MOST of the time, I still can’t believe that I’m here where I am right now.

In January 2010, I received the bad news: I did not pass for either the University of the Philippines (UP) or the Ateneo de Manila University (my dream schools, in fact) and I was listed for academic placement in UST. I know that I really suck at entrance examinations, but it was too much that I didn’t even get to formally pass any of them.

Since some readers may not be familiar with academic placement as the UST Admissions Office abolished it a few years ago, it was system of wait-listing freshmen-applicants to any course that needed filling up. As it turned out, I did not qualify for my original programs of choice so I was put on academic placement. There were two choices for me: go to the College of Science and take up Applied Physics or go to the College of Education. I was supposed to be interviewed for Education, but I did not appear on the day of the interview and instead went to Science, thinking that at least I could shift to my course of choice there. But my prayers were answered, as I was given the go-signal to enroll in my original choice: Psychology.

Indeed, I might not have made it in UP or Ateneo, but I made it in UST on a most auspicious moment: I came to UST as it was celebrating its 400th anniversary.

As a member of the Quadricentennial freshmen batch, I was more than happy. I got to land a spot at the academic program I loved the most. I may not have graduated with honors (though I was really close to it), but the whole experience of studying how behavior works interested me greatly, either on the scientific or philosophical level. Having my home section 4PSY5 Batch 2014 made my college life a happier experience, too, through the fun times or the tough times. Thank you, blockmates, for always being there.

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UST was not my first choice of school, believe me. It didn’t strike me as the best university out there. However, it has been the character of this University to stay humble and to continue bringing the best out of its students. When the school saw my potential—along with all the people whose potentials UST has spotted and nurtured since 1611—I knew I made the right choice.

And in UST I learned the truth. It has been my true love—that even how many times I went through excruciating pain just to receive my diploma and even if I have to leave this University now, I know I will still fall in love with it again and again.

But other than Psychology, my love for writing has never faded.

Since I had been a writer since elementary school, when I stepped into college, I also wanted to continue writing.

Seeing the “V’s” Call for Applicants poster in January 2011 made me think of my second big decision: Should I join the Varsitarian?

Many questions played in my mind that time. Will they accept a Science student? Will they accept me, just an incoming sophomore? Will my parents agree to it, even if they want to transfer me to UP? Can I actually survive the Varsitarian?

But I strengthened my resolve. If I really loved writing, then why should I let an opportunity pass? There can’t be any loss at trying, I told myself. So I put on a brave face and applied, went through two grueling exams and a panel interview.

On April 6, 2011, it was with shock that I greeted the announcement that I had become part of the Varsitarian staff.

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I got used to the routine: the stress of academics plus the stress of working for the fortnightly newspaper . But the first two years—I was Special Reports writer in my first and Science and Technology editor in my second—were relatively easy compared to my last this year, when I became managing editor. It was a challenge accepted: a duty that no matter how many times made me want to give up made me love the publication more.

But what’s more, I found in the ‘V’ the people willing to make me part of a big, loving family. They were people willing to stand up for me and willing to protect me at all costs. The Varsitarian was more than a student newspaper for me—here was where I found the memories I will deeply treasure and friends I know I’ll cherish forever. To them, for the past three years I’ve been here, and for the countless Amihans (a term for the ‘V’ alumni) from past years that I have met, as well as the ‘V’ advisers, thank you for giving me the courage and self-confidence I never thought I have, as well as the touching and fun moments I would have hoped to last forever.

But I guess I should have learned a lesson. Nothing lasts forever. But you can enjoy it while it lasts, right? That is the reason why everything has an end—to make you realize that you have to spend every moment as if it were your last.

To all of you who reached this part, I have two things to say to you.

First: Do not be afraid. Go on despite the risks if you love the mission and you think it is worth it. Second: Never give up. Always fight until the very end for what you love and never, ever let them down. Never lose hope, no matter how heavy the burden is and no matter how are the odds against you. There goes the cliché: Always believe in yourself.

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I took those things in mind when I made my big decisions and I knew I made the right choices. I’m leaving UST and the Varsitarian with no regrets, full of happy memories and important life lessons I will surely take with me as I set my path outside UST.

And it would have not been possible without You. My deepest gratitude is for you, Almighty God, as everything I have done is all for the glory of Your name.

It’s time to leave and let go, no matter how hard it is. After four years in UST and three years in the Varsitarian, the time has finally come to bid goodbye. It was fun, it was good. It was worthwhile and fulfilling—a ride I know I’ll never regret. I know I cannot stay any longer, but you’ll be forever in my heart.

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