CONGRATULATIONS, graduates! What now? As the commencement exercises passed, the pre-graduation jitters that came upon me turned into some sort of post-college, pre-employment psychosis. Like most of my friends, I was simply jubilant because years of school-related toil have finally ended for now, but at the same time, I was at a loss. The questions looming in my head were dreadful and often made thoughts of graduating so soon bittersweet. “Is this it?” “Years and years of studying concluded in one night–really?” “What now…WHAT NOW?”

While some of my co-fledglings busied themselves with vacation plans or arrangements for further studies, thoughts of my sudden plunge into the country’s unemployed consumed me. Though I am blessed with parents who are encouraging me to take the entire summer off before actually venturing out into the real world, I have been prepping myself for many months now to brave those unchartered waters.

There was a time that this preparation period led me to bouts of nostalgia. I often replayed scenes from my soon-to-be-concluded college life and unearthed some keepsakes from my grade school and high school days. It was one Sunday that I found myself leafing through my mother’s Harry Potter book collection. I remembered then how we once took turns sniffing the new pages, which are now slightly yellowed and worn. It was that trip down memory lane that started our household joke about the four major universities in the country. Over lunch, we laughingly concluded that Hogwarts was the Philippines and we all knew what the four houses would be. Amusingly enough, the houses’ colors were perfect allusions to those of the Philippines’ top universities. Gryffindor would be UP; Ravenclaw, Ateneo; Slytherin, La Salle; and UST would most definitely be Hufflepuff. I might be hasty in saying this, but I’m sure that a lot of Harry Potter fans would agree that in Hogwarts, being in Hufflepuff was (for the lack of a better word) okay–bland, mediocre, okay. As the sorting hat once said, “Helga Hufflepuff, she took in all the rest,” because the other house founders favored the chivalrous and the brave, the intellectually-inclined, or the highly ambitious.

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Suddenly, the joke, which was purely a product of my family’s quirkiness, disturbed me. Could the same be said for UST, my alma mater-to-be? Could it be that one of the brightest luminaries in Philippine history is, in a sense, quiet and plain?

This brings to mind one of the Varsitarian’s past headlines, “UST is oldest, period.” Could it be that UST’s legacy actually ends there–at being old and nothing else?

Reality check. With all my heart, I beg to differ, but I’m sure that the unspoken, but generally accepted food chain that the country’s prime universities move in may make UST’s stature resemble the standing of Hufflepuff in Hogwarts when set against the three other houses.

Lest I be accused of not milking contemporary pop culture references enough, I also look to the comic-turned-movie “Transformers” for inspiration. I will not discuss other details, but isn’t it fitting that Bumblebee, who also shares UST’s color, was excellent at his job as a guardian? Despite the fact that all throughout the entire movie, he kicked ass, was a loyal companion, and looked damn good, his voicebox was broken. A recent chat with professionals and members of the academe supplements this comparison too. Apparently, companies find Thomasians industrious and resilient when it comes to the workload, but often lack confidence and people skills compared to graduates of other universities.

I have heard this before and I have often wondered why this was so. I’d like to think that the Catholic instruction the University makes use of succesfully imbibes Thomasian values in its students, but perhaps an overdose of modesty disables alumni to be proud of what they have been trained to do.

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There is a reason why other universities find it easy to bully us openly. There is a reason why months ago, administrators of an UPCAT Facebook page had the gall to attack the credibility of the USTET in an online post. There is a reason why a high school student once publicly and distastefully expressed her disdain for the University on the same networking site upon finding out that she did not pass its entrance exam; because like mindless magpies, their lot deemed UST not shiny enough.

While I might have babbled on, I finally arrive at the point of my farewell–a piece of advice to the graduates of 2012: You hail from the now 401-year-old royal and pontifical Catholic university of the Philippines, home to many of the country’s national artists, noted laureates, and successful professionals. You have undergone the same tutelage they had the privilege of experiencing–embrace that. While we have been taught to follow, there is also a time to carry your stride and lead. While we have been taught to respect and to contemplate on things, there will always be an opportunity to voice out opinions that may invoke great changes for the country and even the world. While we have been taught to practice excellence alongside humility, there will be times when an apt amount of pride is needed to ignite success.

On a lighter note, Cedric Diggory, who was officially chosen by the Goblet of Fire to become Hogwarts’ Triwizard champion, was in fact, from Hufflepuff. Despite his untimely demise, Diggory was pretty much the perfect student. With a good head on his shoulders, he was even-tempered, smart, and to top it all off, he was a looker. Playing along…see what treasures await their great reveal from the House of Hufflepuff–I mean, from the University of Santo Tomas?

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***

To quote a fellow writer and dear friend quoting Nobel Peace Prize winner, Swedish diplomat Dag Hammarskjöld, “For all that has been, thanks. For all that will be, yes.”

2 COMMENTS

  1. I would have liked you to delve deeper into the subject of comparing the 4 universities to the Harry Potter and the Transformers series.

    Though this is a farewell speech (with a nice taste of side humor), in my opinion, it would be nice if you made a separate article about your analogies. It would be a great read, and at the same time, an eye-opener to our fellow Thomasians.

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