IT IS quite interesting that people have a tendency to associate endings with farewells. When someone dies or leaves a familiar place, people simply cannot let go without bidding farewell.

The annual Baccalaureate Mass ends with graduates passing through the Arch of the Centuries to signify farewell.

When I was a freshman, I did not understand why graduates cried during the Baccalaureate Mass. I was never a fan of farewells, it seems.

It was only when I finally joined the more than 8,000 graduates during the Baccalaureate Mass this year that I fully understood the importance of formally saying goodbye.

Goodbyes give one a sense of fulfillment. Goodbyes give recognition to the ones we are leaving behind.

Making the exit through the Arch of the Centuries gives flashbacks of one’s entire journey as a Thomasian.

How could a Thomasian forget the excitement when entering the Arch during the Freshmen Welcome Walk? How could one forget the heart-pounding games during the UAAP season, the loud cheers during the Paskuhan concert, the inspiring homilies during key university Masses and the sleepless nights of study?

On my part, a big part of my Thomasian journey was the Varsitarian. My university life found a deeper purpose when I joined ‘V.’

People found it intriguing that I applied for the Witness section, the religion section of the ‘V.’

With all the controversies hounding the Catholic Church, only a few would dare to show interest and even write about it. But for me, I knew that I was in the right place. I spent two years at the ‘V’ as a writer and eventually an editor.

‘V’ brought me closer to the Thomasian community writing about the teachings of the Catholic Church, issues affecting it, public and secular matters in which the Church would have a say, the Dominicans, and even Pope Francis when he visited the country last January.

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Lastly, ‘V’ has taught me to respect the idea that even if UST is a Catholic school, it is culturally and religiously diverse and this diversity has opened doors for unity in the institution.

In the end, whatever cultural group or religious denomination you are part of or even if you are just an independent soul, the University does not hinder you to experience the joy and bliss of being a Thomasian.

As in the words Pope Francis had written in the University’s guestbook on January 18, “May the Lord bless all those studying and working for a culture of encounter.”

Truly, there is a culture of encounter in UST because it hones you to not just bring academic honor to the university but to bring the spirit of camaraderie and Thomasian values outside the University.

I would always be grateful to ‘V’ and UST for being a part of its culture of encounter.

To Mama and Daddy, I know that it was not an easy ride but thank you for supporting me in realizing my dreams.

To Sir Lito, Sir Ipe and the selection committee, thank you for the opportunity to be part of this publication. It was a pleasure to have served the Thomasian community for two years.

To Ate Gervie, Ate Poleng and Kuya James, thank you for all the guidance and tips. It would have been a difficult summer without your support.

To Gelyn, thank you for being one of my closest friends and for being the best editor. Thank you for your guidance.

To Marie and Danielle, it was an honor to have served you as your editor. Have faith in your abilities.

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To Gena, Jelle, Ally, Angeli and Mone, thank you for the genuine friendship. I could not imagine my stay in the ‘V’ without all of you.

To Julius and Kim, I only wish for your success. Thank you for the friendship.

To Ralph, MC, Bien, Paul, Dayan and Em, thank you for the friendship that we had forged not just inside the classroom but through ‘V.’

To Ced, Bianca, Andre, Jica and JD, we entered the portals of UST as Journalism students together but we belonged to separate classes. Through the “V” we developed special bond with one another.

To Ely, Naz, Jelina, Keno, Josef, Ate Jenzine, Kuya Celton, Kuya Tristan and Kuya Yuji, we went through bittersweet experience, but we survived because we supported and cared for one another.

To Bro. April, Bro. Dale, Bro. Patrick and the seminarians of the UST Central Seminary, thank you for generously assisting us during Witness coverages. I pray that you will persevere in your vocation.

To Kuya Hansson, our acquaintance blossomed unexpectedly into friendship. Thank you for all the support you have given to the Witness section.

All of these people and more have made my stay in UST memorable.

Once a ‘V’ staffer, always a ‘V’ staffer.

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