by ABIGAIL M. ADRIATICO
I WAS never one to be too engrossed in large celebrations. This sentiment stretches even to my own birthday as I do not particularly like the grandiosity it entails. However, as if it was a comical twist of fate, my 22nd birthday fell upon the same date as the Baccalaureate Mass this year. At first, I did not think too much about it. I thought that it was just going to be a simple mass with a prompt ceremony just as it was when we were in our first year. To my surprise, it was not.
Right when I headed towards the holding room to await the proceedings, there was something present in the air. I found it in the strangers I passed by, wearing their type A uniforms along with the distinctive props their respective programs had prepared. Regardless of which college or faculty they hailed from, everyone seemed to share this contagious burst of energy that filled the halls of the St. Raymund de Peñafort building with warm smiles and cheers. From students exchanging graduation pictures to congratulating everyone they came across, it was almost impossible to shy away from the joyous feeling of it all.
This feeling continued as every program lined up to head towards the UST grandstand where the entire celebration would commence. The beat of the drums from the marching band playing songs that the students sang along to echoed throughout the halls of the building. I could not help but join the chorus of singing students as I could feel my own heart beating loudly with excitement. As the parade began, this feeling only came to grow further as the entire student body came together in the streets of the University.
Deja vu struck and I remembered the Welcome Walk during my freshman year as we lined up with our own sets of props. However, the energy was much more prominent and intensified this time around. I suppose this can be attributed to how we now all share four years worth of memories with the people who were once strangers to us in 2019.
As we all reached the field and sat on our respective seats, the heat of the afternoon sun was prominently felt. However, it did not seem to faze the bustling energy coursing through the crowd even as the mass began. Instead, it seemed to have transformed it into an intensified state of fondness as the rector came to speak of how far we all have come. It was like we all shared the realization that as we are about to harvest the fruit of our labors in the last four years, we are also about to bid farewell to the loving family we found along the way.
The setting sun made it so that the field grew darker by the hour yet it did nothing to hide the tears begging to fall from my eyes. Seeing the faces of my own friends and blockmates beside me made me aware that I was not the only one trying to keep my composure. As the ceremonies continued, we were all barely holding it together.
By the time we were lighting our candles while gazing at the cross atop the Main Building, there was this wave of longing that washed all over us. The entire field was dark then as the only thing illuminating it all were the candles that each of us held in our hands. As the sound of the school hymn droned on, I knew I was not alone in feeling a pang of sadness within my heart. We were all about to leave the home we have come to know and love in the last four years.
Even as that sentimental feeling was momentarily drowned out by the fireworks display that came after, no one can deny the surge of emotions going through our hearts. Everywhere I looked there were students writing on each other’s uniforms with teary eyes and wide smiles. Pictures and videos were taken in an attempt to capture the fleeting moments of the memorable night. Everyone was in high spirits and it seemed to grow even more as the march towards the Arch of the Centuries began.
It was at that moment when I realized the beauty behind large celebrations such as this. Being surrounded by people who share the same sentiments as you, even if they are mere strangers, gives you a feeling that is not easily replicated. There is this sense of community and belongingness that fills your heart and warms your soul as you are reminded that in this fleeting moment in time, you are home. F