that I can’t talk about my current problems for these are not overcome obstacles. There are no resolutions (yet), no happily-ever-afters (that is never going to happen).

Thus, when a friend asks what I will talk about, I still answer, “Hmmm… I dunno.” Because there are stories that are painful to tell. But someday, when I finally understand how His great plan for me works, maybe I can give a true inspirational speech.

**********

We are cramming a problem set for chemistry and I have at least half left blank. A new friend nudges me. “Ano’ng sagot?”, he asks while pointing at an item.

I look at my own paper. It is blank, too. I laugh. “I don’t know.”

It seems that I still can’t understand, no matter how much I try. But it’s okay — someday, I know I will.

 

The College Playlist: Freshman Year


This post is 2nd in a six-post series.

This is not the first time I am boarding the bus alone but for goodness’ sake, this is Manila— filthy, anarchic Manila (as I have seen T.V. news programs paint its picture). I could easily get lost! Or worse, robbed. Or mugged. Or abducted. Or, seeing these almost flying vehicles, run over when I get down from the bus.

Who would believe that my mother, the woman who kept her dear children out of bicycles for fear that they might hurt themselves and used to take them with her wherever she went, is actually sending me out here alone? She used to tell me that Manila, even in broad daylight, is never safe. Now she is making me tackle this wilderness on my own. I am scared.

Before leaving the house at five in the morning, I almost asked Mommy if she could take me to school instead and then pick me up when my classes are over. But I am already seventeen — old enough to take the daily commute, they say. After all, I am in college now.

Fat raindrops hit my bus window and I watch the tiny waterfalls they make.

I love the rain. When it rains, both the streets and cars are washed. Flowers usually bloom soon after. The earth is wet, the rice fields are majestically green and gold. And there is that peculiar but relaxing smell produced from the mingling of rainwater and foliage. Rain is a gift.

But looking through my bus window, I see rain here is an annoying, unwelcome guest. Everywhere I see people with sour faces, holding on to their umbrellas. The streets are muddy, not cleaned, and pedestrians have to dodge puddle after puddle of mud. There are no flowers, only wilted plants and misplaced trees. It is a sad sight. Not even the rain can cheer Manila up.

The driver starts cursing. It has started to flood so the traffic is getting worse. I sigh. This is going to be one long ride.

**********

It is now a few minutes before nine in the morning and I am still in the bus. I have missed my 7 A.M. class and given the traffic’s pace, I am lucky if I can still attend even just ten minutes of my second class. Another missed quiz again. I wonder how I will be able to pass History1 if I keep on missing quizzes.

Miraculously, the bus inches forward, its wheels almost useless in this flood. I have seen floods worse than this but I cannot understand how streets can be flooded when the rains were not too heavy. Only in Manila, it seems.

After two Pinoy comedy films (Praybeyt Benjamin and Here Comes the Bride), the bus finally comes to my stop — Padre Faura Street. I have missed my second class but there is still enough time to get to the next. I walk through the flood, dreading manholes and pissed that I forgot to roll up my jeans. The usual five-minute walk to the school gates takes fifteen minutes.

As I walk towards a comfort room to dry myself, a professor (I could no longer remember who), seeing my wet jeans, asks, “O, hanggang saan any baha?

Embarrassed, I answer, “Hanggang tuhod, po.” He laughs.

“Well then, welcome to Taft River!”

**********

Thank God, I can be home before dark.

The bus is nearly empty and I have managed to have a window seat. This is a good day.

We are halfway through towards my destination and people starts filing in. A bearded, hefty, old man sits beside me. Every now and then the bus halts to let more passengers in. As there are no more seats, they remain standing, holding on to the back rests of the seats. I could have pitied them but after spending countless bus rides standing up throughout the entire journey, I ignore them. They are fine.

Then, the seat starts trembling. Ugh, I think, why do old men do that? It is bad enough to see them jerking their legs for no reason. It is so much worse to feel its effects. Just ignore him. You’re near your stop, I tell myself. He’ll get bored doing it anyway. They all do.

But he doesn’t. I turn sideways to glare at him, just to show my displeasure and…

… he smirks at me. I cry.

I sob and close my eyes, not knowing what to do, as the old man laughs maniacally, masturbating. The seat keeps trembling. So does my entire body.

I keep crying, muttering a prayer to the Holy Spirit under my breath. What else can a girl of seventeen do?

**********

No one expected that the exam would finish so late in the evening.

“Bye!” My classmates wave at me as they headed out the school gate. I wave back, wondering how they could walk through the eerie, unlit street. Padre Faura looks like a seedy, deserted alley after the sun sets. Why are there no properly functioning lamp posts? My lips quiver. I start praying again.

I drag my feet towards the gate. The sooner you get out of here, the sooner you get home, I tell myself. Once I am out of the school, I hug my backpack in case of a pickpocket lurking somewhere near. My phone vibrates — a text from my mother.

Anak, hintayin mo ‘ko. Sunduin kita.

Thank God! I sigh. Thank you, Mom, and I love you.

 

Shit.

I curse under my breath as the twentieth person says this is his pre-med. That is exactly half the class.

What am I supposed to tell this people? If I say I won’t be going to med school (yes, I’ve made up my mind and no one can convince me now), they will surely ask what I plan to do then after this. Should I be honest then and say that I took this course because

  1. when I was thirteen, I signed a contract that I cannot afford to breach;
  2. my father, the breadwinner of the family, died this summer so I badly needed the scholarship; and
  3. with the new scholarship, it now makes two contracts.

A person from the row in front of mine stands up. It is almost my turn. Should I lie instead? It is either I say this is my pre-med, too (then years later, say I changed my mind) or I say I have always loved biology because… because…

Actually, I don’t love biology. I don’t even like it. So why am I here, majoring in pre-med biology? Let’s see. I guess this all started when I was about five (or four, I cannot remember exactly).

For Christmas, little Wencey asked for a doctor’s set. Mommy and Daddy were thrilled, she can’t understand why. They never liked it whenever she asks for toys, like the red toy motorbike (she got it anyway — she’s got a good grip) or that life-sized dollhouse (“What do you need it for? You wreck all your dolls anyway.”). Anyway, Santa must have judged her to be good enough that year (he always does, she wonders why) and on Christmas morning, there it was under her sock — a brand-new doctor’s set.

Oh, how much she loved that play set! She immediately put up her own hospital with all their stuffed animals — because her sister would no longer lend her dolls — as patients. She wondered aloud why her “tetscope” doesn’t work and Daddy laughed. Mommy stuck her picture on the yellow identification card and wrote her name on it. It now said she’s a pediatrician. Since then, little Wencey had set herself to be a “petrishun”.

That is, until she was ten and decided that the world needs better teachers (yep, tween Wencey wanted to save the world). She told Mommy this and she said that’s great but didn’t she want to be a doctor? She shrugged. “I don’t know, Mommy. I’m not yet sure.”

Shortly after, she found that tatty, green, hardcover book in Mommy’s old things. It was musty and mildewed and the pages were already brittle. It did not look promising but being extremely bored and having read their entire bookshelf already, she read it. And again when she got bored again. And again. And again until she knew it by heart. It was beginner’s biology.

She aced science that year, all thanks to her old but new friend. She was so happy and she told herself that she loves science, biology in particular. In fact, she considered being a doctor again after Mommy said doctors had to study a great deal about biology. Little did she know then that this was all just but a parallax,  no thanks to the tatty, green, hardcover book.

The person beside me sits down and nudges me. I stand up.

Shit.

**********

“Mag-shift na lang kaya kayo? Baka hindi para sa inyo ang Bio.”

It takes all my strength to keep from crying as I grip my exam paper. On its upper right hand corner is a big 56. Four points short of the passing score. This is supposed to be the easiest exam, being the first. If I have failed this then what more the next ones? Stupid! I curse myself.

I know I am not as smart as most people in here are but I got here because of the strong foundation my mother painstakingly built for me. When I was a kid, she never gave up on me. When I was failing math, she would drill me almost every night until I get it. We stayed up until the wee hours of the morning when I cannot grasp the new lesson. When I have a really important or difficult exam coming up, she would quiz me and make me reviewers to make sure I get high scores. She helps in my projects and practices me for my oral reports, thinking up possible questions and coaching me how to answer them. As a grade schooler, I had a pretty easy life. My mother sure of that. She worked so much for me — more than most mothers would.

But I am no longer a child now and my mother knows that. She wants me to grow up, especially now that adulthood is just a few months away. She wants me to stop complaining and just do the best that I can. But I am not sure I can do this. Even from the start, it does not feel right.

The professor continues to glare at us. Shamed, I look down. He knows I failed. He has branded me as an academic delinquent already and this is just the first exam!

Maybe he is right. Maybe biology is not really the right path for me. Maybe I made a mistake.

But my conscience whispers to me: Shifting is not an option. Right, mistake or not I have no other choice.

This may be a mistake I have to make.

 

The College Playlist: Prologue


This is the 1st of a six-post series.

We both stare at each other, not knowing what to do. I smile at her. She smiles back, weakly.

I look at her and wonder, Who is she? She looks like someone that I used to know but I feel like I don’t know her.

She could have been pretty but there is weariness in her young face. She is too young to wear that face. My heart aches for her. I look at her closely, searching her deep brown eyes. They are impenetrable. I have never seen such eyes before. Never before have I seen such sadness. No, I tell myself, she’s a stranger. You don’t know her.

The stranger stares at me, too. I wonder what she sees. Does she know me? It looks like she does.

She starts crying. I try to console her but I don’t know what to say. She’s a stranger, after all. I smile again, hoping she gets that it means everything will be alright. Again, she smiles back, weakly. Her eyes show that she knows I’m lying. She knows nothing is fine.

I sigh and watch her sob silently. It seems there is nothing more that I can do for her. But I can’t bear to leave her. For we are alone, the girl in the mirror and me.

Neither half-empty nor half-full


“Is it half-empty or half-full?”

The mother asks the little girl as she points to her unfinished glass of water. She wants to teach her child a lesson on hope and optimism.

The girl stares at the glass and giggles.

“You know what, Mommy? That glass needs to be filled.”

Yellow roses


She loved yellow roses. They know that.

There are yellow roses in her vase. There are yellow roses everywhere, from people who say they love her.

But she can’t see them now for the girl has put herself to sleep.

Yellow roses keep coming still, in case she wakes up.

image

Sweet Sixteen


Dear Batch 2016,

It has taken me this long to actually write this letter because for the past two days, all I could utter was FINALLY.

Finally, we got it. We did it! (insert Dora’s song here)

The word sounds so sweet, doesn’t it? No, not finally — WE. We, as a batch, finally made it happen after three years of consistently placing third. We proved that we are not entirely disparate, that we can work together as a team. We can be one.

To be honest, I was one of those people who lost the enthusiasm after last year’s disappointing results (yeah, still bitter about it). Somehow, most of us had managed to contribute something and shell out whatever ounce of time that could be pumped out of those hectic third year days so I really thought we could actually place that year. But we did not and it hurt badly even for me who was not even an active participant. That pretty much ruined the event for me. In those sorrowful moments immediately after being denied of that one thing we were all yearning for (and what I thought was already at our fingertips), I remember telling myself, Don’t give too much next year — it’s not worth the heartbreak.

But then, what makes it worthy of the heartbreak?

Love, of course. Anything worth loving is worthy of the heartbreak. And you, guys, are worthy of the heartbreak.

I know it is awkward to have this coming from me because I am one of those people who are quite detached from the batch — always the first one to leave after dismissal, the one who never attends parties, the one who always keeps conversations as school-related as possible — but I am not that insensitive to be oblivious or indifferent to all your efforts. I watched in wonder as our leaders attempted to save whatever scraps of hope are left from last year. Seeing them work so hard for it despite all the schoolwork (exams, thesis, NMAT, etc.) while I do practically nothing productive made me feel guilty. I felt guilty for losing faith on us and I felt unworthy to be among you.

To placate the guilt, I started praying the novena to St. Jude Thaddeus, the Saint of Desperate Cases, for us (all right, laugh all you want). But halfway  through it, I started asking myself, Are prayers all that I can offer? It’s not that prayers are useless. In fact, prayers are powerful. But was I incapable of doing anything else? I realized, that compared to you, I was being so selfish. I was not as stressed as you were — we were done with our proposal defense and I am not taking the NMAT — yet I was doing as little as I can just because I thought it was hopeless anyway. Then, I remembered something that I always used to tell myself every time I lose hope.

If there is really no hope left, at least do it out of love.

Then suddenly I saw that that was exactly what you guys were doing. For the past years we fought to win but this time I no longer saw the competitive streak we had before. Instead, I saw each one of us working hard for the sake of everybody else. This time it was done out of love. So I did the same, too. And it felt so good. It was basically giving without expecting anything in return — the purest kind of love.

So to all of you, especially the heads and the props team (woohoo!), thank you so much. Let us have a thanksgiving party after this sem, okay? I love you all so much.

Heart heart, Wencey ❤

P.S. And thank you, Sir L. for that 99. Not sure if we truly deserve it but it was a very welcome gift.