By Bencio David
I know I’m not the class valedictorian of this graduating batch, but let this article be my “speech” for all you, people who have made significant impacts in my life.
The sparkling smiles on graduation pictures sprawling over Facebook send me the contagious excitement. The season brings me goose bumps from time to time. We are only counting days to that big day that we all have been dreaming for. Words of gratitude spur everywhere as we acknowledge all the people who have made every seemingly impossible thing possible. “#Congratulations” must soon be trending as we receive hundreds of overwhelming greetings from people around us. What a great feeling, isn’t it? The thought that all those times which had extended to sleepless nights devoted for requirements are finally rewarding us with overflowing joy and thanksgiving.
But amid this euphoria that we feel right now, a tinge of (I don’t know if this is) pain has been beneath my chest as I realize that we soon need to move on and venture to our individual paths. No more lunch dates at the “cafeteria”, chitchats while comfortably seated on one of the benches, group meetings at the library or some random fast food chain or coffee shop somewhere, the pabonggahang class presentations for various subjects, the exciting trips that we have done for “academic” purposes, the AIT parties, and the depressing thesis days that we all managed to handle…with grace. I am sure that this is how most of us have spent our college days in AIT. We may not have experienced the famed AIT swimming pool and tasted drops of tequila at our very own bar or stayed in one of the luxurious rooms of AIT Hotel, I am very sure that the time we spent together is just enough to write thousands of unforgettable stories.
Who will forget our totoy and nene faces back when we were newbies in the university? It makes me laugh and ashamed at the same time whenever I see my pictures—eyeglasses, mass of curly hair on my head, loose shirts, and checkered ‘pambahay’ shorts when attending classes. Good thing I chose to be in AIT (I can’t imagine how I look like right now if I hadn’t). While some have remained simple yet a lot better than before such as me, some were born fashionistas. The cool blazers, jackets, jazzed-up jeans and shorts, fashionable footwear, flashy eyeglasses topped with the best accessories. Perfect!
One may be foolish if he/she were to say that never did he/she become a grade-conscious alien, striving to stand out and prove his/her might within a pool of the best of the bests from all over the Philippines. The mere thought that you worked with the finest students of the country has surely brought a challenge to everyone to be at his/her best. Some have remained competitive G.C. aliens…secretly. But what’s good about us is that we know the strengths of one another and we pool all our individual contributions to come up with the best outputs.
Probably, at one point or another, most of us have felt like we didn’t belong in AIT. Unfortunately, I experienced a similar struggle. Because of all my insecurities and self-issues, I felt like I didn’t deserve to be in AIT as it became hard for me to blend right away. I’m not into parties; I’m not into barhopping; I’m not conscious about how I look. I’m not handsome nor am I even hot. But the environment has challenged me and allowed me to define myself to simply be the person I want to be. After all, I was thankful I got to manage these insecurities and learned to believe in myself and in what I can do.
From the day I first stepped my foot on UP Diliman and crossed the footbridge to AIT, I have realized that time is really playing a trick on us. We breezed through our everyday lives and simply breathed in every passing moment. We woke up every morning to prepare for school. We hopped on and off the Ikot jeeps as we crossed another day. We traveled with our mind occupied with the demanding set of work and our schedule of classes. But we didn’t forget to spare a space in our daily time to say hello, to smile and catch up with our friends.
Things may have changed. Some we notice, while others we don’t. I am completely sure that AIT has developed us a lot, and many of the faces that we have seen every day within our small home have created great impacts in our lives. Some have found their real love while some were unfortunate. Keri lang yan! Marami pa! Most have found their life-long friends who will be there in weddings as bridesmaids or groomsmen, our kids’ baptismals as ninongs and ninangs, and more importantly, in times when we have problems as those with whom we can talk to about…Life.
Days have truly passed so swiftly and now suddenly, here we are. Counting all the days, weeks, months and years may possibly make us feel that it has been a long, long journey. But looking from where we stand right now, it is not that long. Besides, just like any other trip, this one has never got boring because we have companions sitting right next to us while we endured this adventure. Hurray! We’re only counting days as we head to our destination. Or better yet, we’re only a few steps away before we leave this destination—the AIT journey. We gently feel the refreshing breeze of success heading our direction. After the dreadful path, the taste of victory is now never too far.
We’re almost there.
But remember that a tougher battlefield beyond there awaits us. It’s time to set our own trails. I don’t know where our individual journeys may lead us, to what places our dreams will bring us, or whose faces I would see on magazines, newspapers, and television telling how successful we have become. It’s not easy. But what shall we worry about when we wear the dignified green and maroon sash as our armor woven by honor and excellence?
Your faces will never be forgotten. Until the next time we see each other my dear friends! I love you and I will miss you all! Bow.