Monday, April 23, 2012

Inside the Student Union Building, UPLB

I've heard about the improvements done inside the Student Union Building in UPLB, starting with the addition of a 7-Eleven branch. So I decided to go inside and have a look...

First thing I noticed was the white tiles on the floor. The ceiling was painted white as well. Back in the day, the floor was just gray and the ceiling was brown (I think). The hall had been dark and unwelcoming then; but now, it looks so clean and bright. I'm curious about how it looks like at night.

Then there's this wall with a photo mosaic of the highlights in UPLB's history from the 1960's to the 1980's. Before, I just used to walk along this hall without a second glance at the images, thanks to the drab background. But thanks to the improvements -- including the contrast in the background -- the mosaic seemed to be more noticeable.

Photo mosaic at the Student Union Building, UPLB

My usual hangout in the Student Union Building had been the cafeteria. Back then, the cafeteria looked dirty and forlorn with the grey floor and the brown posts. The chairs stood out in the background because they used to be the orange chairs with the metal legs straight from the 1980's. The classic Student Union cafeteria food included Linda's and Salad Country (my frequent haunts) plus hotdog and snack stands. Thanks to the big tables, I had enough space to work on handwritten BIO 1 lab reports there or to take a nap during free period after a sleepless night preparing a class report.

Ten years later, I got the surprise of my life to see that the cafeteria was all in white. The floor is tiled, the posts are white, the walls are white... well, the walls of the food stalls, that is. The stalls were offset to the original gray walls of the building. The tables were all white and the chairs too. The place looked a lot more welcoming, a lot more modern, a lot cleaner. Even the stalls looked more hygienic. Salad Country is still there but I didn't notice if Linda's is still there or the snack stands. The cake shop isn't there anymore and there were some food concessionaires that I didn't recognize.

Student Union Building cafeteria

The Student Union building isn't a sad part of the university anymore, it seems. The place looks more alive than it did when I was a student there. I wonder what the other parts of the building look like nowadays.

Friday, April 20, 2012

has it really been ten years already?

It was in 2002. I was roasting under the harsh April sun in black academic garb along with fellow graduates. We were seated right there on the greenest portion of Freedom Park, listening (supposedly) to the message being delivered by then Education Secretary Raul Roco. Thanks to the bright glare of the afternoon sun, I couldn't help but wear sunglasses even though we discouraged to do so by the marshals.

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Today, I went back to the same green field where I had received the "diploma" (it, instead, contained instructions on returning the academic robes). Just like clockwork, the people who take care of the grass had cordoned off the graduates' sitting area and set up sprinklers to keep the grass continuously watered in the morning.  In a week, the backdrop for the next commencement exercises will be set up; then it would look like a fresh start for those leaving the hallowed halls of the University of the Philippines Los Banos.

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As I walked under the shade of a nearby acacia tree, I marveled at how far the people from the Microbiology Majors of Class of 2002 have gone in the span of ten years. We've got people in the medical field, in the food industry, in sales and marketing, in research, in academia. Many have gone to work overseas. A number have even left the field of Microbiology altogether. Some have started their own families; others, due to the circumstances they're in, are still single.

That day, April 20th, 2002, the Microbiology students in the same Class were all together one last time. And I can't believe that it's been a decade since!

UPLB Freedom Park 10 years after

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Via Flickr:
I took a walk along UPLB's Freedom Park today.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Maundy Thursday pilgrimage 2012

I will sharpen the saw.

I decided this year, I'd go on a journey during the Holy Week. Originally, I was planning to go way up north, to Batanes. It was a chance to take photos, to see new sights, to eat new types of food... basically, to see a culture that I haven't seen before. This trip was supposed to be similar to the Holy Week Ifugao-Mountain Province trip my family took in 2000 (we went to a Presbyterian Easter celebration) and the Marinduque trip we took in the 1990s (to see the Moriones festival).

Then Lola Estay's health took a turn for the worse and all my travel plans were placed on the back burner. Nothing grand is in the books for me this Holy Week. I decided to keep things simple this year: Good Friday and Easter Sunday with the family. But what about the annual Maundy Thursday Visita Iglesia?

This year, I opted to go to the churches that I'm fond of going to. I was aiming to reach Our Lady of Caysasay Church and the Basilica de San Martin de Tours in Taal, Batangas or the Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and the San Agustin Church in Intramuros, Manila. As I was finalizing my plan, I thought that the last church I'd visit would really depend on how I was doing in terms of time.

In the end, I ended up visiting five churches instead of seven. Two of these churches are very special to me (because my family went to church there when I was in grade school) and it was my first time to visit the other three churches.

Don Bosco Seminary, Canlubang

My dad graduated from high school from Don Bosco Makati. He must have had good memories there because when we were younger, he would bring the family to the Canlubang campus to attend Mass and to encourage us to take on sports. I've always had the impression that the Salesians are very close to kids and aren't intimidating as priests. None of the Padre Damaso stereotypes... at least based on my limited experience. Aside from the people though, I like going to this particular Don Bosco chapel because it's so peaceful. Trees surround the campus and contribute to the illusion that I'm far away from the road.

St Joseph the Worker Parish, Canlubang


This is one of my favorite churches. Not because of the architecture; it's a small and simple, yet beautiful church. Like the seminary, the church is surrounded by trees. It is a serene place to go hear Mass in. After seeing many ornately decorated churches in different towns, seeing one that looks just like a barn is a relief.

Sta Cecilia Church, Canlubang


This church is in the heart of Ceris Subdivision, where I used to learn how to drive (Shhh!). It's my first time to visit this church. I wasn't able to go in because the doors were closed but what caught my attention was the large bell that was hung outside the church. It says "Nuestra Sra. delos Desamparados" (Our Lady of the Abandoned). Another peaceful church; it's surrounded by trees and ornamental plants. Plus, it looks just like a house! I wonder what it feels like to hear Mass there.

Mary Help of Christians, Sta Rosa


I've long wondered how to go to this church. From the Eton/ Ayala Greenfields exit, one can see the slanted cross of the church across the grassy fields. This may not be true for much longer because one day, the grassy fields will be dotted by houses and the church won't be visible from far off anymore. Another peaceful church; only a few people were quietly going through the Stations of the Cross when I dropped by. The yellow sun put the church in a good light.

St John Bosco Parish, Sta Rosa


Another Don Bosco church, I see. This one, though, was right by the road to Ayala Westgrove. Since I got there less than an hour before the Mass, I decided to finish my pilgrimage there. The place, while considerably packed due to the time, was still peaceful. The wall behind the altar had a mural, something that wasn't present in the plain walls of the other churches. The images of saints and the Cross here were all covered with purple cloth.

At the end of the day, I realized that my parish pilgrimage was more than a road trip to see churches. It was a spiritual journey. The churches I went to reminded me that the church building people are going to is not as important as being at peace in undisturbed prayer in whatever church you find yourself in.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

is it worth the risk?

With all the traffic jams going on around the provinces thanks to the holidays, a lot of people prefer to go by motorbike rather than by car, by bus, or by jeep. These motorbike riders can weave in and out of traffic, stop under the shade of a roadside tree or store where ever they want, and can go to some of the more inaccessible places because of the narrow width of the vehicle.

However, some of these riders are some of the worst risk-takers out there as well. I've seen and heard of several incidents where the riders have been squashed by trucks they tried to cut; they've collided with pedestrians because they were driving on the sidewalk; they've been in collisions with other vehicles at night because they're on the wrong side of the road, drunk, without headlights or taillights.

And so, as perfect example of how careless and inconsiderate some of these motorcycle riders are, I'm posting photos I've taken on the road (I was a passenger, not the driver). The motorcycle driver in these photos opted to take the risk of passing a truck while approaching a blind curve where he (or she) shouldn't be on the wrong side of the road (hence the yellow line).


The driver didn't care, it appeared, for their safety because aside from passing the truck on a tricky part of the road, he (or she) also decided to be on the wrong side while a tricycle was closing in. True, the tricycle driver could swerve out of the way to avoid a collision. However, just in case a larger vehicle was approaching (such as a truck or a bus), this motorbike and its driver and passenger would surely be injured, if not killed. How about his (or her) family? The children?

Is driving carelessly really worth the risk?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Lola Estay: 40 days after

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Lola Estay 40th day, a set on Flickr.
It's tradition to gather on the 40th day after someone dies and pray for the repose for his/her soul. In Lola Estay's case, the family had a reunion in her honor on Easter Sunday. We went to the cemetery with the priest to bless her tomb.

The photos posted here were taken at the cemetery after the blessing. Everyone stayed for a bit to share stories and for picture-taking. :)

Good Friday 2012

Santa Cruz RiverBridge crossingSanta Cruz RiverFollow the arrowFresh flowersLast-minute preparations for the procession
Tina, in the signature blue of the Women of the Philippine Independent ChurchEcce HomoSaint VeronicaThe images of the saints were being rearranged one last time.DSC_9112DSC_9113
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Good Friday 2012, a set on Flickr.


The annual procession of the images of saints depicting Jesus Christ's road to Calvary. I took photos as the procession of the Aglipayan Church was being prepared in Sta Cruz, Laguna. My relatives are active participants in the procession.