When I was in the pictorial booth, the photographer was asking me to do difficult poses, with my back upright and the head inclined. To a person with a bad back like me, it was a very frustrating pose and the frustration was getting to my nerves. And then, the photographer asked me to remove my glasses. It was like the episode of Winston Churchill posing for a photograph where the tobacco was taken away from him, earning a mad look, thus making his famous photo.
I have eyes with differing degrees of astigmatism and I was very sensitive and most vulnerable to sudden flashes of light. “How dare he?” I thought as I raised my chin up, asserting myself in the exchange. Suddenly, the photographer hastened to click the shutter. It was a candid shot. The photographer commented that the photograph that was taken was my best shot and recommended to have this photograph as my framed photograph.
I looked into it in the viewing section. As expected, my eyes gave different reactions to the flashes. It was taken at a precise and accurate moment when I was about to shift expressions – from smiling into raising my heckles – in a fraction of a second. The photograph resembled that of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa – with the left side of my face smiling and the right side staring eerily. Most of the times, the photographs fail to convey the intricacies of the subject. It was a rare occurrence that my photo does. It is full of mixed emotions that have been running in the mind as I was preparing myself for the photo earlier.
I felt relieved that all of my hard work for the last 5-and-a-half years – 1 year as a Political Science major and 4-and-a-half years as a Civil Engineering major – bear fruit, thus the college diploma that I am about to receive. But the road does not stop there, I have to remain vigilant and I have to prepare myself for the challenges to come.
I was happy and teary eyed to look back and bask upon the school organizations that I’ve founded but it is still a shame that I was still there to witness them crumble and disappear into dust.
I was jolly of being able to retain my easygoing attitude throughout my college days yet I was disappointed to myself that my easygoing attitude sometimes went far and that I suffered as a result.
I felt honored for the accolades that I’ve gathered but I was left in contemplation of the deeds that I’ve done in bad faith and were still biting me.
I felt also honored to have my status elevated and my skills commended but at the same time I knew deep inside that I paid a price for its acquisition. All of the sacrifices that I’ve made were all for these.
I was beaming with pride to have somehow set the standards on the fields that I once passed through – following the dogma of the university of topping and setting every standard existent- while at the same time urging those who came after me to follow my example – leaving no stone unturned and field unconquered.
I was also at the verge of tears to know that some of the people who were anticipating my graduation and my meeting with glory – my grandmother Ofelia Cunanan, my good old friend and fan, Cirilo Rosaceña Jr., the former principal and supporter from my former alma mater, Macrina Alcantara, my granduncle Ernesto Cunanan, and my buddy Rogie Maglinas – won’t be here anymore to witness it, while at the same time, imploring those who were still here to watch and witness what I will do in the future.
Although both sides of my face gave different expressions, they both failed to present my cheeky grin – ngiting tagumpay. My explanation was that finishing college was not the end, but a new beginning, thus I find it too early to celebrate internally on something that I treated as a milestone to my ultimate goal. Once I get there will I be able to give that grin which everybody was anticipating. Finishing my degree is like being born again – this time from the womb of my university. I would be now departing from the comforts of the college environment and I would be facing a new and more arduous chapter where I would be fully responsible to my actions – no more safety nets which the university once provided. No newborn child was born smiling. The child was experiencing the world for the first time. Like the child, I will soon adapt and be my own person. As for now, one thing is for certain – my college days are over! The real test of life begins!
Joshua C. Agar
BS Civil Engineering
University of the Philippines Diliman
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