EVERYTHING that has happened in my life has always been my choice.

Eight years ago, I marched into this University not knowing what fate had in store for me. All I knew was that I was going to study high school in what my elementary text books claim as the oldest university in the Philippines. I could have stayed in my old school; after all, my parents only had to pay half of my high school tuition fee after graduating with honors in elementary. But it was my choice to be here in UST. And, at 12 years old, I was unaware that this choice would lead to a cascade of events that I never imagined would happen.

It was in the UST Education High School that I discovered my potential and passion for writing. I had always been a bookworm since elementary, but it was only during my sophomore year in high school that I took interest in writing. It started with fan fictions, which later progressed to serious stories and a little bit of traditional poetry. Through it all, I had one reader–Sir Alfer Guiang, who painstakingly gave me constructive criticisms on how to improve my craft. He was my first writing mentor, who instilled in me not just the love for literature in general, but most especially for Philippine literature.

Knowing my passion for writing, the decision to take up Nursing in college came as a shock to my friends and classmates in my section, Infamous Regular. I did not like Nursing, but looking back, I chose it. I might have been influenced by numerous factors, but it was still I who filled up that USTET application form and wrote “Nursing” in the first choice box.

Nursing life for me was not easy. Being the reserved person that I was, it was hard for me to adjust to a new environment, especially since I did not have the desire to be in it. In second year, I was transferred from section two to section one, which made it all the more difficult. Good thing I had my friends Gold and Jinkee, who suffered the same fate as I had. And later on, our little circle of friends bloomed into what is now known as OBOWs–Joan, Jel, Kat, Nikki, Romeo, Pheelyp, Suraj, and Quino–who transformed my drab Nursing life into a vibrant one. And with my very supportive RLE 4-1.4–John, Mike, Hel, Shen, and Pam–Nursing became a better course to be in.

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In the course of my stay in Nursing, I learned to love the college. I was amazed by the commitment of our professors not just for the college but for the profession as well, most evident during the June 2006 Nursing board exam leakage. I remember clearly how we marched toward the Professional Regulations Commission under the heat of the sun, shouting tenets of justice, truth, and integrity for the Nursing profession. At that moment, I felt lucky to have the best and most dignified nursing professors in the country. I hope we become the Thomasian nurses that you want us to be. I am proud to be a Thomasian nurse.

Joining the Varsitarian during third year was also my choice. In fact, I think it was one of the best decisions I made in my life. For my first two months in ‘V’, I was guided by the only literary editor I ever knew – Ate Shar. She had been my editor for only two months and yet I have learned a lot from her, from writing literary stuff to greeting creative writers during special occasions so that they would not feel that you only contact them when you need them. Kuya Eldric was the editor in chief at that time, and I was lucky enough to work with him again for this year’s Montage. I am sorry for having disappointed him, but he has taught me so much, and has given me advices on how to improve my literary works, even if he was no longer my editor.

My first year in the Varsitarian was a solitary one, for I was the only literary writer in the paper. I had co-writers for a few months, like Iris and Jerilee, but unfortunately, I could not make them stay. That was why the arrival of three new literary writers last year–Tin, Roman, and Raydon–was a welcome relief for me. Coupled with their passion and literary skills, they were the best writers an editor could ask for. I know that this coming publication year will be different, but I have faith in them. May the literary fires also burn bright for the new additions to the literary team–Edilyn and Agnes.

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I have worked with the incumbent staff for a year, and some have even become close to me. They seem like a promising batch, so I wish them all the best of luck. Same goes to the incoming staff, who I regret I have not gotten close to. And I wish to give a big, warm hug to my batch mates who will be left behind–Tonying, Mitch, and Kerwin.

And then there are my co-outgoing staffers: Ayn, Au, Carla, Tanya, Ruben, and Nathaniel–I am sure we will see one another again. I wish them all the best in life. Ruben and Nathaniel had been two of the kindest souls in the ‘V’, and I am glad I had been a recipient of that kindness.

The Varsitarian would not have felt like my second home if not for the friends whom I love like brothers and sisters. There are the grown-up fetuses–Kristine, Hershey, Jenny, and Richard. I think it is enough for me to say that these four people made me oh-so-happy. And of course, there is the Varsitarian Team Nursing–Ketch, Raye, and Celina. We have huddled together since day one, promising one another that no one will quit, and now, we finally made it! They may not know it, but they are my sources of strength. These friends have shared memorable moments with me, from the mundane (Divisoria shopping sprees and videoke marathons) to the unusual (offering eggs to St. Claire and Troy adventures), that I will forever treasure in my heart.

The Varsitarian was a great learning experience for me, and I feel blessed to have Sir Lito as one of my teachers here in ‘V’. I am very proud to be one of his “kids,” and I will surely miss his jokes and tales of former ‘V’ staffers.

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More than anyone else, I consider the celebrated men and women of Philippine letters as the best mentors I ever had when it comes to writing. The Varsitarian gave me the opportunity to meet them and have my works read and critiqued by them, and for that I am forever grateful. I hope they do not forget this annoying girl who pesters them with requests for interviews, greetings, and even text jokes in the middle of the night.

To everyone who has made a difference in my life, I want to extend my deepest gratitude. You all have made my eight-year stay in UST a fulfilling one. Most of all, thank you to my family for the love and support even through the toughest times, and to God for guiding me in making all these choices.

Once a ‘V’ staffer, always a ‘V’ staffer.

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