July 20-26, 2020. The first half of last week was spent contemplating on and preparing last minute necessities for my impending departure from Manila. I made last minute trips to the mall, saw some friends, and finally got myself to pack the relatively few things I would be taking with me–considering that I would be staying abroad for a year. They all fit in just one suitcase and a duffel bag, actually. I flew out of Manila on July 22 and arrived in Paris the day after, spending a brief layover in Doha, Qatar. I wrote a separate blog entry narrating the experience of the entire transit.
I had written a draft of this blog entry as it is, but felt it appropriate to just say, before anything else, that I am acutely aware of the tremendous privilege I have and by no means do I mean anything I say as a “flex” to anyone suffering during this pandemic. It’s been an odd thing to navigate, how to express one’s self at a time when anything some people can say or do can be considered as an insensitive display of privilege. Sometimes I just self-censor myself and not say or post anything at all, because the mere fact that many of us are online to discuss this, after all, is a privilege by itself. Where do we draw the line? Maybe I’ll write another blog entry on that some other time.
Anyway, much of the past two weeks, as with the fifteen weeks prior, was spent staying at home with my family, sometimes running errands for and with them, and arranging for my prospective departure for Paris in a few weeks’ time. I’m taking advantage of the time at home and have not gone out despite the relative freedom of the modified community quarantine, not just because it is the responsible and safe thing to do nowadays, but also because once I depart, it might be a while before I am able to return–not only because under normal circumstances it would be costly to fly back, but the pandemic has put in place so many complications as regards flying in and out of certain jurisdictions. I am just fortunate to have an existing resident student visa that I can return to Europe at this time despite its external borders being closed to citizens from most countries including the Philippines.
As I contemplate the seriousness of my LL.M. (Master of Laws) application, I am beginning to have early anxiety attacks. It is possible, after all, to be anxious and excited at the same time.
There have been lingering thoughts that bogged me down the entire week, mostly involving myself having to reassess my motivations and weighing them against the fear of uprooting myself from the Philippines and the uncertainty that comes with it. Does this endeavor really fit my desire to be of service, to find my place in the world, to be happy and find fulfillment? This really just started as a post-bar exam fantasy that I set into motion a few years ago, with no serious expectation that I’d actually get to do it. And yet, here I am today. I have yet to completely wrap my head around the idea of leaving.
Part of my anxiety is due to the fact that, a few days ago, I received a rejection letter from one of the French law schools I had really looked forward to attending. It is that law school that I often had in mind when I dreamed of being in France. Thus, the rejection disrupted my fantasy. It took me a day or two to get over it. I realized quickly enough that I have been through too many failures that have landed me exactly where I am right now, so I shouldn’t be too impaired by rejections. Experience has taught me that rejections and failures have always brought me to life situations that I wouldn’t anymore imagine not having gone through at this point. So, yes, this bound to lead me somewhere great.
This week’s personal highlight is my receipt last Friday morning of my third admission letter from a university in France–this time from the Université Paris II – Panthéon-Assas. Assas is touted as the top law school in the country and I couldn’t be more excited to have been considered worthy of unconditional admission.
But first, a quick rundown of this week. Monday was midterm election day in the Philippines. I voted in my maternal hometown of Sta. Maria, Bulacan. I voted for opposition and independent candidates for the Senate, for Kabataan Party-List for the House of Representatives, abstained from voting for a district representative, and undervoted for candidates in the local government, largely because I didn’t know most of them. Tuesday, a lot of people (at least in my social circle and my family) went back to school and work disheartened and concerned with the results of the elections, early counts then showing (and as they still do) that the opposition was routed and President Duterte is set to gain supermajorities in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Tisay celebrated her fourth birthday last Monday. We had planned to spend Sunday in a theme park, but since the metro was still reeling from the aftermath of tropical storm Ondoy, we decided to have a simple feast of Chinese food at home.
We had a small sansrival cake for Tisay but we even forgot to buy proper birthday cake candles, so we made do with a medium-sized wax candle. Tisay’s understanding of “birthday” unfortunately, is of a party, so all along up until today she doesn’t believe it was her birthday. She insists that she still has to celebrate her “birthday” distinct from the simple celebration we had last weekend. If the weather permits, we will push through with our trip to the theme park this weekend. I think she even expects to give a blow-out bash to her kindergarten classmates.
At the beginning of 2007 I had a mental checklist of things that I would do and a checklist of predictions on how my life would turn out for the year.
However, 2007, turned out to be so much different from how I imagined it when it started. So, so much different, I’m telling you. Fate (or destiny?) had something in store for me, and it really caught me unprepared in the beginning.
By the end of January, I suddenly found myself being invited to join a greek-letter fraternity. You gotta be kidding me, I thought to myself then. List some stereotypes of fratmen and I probably am the opposite to a number of those. But what the hell, weeks later, I eventually became an Upsilonian. It was a life-changing decision and such a difficult process that I’ll never forget nor regret.
So, from the most utterly painful to the most stressful to the most euphoric, ecstatic and fulfilling of experiences of my life this year (and probably of its 19-year entirety to date) belong to this, my junior year in the fraternity. Tangina na lang. Hehe. It’s quite difficult trying to word it out and explain the countless individual experiences adequately without using too many superlatives or revealing things. I guess you just have to take my word for it. If I’m compelled to sum up 2007 in one sentence, I would easily and confidently say, “It was the year I became an Upsilonian.” ‘Yun lang.
(On an interesting note, this blog played a big role in how and why I was recruited into the frat. Oh boy, the things my blog get me into, right? At the beginning of the year, I was hoping it would be TV guestings or something. Hehe, just kidding. Guess the blogger who invited me.)
Anyway, the next big thing for me this year came shortly after I joined. It was late February and early March–campus elections season in the University of the Philippines. It’s not easy explaining to non-UP people how serious elections in this university can get. It’s probably one of the most fiercely contested campus elections in the Philippines, with ideological and historical bitterness and baggage.
Anyway, I was running for college chairperson under STAND-UP. And it was a challenge because students were bitterly divided on some key issues, there was an apparent strong anti-radical sentiment, and we were being contested full-slate for the first time. As everyone in my college knows, despite my “pre-election popularity,” I was defeated. And honestly, for a while then, I was depressed. But as the adage goes, when one window closes, another one opens. It definitely didn’t end with the loss. I eventually got absorbed into the university-wide committees of STAND-UP and from there I worked with the various social and political campaigns throughout the year.
This year-end recap can’t be complete without mentioning that it was the year I first visited the United States. It was a family vacation. We were there for three weeks. Atlanta, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas. There. I think I’ve chronicled it enough already, so I won’t talk much about this. It wasn’t particularly life-changing, but yea, since it’s a major first, it’s worth the mention in this entry.
I’m sorry, I tried to keep this as short as possible. There were a lot of other things that happened this year, of course. I’m sorry if you’re expecting some things I missed out in this entry. Basta, 2007 will forever be etched in my consciousness for many various reasons. These three simply make the top spots.