In our English 4 class during my BS Architecture sophomore year, we were required to write and deliver a speech about ourselves, our plans, or what we stood for.

Since I was getting seriously into photography and contemplating on joining The Varsitarian at that time, I chose this familiar subject for my piece, which I began by quoting Kodak founder George Eastman’s suicide note before he shot himself in the heart in 1932, at the age of 77: “My work is done. Why wait?”

In the age of the Instagram and in a time when life painfully depends on Internet speed, we all can’t seem to wait as well.

My work, however, has barely begun. I eventually got a 1.5 in English 4, all right, but had to forego a scholarship assessment interview in Makati for an appointment at the Varsitarian, where I was being considered for the position of artist/photographer.

This was a difficult decision, considering that I had just lost my university scholarship and was struggling to keep my desired weighted average to stay in the Dean’s List.

The ensuing years, however, proved tougher as I had to endure more plate deadlines, countless instant-noodle-and-Coke nights, 100 or so coverage assignments, probably a couple of months-worth of presswork, a thousand ‘V’-Informed photo uploads, and some corny Tomas U Santos comic strips.

I crammed for my final plate, botched my best thesis quest, and woefully did just enough to receive a “2.” Finally, I didn’t make it to the graduating class honor roll, missing by half a fraction.

I discovered that plates and presswork, like two well-meaning Architecture students, do not the best of lovers make—only the best of friends, maybe. If I was more daring and persistent, I could have gotten myself into a complicated, messy love quadrangle.

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In the sublime yet complex mathematical realities involving functions, factors, variables, constants and relationships, some things get cancelled out.

In math, as in architecture, photography, and life in general, we all have to deal with the givens, and then carry on. That’s what I’ve done, or tried to do thus far.

So, I have no regrets. It’s all worth it, honestly. I have had the best of both worlds at the Beato Angelico and the Tan Yan Kee, where I’ve evolved both as a student and as a person.

And now, far removed from the days of the late great American inventor and entrepreneur, I’m becoming more and more aware of my own role and place, and what work I can do and contribute. Our work and our lives, with all due deference to Mr. Eastman, are continually in progress.

In an emerging economy and amid rising confidence in our country’s potential, and despite the occasional torrential rains, pesky floods and even peskier politicians, it’s an exciting time to live in the Philippines and continue to do something good.

As a future architect, I have a duty to help build. As a guy behind the camera, I have a task and a privilege to see through a glass, clearly.

For now, though, I have to get past this awkward, middle-of-the-road spot, where transients instinctively look backward to figure out what, why and how things happened, and then make a hasty, inevitable decision to move on from a virtual, temporary love affair. “We turned at a dozen paces,” Jack Kerouac so crisply wrote, “for love is a duel, and looked up at each other for the last time.”

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