Last Saturday, on a rainy day across entire metropolis with Typhoon Lando bound to hit Luzon bringing heavy rains and gusty winds over the horizon. It was an opportunity for me to do something I haven’t done in the last three years. Watch my beloved UST Growling Tigers live in action.
I lived through three Popes in my lifetime. I was just 8 months old when then Pope now Saint John Paul II visited the Philippines for the second time (first time was in 1981, a good 13 years before I was born in this world) as part of the World Youth Day festivities in Manila. When I was about to turn 11, he passed away and was succeeded by now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. 8 years later, he stepped down and passed on the reigns to Pope Francis.
From the time he became the Pope he has gone away from tradition at the same time transcended borders that we people made for ourselves. He loved the children wherever he goes. He reached out to people in sickness. He helped resolved conflicts around the world. He has his words on current issues that every one of us face on a daily basis from poverty to corruption, from LGBT issues to scandals that have rocked the Catholic church over the past couple of years, from technology to climate change. He touched not only Catholics, but also non-Catholics, agnostics and atheists. Even though it’s only been less than two years into his tenure as the leader of the Catholic Church. He has indeed changed a lot of people’s lives, and continues to do so every single day.
When it was announced months ago that he was coming to the Philippines as a part of his trip in Asia, I could not help myself not to miss this opportunity. After all, you don’t often see these events come in your lifetime. I admit, I was not that much serious about planning what to do in that event. I didn’t have much for my own to make a better plan.
Then came his arrival on a cool Thursday night in Manila, as the SriLankan Airlines jet that took Pope Francis and his entourage from Colombo to our nation. Filipinos knew that something special is about to happen over the next five days. And true enough, everything took off from the time he stepped out on the plane and do his work on our home soil. I wanted to be there at his arrival, to do two things in one. One is to continue my hobby of plane spotting with my good friend as the jet that took the Pope was an airline that doesn’t have flights in and out of the country, and seeing the Pope live and in living color. Unfortunately, prior commitments prevented me to do so.
I knew I could not go into every event during his visit to our nation. I live far from his motorcade routes and the places he’s going around Manila. It would be a shame on my end if I did not go to at least one event to see him live in person. I really wanted to live the moment and share my stories for the next generation when the time comes.
So on a cool and rainy Sunday morning, together with my mother we went to one of the events of the Papal Visit, which was held in my Alma Mater of the University of Santo Tomas, which bears significance as it was given the titles “Pontifical” and “The Catholic University of the Philippines”. From a drop-off point, we walked around two kilometers to the university. At first, we’d just settle outside of the university and on to the motorcade route to see the Pope. However, due to my insistence we tried our luck getting inside the university to bear witness to the event.
They closed the gates 30 minutes earlier than expected since people were pushing to get in before the gate closes for good. Fortunately for me and my mother, around 15 minutes after the gates we’re supposedly be closed for good until the event ends. Out of my huge fighting spirit to get inside, contrary to a warning from one of my uncles living around the area of not taking a chance of getting inside. We managed to get inside the campus grounds.
For two hours, we waited for his arrival on campus, I was able to catch up with my once history prof who got in earlier, as well as one of my college batch mates who joined me and my mother at a chance to get in. Then he arrived, he passed by the Arch of the Centuries which has been as old as the university itself, and the very place where as freshmen we are ushered in and as graduating students go out and into what lies in life after college.
Like the millions of people who attended the events of the Papal Visit, I tried my very best to get closer to the Pope. It is no surprise that in our generation, tablets, smartphones and cameras were rampant everywhere during the course of the Papal Visit in Manila. I admit, I had my smartphone ready trying to get a close shot of him for it will be a good memento for not only myself but for my entire family. Unfortunately, that was not to be as I the closest as I was to him was a good 20-30 meters away. I was unable to take a good close shot of the Pope for my own. However, despite the setback, I was able to see him with my very own eyes live and in living color. That was all good and fulfilling for me, as well as for my mother.
Throughout the event, we listened through the select youth that were given a chance to speak to the Pope as well as his message for the youth which was delivered in his native Spanish as it was an impromptu message, far from the original message that was written in English.
Here a few quotes from the event that have left a mark for myself. I’m sure, I’m not alone with these inspirational quotes.
“What you think, you must feel and put into effect. Your information comes down to your heart and you put it into practice. Harmoniously. What you think, you feel and you do. Feel what you think and feel what you do. Do what you think and what you feel. The three languages…Can you repeat this? To think. To feel. To do. And all in harmony…”
“So when the next pope comes to Manila, please let there be more girls.”
“This is the first thing I want to say: let us learn how to weep as she has shown us today and let us not forget this lesson. The great question of why so many children suffer, she did this in tears. The response that we can make today is: let us really learn how to weep.”
“Today, with so many means of communications, we are overloaded with information. Is that bad? Not necessarily. It is good and it can help. But there is a real danger of living in a way of accumulating information… We run the risk of becoming museums of young people that have everything but without knowing what to do with them. We don’t need youth museums but we do need holy young people.”
After the event, me and my mother went home and witnessed the papal mass in Luneta with the rest of my family on television. I thanked her for accompanying me to the event in UST, if it wasn’t for her, I would have missed the opportunity to see the Pope in person. For majority of the events of the Papal Visit, I had to settle on watching the television for it. Even so, each event left an impact on myself. From his arrival until his departure back to the Vatican. From his visit to Malacanang to the mass at Manila Cathedral. From the meeting of families at the Mall of Asia Arena to the meeting with the youth in UST. From the emotional mass on a stormy and tragedy-hit Leyte to the rainy Papal Mass in Luneta in which more than 6 million people bear witness to. From wearing a transparent rain jacket in
Here are a few quotes that have left a mark from the other events of the papal visit.
“So many of you have lost everything. I don’t know what to say to you. But the Lord does know what to say to you. Some of you have lost part of your families. All I can do is keep silent…But please know, Jesus never lets you down. Please know that the love and tenderness of Mother Mary never lets you down.” – at the Papal Mass in Tacloban Airport, Leyte
“We forget to remain, at heart, children of God. That is sin: to forget at heart that we are children of God. For children, as the Lord tells us, have their own wisdom, which is not the wisdom of the world. That is why the message of the Santo Niño is so important. He speaks powerfully to all of us. He reminds us of our deepest identity, of what we are called to be as God’s family.” – at the Papal Mass in the Luneta Grounds
“To dream how will your daughter or son be. It is not possible to have a family without such dreams… When you lose this capacity to dream, then you lose the capacity to love and this energy to love is lost.” – at the Meeting with Families in Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay City
The Papal Visit to the Philippines renewed the hope and faith of the Filipino nation to live a life that is full of love and prayer. Pope Francis as he has said many times before asked for prayers for him. Let us never forget the lessons of this visit.
Sure, there have been unpleasant experiences and reactions during the course of his visit. Yet, the radiant optimism that this event brought on will forever be on the lives of the people who bear witness to these five days in our nation.
These fateful five days will live on for the rest of my lifetime. I will tell stories of these days for generations to come. This experience will also be an inspiration for myself in my future endeavors in life. We won’t know if he’ll be able to come visit our nation again, but as he said.
“Let us allow ourselves to be surprised by God… …God reveals himself through surprises.”
I am forever thankful and grateful for this once in a lifetime experience.
Your radiant smile will forever live on with us all. You truly are the real MVP! Our “Most Valuable Pope“
2014 was a year to remember for me. A lot of great things happened throughout the course of the year. Since I’m a bit short on words for this yearly recap. All I did for this year was a collage of some special moments that happened last year.
Good bye 2014, thanks for the memories. Hello 2015!
Yesterday, I returned to UST once again. It’s been more than a week since my last visit. But, there was a good reason to come back. It was more than just a plain visit, but it was to coach the Quiz Bee team which I was a part of the past two years and won multiple competitions along the way. It felt great to be on the other side of the fence. Of coaching and motivating the team, and not competing to put up a good fight. After spending the afternoon there, I went home tired yet thankful of the opportunity that was given to me today. Little did I know that something was brewing along my beloved college.
Today, I got the news on social media from one of my mentors, that CTHM will start holding classes on the new Buenaventura Garcia Paredes, O.P. Building (otherwise known as the Thomasian Alumni Center) on Thursday. It will be leaving the Albertus Magnus Building which has been it’s home since it’s inception in 2006. The new building will primarily host the Office of Alumni Relations. It will also house every college/faculty-level alumni organizations. But what will the building bring to CTHM? It will give the college new classrooms and facilities that will cater to the needs of the college and it is fully air-conditioned. One side note of the upcoming move, the CTHM offices will still remain at the Albertus Magnus Building. I haven’t personally gone into the new building in my last visit. But I’m hopeful I will be able to come inside, the next time I come back.
On a personal note, there is always that sign of envy that I never got to experience having a class inside the new building as I just graduated. But it was indeed a measure of right timing. We may never experience the vibe of the new building as students. Perhaps on a jokeful thought, the move could cut-off the college from “civilization” of the UST campus. As majority of the buildings of other colleges are closely attached to one another. Despite the envy of it all, at least we were able to come out last March with flying colors and that’s the most important thing of it all. At the end of the day, it’s for the good of the college moving forward.
Then again, a lot of mine as well as others memories of their college life were made inside the Albertus Magnus Building. From every class to spending a moment at the cafeteria or the fenced area. From the ultra cool language lab to the consultation room and faculty room where I once trained whenever I compete. From events/exhibits done inside the building to having my OJT at the travel bureau inside the building and plenty other experiences in this building that molded me into who I am today.
The nostalgia of the Albertus Magnus will always be there for me. Whenever I or anyone else who belongs in CTHM step their foot inside the building, we will have that feeling of how it was inside it. Every success and failure that was made here. From the beginning until the end of our collegiate journeys.
It will be an exciting time for the college with the move into the spanking new building. As the current generation of students will now make their own legends and memories inside it. As an alumnus, I’m optimistic with all the changes that are coming along. I hope for the best.
Alas, I will always remember the Albertus Magnus Building as a second home for the four years of my Thomasian journey.
Godspeed, Albertus Magnus
P.S. If I get called to coach the team again, where would I go?
It has been two months since I last wrote something in this blog. When I was reeling from the heartbreak one guy from Portland, Oregon named Damian Lillard ended the playoff run of my beloved team the Houston Rockets. But yeah, I moved on from all of that. Plenty of things happened since. Now, I’m back with a new name and a new look for this blog.
Starting today, this thought ladder I built for the last two years will now be called Manila Red Nation. It’s a simple name but speaks well of who I really am. A Filipino fan of the Houston Rockets. Of course, my blog will not always talk about basketball. It will always be about my thoughts on different things happening in my life and the world around us. As with this entry, it’s a catch-up of what happened since I last wrote here.
As for Lillard and his Portland Trail Blazers, they met their Waterloo in a five game defeat to the eventual NBA Champions, the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs dethroned the two-time NBA champions Miami Heat, also in five games to claim their fifth NBA title in franchise history. Though my team failed to win it all this season. At least, the team I picked in the Finals won.
Then the 2014 NBA Draft happened. The Cleveland Cavaliers would pick Kansas forward Andrew Wiggins #1 overall in the third time they picked #1 in the last four years. Then LeBron James decided to come home and once again play for his beloved Northeast Ohio when he made his decision to return to the Cavaliers after four years in South Beach where he led them to two NBA titles. That move set off a domino effect on the other free agents across the league. Players moved teams, while some stayed. Notable moves so far were Pau Gasol to the Bulls, Paul Pierce to the Wizards, Jason Kidd to coach the Bucks, Lionel Hollins to coach the Nets. While notable hold-overs were Miami’s Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh and New York’s Carmelo Anthony.
As for the Rockets so far, Chandler Parsons left for the Mavericks, Jeremy Lin was traded to the Lakers, Omer Asik was traded to the Pelicans. While some former Rockets returned to the fold with Trevor Ariza (from the Wizards) and Joey Dorsey (last played for FC Barcelona in Spain) returning to the fold. They will also bring Dorsey’s FC Barcelona teammate in Greek player Kostas Papanikolau which the Rockets also hold the rights for. Still, it was painful when Chris Bosh who was deemed to join the Rockets after LeBron’s move decided to stay with the Heat. So far, it’s a strikeout, the team has yet to get a possible third piece to truly contend for the title. But the off-season is far from over. Who knows what may happen.
With LeBron James coming home, it’s an opportunity for me to rekindle the time I supported “The King” during his first stint with the Cavaliers. I admit I was one of those guys who did not like see him leave Cleveland for Miami. For four years, I rooted against him and the Heat. But now that he’s back, apart from the fact that the Rockets will always be my #1 team to root for. I would love for him to lead Cleveland to an NBA championship that has been long overdue.
With NBA off-season in full swing. We also witnessed the first PBA Grand Slam in 16 years with the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers win all three conferences this season. UAAP basketball is back, in my first year to root for the UST Growling Tigers as an alumnus. I do hope the long overdue UAAP basketball title will come to España this year. And our national team Gilas Pilipinas are making their preparations for the upcoming FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain and the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. A must-watch will be “The Last Homestand” as Gilas Pilipinas will battle the Fibr All-Stars composed of NBA stars like Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, Blake Griffin, James Harden, Paul George, Damian Lillard, Kyle Lowry, and many more and will be spearheaded by former NBA coach John Lucas coming up tomorrow at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Well, that’s enough of the basketball talk, over the last month, I watched the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil to get a taste of what the world’s #1 sport is really like. We’ve seen it all. The defending champions Spain getting knocked out early, Countries from the Americas having a field day in the group stage. The US team winning American hearts. Luis Suarez’s bite costing Uruguay. Colombia’s new ace in James (pronounced Ha-mes) Rodriguez. Brazilian star Neymar getting hurt. The host nation giving up 10 goals in their last two games to settle a disappointing 4th place behind the Netherlands. Argentina’s Lionel Messi winning the Golden Boot. But the tournament belonged to Die Mannschaft as Germany knocked off Argentina for their fourth World Cup title at the world famous Maracaña Stadium in Rio de Janeiro as Mario Götze becomes the 2014 version of Andres Iniesta with an extra time goal that propelled the Germans to the title and denying Argentina the pleasure of winning a World Cup on the soil of their eternal rivals in Brazil.
As for my personal life. Well, I’ll be looking for a job very soon. I just need some inspiration on what I will do in my life in the future. I need a few more stops to get a feel for what I need to do in life. I’d be looking forward to register for the 2016 national elections after failing 2 years ago since I made my move very late. To cap everything off, I’m looking forward to actively blog here once again especially with the new look and new inspiration I’m getting with the name change.
So with all that I have written today. I welcome you to the new face of my thought ladder that is Manila Red Nation.
This blog entry is dedicated to my late grandmother Juliana “Inay Laki” Deriquito-Reyes who passed away last June 13 at the age of 89.
Coming off the shelf!
On March 27, 2014. It all came to an end. 16 years of a whirlwind road to education for me has come to a close. The doors have opened to the real world for me. But before all of that, I’m going to do something I’ve done 4 years ago when I finished high school. So yeah, let’s do this! On this entry, I’m here to share my own stories during the course of my stay at my second home for the last four years.
Prelude to the Journey: Fall Seven Times, Stand Up Eight!
I took in the famous advertising line of Dwayne Wade of the Miami Heat (which for some reason I’m not a big fan of that team) during his shoe deal with Converse to tell the story before this came fruit. As a high school student from a all-boys institution in Claret, fourth year meant you’re going to pursue college.
I took three college entrance examinations, UPCAT (for the University of the Philippines System), ACET (for the Ateneo de Manila University) and USTET (for the University of Santo Tomas). As it turned out, I failed in both UPCAT and ACET. I had nothing to lose when taking the ACET, but the UPCAT back then left a sting on me. As for the USTET, I was called for an interview for the course of Travel Management while I was on the waitlist in Computer Science. I went in for the interview, where I was interviewed by the great Dr. Dennis Ligan. Everything went well during the interview. I didn’t encounter any problem.
Weeks later, the interview results came out. I had a notion I made it since a friend of mine came there said I passed. But my father came over to check again, then came the bad news. I failed the interview. It was rock bottom for me. Knowing I wanted to pursue the program. I felt bad about myself. A couple of minutes later, I composed myself and I started to fight for that slot. We applied for a reconsideration so we contacted the CTHM Office to ask for it.
On March 24, 2010, I finally finished my high school education at Claret School of Quezon City. Yet the pursuit continued. Days later, I got the opportunity, I was called in for another interview at CTHM for the reconsideration. Prior to that though, I secured my slot for Computer Science, just in case all didn’t end well in my reconsideration at CTHM. On the day of the interview, I came in and I was right away interviewed by the Dean, she told me about my shortcomings and the reasons I failed the interview. I made it a point on the interview those things will never happen again, and that I kept my word of being honest during the time I had my first interview. As fate would have it, they gave me the slot. I will become a Travel Management student!
After a few deliberations, I proceeded with pursuing Travel Management at UST. Got my papers transferred from Engineering to CTHM and have myself enrolled. There I found out I would belong to section 1T5. I never met them personally on enrollment day, yet as the summer went by, I met some of them on Facebook and started to introduce myself to them. Back then, I did not know what will hit me throughout my stay at the university. Yet I was set to embark on a new chapter in my life.
Freshman Year: Entering The Portals of the Square-Shaped Campus!
On June 8, 2010, the Thomasian journey began. I finally got to meet my classmates for the first time in person. I found out right away, we were only three gentlemen in a class filled with ladies. It was a complete reversal from what I got used to throughout my life. Especially I came from a all-boys school. So this whole year was a period of adjustment for me. I had to get used to the fact I will not be able to do the old tricks and trips back in high school.
Then we all had our initiation at the University with the Thomasian Welcome Walk where we went in to the Arch of the Centuries, thus officially rendering us as true Thomasian students. Our first year at the university was a trying time for all of us. Our section back then was the talk of the town, but in a negative way. We feared that we may get reshuffled and will have to meet new faces the next school year. Fortunately, as the year progressed, the prospect went dim.
Of course we had our first CTHM College Week experience, which happened earlier than other colleges of the university. The Weinachtsmarkt (German Christmas Market) for our German class which was held in the campus of the Ateneo de Manila University. The very first Paskuhan festivities we had, which I spent with my high school classmates who came over for a visit. As well as the start of the Quadricentennial festivities as the university reached 400 years of establishment in the archipelago. As the days went by, I came to understand and live the culture of the life as a CTHM student. I was not an officer back then, yet I did things that I would do for the rest of my college life. One being the beadle where I was responsible for going to the equipment room as well as getting things ready. at the podium and the projector. As well as the notes guy, for I was sending notes to people. Yet I had to end it during the middle of my third year.
Then came my notoriety for singing and dancing in between classes, for some reason I was doing things that I thought I’m being bonkers for it. Imagine, a guy on a extra sized uniform doing the “John Wall” on the beat of “Teach Me How To Dougie”. But yeah, I got caught once by the faculty doing it at a bad time, in which I surrendered my ID and I felt really bad for it. Though, I was able to forgive those who forced me to do it and it was all good afterwards.
Well, who can forget the year we spent in Filipino class with the great Sir Alvin Ringgo Reyes? From the cooking demo/promote a place in UST video to the baby thesis. He made Filipino classes enjoyable for all of us. Not to mention when everyone went crazy when the Thai sleeper hit “A Crazy Little Thing Called Love” was flashed in our classes. The intelligent and brain-teasing discussions in Philippine History and Rizal Course with Sir Gene Atanacio. The very interactive German class of the great Herr Wil Josue. The very fun Business Math class of Sir Robert Arenas. The cookery classes, as well as learning the basics of tourism. As well as the two PE classes the section took, in softball and social dancing. And many other courses that we took during our first year which unfortunately, I cannot remember what happened, so forgive me if I did.
It was during this point where I had a choice. Whether to stay in UST, or settle for a transfer closer to home at UP Diliman since my grades back then was good enough to apply for a transfer. Though the prospect was good, the fact that I fell in love with the vibes of UST, which validated my decision to stay. I was doing well and I came out looking forward to spend another year of the Thomasian journey.
Sophomore Year: Entering the Real Essence!
And so the journey continued, this was the point in time where our section really started to change our general outlook in front of our mentors. We began, to show how good we really became. I remember the Domestic Tour we had in Cebu and Bohol, where we came out to do well in front of the eyes of our mentors at the same time enjoy every moment together as one section. We got good props for being able to do great during the course of the trip. Then came BA Day, where I came in to field in a last minute replacement to go out and perform. Joined by my HRM batchmates Manj of H1, Miggy of H2 (who was also my HS batchmate), KP and Syd of H5 to form our own version of the “Kanto Boys”. We went out to perform which brought delight to everyone watching. It was one of the most memorable moments of this Thomasian journey. For us Travel Management students, the true test of the year came with the Mock Tour Guiding around the city of Manila. I was picked at the Ayala Museum in Makati. Once the dust settled, I came in third in our class behind the top 2 in our class Jeanie and Kim.
We also had our last two PE classes where we got to pick our preferred sport. For me, I got to take basketball during my 1st semester and handball in my 2nd semester. In both PE classes, I got to meet friends from other colleges of the university. It was also during this time where we got to have our NSTP classes. I was able to meet some of my batchmates as we were clustered alphabetically with TRM and HRM students together in one section. I also joined a couple of organizations during that year, with the Thomasian Nippon Sei (now known as Thomasian Nihon Kyouhai) and Pax Romana where I got to meet a lot of new friends as well. I was happy I found a solid group to be with among my classmates. They were there to support me.
Also, who can forget the dreaded GMSQ (Grand Major Short Quiz) during our BA class with Sir Jojo Villamin, as well as the basic accounting class. World Tourism and Geography where I thrived with because of the maps with our then class adviser Sir Win Medina. The Transportation Management class which I also thrived upon with my passion for transportation with instructor Sir Jim Nidea. The very lively speech classes of the great Ms Sheryll Sampang. Then came the transition from learning German to French. And many other courses which gave us more information about the industry we will go with.
We had our second college week where I took part in one of the games where I fell short in the end with my classmate Katlyne winning it all, I also got my first taste of competing in a quiz bee which was done locally, where our T5 family fell short by a solitary point against the T3 family, as well as the sportsfest where I got to play some basketball. The second Paskuhan, known as the “Quadricentennial Paskuhan”, was a time where I got to spend it with a lot of people which included my blockmates and batchmates in CTHM. In addition, the year was ushered with the transition from Quadricentennial Year to Neocentennial Year. We were fortunately one of the lucky ones to witness this once in a lifetime occassion
I kept up my good performance throughout the year, though there were times I slipped, I was still doing well nicely. Though I saw that life as a Junior will be tough, I had no idea with how much will the next chapter on this story will bring to me.
Junior Year: Driven by Passion, Challenge Accepted!
Entering my Junior Year at the university, I had foreseen that it will be a tough year for all us. But I was coming in to a point, I thought I wouldn’t be in the first place. The invitation came from one of my mentors Ms. Joreen Rocamora, who asked if I could join the team to compete for quiz bee competitions. At first, I had my doubts since while I may a good student, I thought of the fact that there are a lot of my classmates and batchmates who were better suited for it. In the end, I accepted and I was in for a ride I will endure for the last two years of my college life.
During my Junior Year, I joined five competitions. I was joined with alongside my senior teammates Ate Kriskyn Cabrera and Ate Marian Buenaventura. The first one which was the PHILTOA Quiz Bee at the old DOT Building in Manila in which we competed individually, we all made it until the semi-finals, but unfortunately none of us made the Top 10. Days after, we were united as a group and competed at the International Tourism and Trade Expo Quiz Bee at the SkyDome in SM North EDSA, where we came out as CHAMPIONS. It was our first victory which we enjoyed together. The following semester, we went up to Baguio City for the National League of Tourism Students of the Philippines Skills Olympics. We topped the eliminations, but unfortunately we fell short in the Finals and had to settle for third place. That defeat, inspired us days after when we competed for the last time as a group in UP Club for the Environment and Tourism Domestikwhiz 2013, where we came out as CHAMPIONS! Then on the last competition of the year, I competed individually for the 2013 UFTE Cup at the campus of Treston International College in Taguig City, where I settled for a second place finish behind the representative from De La Salle University-Dasmariñas. Because of the good run I had, it was also rewarded when I was recognized by the college during the CTHM Awards Night with a special award they gave me, as well as the Benavides Outstanding Achievement Award which was the University’s recognition for all the efforts I put into during the course of the year.
Outside of the competitions, a lot of things happened as well. We had our events management class with Sir Arnel Cruz where our class came up with the event: “Silhouette: A Glint in the Dark, The Search for The Next Tourism Ambassadress 2013.” which was held on September 23, 2012 at the AFP Theater inside Camp Aguinaldo. We also had our feasibility study with Sir Ernest Alcano, my group in which I was the leader, came up with the bed and breakfast concept in a place in my home province of Batangas. Though we had some flaws, it came out good. Well, who can also forget the chase for the Galileo certification as part of our Galileo class with Ma’am Amy Turaray. I was doing well then, but I fell short. Back then, I felt bad about it, but later on I managed to move on as the solace came with all the victories I amassed over time. Who can also forget the PDSR class of Ms. Mae Fortuna, where I learned how to do the bow tie from scratch. Then of course we got a lot of mathematics with Financial Management class, Statistics class as well as Tour Packaging class where we got to use the calculators a lot. It was also a break from Theology classes. It was also during this time we got to wrap up our foreign language studies as we completed our French language courses. Then came the International Tour to Korea which unfortunately due to financial constraints and my preparation for the competition, I was unable to make the trip.
Outside of the life as a student, it was during this year where I got to watch a couple of UAAP basketball games. I was able to watch both Finals games that year where UST fell short against Ateneo. As well as the first game of the “Chowking Saga” as the Teng brothers Jeric and Jeron battled for the first time which ended with a UST victory in overtime. It would turn out to be the only game I watched LIVE where UST came up with the victory. Then came my third Paskuhan as well as the cap-off to the Neocentennial celebrations.
My life as a Junior student, was the most challenging yet it was I would say the best year of my life as a Thomasian student. With three years down, and one year left. I was all set to end the journey off with the BANG!
Senior Year: Capping Off This Roller-coaster of a Journey!
Entering my Senior Year, I was riding all the great momentum I was able to get from the previous year. I was coming in with a huge grin on my face. However, I didn’t see the worst coming in. Throughout the course of my last academic semester. I struggled mightily. I wasn’t the guy who had the belief that he can do better. The pressure of being a senior got the better of me. That semester was the worst performance I put up in my entire stay in the university. I accepted my fate with a heavy heart. Because of the poor performance, I fell off the honor roll. I thought I wouldn’t do enough to get me through.
Once the first semester ended, my academics came to an end, and I was set to go to practicum. For my practicum, I went to Marsman Drysdale Travel Inc., at their in-plant inside the UST campus. So I never left the building for my practicum. Others may say I was crazy for not going out, but I had good reasons to pursue it here. During my practicum, I experienced everything. I got to learn the basics from telephone etiquette to the more technical aspects of work like visa documentation. I was primarily responsible for recording sales transactions and editing paraphernalia using my skills in Photoshop. I got to interact with a lot of people over my time there. It was a very fulfilling experience for me. One I would never trade away for something else.
Though there were challenging times, there were some notable moments. One was with our Thesis where me and my groupmates went through a lot in getting the paper done. It truly tested our camaraderie and literally, we have to put anything else aside. We didn’t expect a lot, but our hard work bear fruit as we finished with the 5th best Thesis Paper as well as the 3rd Best Group Presentation. We also had our project in Recreational Tour where we went to The Village Sports Club inside BF Homes in Parañaque. For a sports junkie like me, it was a DREAM! Aside from that, who can forget the Marriage and Family class of the great Dr. Alviar. Though I wasn’t really a Theology loving person, I appreciate all the life lessons with every single meeting. And many other moments during the first semester.
It was also during this year I took in the driver’s seat, I had the task to lead CTHM in quiz bee competitions. On the first competition of the year, I was joined by my protege Chamille Mercado who I personally brought in to the team, we competed at the NLEX: Tara Na Sa Norte Quiz Bee Challenge at Robinson’s Place Manila, we came out as CHAMPIONS! in the competition. Then the following competition, I competed again in the PHILTOA Quiz Bee, alongside Chamille, we were joined by Miah Kogami who came into the team later. We did manage to get into the semi-finals. I barely made it to the Top 10, as both Chamille and Miah fell short. So I was all by my own representing UST, for the Final Round at the SMX Convention Center. I fought hard during the competition, I almost won the whole thing, but I had to settle for a second place finish behind my healthy rival Lorraine Padilla from Lyceum of the Philippines University-Manila. After that, I thought of retiring from competition and pass on the torch to my teammates. However as fate turned out, both of my teammates headed to Korea for their international tour which fell on the date of the competitions. I had no other choice but to compete for one last run. So yeah, I was back at it again for the 2014 UFTE Cup held at the Our Lady of Fatima University-Quezon City campus. There were familiar faces alongside new faces. It was a tightly fought battle, but fortunately in the end. I came out as CHAMPION! It was my first and only time I came out as champion competing as an individual. The following day, I came out to compete for the last time to defend the title at the UP Club for the Environment and Tourism Domestikwhiz 2014. I was joined by new teammates as my original teammates at that time just arrived from Korea in Camilla de Guzman and Lia Ciaris Tani. We started out badly, we were trailing for most of the competition, we got into the final round trailing, but we made a furious comeback and in the end, we came out as CHAMPIONS! once again and we got to defend the title. Those two days, were the most memorable days of my competition career. I came in not expecting much, but in the end God had other plans. It was indeed a magical way to cap off my run in competition. I retired on a high note!
Well aside from that, it was a last for everything else. I spent my final Paskuhan where there was no fireworks since the country was coming off the tragedy that was Typhoon Yolanda as the money for it was instead donated to victims of the typhoon. UST had a magical run to the Finals in men’s basketball, before falling short in a epic three game series against La Salle, it was a bittersweet feeling for me that we came close to celebrating a title on my last year at the university. We also had our retreat at Caleruega where I spent it with my classmates and the peeps from H5. We all had a good time, getting to know each other and having time to relax from the stress of school life.
Before I knew it, I was about to graduate. I finished everything. Time flew by very fast. Then came the waiting game. For the last time, I was honored for my success at the college level as I was given a special award at the CTHM Awards Night. Days later, it was the day of the baccalaureate mass, where we got to spend the day together with the 8,236 strong graduates from all colleges of the university. But before that, there was the announcement of the Latin Honors. At the back of my head, I was thinking I fell short again and I won’t make it. Yet, my name was called. I made it! All the emotions came through my head, accompanied by the nice cheers from all of my classmates and batchmates. At the afternoon, the baccalaureate mass happened. History shows that CTHM being the youngest college in the University were seated at the back side near the side of the Benavides Garden, and would be the last to exit the arch. However this year’s different. We were seated up-front and we would be the 4th college to exit the Arch of the Centuries. The night was capped off with the pyromusical with the theme from the hit Disney movie Frozen. I would say it was the most memorable fireworks display I have ever seen.
Then on March 27, 2014. It was the big day! The Solemn Investiture. Graduation. Whatever else you can call it. We assembled as one batch for the last time at the Albertus Magnus Building to wait for the ceremony and strap in our togas. We marched from the building to the Quadricentennial Pavilion for the Solemn Investiture. It was the culmination for all the hard work we’ve done the past four years. As expected, we marched for the conferment of the degrees, turned the tussle to signify our graduation and I was awarded with the Cum Laude medal. Then came the final surprises. On the part of the special awards, they started to mention all the winnings I got over the past year. I got another medal! A special award for all my contributions the past year. Then came the kicker! For all the contributions I brought into the college and being a perennial champion. I was given the sole distinction of the St. Hyacinth Award. I will never forget the cheers from every one of my classmates and batchmates who were witness to everything. I eventually put in a tearjerker moment when I came out to hug my grandmother, later I found from some of my friends, that moment made them cry. After we sang the UST Hymn for the last time as students. Before you know it, IT WAS ALL OVER!
So Yeah What’s Next For K-Smoove?
What’s next?!? Well, right now I’ll be taking the time off to rest. My fourth year life took a lot out of me. Add to the fact that I’m a college graduate without reaching the age of 20 is still lingering in my head. I’ve gone bonkers thinking about it. Besides, I want to enjoy myself without worrying about work for a good amount of time. Add to the fact I want to get the 2013-14 NBA season done and over, and see where will my team the Houston Rockets will go into the playoffs. I’m not bluffing about this. I really needed the time. I know some people want to get a job right away, but I’m in no rush to do so. I will get myself ready for the real world while taking the time off.
My Deepest and Sincere Gratitudes!
Well, before I cap this long entry, I like to offer my gratitude to everyone who were a part of this journey.
First off I would like to thank my friends from other colleges that I have met along the way. I may not remember you all by name, but you made a difference in my life at the university. Notable mentions to Alex Cerado of Pharmacy, Jonathan Genilla of Nursing, Sam Cada of Engineering, Kaiz del Mundo of Architecture, Camille dela Cruz of Engineering, Alexis Tivi of Accountancy, Errol Agacer of Education, Carlo Restoles of Music, Mel Agbulos of Commerce, as well as the TNK peeps whom I spent a good year with during the days at the old Tinoko Park and Botanical Garden. At the same time my high school batchmates from Claret who were also in UST. Notable mentions to German Salvador, Gelo Cruz, Rainier Ples, Nur Adiong, Patrick Foria, Siops Briones, Philip Abeleda, Albie Peralta, Edgar Ramos, Stephen Marcelo, Derrick Espinosa, Raymund Salumbides among others.
Next I’d like to thank my fellow students from other levels of CTHM for the fact I left inspiration to you guys. I wish you all the best in your student endeavors. Notable mentions to my homie Paolo de Guzman, Divine Reyes, Rochelle Engalan, Aya Lorenzo, Danica Esquilona, Dan Quiaoit, Angela Sonico, Janelle Payumo, Darlene Serran, Christine Calzada, Ina Venzuela, Sean Belbis, Vianca Castillo, Radja Castelo, Carla Bonifacio, Leo del Rosario, among others.
I would also like to thank my quiz bee teammates over the last two years years. Thank you for the opportunity to share this experience with you fellas. The run as a quiz bee competitor is something I will never forget. My mentions to Ate Kriskyn Cabrera, Ate Marian Buenaventura, Chamille Mercado, Miah Kogami, Camilla de Guzman and Lia Ciaris Tani.
Then I would like to thank the “Best Batch Ever!”, UST-CTHM Batch 2014. I may have known most of you along the way, though there were some I wasn’t able to know. I am always thankful that I was able to bring joy and honor to the batch. I couldn’t ask for more.
Notable mentions to Brandon Esperancilla, Rolando Sio, James Jandusay, Arvi Cabugao, Mico-Ehlo Chua, Jhie Berbano, Jeli Cadiogan, Shae Jose, Mimi Albesa, Naria San Juan, Rina Bingcang, Josh Naraja, Cha Sumbillo, Che Solis, RA Logana, Korine Sanchez, Fats Infante, Mel Uy, Lyka dela Cruz, Bianca Lim, Lizette Vicente, Nicole Voll, Mara Torres, Justin Babina, Luigi Antonio, Renz Cabiles, JR Rellama, Gelo Soriano, Jeremy Doinog, Kim Besin, Margie Barretto, Arny Fernandez, Micolo Palma, Gabs Jaymalin, Kenneth Cruz, Carlo Ramirez, Steffy Villalon, Den Gallardo, Dominic Dizon, Edward Queipo, Christopher Tamayo, Sese Sibal, Nicolie Tancioco, Marc Acob, Ervin Francisco, Edgar Lumawig, Dion Magahis, Belle Buendia, Matthew Cagas, Eycee Cabriga, Fonso Mercado, Jay Armocilla, Dos Bustillos, Popoi Valdez, Tin Caguimbal, my twin Matthew Villarama, Daryl Arceta, Nikki Deang, Charles Lobo, Elo Magas, Heather McNaughton.
My Marsman friends Denise Bersamina, Harley Abaño, Eden Magsino, Kuya Armand Villanueva, Klaire Villena.
My CTHM-Claretian batchmates in Ziggy Chavez, Clarence Casem, TJ Abaquita, Ejay Clasara, Miggy Borromeo, as well as the two who left Naj Castro and Habi Santos-Cuyugan.
If I forgot to mention you, forgive me. But even though your names are not on, I’m thankful to each and everyone who made up UST CTHM Batch 2014, from those who made it and who fell short at the goal.
I would also dearly would love to thank the “Best Section Ever” in my book, The T5 family! I’d like to thank each and everyone who were a part of this section. For their unending support, in all of my competitions. It may not be the perfect section to be with, but they were the best family in school I could have. We could all have our differences, but we go the distance when we do things together and do wonders! I’ll never forget when majority of the contestants in UFTE of 2013 came from our section. So I’m giving a mention to everyone who were a part of this section. (Tropa! You will be honored later.)
Fatima Acuña, Trixia Alda, Hosanna Baek, Mela Balag, Ronileen Bauto, Badeth Bertulfo, Katlyne Bundal, Amethy Casal, Pricilla Cruz, JC España, Gui Echon, Jessica Eya, Abigael Ferrer, Ellah Galvez, Alyssa Garcia, Michelle Guo, Diane Jamero, Sheila Lao, Beah Legaspi, Jeruinne Ludovico, Kate Macabanti, Kristel Malabrigo, Mai Matienzo, Dek Mindanao, Hannah Natividad, Carmina Ngo, Justine Nieto, Rosary Ocampo, Era Padilla, Dja Patubo, Shane Prepotente, Precious Rigor, Angel Santos, Cza Sanvictores, Rejh Sasis, Hazel Sta. Maria, Jeanie Tan, Kim Tecson, Arjay Trillana, Kath Vasquez, She Velasco, Pauline Vergara and Lak Villanueva.
Speaking of “Tropa”, I wholeheartedly would like to thank the best group of friends I could have in my college life. Without you fellas, my Thomasian journey would never be complete. The “Tropa-GUISE”. We’re one large group! Best thing about our group is that when one leaves, another one comes in. But those who leave are never forgotten. You are the special bunch who made my college life very special! I will never forget each and every one of you! Majority of the moments I had in college was spent with you fellas. I hope that moving forward, we could keep in touch!
My very honorable mentions to you fellas:
Jean Bituin, Claudine Caganda, Cae Capiz, Kym Constante, Riana de Guzman, Ish Dumawal, Nicole Garcia, Krishna Kabigting, Marrick Magana, Deece Ramos, Yna Salamat, Marx Tapalla, Gie Wenceslao and honorary member Cyril Laurio.
I would also love to thank all of our mentors over the years. For giving us the wisdom and knowledge to be well-equipped with our chosen career path. You have inspired us to do well moving forward as we leave the portals of the university. I may not mention everyone but.
My honorable mentions are for the following mentors:
To Sir Alvin Ringgo Reyes, Sir Robert Arenas, Sir Jojo Villamin, Sir Mar Mendoza, Sir Ernest Alcano, Ma’am Rosh Raichandani, Sir Wil Josue and the rest of the CTHM faculty over my four year stay at the university. Thank you for giving us the inspiration and the wisdom in our daily endeavors as students as well as the skills needed as we set to go out to the real world.
To all my coaches in quiz bee competitions, Ma’am Connie Ang, Ma’am Christine Fajardo, Ma’am Jane Devanadera, Ma’am Amy Turaray and Ma’am Karla Colmenar. For giving us the wisdom and determination to be well-prepared for each and every competition we have competed. Without you my dear mentors, I wouldn’t have reached this point. A very honorable mention to Ma’am Joreen Rocamora, for putting faith in a guy who wasn’t even in the Top 50 of the class that he would be able to do well in competitions. Without your trust, I wouldn’t have won these competitions I joined with over the last two years.
Of course a my highest honorable mention to Sir Gene Michael Atanacio, who was my Philippine History and Rizal Course instructor. And a fellow Claretian. Thank you for all the times we spent inside and outside of campus. Looking forward to going out again when we have the time to do so. I have been very inspired by your teachings and ideals over the time we spent. You know that very well. Even though you left UST in the middle of my second year, we still kept in good touch. I am forever grateful to have been one of your students.
Then of course the CTHM Administration, to Sir Granado, our college secretary and was once our adviser in 3rd Year, you have inspired me to push forward in every endeavor I have done. To Ma’am Vangie Timbang, the HRM chairperson who also supported my endeavors whenever I compete. To Sir Win Medina, our chairperson and was also my adviser in 2nd Year, for giving me the opportunity to compete for the college and the university in quiz bee competitions. It was indeed a great honor to do something good for the university. To Dean Tio Cuison, without your approval when I applied for my reconsideration in CTHM, I wouldn’t be here in the first place. I did not let you down ever since! And of course to Fr. Roy Rodriguez, OP our regent, for the undying support in all of my quiz bee endeavors at the same time an inspiration for me moving forward in my life.
My very special mentions to my family, my parents Ronnie and Janet. As well as my two brothers Andrei and Miguel. They have been my support system since Day 1. Without them, I wouldn’t even be standing here at this moment in life. Thank you for being there through my roller-coaster journey. I’m sure you will continue this as we move forward. Also includes my relatives from both the Carandang and the Reyes sides of the family, they have been an extended support system for me. Everything I have done is also a tribute to my late brother Alexis who passed away almost 14 years ago at the age of 1. Every time I point my head up in the sky, it’s all for him.
Lastly, I like to thank God for all the blessings that I have received over the four years of my college life. Without his guidance and support, I wouldn’t even be here. I wouldn’t have the passion and desire that I carried over the last four years. I look forward to his everlasting guidance as I move on to the next stage of my life.
To end this long blog entry, let me take a quote from former Houston Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich:
I never saw it coming. I never expected I’d be embarking on what would become one of the best two day stretches of my life. Because prior to it all, I never expected that much. I knew I wasn’t able to prepare well enough for what I will embark and pursue to accomplish. But I know this will be my last ride, capping off a great run I had the past two years. Yet, for those two days, everything happened like it was a good night’s dream.
It all began on a Friday, February 28 at the Our Lady of Fatima University campus in Lagro, Quezon City. I took a short bus ride from my home to get there, and it would be the first time I will meet the rest of the team who will be there with me competing at the 2014 UFTE Cup. In last year’s tournament, together with some of my classmates and batchmates, we competed at the Treston International College campus in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. I finished second in the quiz bee competition, losing valiantly to a better man from De La Salle University-Dasmariñas. In the lead-up to the biggest final test I will have competing as an individual, I saw some familiar faces and saw new ones. Winning it all wasn’t in my head. I’d just wanted to put up a great fight. Then almost mid-day, the competition began. I fought against 28 fellow students from colleges and universities across the Philippines. It was a tightly contested contest, I didn’t knew where I am standing with the rest of them during the entire course of the competition. When the dust settled, the scores came out, and I won it! by three points over the lady and a good friend of mine from Lyceum of the Philippines University-Manila Lorraine Padilla who beat me in the PHILTOA Quiz Bee last year. I never saw it coming. It was an emotional victory for me as it was the first and only time I won a competition as an individual.
Then more blessings came along for our team, as the Tour Packaging pair of Angela Sonico and Janelle Payumo from class 3T1 won also, while the Domestic Tour Guiding participant Danica Esquilona also from 3T1 won. While Dan Quiaoit and Miya Morelos put up a good fight in their International Tour and Kasuotang Pinoy competitions respectively. The cherry on the ice cream is that we won second place in the overall standings which was won by Lyceum of the Philippines University-Manila who won for the second straight year.
Then the following day, with less rest coming into the next competition as the program last night finished unfashionably late into the night. I went in again, took a ride from home to the DENR Building also in Quezon City for the last competition I will embark on, the UP Club for the Environment & Tourism Domestikwhiz 2014. We were coming in as the defending champions where I was also a part of the team which won last year. The team this year, is a bit different from the team I started with the year, since both of them from the original team were unable to go since they were coming off a trip from South Korea. So I came in with a team composed of myself, Camilla de Guzman and Lia Tani both from class 2T3. This year’s competition is smaller than previous years as only 6 schools competed. We struggled out of the gates to start the competition, we had a tough time as our competitors gained ground on us. But we were able to do enough to get into the final round with 3 schools competing. We were happy that we will get a place at the end of the day, then in the final round, we made our move. We were able to recover all lost ground, when it all was said and done! We defended the title! It was a special feeling for me to defend a championship we won. We never saw it coming, yet we were there on top of the mountain once again!