Tonight, at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza, I’m sure these familiar faces were in an occasion full of stories and laughter, food, photos, drinks, more stories and more laughter. Catching up with stories of each others’ lives, smiling for the camera and mingling with some of the known Philippine literati. It is after all, the 80th ValikVarsi, the alumni homecoming of the Varsitarian, the University of Santo Tomas’ official publication. I would have loved to attend and it really saddens me that I can’t.

I have loved reading and writing even as a child, I joined the schoolpaper in gradeschool writing kiddie poems in Tagalog and English. In highschool, my articles got published when I was a freshman but not yet a staffer. When I became a staffer and given the title of editor….I don’t really remember editing submitted articles, worse, I write feature stories in English when I was supposed to be the Filipino editor. =P
In 4th year highschool, I have decided on what to take in College and which University to enter. I took the entrance exams in UST and only in UST.

My college life wasn’t exactly boring but it became meaningful and thrilling from the day I took the qualifying exams of the Varsitarian, I was in 3rd year college then (talk about being too late). I was included in the special batch, meaning we did not go through the rigid interviews and writing exams as the regular batch did. Short story goes, I somehow passed along with 4 other classmates, Rube Bloom Rule, Trina Lagura, Ma. Theresa Fucanan and Anna Barbara Lorenzo. Names which one might encounter while reading newspapers, magazines or online articles. There were also Aileen Rae Perez and Michelle Dompor, names you’d see on TV and ads.
Back in those days, attending classes (almost) became second priority…=D Practice is better than theories, so to say. Inside Room 112 of the UST Main Building, I’ve had hands on experience of what a journalist’s life is; phonecalls, schedules, interview, recorder, notepad, notes transcription, interview, and more interview…dressing up on functions, sleeping on floors or not sleeping at all…moonlighting, beating the deadline but most especially: darkroom techniques ! I discovered my ‘eye’ while still a V staffer and I immediately transferred to the photography section.

Each of us matured and grew inside the V, be it in writing, friendships or relationships (???). Friendship did not remain inside the walls of the V. Since we come from different colleges and majors…there is a diversity of characters and humor. We also had so much fun when outside the office. Trips to Batangas, Palawan or simply pigging out (day or night) at Goodah!, Wendy’s, and other 24-hour service foodshop…or more sophisticated Chinese restos when Sir Lito (Zulueta, PDI) was with us.

We graduated from college eventually, took on different career paths, left pinas, got married, lost communication but the memory remains.

One of our colleagues died recently and A (in photo wearing striped shirt) immediately send me a message…I may have been far away but the loss still pains me somehow.
It may have been short but I always look back smiling, yearning to be once again in the confines of the V office. Hurrying to the conference hall with my Canon t60 in hand..hurrying to meet up with the writer to cover the UAAP…hurrying to get use of the pcs to beat the deadline but would carefully mix the chemicals to develop the films and expose the negative correctly for fine prints. I am always thankful for the memories and lasting friendships.
Photo 1. Bennet, Jayme, Bloom, Terry, Jean, Leah, G, Barbs on the morning before we left for Punta Baluarte.
Photo 2. That’s me trying to schedule an interview. Taken inside our then V office, with Leah by the door.
Photo 3. At Mine’s View Park, Baguio City…G, A and Carli.