Independence Day

June 12, 1999, Araw ng Kalayaan, was my first day at the Kalayaan Residence Hall in UP Diliman. True.

Getting into that dorm wasn’t easy. Having only a few rooms available, compared to the number of incoming freshman from all the country’s islands, I had to pray my hardest and pull some available strings (wink wink). I remember riding the bus to my uncle’s Novaliches home after being turned down the first time. I was seated beside my father who also was extremely disappointed by the very swift lighting of the No Vacancy sign that flickered and buzzed under the rain (no, there wasn’t such a sign, I was being poetic haha). Throughout that bus ride, I repeated to myself, “Titira ako sa Kalayaan, Titira ako sa Kalayaan…”

And that was my first experience of the power of words spoken with deep conviction. I got in. And during Independence Day of 1999, my father brought me to the dorm to have my first taste of freedom.

Up to this day, I still tease my father about leaving me in my basement dorm room, saying goodbye and then walking away on the polished corridors without looking back at me. Not one glance. “Were you crying then?” I would always ask. He’d always say, he didn’t.

I didn’t too. Not until after dinner.

Right after my first meal, (them people at the mess hall says it’s chicken pastel, that was the first time I’ve heard of it) I ran to my basement room and grabbed my pen. I scribbled on my little King Jim diary “I hate how the food tastes here. I want the food at home.” The next thing I know, I was inside the bathroom, violently brushing my teeth and scraping my tongue, with tears flowing down my cheeks. (See, I was melodramatic even from way back. Haha) I didn’t stop until there’s no tinge of that horrible chicken pastel smell in my mouth.

In my first weeks, I kept writing in my journal. It was mostly about how I hate that place. But after some time, I wrote less and less. I didn’t have the time to write on my little diary of hate anymore, since I became too busy having fun with my Kalayaan friends. (Disclaimer: I WASN’T too friendly then. I just made some few select friends, thats all).

One blog post is not enough to tell how Kalayaan changed my life and molded me to what I’ve become (ok now, what have I become?). All I can say now is that the dorm occupies a big part in my biography. The people I have lived with there may not believe it (of course, cause I’m the suplado slash enigmatic one. I invented emo. haha) but I think of them often. When I think of Kalayaan, I ask myself many questions. What happened to this guy from room so and so? What happened to this girl I once shared a mess hall table with? Are the doppelganger-ing spirits still there? Do the residents still use the intercom*?

*If not, here’s the deal about the Intercom. Before the turn of the new millennium, we didn’t have cellphones. There were only 2 out of the 40+guys in the basement who owned one. We get phone calls through the dorm’s only landline, operated by the resident assistants (I think that’s what R.A. means). If you get a phone call, they’d page you like “Paging Elvin, phone call.” You have to come out of your room and scream as loud as you can “COMING!!!!” Otherwise, they’d assume you’re not there and put down the phone.

Photo from www.upd.edu.ph


tet said...

aww... this is a good one. :)

Elvin said...

thanks tintin. lol. how's vis-min?