Every UP alumni would tell you that one of the things that they'd recall the most is the very first day that they've set foot on campus. Whether they got in Diliman, Baguio, Los Banos or Visayas, the phrase above is the very first thing that's uttered to all.
I just thought that I was shit darn lucky.
I took the UPCAT 13 years ago and I vividly remember that it was a rainy Sunday when I hitched a ride with my high school buddies and hoped for the best.
Anyway, I took the exam in the building called the College of Business Administration. At the time, my high school - San Beda College of Alabang (Called St. Benedict College before and before that Benedictine Abbey School of Alabang) really looked better. But hey, the appearance of the building really didn't matter to me.
So along with several thousand giddy kids, we all tried to find our own way to the assigned examination rooms. As a rule, I always made it a point to relieve myself before I took any exam. But this was going to be an exam that will break the record.
The room we were in was terribly cold. Really cold. You can only imagine an airconditioned room during a rainy day and you'd get an idea of how many times I've had to excuse myself to go to the toilet.
Fast Forward to Today
...and I became a blogger, a simple and humble writer with no car even. (In Filipino: Hamak na manunulat.) More than 50% of my classmates became lawyers. Sometimes, when I remember one of them I decide to search on Facebook or Google to see how they're doing.
Then I saw him
The Filipino is worth sending to school - You must read this
Wow, just wow. If I said that I wasn't envious, I would be lying. He reminded me of my father who also got to meet the President.
That's not all:
Harvard Law < Scroll to the middle part.
I guess this is what happens when you become famous - you get blogged upon by some random dude who was your classmate in college and everybody then wants to be friends with you. But not me, Benj, I totally hate you for your success :)
Anyway, this is public information found on the websites of the Philippine Star and Harvard Law, so no, you can't sue me for invading your privacy and writing about you ^_^ Hah!
The fondest moment I recall of Benjamin was that we were on the same basketball team for the college basketball intramurals - PAGTA. It's a student organization for the indigenous scholars of Northern Luzon. I'm a Manileno and they didn't have enough players so I was the natural filler since I was close to some of my PAGTA blockmates.
At times we would practice basketball in the open courts of UP Baguio and to make our way to the dorm of the girls (Was it called BREHA? Nakalimutan ko na) we'd have to jump at the side of the UPB library. It was then that I sprained my ankle. Benj helped me up as a car was about to pass through. Whew. Anyway, I still hate you man.
Once during ROTC, (yep, we were the last batch to have that) a majority of our batch walked out of our training right in front of the military officers, thanks to a guy named "Boom." I don't really recall why and all I remembered was, we were all sitting on the court when Boom suddenly stood up and shouted "Iskolar ng Bayan, Ngayon ay Lumalaban!!!!".
But I decided to go back after walking out. ^_^ Heck, I wanted to graduate and ROTC was required. To my relief, I was not the only one who went back. Benjamin and Ronel were also there. It was also at this time that I met one of my father's best friend when he was also a student in Baguio. He was our training officer with the rank of Lt. Col and a fiscal in the City Prosecutor's Office in Baguio City. At the time, I wasn't sure if he was the "friend" that my dad would sometimes talk about.
"Sir, permission to speak sir."
"Sir, do you know Justice Benjamin Buendia here in Baguio City?"
"Sir, do you know of a certain Atty. Reynaldo Garcia?"
He was already getting annoyed with me but then -
"Yes..... Wait, Andrei, is that you??"
I smiled and he invited me over to his office to see where he worked later that day. Both the good Justice Benjamin Buena and my father are now gone, but I still fondly remember them both for the impact they have impinged on my being.
What My Father Wanted Me to Be
I'm writing about this mainly because I discovered the article and the accomplishments of all my great classmates. Some of them are now working in the academe and the government and are probably doing some pretty important things right now. Benj is the ultimate embodiment of this success as in my eyes he was able to achieve something which I wasn't able to do. More than that, what he achieved was probably the pinnacle of what my father wanted me to be when he was still alive.
|I was fat back then....|
Anyway, lest I mention something that I'd regret, I would just like to take this opportunity to congratulate Benjamin and all of my blockmates for that matter for the various and colorful achievements that you have all made. I may not be as successful as you guys in terms of career but I take pride in having the privilege of being of your acquaintance.
At this stage in my life, the only thing that I could say to you is "I'm proud to have been your classmate and hopefully - your friend."
Malayo mang lupain, ating marating, di rin magbabago ang damdamin! :)