“THERE is the ever-present danger of being misunderstood lurking behind every column… speaking for 30,000 plus of people after all can be a risky operation at best and a hazardous and even fatal one at the very worst.” — Regina Jimenez, The Varsitarian, 1975

Everybody likes to talk about Philippine politics. But I am not everybody. I insist to spare my space. And as of press time, my mind is preoccupied with thoughts and misthoughts about “Mr. and Ms. Ideal Thomasian Personality.”

If I am not mistaken, this is the first time, the pageant use the term “Ideal” in its title. I do not know what PR mechanisms whatsoever the organizers are thinking of when they added such term.

So what does an “Ideal Thomasian” mean? Should he or she be a religious advocate of UST’s mission and vision; who like St. Thomas Aquinas “commits him/herself to the pursuit of truth and to the preservation, advancement and transmission of knowledge in the arts and sciences, both sacred and civil, through the use of reason illumined by faith”? Should he or she affirm his or her role in the “formation of men and women to become a competent and compassionate professional committed to the service of the Church, the nation and the global community”?

The last time I’ve watched the university-wide beauty pageant was in 2002. It was when my fellow Varsitarian writer Meg Arreza represented Arts and Letters. I must say most of the candidates then are “beautiful” enough. And laughable enough.

I saw an obvious non-sporty man slipped a basketball while trying very hard to keep it dribbling on stage, a girl who nearly blow off her face because of her totally uncoordinated props, and a young boy who stared at spaces when asked about the name of the Rector.

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Ideal. So soothing to the ears. So ambitious. So unreal. Just like its definition, I cannot expect anything more in this event but a longstanding struggle to mold “imaginary standards of excellence; fit for a model; faultless; as, ideal beauty.”

* * *

“There will always be a wide interval between practical and ideal excellence.”- Rambler

But of course no one is perfect and those pageant candidates can commit mistakes. And there’s nothing wrong with searching for an ideal one, but I think, within the quest, the seeker should be alert to eye on signs of near idealism.

I would like to congratulate my seatmate Kit, Ma. Francezca Therese Kwe and her friend Angelo Suarez for being the latest addition to the “ideal” roster of Thomasian writers. In case you still do not know, Kwe and Suarez won third prize (short story category) and second prize (poetry category), respectively in 2003 Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature.

It is sad to know that this Pontifical University boasting of its vision for excellence cannot acknowledge elements of excellence. I do not know why this people did not have the grand celebration and the biggest banners of congratulations they deserve.

Ah! Maybe because you’re not beauty titlists.

* * *

“Palaging may ulan ang pamamaalam

Kaya binabaha ng lungkot ang lungsod…

Huwag kang lilingon at baka malusaw

Ng asin ang mithing pagbabagong-loob…

Bangkay na lulutang ang panghihinayang

Ngayong nalunod na ang lahat ng pusok

At kuyom sa dibdib ang basang alabok.”

– Michael M. Coroza, Palaging may ulan ang pamamaalam

Weeks from now, the Diamond Batch of The Varsitarian will finally be shelved in the archives of the library. Together with all the should have beens of the staff and the might have beens of our readers, the 75th volume will find its place in the billowing spaces of neglect. Goodluck. I can only wish.

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