Today I missed UP. Badly.
Or maybe I just had a mad craving for monay with cheese. I’m not sure if they even sell them anymore, in those large, white styrofoam coolers that kept the bread warm. I usually found it near Casaa. But now the food centre is gone…
The UP Diliman campus was such a huge part of my teenage years.
Well before my sisters and I entered UP, our parents took us there to play badminton in the mostly empty carpark in front of AS. (Last I heard, parking spaces are now harder to come by.) Maybe they were conditioning us to think of the place as our own. It worked. :)
The first time I stepped on campus I was sure, immediately, that this was The One. I think it was the 164 acacia trees that sealed the deal. The way the sunlight filtered through UP’s tree-canopied road that summer made me fall in love.
I remember the small things. Those afternoons Ate and I dutifully put on our sneakers for a jog around Acad Oval. The promise of a sweet cup of buko juice with buko strips that kept me going. The UP Fairs we attended (and a memorable one in particular, when my friends and I pulled an all-nighter), a rose from an APO man who wore nothing but graffiti, the UP-Toki ride descending to the (dismal depths of) the Math building, that bench along Beta Way, an ox brain dinner at Khas Persian Food near the university pool, another dinner — this time on rickety folding tables set up next to the jeepneys that used to park on the gravelly lot along C.P. Garcia, a plastic cup of isaw sticks submerged in cane vinegar near Ilang-Ilang dorm, a plate of chili chicken at Bomika in Krus na Ligas, devil’s food cake at Chocolate Kiss if we were feeling fancy, the hungry dogs that always hung around our table at Beach House. (OK… I remember a lot of food.)
Ate and I lived in Kamia Residence Hall during the weekdays. Oh, Kamia. You were so… character-forming. 😂 The queue to shower with my pail and tabo in the mornings (you saved your slot — or as Singaporeans would say, chope — with a towel); the horror whenever the drains were clogged (or the water, a trickle); the tiny gamu-gamo corpses that always dotted my sheets (I had the top bunk while Ate had the bottom); the full house in the TV room when Meteor Garden was showing; the hilarious notes dormers left tacked to the fridge for food-nappers (“Mabulunan ka sana!”); the food carts (and the dulong omelette I loved); the black-market sari-sari stores some dormers ran from their rooms; the dread if you missed curfew (we tried to sweet-talk our way in but Dudes the security guard wouldn’t relent); the ancient study hall — with its high ceilings and faded black and white photos of “lady dormers” in their 1960s cinched waist dresses. I spent a lot of nights in that hall, with my yellow columnar worksheets, Sony CD player (with burned CDs of Eraserheads, Sugarfree, The Goo Goo Dolls), and an arsenal of chichirya.
UP was also where I met the Hubby.
Because the place was special to us both, for our pre-wedding photos we decided to have the shoot in UP Diliman. I’m posting these today to help cure the homesickness. (It was home to me for five years, after all.)
It was a dream of mine to have our photos taken in a library (because books!). We were fortunate enough to be allowed to shoot in the UP Main Lib, thanks to a cheesy e-mail I sent the university librarian, Mr. R.T. (A long shot, but it paid off! 😊)
We flirted all over campus, a.k.a. PDA, in a way we never did as undergrads haha. On the jeepneys parked near Educ…
… around the Oval under the trees…
… on the less popular UP track oval behind Bahay ng Alumni…
… on the grass near the Carillon…
… and even while eating kwek-kwek (deep fried and violently orange quail eggs) near Vinzons Hall.
For the love of my life, for monay with cheese, for a million and one moments etched forever on my mind.
Maraming salamat, UP.
With love from a former forever Maroon,
Student No. 20xx-xxx01