SOMETIMES, I have this flight of fancy that the earth will be filled with angels and saints if people are just aware of their due dates.

Think of a cancer patient given a three-month ultimatum by his physician, or a trailing team that only has 2.1 seconds to shoot from an inbound play, or a news writer obliged by his editor to pass the article an hour after the coverage. Maybe these are the kinds of people who knew the real definition of spending time wisely or living each day to the fullest. Come to think of it, men are becoming creatures of time, but every so often, they do not know how to make sense of it anymore by wasting their lives in meaningless routines, cycles, and customs.

While I was gathering all the sentimental memories in my heart to write my last will and testament for the Varsitarian, apocalypse believers all over the world were busy waiting for the zero hour—the doomsday prediction of a US Christian group preacher that the grand kickoff to the “end of days” would happen on May 21.

Most people had believed that the prophecy was a hoax, but it was an idea sold like hotcakes to both believers and skeptics alike what with Harold Camping’s utilization of technology and media to advance his doomsday message. The pressing question that day was: How do you want to spend the remaining moments of your life before the Judgement Day finally arrives?

In a way, this mild scare reminded me of my waning days as the sports editor of the Varsitarian. It’s a paradox. I am both lucky and unfortunate to know that my due date is on the 31st of May—lucky because I have the chance to prepare myself before the big day, patch things up, and make the most out of the remaining time, but unfortunate because the countdown itself is excruciating, knowing that the end is near and there’s nothing I can do to postpone it, and the only move left is to break free from all the familiarity, the memories, and dreams, and the people who I once shared these memories and dreams with.

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Usually, senior athletes who spend their last playing year in the collegiate league are the most emotional ones and also the most “all-out” in the team. Oftentimes, they are also the ones expected to grab the MVP title as a cherry on top of their victory cake. But this is not the conclusion of their sporting career for they can still turn pro or beef up the national team. So I still believe that there is a good in goodbyes, that this is not an absolute end but a means to a far greater end.

***

Ever wondered why the champion always stands on the elevated ladder during the awarding ceremony of a sporting event—always one foot higher than the second and the third placer?

Anything that comes with the ordinal “first” or the nominal “one” is privileged to occupy the most dignified and important place on the planet. That’s why back in our childhood years, we were obliged to memorize the name of the first man on the moon, the first woman president, or the first circumnavigator of the globe. And who would forget the butterflies-in-your-stomach when you had your first crush, the highly emotional atmosphere when your favorite team won its first ever championship, or that strange feeling of a teenage girl who had her first period?

In my entire stay in the sports section (three years to be precise),there were also a lot of “first times”: my first tour at the players’ dugout; first Gatorade (Champagne) shower; first UST bus ride; first trip to Naga; first stride at the Big Dome’s hardcourt floor; and first plane ride.

For my first assignment at the Varsitarian, I was tasked to write a story about the funeral and the memoirs of ex-Glowing Goldie playmaker and former Olympian Gabby Fajardo. I will always be thankful to Sir Gabby’s family and friends for the hospitality, and the trust they reposed on me and Tin when we were in Marikina for the wake.

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I consider this first assignment a sign of good things to come. The very concept of death teaches us that all people, no matter how much we loved and cared for them, cannot be with us forever. And thus, everything else that we consider important and worth fighting for will soon approach its inevitable end. As Kazuo Ishiguro puts it, “We all complete. Maybe none of us really understand what we’ve lived through or feel we’ve had enough time.”

And so we need not know when exactly our due date is, we just have to live our lives as if we were given the ultimatum.

***

To Mama, Papa, Ate, and the rest of my family, sorry for all the troubles I have caused you and thank you for understanding and supporting me throughout the season. I’ve always dreamed of returning the favor by giving you the Latin honor as a graduation gift. I fell short of doing so, but I do hope you are still proud of your girl. To my high school and college friends, I know that, at some point, you became jealous of the Varsitarian because I could not spend as much time with you as I had before, but I promise to catch up with you soon. Thank you for the sweet escapes and the breather.

To the Golden Era and the succeeding batch, (Levine, Samboy, Cylyn, and Alena, who are always on-call in UST; my mentors Ate Ana, Emil, Mark, and Eli; and mid-year girls Nicole and Alexa), I owe you the happiest and most memorable experiences I had with ‘V’. Now, we are one with you, dear Amihans.

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To the Quadricentennial Batch, we’ve been through thick and thin, but we’ve managed to crawl our way up. It’s been a great ride.

To my ‘V’ brothers Lester and Paul, I hope we won’t end up behind the steel bars with Cliff. Thank you for the unplanned escapades and the good talks about the old times.

To my first teammates as a greenhorn (Ana, Aki, and Heinz), I look up to all of you so much. I miss covering games with you.

To the “black sheep” team (Cha, Ate Athena, Lester, and Frau), thank you for not giving up when everybody doubted our ability. For me, you are the unsung heroes.

To my current Sports Team (Melai, Frau, Gelo) I’m proud of your triumvirate. Even though we were undermanned, we pulled it through.

To the rookies (Chenny, Jan B., Bong, and Alexis), you have a very promising future to look up to in the sports world. Enjoy and treasure it.

To the next batch of ‘V’, we believe that you can go the distance. Thank you for the short-lived moments that I hope to continue afterwards.

To my coaches, Sir Lito, Sir Ian, and Sir Ipe: thank you for being father figures to us all; for the mentoring, patience, trust, and motivation. I wish I could be like you someday.

To the Thomasian Athletics community, my prayers and support will always be with UST in its quest for excellence.

To my best friend, who is one of the last cowboys, I’m willing to gamble no matter how high the stakes are. We will make the chorus of that Barry Manilow song happen.

To the Varsitarian, my heart will always be with you and you will always be a part of me. Minsang ‘V’, Mananatiling ‘V’. That in all things, God may be glorified.

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