That proud naked man, spreading his well-sculpted arms, standing tall and proud as ever in a platform of solid gray stones! He never ceases to impress me every time I pass by him. You see, it is so noble of him to stand unclothed, offer himself to the world, and signify relevant importance to this struggling country. Ah! The wonders of the oblation – such honor and dignity!
While passing by the University Avenue one burning summer day, I noticed something strange about the oblation. So, I took some time to stop and observe him. For some weird reasons, I felt something wrong while my eyes wandered his full nakedness. I felt something strong while observing his head help high and his arms widely spread. He was holding on to something – something of great importance for some but a source of grudge for mine. The feeling was just overpowering that water started filling up my eyes. While the hot summer wind blew over my face, shivers delivered the coldness I wasn’t expecting. That moment, I felt my knees trembling and my heart crushing into a million piercing pieces. Though I felt the blinding sunlight burn my skin, everything else around me turned black. Except for one; and I stood there, face to face with the oblation, still yet damaged, firm yet fading. I turned my back from him and silently walked away to the acad oval.
After that compelling day, I tried everything just to avoid passing by his statue. My usual jeepney ride from Quezon Ave. to Palma Hall became so excruciating that I willingly spent some extra cash to take taxi rides and traverse CP Garcia to KNL to Benitez Hall. When I thought I am spending too much money on taxis, I decided to stick to riding jeeps but I would take off by the check-point and take an Ikot ride. Paying extra to avoid the oblation, I thought, would be good for me then. I am really sure if I could see him and not feel bad and act as nonchalantly as always. I’m not as sure though if I could control myself and hide my tears. I told myself, I have to avoid him in every way possible. So I stuck through these painful routines for days.
But avoidance couldn’t help me either. I was not getting better. For in every time I would open my Facebook account, I would see my batch mates upload their graduation pictures, proudly wearing their togas and sablays. I tried masking my emotions by saying my congratulations to those graduates, as if I am extremely happy and fine about their graduation, as if it’s not a big deal for me to be delayed for my own graduation. Deep inside, I am envious, frustrated, angry, bitter and disappointed.
I am envious because my friends already got what I have been wanting the most – a college diploma. I am frustrated because I should have graduated with those people but I failed. I failed myself in doing so. I am angry, more at my own department, for they could have been more considerate about my case and they should have let me finish my degree with them but they just don’t have the heart to give me that chance. I am bitter because I could have marched with them, wore my sablay and walked the stage and get my hard-earned diploma. I am extremely disappointed at myself, especially when I saw my mom discreetly wept a tear and my dad stared blankly outside the house upon learning that I would not graduate on time. I let down once more, I did it again. I am disappointed more because my high school graduation picture will still hang on our wall for a little longer, along with my sisters’ black toga college pictures, with my mom’s graduation picture, and my dad’s military graduation picture. I felt bad for my dad because he had to postpone his retirement just for me to finish my studies. And I couldn’t forgive myself for doing so. I cried for days. I cried whenever I am alone. I cried as if I’m going to drown this whole world. I cried until I could not produce a tear anymore.
Tears are just strange for me. I can’t even remember shedding a tear for any of my graduation rites. I managed to be as composed and firm as I always do even when I graduated at the top of my batch both in elementary and high school. I delivered heartfelt speeches on both occasions and left some of my teachers teary-eyed. I got the most number of medals than any of my batch mates and my parents proudly hang them in my neck. But I never cried on all of these moments. Not even the thought of my friends’ leaving me and all those cheesy stuffs could not make me cry. Not until this year, my supposedly graduation year. I never cried this much in my life to think that it’s not even my graduation I am crying about. It’s just that the moments will never be the same again. No medals, no speeches, no top honors, nothing. Call me dense and lame, but my graduation would be empty and gibberish, I guess. But as always, I have to move on and forge ahead.
When I grow old, look back and reflect on how my life has been, I would list down my fondest memories I would like to remember. And my stay in UP would not be in my favorites, nor even a logical choice. But somehow, my experiences in this university would definitely one of my most memorable ones. I learned a lot of valuable life lessons I need in my life. The experiences brought me to a lot of realizations I could not infer had I not been on a helpless situation. They made me stronger and shaped me to be better, mentally and emotionally. I learned to not give up and fight ‘til the end. I learned to stand up with dignity after a terrible tumble. As they say, when you’re down, there’s no way but up.
Now, you may see me inside this class, wearing a smile and being perky and all. But I am still in the process of accepting my fate and moving on. I guess, I am a good faker for pretending to be fine when I am not. But I’ll get through this, in one way or another. Besides, being delayed in UP is not that a big issue. What matters is that you graduate, earn a degree and fulfill your dreams, right?
It’s not the first time I saw the oblation holding a sablay in his arms. It’s not the first time I saw the sunflowers bloomed along the university either. Hopefully, it would not be my last. I know I will be in that platform, taking my UP diploma. May it be next year or so, I am preparing myself for it. I guess I just have to wait for my turn. I’ll wait for that moment when I’ll get to wear a sablay and sunflowers bloom for my graduation. Life goes on. For now, I’ll just pass by the oblation and adore his utmost honor and excellence, with no bitter feelings, whatsoever.