By JC Danganan
This is the time when one’s college life becomes seemingly romanticized by our own acts of retrospect as we prepare to join the grand march of our life – our graduation. And so I indulge myself in joining this bandwagon. As I prepare to wear my sablay and transfer it to my left shoulder, I am delivered to my cradle of memories and swayed by its bits and pieces that sum up my life as an Iskolar ng Bayan. Abridging my UP AIT life, I write down five things I will surely miss in AIT:
People. AIT as a place took up particular meanings through the presence of specific people. Probably the bizarre mix of students, faculty, and administrative staff among others whom I have shared moments with is one complex whole that I’ll hold dearly. We have cool professors who are the best tourism educators in the Philippines. These professors who have unorthodox ways of teaching carry the ability to stretch a three-unit course into a seemingly five. Who will not miss the “chronologically challenged” members of the institute staff who have a reputation of being grumpy yet accommodating to students needs? Or Ma’am Phing and the “Ping” (pink) card? And of course, there are the students who are experts in crossing a highway, who are hungry for recognition, and who strive for excellence despite the odds.
The Structure. The AIT building itself has served as our immediate physical environment where we navigated throughout our college life: the library where we opened ourselves to knowledge; the panels we occupied for lectures; benches and corridors where we had chit-chats; the seminar room famous for many events we were required to attend; the canteen with its faulty roofing; and our dear org tambayans. But more importantly, the AIT complex carries stories of grandeur and downfall. It has become a symbol of UP education. As UP President Pascual said, “It is learning despite the limited facilities and the antiquated equipment from previous generations—a factor which sets the UP graduate apart from those of other institutions.”
Fieldtrips. Who will not miss the OCLAs we had where we found ourselves enjoying the beach in the middle of the semester? Fieldtrips that caused us to exploit the line “Whatever happens in <insert field trip destination here>, stays in <insert field trip destination here>”. Made almost always possible by our parents’ financial capacities, these trips allowed us to explore the beauty of Philippine tourism destinations. More importantly, they became events where friendship among batchmates were made stronger and more meaningful than ever.
Learning. As an educational institution, the vast array of learning opportunities present in AIT will never be forgotten. These learning operationalized by our dear professors shall serve us not only in our career path in tourism but in our practical lives as well. I am sure you’ll remember their lines spoken like, “Hindi lahat ng given ay relevant”, “Image is everything”, “Build your network. It’s important”, “Give until it hurts”, “You shouldn’t let your happiness be dependent on another person ‘cause people change”, “Pay attention to details”, “You need to be current”, and “Kahit saan ka sa Pilipinas pumunta basta UP ka, safe ka sa NPA”. The combination of these teachings coupled with experiences in organizational activities will be definitely longed for.
Culture. AIT life has a certain culture of exclusivity: people have embraced our being geographically isolated from the rest of the campus and have translated this energy into forming our relationships closer to each and every one. There is warmth and closeness among us probably because we travel often and work in group class projects—term papers, travel proposals, marketing plans, promotional plans, business plans, reports on tourism master plans, and strategic management plans among others. Also, one cannot fail to remember our collective anguish whenever we correct the notion of our being mere flight attendants or tour guides in the future; when we differentiate our tourism curriculum from others; and when we simply complain in crossing the footbridge under the blazing heat of the sun or otherwise. The oneness born from the collective struggles created a certain identity only AIT students may probably understand.
Conscious on how AIT contributed to our successes as tourism scholars, we regard AIT as more than just a seemingly abandoned building along Commonwealth Avenue. It has been our home. Our home where we found meanings of life, formed friendships, and developed our intellects. Indeed, there is difficulty in making a shortlist of mere five items to be missed in AIT if he/she is to graduate and leave the institute. Because it is the whole mix and package we shall long for.
Now that fortunately (or unfortunately) we are about to join the AIT graduates who speak stories saying they miss college life so much and hope they can come back, I wish to remind the undergrads to hold and experience every moment dearly. Create memories you will cherish forever. Pursue higher academic paths. Learn insanely. Enjoy the stress. Because sooner or later things will be different. Very different.
Undergraduate college life is a once in a lifetime shot and it lasts only for a certain period of time, so you better make it your best.
Editorial Note: Some parts shared in this article were from an AIT yearbook. The author is one of six magna cum laudes who shall be finishing the four-year BS Tourism course on April 19. He is also the outgoing Chairperson of the AIT Student Council.