belated happy birthday Oscar “Oca” Gomez Jr !

Oca and the love of his life Mari.  Is that Bruce Lee's statue in the background? :)

Oca and the love of his life Mari. Is that Bruce Lee’s statue in the background? 🙂

If there is one thing I remember about my friend from university Oscar Oca Gomez, it is that he was passionate about almost everything he did.  About his politics, sports (which he wrote a lot about), his interests and best of all, women who happened to catch his eye, he never held back an ounce of feeling or a spark of sentiment.  He was either non-responsive or all in, never in between.

Whether it was exuding full confidence in the Philippines (he never understood why skilled and talented people ever left the country), covering the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons for the Philippine Collegian sports section (we were lucky enough to be part of the student body when UP won its only UAAP basketball title) or being son, brother  and later husband and father to the family he loves, Oca has always given 101%.  Still does, I’m sure.

I haven’t seen him for so long now that I’m afraid we will almost not recognize each other when we finally do meet, with only the memories of presswork all-nighters, UAAP games and passionate discussions about life and love to remind us of the wonderful life in Diliman that we never appreciated then, but will always treasure.

We are grown men now, parents of children who are almost full-grown themselves, and we have nowhere to go but late middle age.  Only the memories of our youth, maybe the passions that inflamed us then, and the joy of seeing the successes of our children (and grandchildren) will keep us young.

That, and maybe a reunion with friends of yesteryear.  Thanks for the memories Kuya Oca, and it will certainly be a treat to see you one of these days.  Belated happy birthday and warmest regards to your gorgeous wife Mari, and beautiful kids Gio, Fiona, Cheska and Francine!

belated happy birthday Evelyn Cheng !

IT WAS great to see you again at the 30th anniv reunion, after so many years, at least 20 if I’m not mistaken.

Esposa hermosa remarked how young-looking you all were, and you deserved special mention of course.

I told her what an achiever you were in elementary school, and how you continue to serve your high school contemporaries by being a batch officer.

What we didn’t know was that you also migrated faraway lands, to Australia coincidentally (and so close to NZ) and now enjoy the best of the Philippines and Down Under by shuttling between your two homes.

So sorry for the late greeting, sorry too that we failed to make it to your birthday bash, regards to the family, and many happy returns !

belated happy birthday Ricky Ko Pio !

clockwise from left (standing) : Mel Asiddao-Chiong, Klemson See, Teresa Tin, Wilson Lu, the celebrant, Maribeth Ang-Wong, Carol Cuan-Chua and Kirby Hartigan-Go

IT’S SOMETIMES UNFAIR to let one role, task or achievement define a person, but in a few cases you do the person sweet justice.

In elementary (primary) school, Roderick (Ricky) was an outstanding student, was a stats whiz in basketball and tennis, and was popular with anyone who had an ability to discern a quality person when she/he saw one.

He continued this trend in high school, but he had a peculiar trait : he could make you like him without saying a single word or lifting a finger in his favor.  He could’ve been the consummate politician, but he had no need to be one.  That made him even more likeable.

When we sadly had to join the adult world, as far as we could tell, he got along with everyone, and I mean everyone.  There was/is not a single mean bone in his body, which was a bit inconsistent with the fact that he was/is a canny businessman, watching over every major detail of his property insurance enterprise.

I’m getting to the role that defines him in my book, don’t worry.  It was a bit overdue by the time it was his turn to head the SJCS Batch 82 association, although he succeeded many overachieving presidents.  Lo and behold, along with the rest of his officers, he has continued the trend of overachievement, throwing everything but the kitchen sink in their effort to make this year a banner year in the annals of Batch 82.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that 2012 is our 30th anniversary since graduation.  But Ricky, Carol, Kirby, Evelyn (Cheng), Maribeth, Melanie and the rest have done everything to make us proud of ourselves.

Oh, and have I forgotten to add that our president is a devoted husband and father, a role that takes precedence over everything we’ve mentioned above ?

You have outdone yourself Mr President.  Take a bow please, so sorry for the late birthday greeting (27th June), regards to your beautiful family, and many happy returns!

YLB Noel


Essential & Not-so-essential 1st Day Tips 4 Bunso the College Freshman


Image by ECOgarden via Flickr

[ NOte from Noel :  As of this writing, Bunso is on the brink of his freshman year in college.  I’m far from ideal as a dispenser of advice, but I’ve taken it upon myself to give him pearls of wisdom.  Thanks in advance for reading ! ]

Dear Bunso :

Sorry for the late baon, I didn’t know when your first day was and the text messages were late in coming.  I’m sure you’ll spend a sleepless night before your first day as a college student, few beginnings in your life will be as memorable as the chapter that heralds the start of your freshman year.  Not only does it formalize your entry into the world as a young adult, it is when you make serious choices as regards career and the life you will lead hereon.  The textbooks will undoubtedly help and your course curricula will serve as excellent guideposts, but it will be during this time that you will solidify your views of the world around you, your theory on why things are what they are, why things never seem to change, or why things will continue to be.  Most of the time you will figure things out for yourself, for that is the task of your professors and the adventure of learning : to train you to think for yourself, and to educate yourself in whatever discipline that you find worth your time and effort.

But forget all that for now.  You’ve come this far, and you deserve a memorable first day and first week as a collegian, don’t hesitate to do everything to store all the wonderful memories of your first day at campus, make as many friends as possible, and above all, cultivate your love for learning as you’ve always done, burn in your mind’s eye the crowd of people your age sharing your goals, the beautiful campus around you, the impressive edifices of learning all about, as these will be your world for the next four years :

Don’t try to do too much on your first day – You will be too stoked to do anything else but soak it all in, so just go with the flow.  Your first day will most likely be an assault to the senses : the human traffic will be at least twice or thrice what you’re used to in Siena, the chatter and noise level will be barely bearable, you will see all around you people as excited as you are, seeking to impress new friends, and you can’t have a campus without the cool customers : the jocks and cheerleaders, the artists, the nerds, and the groupies around each of these species.  Take them all in, make them part of your consciousness, because a good part of this community will make you part of their family.

Find your mates – I’m not sure if you’ve enrolled in a block of classes or a unique schedule, but if it’s the latter, you will soon enough find colleagues who share two or more classes with you.  It might be a bit early on Day One of school, but these are the guys who will be your buddies for the rest of the semester.  Breaks, gaps in schedules, class work and car pools are just some of the areas where you can collaborate and pool resources for mutual benefit.  Trust your first impression in this regard, if you feel good vibes coming from a new acquaintance/s, reach out to make friends for life.

Embrace your causes carefully – I’m not sure about the sense of timing on that side of Katipunan, but the cause – oriented groups, of which schools like yours are never in short supply, will often use the heady days of first week, to air their advocacies and pet causes all around campus.  When the exhilarating air of idealism is new to the senses, the appeal to change the world is at its strongest, and more so to freshmen hearing noble exhortations to kapit bisig for the first time.  You will often hear them during orientation talks, when moderators allow them their five minutes, during impromptu gatherings on the quadrangle, when even fringe groups are given their fifteen minutes of fame by the campus crowd, when in a burst of righteous exuberance you might just be inspired to hug a tree, defend a political prisoner, or revive legal rights long taken for granted.  Youth is the time to pick up these causes I know, but please choose your battles carefully, and always remember what you came to school for.  Above all, keep in mind the sacrifices made by those who came ahead of you, so that you could walk the corridors of learning.

Pace yourself – It might be hard to balance your energies when there is so much to do, so much to accomplish in so little time, but it is doable.  There is balance among the efforts you devote to your different subjects, the division of labor between reading assignments, writing reports and preparing for exams, which is after all where you hardened your muscles in high school, and not the least, the balance between work and recreation, without which you will be doomed to burn out long before nearing the finish line.  Just keep your eye on the big picture, which is  a living a well-rounded life, pushing yourself to the limit and enjoying yourself later, and the balance will come naturally.

Make your predecessors proud, and your successors inspired – And when you make the final selection on your degree course, embrace your causes and find out where you will excel, do everything you can to leave your mark as a student.  You may have heard this before, but you are a special student, in a special school entering university at a very special time.  Because of all your gifts and the needs of the times, you have no choice but to change the world.  I was hoping not to sound so melodramatic, but your stint as a student in a good school is no less than a great privilege, demanding that you use your training to help make our country a better one for the less fortunate, particularly those who have not had your opportunity.

I know it’s a lot to absorb before your first day at school, I hope I haven’t dulled your sense of anticipation.  It sounds trite, but you are in for a thrilling adventure, and no matter what you do, great rewards await.  In a sense, as you embark on your journey of learning, you have already won, and you only need to claim your prize at the end of your four years.  Vaya con Dios!

I love you always and miss you terribly.  Kaawaan ka lagi ng Diyos anak.


Post – Birthday Apologies / Pls Humor Me

 The most beautiful thing in life

is the ability to love.

-Brunello Cucinelli ad (I don’t know what the brand sells yet),

Esquire magazine

[ NOte from NOel : Still no regular access road to the information highway 😦 ]

IF ONLY it were possible / socially acceptable to impose a regime of balloons, thematic costumes, ubiquitous clowns and ice cream cake on one’s birthday, I would be a perennial and diligent exponent of such a hypothetical tradition. I am such a senti birthday person both for myself and others, and that’s why it was so odd / strange / weird (Kiwis reserve “weird” for only the highest level of hiwaga, while we Pinoys use it at the drop of the proverbial hat) last Saturday : we were in the midst of a deadline – conscious house moving, I was trying to prepare for guild exams, while recovering from a semi-serious episode of gout.

If you can believe it, in between stealing glances at Mr Facebook and Miss Yahoo! on Panganay’s laptop ( the rusty desktop had been bundled up 24 hours earlier ), I nearly forgot it was my birthday, and I don’t think that had EVER happened the last 45 years. But no matter. The point I’m trying to make is that I consider it the height of bad ( online ) manners to not express humble gratitude or even simple thanks to the rest of the world for remembering me on my special day.

By now you might have been wondering why I could not perform the simple courtesy of acknowledging such a kindness especially considering the fact that birthdays are usually auspicious to me. 🙂 Well, I won’t allow the lack of internet access (already considered a basic necessity in our interconnected existence) to further delay thanking you. Since they make up the biggest number of the virtual family, friends from high school (and primary school) are denoted by an asterisk. Unless otherwise specified, most of the greeters are based in Manila, and I arranged the names alphabetically, and often by the nickname rather than the given name. Please forgive me if I devote only one line-plus to thanking you, and I will surely make up for it when my beloved internet access returns. Cheers !

Atty Adrian Lecaros, classmate from way back : good health and happiness classmate, thanks loads !

*Alfredo Dee, classmate forever : Thanks for dropping a few lines every now and then Alfredo 🙂

Allan Refuerzo, UP classmate and Facebook friend : thanks for the greeting Allan, we should collaborate soon!

Alvin John B Cenido, pamangkin and awesome skywalker : thanks for remembering Alvin !

Anne Chang, HS teacher : nanwang nin de hao jiaoxun, duo xie Zhang Lao Shi (hope that was correct Mam) !

*Arlene Ayuste, another ultranice member of the Gorgeous Ones : If people teach best by example, then you are certainly a good teacher of life’s lessons 🙂 To sya classmate !

Atty Babes Noriega, a body-beautiful lawyer from UP : Thanks for the greeting Babes, more power to the uplifting workouts !

Benedict B Montenegro, cousin and future co-migrant : thanks for remembering Dick !

Boyette San Diego, stalwart of campus journalism and FB friend : All those years of presswork in the 1980s and I only get to know you now, thanks for the memories !

Atty Butch Saulog, an unbelievable jazz pianist and creator : Thanks for remembering Butch !

*Carmi Sio, a sorely-missed classmate : Your praise and kind words are precious to me. Thanks for wishing kind wishes on my day, Carmi !

*Carol Ng Sy : Thanks for being a great classmate from way way back all the way to high school Carol !

*Catherine Gruba, one of the sexiest businesswomen we know : Thanks for remembering Cathy !

Cherry Thelmo Fernandez, champion of the Visayan community in NZ and UP schoolmate : thanks for remembering Cherry, maayong buntag!

Chichi Abadingo, Auckland-based Filipiniana organizer and Marian devotee : you are a constant source of encouragement and inspiration Chichi ! Daghan Salamat po !

Cora V Rosales, SycipLaw contemporary and SF Giant fan : Thanks for remembering and your thoughtful FB posts, regards always !

Atty Cristina Godinez -Pangilinan, Collegian immortal and FB picture post-er : daghan salamat for the greet and the wonderful pics from yesteryear!

Dely Imperial, a wonderful aunt who’s never forgotten us : Maray na aldao and thanks always for your wonderful words of encouragement Tita D ! Love you always !

Dennis Arroyo, Collegian Kulemate and all-around nice guy : Love your jokes and puns in FB, they make my day! Thanks for remembering !

*Dennis Sy, an IT professional in New York : Our high school memories will last a lifetime. Please continue enriching lives with your talent, brother. Thanks for everything!

Desu Enriquez, Auckland-based kabayan : Thanks for always reading our crazy blogs Desu, stay pretty always !

Usec Diane Reyes, a wonderful classmate from UP : Your kind words of praise are truly humbling Diane ! Thanks for the greet !

Atty Dicky Salazar, an awesome lawyer from UP : Thanks for remembering and for the kudos Dicky !

Didith Tayawa Figuracion of the Ministry of Maori Affairs and a tireless worker for the advancement of the Pinoy community in NZ : Thanks for thinking so highly of us Didith, regards to Clark and Match !

Direk FilNZTV, co-migrant and Facebook friend : Thanks for remembering and the kind words Direk, regards always !

Dr Donald Bautista, a world-class brother : Thanks for always being there for us Doc, love you always!

Easter Bocobo, superpretty classmate from UP days : Your thoughtfulness is appreciated classmate 🙂

Atty Edwin Maquinto, Alphan fanatic and FB friend : Thanks for remembering brod !

Atty Eileen Adaza, UP classmate and Facebook friend : Thanks for remembering Eileen, regards to your bros and of course your esteemed dad 🙂

*Elena Sy – Goddard, youthful beauty from the American West Coast : your memories are truly flattering, and came at the best possible time. Thanks for taking the trouble to put them to (electronic) paper classmate !

Elijah Brent Emmanuel Bautista, brand new Atenean and now taller than his dad : thanks for the greeting anak, love you always !

Erlinda Bautista, supermom and World’s No. 1 Nana : Your text and prayers were extra special Mom, as were you, I love you always !

*Eunice Cobankiat Pascual, surely one of the sweetest and babe-est batchmates around : the prayers always help, and your kind kudos is treasured. Thanks Gorgeous !

Dr Evelyn Venes Catuira, CAL-based dental surgeon and a batch babe : Thanks for remembering classmate, our Paco memories are irreplaceable !

*Feli Tan – Co, one of the truly special members of Batch 82 : That you took the time to wish me a happy birthday was quite humbling Feli. Thanks and stay pretty always!

Franz Diosana, cousin forever : Thanks for encouraging us with your emotional words of praise !

Dr Gan Montenegro, cousin forever : Thanks for remembering Dr Gan, more power to your cable / radio show!

George Bautista, awesome playing-coach : thanks for helping us get into NZ, love you always bro!

*Dr Gerald So, a Dallas neurologist : I am truly humbled by your pro-activeness and your uncanny memory, brother ! Our friendship truly spans the miles and years! Duoxie lao pengyou!

Girlie Acosta Sanchez, UP Manila memorable : your comments and hellos never fail to pick up my day, thanks for remembering Girlie !

Grace Lim, former SycipLaw officemate and outstanding legal secretary : thanks for remembering Grace !

*Harvey Tan, a co-migrant also in Toronto : Your one-liners make my day classmate, 6-E forever!

*Hedy Ong – Soliman, based in CAL & unofficial queen of Batch 82 : You’ve always been there the last few years Achie, I can never thank you enough for that! Maraming salamat to you and Jack!

*Irene Chua, your smile and warmth never fail to make my day, thanks for remembering Irene !

*Jaime Chan, a Vancouver travel industry expert : many thanks for remembering Jaime, our DBMC days live on forever !

*Jenn Chan, a wonderful kabatch from Toronto : Your constant encouragements and responses to life’s challenges inspire me Jenn, thanks for the memories!

*Jocelyn Chan another Facebook source of cheer and inspiration : Thanks for the effusive praise, your students, years from now, will still remember your first-class tutoring !

Joey Flora, a former Marxist – Leninist theoretician and now budding entrepreneur in SF : I’m touched that you remembered bro, yes that icy cold brewski will be waiting !

Atty Joel Butuyan, classmate, townmate of The Answer and FB friend : thanks for remembering Joel, regards always !

Joy Cabrera, SycipLaw officemate and photogenic FB friend : thanks for remembering Joy, regards to our former officemates there!

*Joy Rosenbaum, a showbiz producer shuttling between West and East Coasts, USA : Your e-mails are a constant joy, Joy! Muchas gracias! 

Jude Bautista, photojournalist bro : Thanks for all the years of being a great bro and uncle to the kids, and thanks for celebrating my birthday in Manila. Love you always!

*Kathryn Que, townmate of Black-Ops mastermind POTUS Obama and friend of D-Rose : just as the batch remembers my birthday, so does it cherish yours !

Atty Kiko Rivera, A-1 litigation lawyer : Many thanks for the kind birthday wishes Brod !

*Kirby Hartigan – Go, a world-class IT professional and awesome batch officer : Thanks for always being there for the batch Kirby !

*Klemson See, a Taiwan – based memorable : Our basketball days will always be treasured Klemson ! thanks and long live 6-E !

Lanie Ancheta, former SycipLaw officemate and phenomenal stenographer : thanks for remembering Lanie !

Lei Arago, former SycipLaw officemate and accounting whiz : thanks for remembering Lei 🙂

Loida P Mayo, UP classmate and friend forever : Our memories will always be treasured Loids, thanks again !

Lilia Nicole Bautista, may or may not be the loveliest in her circle of friends, but hopefully the smartest : I love you always Ganda, thanks for remembering, will update you soonest when internet returns!

Atty Lilibeth Cueva, NY attorney and dog enthusiast : your wonderful words of praise fuel me always, thanks loads and pls stay pretty as you are !

Lorraine and Del Valdes, Cainta neighbors and best-looking couple I know : My days in Cainta were the best, thanks in part to you! Thanks for the greeting !

*Dr Marcia Bautista, the loveliest pediatrician I know : salamat sa pagbati cousin, you are fondly remembered !

Maricon Windsor – Viaje, a veteran of the pharma industry and cousin forever : thanks for remembering insan, thanks for the memories as well 🙂

*Marilyn Chingbingyong, a lovely from Vancouver Canada. We will always be linked by our May birthdays classmate. That, and our love for laughter. thanks for remembering and happy birthday tambien!

Marjorie Piano – Gonzalgo, former SycipLaw officemate : thanks for remembering Marj!

Mary Ann Reyes Mandap, Collegian Kulemate and FB friend : stay pretty as ever Me-Ann, thanks heaps !

*Mel Asiddao, entrepreneur from SF : Your thoughtful praise and words of encouragement will never be forgotten, 6-E forever!

Menggy Caguicla, Auckland-based co-Maroon : Thanks always for the rave reviews Menggy, stay pretty always !

*Mevelyn Tang, a limitless source of quotes and perspective from the East Coast : you seem to know exactly what to say and when to say it, and you are precious Mev ! To tse nei 😉

*Michael Tan, a thoughtful batchmate who never forgets : I appreciate it always MacTan when you show your appreciation, regards!

Millie Ocampo, UST prof and NZ transplant : Thanks for remembering Mille, your words of encouragement are always appreciated !

*Engr Nelson Tan, an newlywed engr based somewhere in CAL USA : your warmth and pithy humor is always appreciated bro Sonny. Thanks again !

Nigel Paulo Emmanuel Bautista, based in Wellington but always thinking of the Philippines : salamat sa pagbati anak, love you always!

NJ Lising, former co-worker and champion hiphop dancer in Auckland, thanks for remembering NJ !

Noel Pepa, aspiring baker from Lower Hutt City and Cavite : Maraming salamat sa pagbati and pagtulong sa pagkumpuni ng bike, tokayo ! Regards to Cecil !

*Noemi Bolanos, an Arizona – based nurse : you’re one of the best classmates we never had, and you know that’s quite a compliment nhoymssb! Muchas gracias !

Norman Latosa, Pinoy Basketball sa Auckland commissioner and awesome community leader : Thanks for our happy happy days in Auckland Norman !

Atty Pablo John Garcia, another Collegian immortal and brod always : Thanks for remembering and happy birthday to you too!

Peps Inovejas, a UP Manila memorable : Thanks for the memories, and for remembering Peps !

*Pilar Ang – Si, #1 cheer-upper and quipper on Facebook : when people are low and need a jolt of inspiration, you are there for them Pilar. Thanks for that, and the birthday cheer!

Raul Zamuco, news editor & Sydney IT professional : I will never forgot our presswork days together bro, thanks for the memories !

Atty Rosalie Factor, former Syciplaw officemate : thanks for remembering Atty RFF, regards to you always !

Ricky and Maya Montenegro, cousins from Wellington : thanks for all the wonderful memories pinsan !

Rollie Fabi, brod forever and future national leader : Thanks for remembering Brod and I wish you good health always !

Rorie de Guzman, a friend from our UP Manila days : your encouragement and FB posts always make my day Rorie ! Maraming salamat po !

Samboy Concepcion, GOCC lawyer and Alphan fanatic : thanks for the memories Brod, you always look great!

Sherona Sulit, SycipLaw officemate : Thanks for remembering my pretty friend !

Sweetie Montenegro, wonderful aunt based in the East Coast : thanks for remembering Tita Sweetie !

*Teresita Sy Chingkaw, a stewardess kabatch who looks the part : thanks for remembering our special day Tess 🙂

Teddi Jutsen, motivational specialist based in Sydney : thanks for remembering Teddi, and thanks for the memories !

Tom and Ineng Agustin, lovey-dovey cousins in Johnsonville : your kindness in helping us moving into Wellington will not be forgotten. Thanks cuz !

Tim Bautista, first class COO and idea man : Thanks for being a great Kuya, and love you always!

*Stefanie Victorino, do-everything organizer of the Gorgeous Ones : Thanks for always being so thoughtful Stef, you’re always a dear !

Val Asiddao, HS unforgettable and FB friend : Your posts, poems and videos and truly inspiring, thanks for being our schoolmate, DBMC mate and friend 🙂

Veronica Uy , Phil Daily Inquirer online editor and Collegian Kule-mate : I love your Facebook posts and I’m humbled that you remembered Onic, to sya di !

Atty Vicky Suarez, UP classmate and Collegian Kule-mate : Thanks for remembering Vicky, regards always !

Prof Vincent Ty, an unforgettable UP Manila personality : thanks for enriching my life with your friendship Prof Vince !

Well, that’s it. There will surely be people I forgot to thank, but I will not forget again next time. Thanks again, and I hope I can return the favor come your birthday.

Thanks for the memories !


The Next Day of The Rest of Your Life

[ NOte from NOel : Though we were thousands of kilometers away on his graduation day yesterday, our heart was with Bunso, who was accompanied by his proud grandparents and sister. We share with you below our letter of congratulations to him, greetings as well to all graduates this March! Please spare a few moments today to whisper a prayer for our compatriots awaiting a stay of execution in Shenzhen and Xiamen, the People’s Republic of China. Thanks in advance for reading the longish letter ! ]

Dear Bunso :

I am so happy that you are nearly at the end of your high school journey. Wasn’t it only yesterday that I was wishing you well on what was undoubtedly going to be a most remarkable valedictory of your passage into young adulthood, your transition from big fish in a small pond into the ocean of the much larger world outside? I know in my heart that the fleeting time did not diminish, in fact it heightened the sweetness of your high school memories.

I wish I could say that you are entering a world better than the one I joined when I left high school myself, but I will not even try, as I’m sure you will not permit such a delusion. Nature has continued her cyclic rampages, despots contine to claim the divine right of kings while trampling their citizens underfoot, our OFWs continue to be exploited, wrongfully imprisoned, and even executed abroad, and everywhere, people who need the help most urgently continue to be deprived by governments who should be doing the most to help them. Indeed, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

Of course, I’m proud that you passed the admission exams of both the Green Archers and the Blue Eagles, especially since those schools were your first two choices. Despite what your uncles, classmates, and comrades tell you, ultimately it is your choice that counts, for after all it is you and not anyone else who will be attending school. So there.

** ** **

I wish I could impart to you the wisdom of the ages as you embark on a new phase in your academic career, but I cannot. For me, college was just one party after another, half-hearted attempts at erudition, chivalry or achievement, most ending in vain. Among the few truths that I learned then and which stayed with me to this day, if I may, was that pleasure, fair-weather companions, and the eye candy purchased by wealth and privilege are all ephemeral and will immediately desert you in hard times. Only the fruits of education and hard work stay true and loyal to you, even in your darkest times.

Just a few observations that I hope will serve you well in your college adventure. Now and then you will called by your peers to join the effort to agitate for change, redress grievances and challenge injustices especially against government , big business and the prevailing social order. Use your own good judgment, follow your conscience and I only hope that at the crucial time, you will be on the right side of history :

Never underestimate the power of peaceful protest. Our February Revolution of 1986 (two years before Kuya was born), the democracy movement in Tiananmen Square at the end of the last century, the current Arab Spring and probably most of the uprisings yet to happen in your lifetime are linked by peaceful protest that grew and grew until social change was inevitable. The symbol of one man standing against armies, tanks and the Establishment is a potent one, raising goosebumps, inspiring revolutions and summoning the groundswell of historic reform. The youth component of peaceful protest is often a crucial one, and before you reach your 20s you will probably join a handful of these causes. Choose your battles carefully, and lend your talents and energies to those that you think will provide meaningful change.

Don’t forget the playground rules that applied in high school are still applicable in university : Some notables are (1) you scratch my back, I scratch yours; (2) In any kind of group work, 20% of the team does 80% of the work ( so choose your groupmates well ) and (3) there are no permanent friends, only permanent interests. Not set-in-stone rules, but worthwhile to remember.

Lastly, this piece of advice hardly needs to be said, but just in case, make friends from all over and enjoy yourself in college. You will naturally and inevitably be drawn to those who share your likes and interests, but try to diversify the mix of your acquaintances, then choose those whom you will be most comfy with. In particular, try to reach out to those of humbler backgrounds, from remote hometowns, and those who won’t readily gravitate to the popular cliques. It might sound unlikely now, but these fellows are the most interesting ones and will enrich your life and experiences.

Beyond all these, you are in for a wonderful adventure, where you will undoubtedly shape your career and make friends and memories that will last you a lifetime. I envy you because of your youth and opportunity, but I’m so happy for you for the very same reasons. Your life as a collegian awaits!

Congratulations again anak, I love you always, kaawaan ka lagi ng Diyos.