Dear Tel – Alumni Center Fire – July 5, 2015
Gone. It is all gone. All that I have worked hard for. For the last four years, I have only been dedicating myself for the betterment of that establishment and of the sport I love. I have let myself live in solitude, away from my batchmates and away from my own pursuit of happiness. You were the catalyst of all these things that I have been doing. I wanted to keep myself busy for these four years because I knew that on the moment I was given time to contemplate, I could only think of you, then I would then be aware of my own sorrow, the one that I self-inflicted through you.
Gone. All gone in flames, maybe that was why the place wanted me to stay there, even for just a nap. Maybe it was its final goodbye to me. I was so exhausted that day, after playing billiards to gather my thoughts which were shattered by the sight of Nikka holding hands with another. I was so frustrated yet so determined. The sight of her give a duality of feelings: one is obviously frustration and second is a long-term determination. That determination was same to that what I felt on the news of Ms. Tiffany Uy graduated with the highest weighted average in the post-war era. Both of them gave fervor to pursue my goals, which at this time is four: one is to be an excellent researcher who will be known for my contributions in the field of meteorology and wind engineering, two is to excel on the remaining subjects of my bachelor’s degree and then clinch the top spot in the incoming May 2016 board exams, three is to be a formidable competing pool player, and four is to leave a lasting legacy to my university, University of the Philippines Diliman, through the organizations on which I was one of their founders, UP Pool Club and UP Student’s Circle of Duckpin Bowlers. That determination roots from the passion to be them to be honored to have known me in the future.
For the first one, my thesis entitled “Estimating Typhoon Haiyan’s Wind Speeds Using Windicators” took the attentions of PAGASA and the Philippine Engineering Journal. I developed methodologies in incorporating forensic structural engineering to meteorology. With that, I estimated Typhoon Haiyan’s wind speed to have a 10-minute average of 290 kph and 1-minute average of 351 kph with a minimum central pressure of 872.2 mbar, 2.2 mbar higher than Typhoon Tip of 1979, the storm that I have been looking up for years. If things will go well, I will present it to the Association of Structural Engineers of the Philippines (ASEP). If I have done well on that part, the building code might change.
For the second one, I was using the midyear term to advance-study the subjects that I will be taking on the first semester. For my whole stay in the Institute of Civil Engineering, I have been settling for mediocrity. I felt people were looking down on me especially with the fact that I am resisting to join any academic student organization up till now. It is time to prove to them of my principle which I am holding up till this moment: To not rely on others.
For the third one, despite having a tight academic schedule, I was still able to find spare time to pursue my billiard career. I was already planning to join the tournaments to the other billiard organization I was affiliated to, the Star Billiards Foundation, and eventually the qualifying tournaments for international billiard competitions. Back then, I was setting a benchmark to break Stephen Hendry’s record as the youngest world champion in order to pressure myself. But I turned 21 already, and that pressure was gone. But thank God, I was able to find motivation again because of Ms. Uy.
And the fourth one, which was the most complicated. My term as president of UP Pool Club was supposed to end on the 31th of October 2015 with the thought of me already removing the barriers in order to not only secure the legacy of UP Pool Club but also of the Student’s Circle. The last barrier of me achieving that is of the UP Duckpin Bowlers Club. The core members of the orgs agree with me we have to wrestle away the administration of the establishment from them, which is an illegitimate organization, not recognized by UP and SEC with no written constitution. They have been using some revenues from the bowling alley and billiard tables which our organizations were trying its best to increase, to their leisure activities which is not related at all to UP. Our requests for proper ventilation, table maintenance and refurbishing always fell into deaf ears. I have lived through the humiliation for one year in order to gather evidences for the formal complaint we would be filling against them, even though my organizations were trampled upon. Some of my members lost faith in the situation. Some of them told me to wait. But I couldn’t wait anymore. Right before the fire, I was already finishing up the final contents of our formal complaint.
It was 5 pm in the afternoon that I stopped playing. I have been complaining deep inside on why both sides of my brain are hyperactive, with the left side hungering for more knowledge and the right side itching to create artistic content. Others may have argued and pointed that I should be grateful. Well, there was one time that I have been simultaneously writing some parts of my thesis while doing the lyrics for the Filipino adaptation of the Les Miserables Musical, and it was no simple deal! I just wanted to sleep, and I did. I woke up around 7:30 pm and I have realized that I have been drooling on one of the benches of the bowling alley for two-and-a-half hours already. I stayed there for a little while, ate Kuya Arce’s pulutan as they were drinking liquor. And as usual, I kept myself away from drinking alcohol. Around 8:00 pm, I went home. Re-read Jose Rizal’s Indolence of the Filipinos which I last read about 8 years ago. And then I fell asleep.
That night I dreamt about Kim. Kimberly Shayne A. Arriola. One of my blockmates when I was still a Political Science major. I happened to met her in front of the College of Science library, last Monday. My past experiences with her led me to believe that destiny exists. That meeting last Monday was purely coincidental. I was going to the infirmary to have my infected foot treated, and it was too arduous for me to walk on that condition. And so I waved to a UP Ikot jeep. When I was about to board the jeep, I noticed that the jeep was almost full and it would be hard for me to ride that jeep. I let the lady behind me to board to the jeep, while doing my trademark hand gestures in the process. I immediately recognized that lady who happened to be Kim. That meeting was short of greetings yet was so heartfelt on my part.
I never thought that a meeting that coincidental would have my heart beating again. Just like the first time we coincidentally met. 2011: I was living around Espanya Boulevard around that time. It was that one time I was already aboard a bus when I saw a fine lady who registered a recognition from my brain, which I don’t know why. The konduktor of the bus took remark of her beauty and told his driver that he would give a discount on her. I knew back then that it was her. I kept looking back to her to confirm, as she was to me. I immediately used social media to contact her to confirm our meeting. She did confirm that she was the one on the bus. I and her began our conversation, finally ending up in the exchange of numbers. Her text messages were always melting my heart. I was more happy receiving text messages from her than from you. I was invigorated those days because of her. I waited for her everyday at MiniStop on the junction of Espanya Boulevard and Blumentritt Road. I have never felt more at home as it was to her.
Those fateful days arrived when she invited me to a lunch date. At her first invitation, I was not able to attend the meeting because I was not feeling well. At her second invitation, the bus I was riding it busted its tires, therefore, I could not attend the date again. And on her last invitation, the bus was unfortunately stopped by a traffic officer for violating traffic laws. I was able to arrive as she was about to leave on the place. But out of disappointment, she told me that she would look for another date with a different person.
That dream I had last June 30 was a peculiar one. She has been interrogating me whether I like her or not. She has put me on a tight spot. I had a hard time admitting it. Because when I did, two years ago, she sent me a very long text message on which I was unable to read. I still don’t know the contents of that text message until now. The rest of the dream was just cuddling with her. That dream reflected on what I have been wanting on a relationship, a relationship full of cuddling, hugging and holding hands. It was that simple, like a high schooler. That dream was so good that I overslept. My notifications in facebook were exploding. And when I read them, I was stunned to see the place that I was on last night is reduced into ashes.
I immediately went to the place. And when I arrived, Kuya Nelson, the one I was playing billiards with on the previous day, told me: “Yun na pala ang huling beses na makakapaglaro tayo dyan.”
Memories came running like when I lost to my rival Michael Vizconde in the tournament on which I was the defending champion last September 30, 2013. I lost 12-13 despite being 12-9 up. Michael was able to clinch the last four racks, with the final rack leading to my blunder on the final ten-ball. I missed that ten-ball leaving Michael with an easy shot on that ball. I attributed my lost to the loss of concentration because of the sight of Michael’s girlfriend, which was my long-time crush on our Institute, Jessica Junio. I remember it was when I was 7-4 up that Jessica arrived. I was stunned. I was struck with a dilemma on choosing whether to impress Jessica by beating her boyfriend or whether helping my friend Michael on impressing Jessica. My inability to make a decision ruined my concentration. One of my members, football varsity player Rogelio Maglinas came to watch parts of the match. I have been hinting him on how I was losing concentration because of Jessica, who has been videotaping the match. I finally lost, and the feeling of losing took a time before sinking in.
Apart from my crushes, the only instance that involved my pursuits of love was when the girl I was courting for a year, Ma. Erlyne Santiago, went there to say her final goodbye, before immigrating to the United States. Erlyne was my classmate in the NSTP classes. She was the one who swayed me from my pursuit of Myrtle. I have been chasing Erlyne around much to her dislike. I have been doing that because I was anxious on what her thoughts about me were. Just what Erlyne did on my pursuit to Myrtle, that was what Kim did on my pursuit to Erlyne, and what also Faye did on my pursuit to Kim. Kim and Erlyne’s cases were cases of me changing hearts. On Faye’s case, she was the one who made the real first step.
I gave Erlyne a sketch of her. I remembered the first thing that she complained was me highlighting her eyebags in the sketch. Mount Makiling will always give me a thought of her. Because that was the place I shared one of my treasured memories with her. After a long day of trekking, most of my group, including Erlyne, were doing inuman. I was keeping myself away from vices (I still do), therefore, I went to bed early, not to sleep but to contemplate. I suddenly felt someone who joined me on my bed, and much to my surprise, it was Erlyne, intoxicated already. I was just still for five minutes, unable to think of something to do. But still, those five minutes were one of the memories I will never be able to forget. Damn this eidetic memory of mine. I remember her almond shaped eyes looking at me. I remember her cheeks that became red because of alcohol. She was just like the teenager’s version of Korea’s Moon Chae Won. I finally uttered a word, and invited her into card games.
After she made that goodbye, which happened a year after the instant, I made the same sketch again to keep for myself. That sketch at the moment is at the hands of my Finance head on UP Pool Club.
I am sorry that I went too far on my segways. I am just finding something to cheer me up in the midst of these mishaps that came crashing in front of me. To be honest, I was devastated. It has been four months since Kuya Jun Rosaceña, who was my fatherly figure on the last five years in UP, passed away, and now this has happened. I was never able to fulfill my promise to Kuya Jun to let him be his manager on the money games in pool. That was the place I felt was my second home, where I stayed for two years and have been playing on for five years. I was not able to fulfill my promise to Kuya Alex, Kuya Ayo, Tita Marjea and the members of UPEBA, to eradicate all the cancer that the UP Alumni Center has and to expose the atrocities committed by UPDBC. I was not able to fulfill my promise to Arjay Mercado to submit a draft of the formal complaint. If I revealed them on an earlier time, this fire would not have happened. I can all blame this to myself. If I was able to wrestle away the management on an earlier time, I would have made the establishment be refurbished along with the pool tables. I would have them expelled from the Ecological House.
Bygones are bygones. It has already happened. My failures as leader have attributed to that fire; therefore I will take full responsibility to the incident. I have to carry my orgs through this. If I were to succeed, it would cement my legacy to those orgs and those orgs would leave a lasting legacy. I have to succeed. I won’t accept failure at this point. Therefore, as president of both orgs, instead of letting the members do the contents of my final will, I will do it myself. I will be spending more energy for the proposal of the new recreation center. I hope by the end of July, I would have submitted the proposal to the UP Chancellor. I have to impress him and the Board of Regents. Two big-time fraternities failed already. Failure in my part is not an option.
Maybe, that was one of fortes, to channel my frustrations into determination and fervor.