FROM time to time, I would wring my heart in front of the straight-faced guards of the Beato Angelico Building. I could go as far as to beg just to let me and my beloved pair of formerly black skinny jeans inside. To my great relief, no one around me has ever found this worth remembering.

Scenes like these have already become a part of the culture of the College of Fine Arts and Design; along with the K-pop-inspired hairstyles and the graffiti-coated tables. History can tell that we have lived in constant pressure to “think outside the box,” and for that reason, we have been conditioned to do our utmost to break the norms or maybe jump over a few fences.

Clearly, being art students in a royal, pontifical, and Catholic university has its drawbacks. Having to wear uniforms is one. I could imagine the college administrators’ amazement as we spot one loophole after another in their trusty uniform code. Their allergy to the portrayals of religious satires, vices, sex, or anything too realistic has long been fanning the flame of our epic battle for self-expression.

This left not an ounce of novelty in the stories of students and professors who give up this University for a more open-minded environment; claiming that they could do better without the 400-year-old conservative image fastened around their necks.

The first few months of working for the Varsitarian almost made me fall in with the judgment of those who left. There were tons of guidelines to follow. Making every design concept agree with all the ideal Thomasian qualities was nowhere easy. And to have your work filtered over and over to fit the University’s traditional image felt dead set against creativity.

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Nagkakaisang simbahan, iginiit

It took me quite a while to realize that being rebellious does not always equate to being artistic, and that respect for religion should never be seen as a weakness. Yes, we’re not as uninhibited or as radical the other art schools in the country, but for this University to produce eminent artists such as Arturo Luz, “Ang Kiukok,” and countless more, it must have been doing something right.

Rules are as immortal as our persistence to defy them, so we might as well follow. For all we know, these might even spare us from a few death threats and lawsuits in the future.

As cliché as this sounds, we must not see these policies as a form of disability, instead, take it is as a challenge, because limits are the roots of resourcefulness. Our target must not be to offend, instead, create ideas that are so fine, that it could pass through every filter and still be as creative and amusing. That’s genuine ingenuity.

I admit that is something that I am yet to master. But just so that the guards know, I do wear the proper slacks now (for most of the time).

***

To Mr. Joey Velasco, (in case Heaven is a patron of this paper,) I thank you for serving as a muse to many young artists. I adore your paintings and the benevolence of your heart. I really wish to meet you someday.

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