Category Archives: College Story

That Day

That day was the Day of Perfidy; Blood-red hearts and roses accompanied with self-serving desires hidden behind deceptive smiles. Every corner of the university reeks with tangy scent of flowers and pheromones.

You almost missed the first and only class because you came late. I was talking with our friends on the corridor when you walked in with that single stalk of rose you tried so hard to hide behind your back. We saw it and behaving like gradeschool kids,  we didn’t let you off easily. We teased and provoked. Our friends are doing it for the fun but I was just curious. Perhaps, I was jealous. But most of all, I was surprised why you bringing a flower meant something to me.

Being friends with you is something I’d always consider as a miracle. You are a one-in-a-million guy who quickly got used to my obnoxious attitude and found a way to push me out of my rock to get me talking non-stop. We’ve always talked easily and we don’t need to hide behind a mask when we face each other. I could probably use a toothpick in front of you and you wouldn’t bat an eye or if you break a wind while sitting next to me, I’d probably laugh with you. Even if I don’t understand half of what you’re saying sometimes, when you talk about charcoal painting or Billie Joe Armstrong, you will segue in a very lame joke we can both relate and then I would still laugh in spite of it and I would begin to care about charcoal painting and Billie Joe and listen to you for once. One smile, one flick of an eyebrow or an eyeroll, we understand each other and simultaneously crack up while the people around us are staring at us as if we’re crazy.

I wonder if most girls with guy bestfriends went through the same thing as I did. Even for once, had they imagined their best friends as someone they end up with? Or is the thought as repulsive as marrying your own brother? Guy friends are there for two things: If they’re not comforting you, they are confusing (without meaning to, of course) you with your feelings.  And even if you know so much about each other enough to try the higher level, being great friends doesn’t guarantee that you will be great more-than-friends kind of thing. Stories like that seldom survive once outside books and movies.

That day, on our way home from the group date, you walked with me when the others are gone. You’re still holding that flower, unsure what to do with it on your hands. I joked about you chickening out and wasting P50 for a rose you can’t give to the girl you like. In response, you shoved the flower to me. You gave me that half shy/half messing-around-with-you kind of smile and I can’t help but to smile back.That time, I swear, we were as gooey and awkward as teenagers going out for their first date.

I would always love and immerse in that what-if moment. A moment of crossroads, a glimpse of what-could-have-been if we continued to the path we were too afraid to take. I could have answered your feelings that time with mine but I took a step back. You didn’t stop me and we parted ways, smiling as before, the same people as before. It’s a mutual decision to never cross the line.

I imagine of another world, in another time, the two of us could have been together. Yet for better reason or for worse, in this time and place, we are not. In another life, we are soul mates who can be so perfect for each other and yet perhaps in another, we fell apart and went back as complete strangers. During these quiet, contemplative nights, it always feels so nice to go back to that moment, recall my jumbled thoughts and drive myself crazy by thinking about the solemn smile you gave to me when I left you standing there without saying anything. I would often think of quite a few endings, deliberately better than what actually happened.

Time grew and the fire kindle between us dies. And we are perfectly content with that, because after everything is said and done or, rather left unsaid and left undone, we can still smile and look at each other in the eye. On that day and the future after, I wouldn’t have it any other way.


Singles’ Night-Out: If True Love has a GPS….

“How do you know if someone’s the right person for you?”

Alas, our happy conversation about reforms for the Philippine society has come to a bitter end, when my friend finally chose that small dead-air moment to interject her sentiments and unanswered questions about love and relationships, a field I try to avoid as possible unless we’re on a slumber party with our other girlfriends over small shots of Tequila.

But there’s only the two of us, sitting over an unappetizing sandwich and steaming coffee inside a small 7-11 convenience store, a ghost of two persons in the midst of rambunctious highschoolers laughing in the other table and a cozy couple who had their own world over to our left.

Thing is, you can ask me about chaos theory, about the wildest conspiracy theories, about current news and political affairs on Iceland or some God-forsaken country, about the life cycle of maggots and how can they make Greek cheeses very delicious but never ever ask me about relationships, especially romantic ones. I already made this clear to my friends but seriously, why do they always have to ask for love advice to the Great Single One?

Most opinions of Great Single Ones can veer away from cynical to blessedly innocent, depending on the past romantic relationships or the lack thereof. Like in my case, who grew up with books and fictitious, ideal tales of love and whatnot, my data about relationships is 100% inaccurate. Somehow, I can’t understand my own emotions too, and that is why I instantly avert away from any romantic moves of the opposite sex towards me. I just can’t simply imagine myself holding hands with someone or go out on Saturday nights, or spend the entire evening exchanging sappy texts. My experience in a serious committed relationship is as broad as that of a group of Eskimos conscripted to build another Great Pyramid.

Coming back to the point of this article, how would you know if that person is right for you without having to enter into a committed relationship? My friend is much as a dummy as me, probably even worse. For those people who are near to us while we talk, our conversation may had been painful to hear. Imagine two fishes talking about the sky. We’re as clueless as men in the kitchen (although not all men are but we’re in the majority)

Fortunately, I am a great observer (snooper) and an even better listener (shrink!) and I think I provided some realistic angles in our conversation my romantic-type friend needs to listen to. For me, love has no pattern. Love has no formula. It comes like a blast of lightning, spontaneous and unwelcome, but it may lie in the shadows of your mind all along, silently lurking over the premises of your heart and you just refused to acknowledge it over pride, foolishness or both.

I would have to say, I’m a little cynical about relationships and ‘happily ever afters’. One of my favorite authors, Ricky Lee, have said: Love has a quota. In every 5 people who love, only one person gets to have a happy ending. If you would look at the statistics today, actual figures would back up Ricky Lee’s statement.

But despite all its faults and heartbreaks, love is a gift, isn’t it? As much as it’s the cause of heartbreak, it is a choice for happiness. Love is probably the most overrated emotion in the world, but few people understand how it makes the monsters and saints out of us, and it isn’t the most perfect thing on earth. I admit my experience in love is very limited and myopic, but I’ve seen enough people being transformed by it, for better or worse, seeking and chasing that elusive happiness on finding (or staying with) for what they believe as the Right One.

My friend and I went on talking. She said something about ‘if you’re meant together, you’d end up together in the end no matter what’. It’s true I’ve held that belief for some time, but you have to face some harsh realities that destiny, or fate for that matter, isn’t going to fight for your love story. The Universe doesn’t care. You may argue that God has something in store for you, a good life partner, but in the end, it’s your choice that ultimately matters. We are all bound by our choices. We live and die by our choices, we also love through them.

In the end, I managed to pluck out from my friend the reason why we’re having this weird conversation right now. She confessed that a guy has been expressing interest over her, and she has no idea how to deal with that. As if I was the crocodile expert for that matter :/

“We’re young,” I remembered telling my friend. “Don’t get TOO worked up for that. If a guy finds you interesting and you find him interesting, take him to a date. Not date-date as a potential boyfriend but as a friend. No pressure there, no expectations. Just go out there and have fun”

But my friend is adamant. She is very clear about her feelings towards the poor guy, having like him only as a friend. To give him a chance, to rally up his expectations, would meant she’s lying about her feelings to him which would eventually lead to rejection. I pointed out how could she reject him when she’s not giving him a chance yet. She wants a love story that doesn’t require her heart being broken many times over before she found the One. Her mom married her first boyfriend that is her father and I guess it’s one of the reasons why she remained partly obsessed with the idea of having your first serious relationship as your last.

“A GPS for the One?” I jokingly asked

But my friend is serious. “If we have that, everyone wouldn’t bother having their hearts broken by the wrong people”

“But that’ll take the thrill out of falling in love,” I said, “It’s like having your own map of what’s going to happen in your life twenty years from now. It’s like reading movie spoilers off Wikipedia.”

“Then how would you tell if someone’s the right person for you?” she reiterates the question

“That’s the beauty of it,” I said, realization sets in. “You wouldn’t.”

The great opportunities require us to take a leap of faith. The road to happiness demands us to sacrifice. Unless you don’t want to live to the fullest, there is no easy way out of life. Taking risks for things that matter, it defines us on what we’re going to be and who are we going to end up with in the future.

After some time, our other friend called, saying she’s going to arrive here after ten minutes for the meet-up. We’ve been waiting for her for two hours now, and we managed to kill our time with all this existential blabber of human spirit and the universal suffering mankind has to endure for love.

“I still wouldn’t go out with him, though.” My friend warns, referring to the poor guy she’s going to reject

“He may be your future husband for all we know,” I joked again and she only rolled her eyes

“How about you?” she asked, “How’s your lovelife?”

“As boring and frustratingly uneventful as yours,” I said.


“I don’t get it,” she said, “If you like him, why don’t you ask him out for a friendly date? You’re the one who’s pushing me to date!”

“Difference is, I’m the girl and he’s the boy. I have no problem with girls asking boys to go out but with his personality, it would be too much of a shock,” I answered

And that started our long discussion on the reversal of gender in a relationship, or a potentially blooming one. On what would happen if the girl will do the pursuing and  the boys will certainly become the deer hunted over in this wild jungle we call the dating world, consolidated with the contextual analysis of Carly Rae Jepsen’s ”Call Me Maybe” and the mixed signals it brings to women of the world.

Not bad for the Single Ones’ Night-out, huh?

My shirt IScuter than yours!

Trust a witty shirt tagline to stir debates in even one of the most prestigious universities in the country, the University of the Philippines.

Quite recently, in an attempt to spread the UP pride and try to raise some funds at the same time, an organization from the university released freshie baseball and v-neck shirts bearing the words: “ISKOLAR THAN YOU” in accordance with the University Student Council. The phrase is a word play between ”Iskolar” (Filipino word for ‘scholar’; UP students call themselves as Iskolar ng Bayan) and ”Cooler than you.”

You couldn't get any iskolar than that!

You couldn’t get any iskolar than that!

The message wreaked havoc in social media, with activists clamoring for the misuse of the word ‘iskolar’ in the shirts as degrading the very meaning for which UP stands for, which is to serve the nation as the ‘iskolar ng bayan’ and not as a tool for egocentricity or arrogance. For them, the word is too much precious to be used as a pun, even if it’s a funny, witty pun.

Naturally, students from other state universities reacted at this. Ohhh, what would they think if they stumble upon the Diliman Shopping Center?

Naturally, students from other state universities reacted at this. Ohhh, what would they think if they stumble upon the Diliman Shopping Center?

Being somewhat of an activist myself, I get their point about the ‘iskolar’ thing. Coming from a state university, I understand the value behind it, that the word ‘Iskolar’ isn’t just a label to call yourself and your university’s culture. It’s being given the honor to be educated by the state, to be supported by honest taxpayers in this country, and no greater honor can surpass that than being in UP, which, despite its best efforts to provide education to poor yet deserving students, is forced to adapt income-generating schemes while acting as the trailblazer on the development of science and technology, research and innovation, arts and culture in the country.

Yet, you have to consider the marketing strategy behind ISKOLAR THAN YOU. To be honest, this is only pretty modest in UP standard. During my brief stint as a campus reporter, UP Diliman has become sort of my beat and I’ve seen more ‘aggressive’ and, dare I say, high-and-mighty ‘taglines’ than that. In defense of UP students, most of my barkadas are from UP who are the most humble, most unassuming people I’ve ever known, and yet, they are very proud of the school. Come on, people, what is NOT to be proud of at UP? 

The issue is a debate of perspective, not directly the message. Some people are okay with it, even non-UP students. It’s what UP is known for, right? Iskolar ng bayan? It’s not much different when you’re creating a slogan for UST or La Salle or any other school. A marketing strategist would approve.

But at the same time, bearers of this shirt, UP students, should understand that being an ISKOLAR goes attending the most prestigious school in the country; it goes beyond self-fulfillment and school pride. You are expected to give something back, even a greater part of your life, for the nation. In a way, being the iskolar ng bayan is both a privilege and a bane. A true iskolar is the one who understands how hard it is to serve the people and a nation who couldn’t, wouldn’t, help itself. He/she, I think, is the person who is way ISKOLAR than you, than me, and everyone else who call themselves as such.

Although, as one blogger pointed out, it would have been great if it’s ‘ISCUTER than you’ or ‘ISMARTER than you’. More catchy, less controversy, everyone’s happy.

To end this article, let me share to you some light exchange between two UP alumni


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