Yesterday, my workplace (and Alma mater) celebrated its centennial year. The campus was packed! Walking around the grounds meant getting to know people in the almost-biblical sense (which is awkward for me because most of them were students).
I got to the campus early, a little before 1 p.m. I made a few rounds, finished up some backlog, and hung out with a colleague. I remember thinking that it probably would have been amazing to experience this as a student. The reckless abandon that came with youth escaped me whenever the discomfort of the squishiness and heat came. Then I realized that student-me wouldn’t have even attended. Student-me would have chosen to stay home, vegetate, and catch up on sleep. Heck, even teacher-me would have skipped it if my friend wasn’t attending.
I have moments like this. I think that this is the price you pay when you’ve been in the same place for a while. There are moments when I’m on campus and the discrepancy between my thoughts and my current role hits me (like a train on a track-HAHA). There are times when I hate it because clearly the campus belongs to the students and I’m not a part of that fraction anymore. I miss running around the campus feeling like I owned it, knowing that this was my world. I know that this isn’t my time anymore, but it’s hard to stay bitter when you see all the amazing things these kids can do.
Anyways, back to the centennial. It was an amazing night. I spent it with one of my best friends. He was my high school batch mate and we went to the same University too. Ironically, I don’t ever remember seeing him around campus as an undergrad.
We spent most of the evening walking. Walking to find swag for our other friends who were too busy to attend (ahem ahem). Perfecting the art of Eat-walking, we made three or four rounds in the food fair area. Eating and talking and squishing. We had everything sinful: wicked oreos, s’mores, cookies, mojos, cupcakes, cream puffs, deep fried spam sushi, and nachos. We just kept going around until we were both full.
After eat-walking, I took him to the new cybernook/café to show-off. On our way there, we came across the Strings and Stanzas set up. It looked interesting enough and my friend forgot his ID so we couldn’t go to the street party outside. He was into the strings and I was excited for the stanzas. We couldn’t get seats so we decided to watch from the fire escape on the second floor of the adjacent building. We stopped for a moment thinking that we might get in trouble (and also because we could easily fall off the fire escape and die) but then we remembered that we weren’t students and I had a teacher-ID, so screw the DOs.
We stayed for the strings but couldn’t stop ourselves from laughing at the half-dead poetry reading part. We decided to walk around some more. The concert area was already packed by 8 p.m. (the next show was at 9:30 p.m.), so we decided to scout for seats. The building across it was the perfect place to watch. You would be able to see the fireworks, the concert, and a best bird’s eye view of the kids in the concert grounds. But it was off-limits for renovations.
We were thinking of settling on less spectacular seats, which actually had improvised seats, when noticed the light set-up and two girls standing in the off-limits part of the building. We figured, what’s the worst that could happen? It’s not like they can expel us. And I didn’t think that being caught there would be a fire-able offense. Getting there was tricky though. It was a maze of closed entry ways. Using our old-timer knowledge of the ins and outs of the campus, we figured out the best route and got there. We had the best “seats” (sans actual seats) on campus.
People caught on though and it got squishier and squishier as we neared 9:30. We didn’t mind the wait though. We found ways to amuse ourselves (like making fun of the group of exclusively “macho” boys who kept taking pictures of each other).
It was pretty quiet before the concert started. But when the crowd started noticing movement on the dark stage, they started chanting the official university cheer. That was pretty magical. No one was leading them. It was just 2,000 passionate kids, cheering for the same thing. It was overwhelming.
Finally, the concert started and The Dawn was amazing. My favorite quote from the evening was from their lead: “Raise your hands in the air! Wave them like you just don’t care! Ang ganda! Parang prayer meeting.” The crowd loved the classic Filipino rock songs. I only knew one of them. During their set, they released floating lanterns (like the ones from Tangled). Love.
Then the fireworks started. My friend loves confetti (btw, he’s a dude). I love fireworks. It smelled like New Years. The collective awe was palpable. At the end of the display, it was dark for a few moments when a loud voice announced: “GARY V. IS HERE!” Our favorite celebrity alumni came out and led the crowd in singing the school hymn.
Again, 2,000 kids singing the same song with their fists in the air…the oneness of the crowd was such an amazing sight. You can’t fake a moment like that.
After the celebrities danced for the crowd, the centennial dance crew ended the night with one final performance. Right after it ended, without anyone leading, 2,000 kids started chanting: WALANG PASOK! WALANG PASOK!
SORRY! This blog entry is unusually long. I normally like to write poop-entries (entries you can read over one poop-time). But I need to document the night in some way. I don’t want to forget how I felt that night. More than the food, discounted shirts, and amazing fireworks, it was the kids that amazed me. The potential and power of the youth will always be something that I’ll believe in and want to be a part of. If these kids could see what I saw last night, they’ll never doubt their ability to change this world.