(Written by: Paolo M. Bustamante; Photos by: Mars Guisala)
It has been days since my graduation, and now it has dawned on me that I am officially unemployed. These past few days, I spent my time reminiscing the roller coaster ride that was college.
I recall the time I picked out a college. I was a fresh faced 4th year student from La Salle Greenhills, and getting into De La Salle- College of Saint Benilde was far from my mind. I never entertained the thought of going to college there simply because I was never aware of what I want out of life. However, in a bizarre sort of way, I ended up here. One thing was for sure though; I have always wanted to take up something that had to do with the Arts. I then, aspired to take up AB Fine Arts in UST mainly because of the old feel of the campus. But the enrolment process was so long and hard. There were so many people, stacked up one in front of the other in squiggly lines, and to anyone who knows me well I have little patience for situations like that. So, I didn't take it. I also thought that I would not be pleased with the notion of submerging my foot into a mixture of polluted water, rat piss, human piss, and garbage juice -every time it rains. So, I said no and I never looked back.
I went to the registrar's office of CSB and inquired about the course offerings. I initially wanted to take up Culinary Arts, because the idea of food and smiles generated by food, entices me. But I have no patience to cook my own food, I usually buy my food or have someone cook it for me. I go hungry and I eat! The process in between, doesn't exist. I felt like this was going to be a hard decision to make all alone. I asked, "What do fresh high school graduates usually take here in CSB? Oh, and what course would make me filthy rich?" The lady answered, "Export Management"!
In my first year in CSB, I was not satisfied with what I took. Numbers and calculations inspire me to take a long nap every time. I felt like a fish out of water, being in Export Management. I simply did not belong here! I played with the thought of possibly shifting to AB Philippine History at De La Salle University, but then again I would be really bored to death because reading is so ZZZzzzzz… I felt like I did not have a sense of direction or purpose. I immediately shrugged that negative feeling off and said to myself that, "Someday, b*tches will bow down to me!", and it made all the difference.
As a freshman, I recall going to the newly built School of Design and Arts Building every lunch time. I would spend most of my time hanging out with my batchmates there and ranting about my course, until one of them got fed up (I guess...) and suggested that I shift to Mutimedia Arts. To cut the long story short, I got in and shifted. It felt right and it felt like Mutimedia Arts and I, were a match made in career heaven.
(Loyalty Awardee YEAH!!!)
However, I did have a lot of catching up to do. My first few weeks in SDA was really awkward. I felt so out of place and I had to make friends all over again. There were cliques who already shared strong bonds of trust and friendship, which was built during the time I was in Export Management. The “Archi” students hung out together, the fashion bloggers walked with each other to class, the film majors shared lunch... while I was alone just like Cady Heron in “Mean Girls” when she just moved from Africa to “The real world”.
I was really psyched about my first day in a course I cared about. I distinctly remember that my first subject was photography. We were tasked to shoot buildings and monuments; it made me so excited because I was fond of old buildings and structures around the Manila area. Also, it inspired me to start my blog and to put my appreciation for these structures out there. May 2, 2011 was the precise moment I gathered the confidence, strength, and will to start my own blog about my city;s built-heritage. You don’t just forget “eureka” moments and “lightbulb” days like that. Unlike my other schoolmates who were so into food and fashion blooging, I struggled to start my blog without being aware that I could have a specific group of readers and enthusiasts. Being a heritage enthusiast and conservationist, I already felt alone in a sea of fashion mavens and foodies. I never thought that I could find people like me through my blog.
At first, blogging was a bit disheartening. My views were low in number. I constantly compared my blogs that were set up by my schoolmates, and it made me feel a bit discouraged. But then I realized that, “Of course, there will always be a market for food blogs and fashion blogs. They’re fun and people generally like them!” Then, I pushed on with what I started –blogging, posting, maximizing online opportunities, and putting my advocacy out there. In time, everything gradually improved. I was getting a steady stream of viewership from the Philippines and abroad! I even met a lot of people who share the same interest! They are much older, though. But I did not mind, it was still a blessing in my eyes.
Everything was going so well, even though this was something I never really expected. I just went along with what I felt in my gut. I tried to do well with everything I set my heart and mind to, whether it involved blogging, studying or being a friend. Given the progress that I have reached, I thought that it was time for me to establish my own trademark. I want people to see my work and know that it’s mine.
During my last term in CSB, that period wherein I had to do my thesis, I picked the topic: “Preserving the Built-Heritage Structures of Manila”, given my advocacy and interest. My medium was a detailed website and a 10 minute video. Come defense, I was so pleased to know that my professors were happy specifically regarding the 10 minute video. They’re attention was grabbed by the fact that it makes people aware of the state of our heritage buildings, which was very poor. However, I was a bit offended about their doubts regarding my abilities saying, “Parang hindi ikaw ‘toh”. Maybe it doesn’t seem like heritage conservation is my interest, upon anyone’s first impression. But most heritage conservationists, DO NOT look like heritage conservationists. What does a “heritage conservationists” look like anyway?
When I was doing my production for the thesis, my adviser Ms. Abigail Cabanilla, was really hands on in helping me, which I was really thankful for. She’s a lifesaver. She gave out ideas on how I can execute my video well, and how the flow and the mood of my video should go. I was really blessed to have someone like her during my college years. She is the type that really pushes you to fuel your advocacy and she seems really proud of her students, which felt very empowering. I recall those instances where she pushed me to join certain contests about celebrating your city, wherein the prize was a trip to Paris. She is simply the best. I am short of words on how to properly describe her, but “best” is enough to encapsulate who she entirely is.
While I was in the process of doing my thesis the professors in MMA are really there to support and help. Mr. Nestor was one of the best professors in Video Production. Take note, he was never my professor, but he was always there to help students in need. This is what I really love about my school: The professors we have push students to be better and to strive harder to be the bests at their respective fields. I truly believe and hope that they will really guide future Benildeans into being one of the best, as they did us.
(with my motha')
To cut my lengthy thesis story short, I aced it wearing my barong proudly. I am proud to say that I really got a high score, but I lost all of my files because some bitch stole my hard drive. It was still fine, though.
In my last term in CSB, we were required to make a graduation exhibit. It is the MMA major’s very own “Rite of Passage”. Hence, we brain stormed in our class and I was pleased that my group mates agreed that our theme would be about The City of Manila (something that is really important to me). The exhibit had a great turnout. Shortly after, college was over. (Thank you to my adviser Mr. Paul Samonte)
A huge and fun-filled chapter of my life now closes. I am really proud to say that I am a Benildean. This post is more than just a nostalgia post. It is a gratitude post. I am thankful for everyone who helped me along the way. They have taught me life lessons that I will bring with me forever, the most important lesson being: No matter what school you came from, it is what you do after college that truly matters. My school and my teachers taught me to do what I love, they nurtured me to be a person who achieved things out of passion. That is what makes Benildeans truly one of a kind.