Friday, November 26, 2004

Visiting The Alma

I dropped by my college this morning out of a whim. Well actually its more of the Registrar office constantly bugging me at home to pick up my Diploma and transcript of records. It turned out that they had misspelled my mailing address so the mail got returned. Luckily, Arthur was on his way to Instituto Cervantes, where he is taking up advanced courses in Spanish. Well, its along the way anyway so I decided to tag along. We rode one of those bulky blue busses that take you directly to the doorstep of that Green and White School along Taft. Hay, the bus route alone, zigzagging thru the old streets of Manila made reminiscing the days past a breeze.

As soon as I've touched down, my mouth fell agape at how surreal everything is. It was the same old glorious white marble buildings, however the surroundings had spiffened up by a whole mile. Now, there are those high-tech color monitors you'd usually see in sports arenas to tell the time, the events, and show video snippets. The already beefed up facade, which I'd never thought could get any whiter, was redone immaculately so. Most conspicuous of all, there was a ton of new hang out places situated outside the campus. Heck, even the crowd is different now. Under my breath, I heard myself mutter, "them lucky bastards".

I met up with one of my gay friends. Oh, he'll kill me if I don't rephrase this, so might as well do it now, my "straight-acting" gay friend, Gil. Its been a while since we last saw each other. In high school he was one of those characters whose really bulky, almost buffed, yet blatantly screaming as chartreuse. I was almost shocked when I saw him, well, actually he saw me and he had to call me because I didn't recognize him and kept on walking. He's still buffed, yet as straight as a metric ruler. Just in appearance, of course.

He toured me around the campus. And 80% of what I remembered had already been replaced. Aristocrat is now MIA but in its place a fully airconditioned restaurant. When I graduated the Yuchengco building had already been finished, but the walkway, or what used to be the Cobblestone Walk [edit, Pebble Walk] was still under works. Now, the place is fantastic. Such a wide open space to lounge, walk, study, and be seen.

We headed out to Agno, the retreat house within the school. That too had changed. What used to be the Aquarium is now another open walkway with the ubiquitous peach colored pebbles usually found in palatial homes. Theres also the EGI Towers where the ground floor serves as a mall of sorts. They have these really good restaurants.

So much has changed, yet its still comforting to see most of the beloved places are still intact. We headed out to the College Canteen. The place still remains untouched its just that they call it by such (IMO) a stupid monicker: the Z squared. The halls are still the same, with special mention of course of the CBE building being the most beautifully preserved (yup, I'm biased). The Library, although modernized, still has that cozy comfort, the smell of the books and the silence. The Amphiteater now looks amazing, with the new landscaping and all. Outside, McDo is still the same, still where the jocks and the cheerleaders hang out to see and be seen. Its a bit sad but U.M. is struggling to fight off the newer, better malls near the school.

Gil and I talked about the good days and the bad days of yore. He even mentioned a funny thought, the gay community, after such a long slumber is finally inching its way up in the limelight. Well that should be good news since the first thing I uttered when I saw him is that this school is WAY too straight.

Overall, this was a welcome trip down memory lane.


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