Since typhoon Haiyan in November 2013, I’d like to believe I’ve grown up and matured at least somehow. Sad truth is, though, that I haven’t; I am still the same indecisive, easily-swayed, misinformed teenager I was before the storm. I thought that after nearly a year in Diliman of decisions, grinds and experiences away from my family, I would at least learn something—saving money, acting around people, when to study-when not to study—that my parents always reminded me about on a daily basis. But no, here I am, seven months later, rethinking my stay in Diliman and regretting why I didn’t make the best of it.
Before the typhoon I already had plans of transfering, simply because I felt that I didn’t deserve ‘just UP Tacloban’. I thought that, “Hey, the courses I applied for in Diliman were really cut-throat, I guess if I applied for the course I have in Tacloban now, I would have totally gotten in.” And so all of the first semester was an effort to get great grades.
But then the storm happened.
Funny thing is, I wasn’t even scared of the storm on November 7. I was on the internet laughing about farting goats and not even giving the slightest shit about Haiyan. But God, when the water was coming in, all I could think about was my education. The first thing I tried to save were my school records. After swimming to safety, my family was crying about the house, our relatives, our lives; I was crying about not going to be able to go to school on Monday, not going to be able to transfer to Diliman, not graduating, not getting a job. I was so scared, I just sat on the concrete and cried. I cried the kind of tears that just keep streaming down the sides of your face—no noise, just tears. The type of crying people do when everything just seems hopeless.
The next day, I went to Robinsons Tacloban alone; I took what food and necessities I could. Then again to Robinsons with my cousins to take more food, more necessities, some clothes, some luxuries. Another day passed, I slept with a knife in my hand, scared at any noise the fence would make.
A day passed, I brought home a sack of rice from a warehouse in San Jose. I cried when I got home; not because there were too many dead people. It just felt lile something to do.
A day passed, I couldn’t sleep, I was staring at the fence.
A day passed, I refused to eat so my parents could eat more.
A day passed, my cousins and I looted a pharmacy. We took a lot of antibiotics.
A day passed, I slipped and a piece of torn roof cut my skin.
A day passed, I coudn’t bear to look at my room. Everything was covered in mud.
A day passed, I thought I heard something outside. My father brought out his gun. It was just a stray cat.
A day passed, I bought a loot phone from a stranger. God, there were so many messages from unknown numbers.
Days after the storm, my brother called, he said they were arriving in four hours. He told me to pack so we could leave for Manila.
Twenty four hours later, I was in a van cutting across Bicol. The trip took two days. We didn’t stop the whole way except for gas thrice. I was in Manila by the 20th.
The internet told me that the entire university system was open for cross-registrants from UP Tacloban. That moment I thought, “Here was my chance. I’m going to Diliman!” I did everything I needed to do to get in with a smile. Even if I didn’t bring a lot of clothes, money, or valuables, I was happy because I was where I wanted to be.
AS was bigger than I thought it’d be, freshie walk was a pretty as the pictures, Melchor was as intimidating as I imagined. The amount of elation I was going through that first week was probably enough to power a Happy Factory for depressed people for the next year—I was over myself with ecstasy. This would have been a perfect story, but then there would be no point in writing this if that were the case.
Thing is, I’ve made too many mistakes in Diliman.
I didn’t work hard enough for my grades, I was too caught up in useless thrills. I didn’t get to experience a university life because, when I wasn’t caught up in those useless thrills, I was wasting away on the internet. I spent too much of the charity money on things that made it obvious that I didn’t deserve a charity. In three minutes, I made a decision that would demand my life’s time.
I fell in love with someone from Diliman. :) I hurt myself and this person. I fell out and in and out and in of love for this person. But it wouldn’t work.
Long story short, I wasn’t able to live out the Diliman life I truly wanted. I can’t transfer because of something I did and wasn’t able to do. Despite all that, I loved every moment of the experience. And even if I’m probably never going to be able to repeat it I can’t bring myself to not be happy. It feels as though I’m leaving a huge part of my soul in Diliman and yet I’m smiling through the pain because at least a part of me can be here.
I’m leaving for home on June 25th. This is my message to everyone—whether we met or not, whether or not we’ve crossed glances in Casaa, whether or not our hands touched and we felt that spark that everyone looks for—whoever you are, I want to tell you that you were instrumental to the rollercoaster ride of emotions, to the experience that was my Diliman story.