I RECALL during a class recitation in which our Constitutional Law professor asked for my nickname to which I replied “Enzo, sir.” He said: “From now you’ll be Enzyme.” And for two semesters that he had been my professor, he only referred to me with such name.

“Enzyme” is only one of the nicknames he comes up with for some of his students. I assume he does that to help him easily remember his many students—who come and go as time passes.

As one may expect, the study of law involves memorizing law provisions and digesting piles of cases, which is why many law professors urge their students to use creative study methods such as “remembering by association.” It involves associating law matters with things that people can easily relate with.

Studying the Family Code, for example, is better appreciated when the student makes an effort to relate its provisions with his own family and home.

Meanwhile, there is the landmark case of Marbury vs. Madison wherein the US Supreme Court laid down the basis for the exercise of judicial review. The case stemmed from a petition by William Marbury, who had been appointed Justice of the Peace, but whose commission was subsequently denied by then Secretary of State James Madison. In essence, the Court first held Madison’s refusal to deliver the commission was illegal but could not otherwise compel Madison to deliver the commission. Discussing the case, our professor asked us what made the Court’s decision “tantalizing.” Of course none of us understood him until he made us look at the meaning and origin of the word “tantalize.” Apparently, there was a Greek mythological character named Tantalus. He was a king and a friend to the gods, but one day he spilled their secrets, thus, he was punished: the gods made him stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches, with the fruit ever eluding his grasp, and the water always receding before he could take a drink.

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To be sure, learning to fuse law with reality may be tricky at times, but it certainly makes studying it less dull and more enjoyable. And for me to have made use of such method, it certainly makes forgetting the Varsitarian impossible, because I’ve learned to associate it with so many things through the years:

Family

If there’s anything I could call a second family, it would the Varsitarian and the people that I’ve come to work with. Sure not everybody saw eye to eye but at the end of the day, we all had each other’s backs.

In October 2012, the Varsitarian published an editorial, “RH bill, Ateneo, and La Salle: Of Lemons and Cowards,” criticizing Catholic university professors who openly supported the Reproductive Health Bill in contempt of the Catholic nature of the educational institutions they belonged to. The editorial put the Varsitarian in the worst light in recent years and caused a massive lynch mob to form against it. Despite knowing (supposedly at least) that an editorial had no byline, people still demanded for the name of the writer so they could have someone to curse and throw stones at. I was still the Special Reports editor then, so I had little knowledge of what issues were tackled in the editorial. It so happened that I wrote about the same topic, leading people to assume that I was behind the notorious piece. And thus I became the sacrificial lamb. I received hate messages here and there; people whom I used to consider friends talked behind my back. My only comfort was my co-Varsitarian staffers who stood by me and defended me. Even the Amihan (Varsitarian alumni), some of whom I had never met, were quick to come to my aid. It was then I knew that I was not merely part of a campus publication but also an extended family.

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Love

They say that sacrifice is the best measure of love. In deciding to continue my tenure as a Varsitarian staff member in my first year at the Faculty of Civil Law, I was not stupid and naïve to think that I could easily handle being the editor in chief and at the same time a law student, considering I had always been a mere average student all my life.

True enough, my first two months in law school put me in a difficult state never before experienced.

I was left to draw inspiration from the Varsitarian as I thought that if I were debarred, I would have put “V” in a difficult situation. With that mindset, I continued the struggle, trying to balance my time memorizing laws, editing articles, digesting cases, editorial meetings, studying for exams, attending overnight pressworks, and eating and sleeping in between. But thank God I soon mastered the balancing act and finished with satisfactory grades for the first semester (which I hope to continue for the second semester).

If I didn’t love “V” and my co-staffers, I would have failed as an editor in chief and as a law freshman.

Home

The Varsitarian has been more than a home to me for the past three years—a haven amid the stress of school life, a shelter whenever the University is severely flooded or when it is too hot outside. In my five-year stay in the University, there’s no doubt that I’ve spent more hours inside the “V’ office than any classroom or any place in UST.

UST

The University and the Varsitarian seem to have a peculiar relationship. Notwithstanding the Campus Journalism Act, campus papers are expected to bend to the will of the school that gives life to it, while the more radical ones that can sustain themselves tend to be anti-establishment. But “V” is neither UST’s mouthpiece nor its adversary. Despite the huge influence of the Varsitarian, the University trusts its student paper enough not to censor it or interfere with its affairs. Simply put, one can’t love the Varsitarian without having the same affection for the University, which is why I only had one school in mind when I decided to take up law.

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Come to think of it, I will soon find myself in King Tantalus’ shoes (as I’ve mentioned above): I will be graduating from “V” while continuing my journey as a Thomasian. Every day, I would have to pass by the Tan Yan Kee building and find the urge to go back to my former home, but I’d have to restrain myself. After all, familiarity breeds contempt, and new bonds won’t form if the old ones continue to cling on. For years to come, the Varsitarian will be a “tantalizing” entity which nevertheless I will continue to love.

I wonder if my professor would still remember that he ever had a student like me if for some reason he came across the word “enzyme.” Maybe. But without a doubt, I will remember the Varsitarian as fresh as daisies, whenever I think of home, family, love, UST, among infinitely many others.

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