By: EK Encarnacion
Agham Yearbook 2008-2009 (Photograph by EK Encarnacion)
After stepping out of the Seaweed Chemistry building, where Joyce handed me my copy of our undergraduate yearbook; I noticed the overcast sky, hurried to the roadside and immediately called for an Ikot jeep to drop me off anywhere near the College of Engineering for my Wastewater Treatment and Disposal class. I first paid the fare of 7.00 Php, which I believe is too much for a regular UP student. But considering the fact that the UP that I am at now isn’t the old UP I once loved (and loathed with all the stress brought about by some heartless terror professors and usually impossible-to-finish-and-to-perfect assignments and examinations), there’s really nothing much that I can (and, for some reason, care to) do.
There was a downpour as I flipped through the first pages of the yearbook. I was not sure but I did feel disappointed. I don’t know if it was the heavy rain (because I intentionally left my umbrella at home) or if it was the yearbook’s mediocre appeal to me. Or maybe it was both. But don’t get me wrong. My college yearbook is way (way) (way) fancier and more elaborate than my high school yearbook. The undergraduate yearbook is colourful and appears to be full of details and photographs as oppose to the high school yearbook which is black and white and appears to be nothing but a certified reject from a publishing house. But I can’t explain why neither one of them seem to urge me to keep on browsing their contents over and over and over.
I skipped the letters from the dean and the directors because I (or we) know that they were merely obliged to write those messages just so everyone else will think that they have imparted something inspirational to the graduates. For all we know, they may have used the exact words in the previous yearbooks or during a speech in a conference. The letters appeared downright unoriginal and non-personalized. Shameful.
I went straight to the part of the yearbook that lists the Institute of Chemistry graduates.
Institute of Chemistry Yearbook Page (Photograph by EK Encarnacion)
I first went to my page, checked if my name was spelled correctly and assessed if my description was properly written. Thank heavens, it was! And so I would like to give credits to the yearbook staff for that achievement. But I didn’t stay so much on my page. I know everything that I wanted and envisioned to be written on it. And so I immediately browsed through my friends’ pages.
EK Encarnacion’s Yearbook Page (Photograph by EK Encarnacion)
Staring at the photographs of the people who had been with me through college’s roller coaster ride was just heart-warming. I have realized how much I enjoyed my undergraduate days as compared to my years in elementary or in high school because those people, my college friends, shared the same joys and sorrows, and successes and failures that I have experienced in the pursuit of the BS degree which is more crucial than either elementary or high school diploma in one’s career path. My chemistry friends are those who accompanied me in the four years of undergraduate studies—the ones who joined me on every food and movie trip; those who went with me to shopping malls, amusement parks, beaches, and even the crowded alleys of Divisoria and Recto; the ones who danced with me until the break of dawn to the music of the latest Pinoy bands at the UP fair; those who crammed with me in passing homework and formal reports; the ones who joined me in pretending to study overnight for a major (major) Chemistry examination; and those who celebrated with me as we marched inside the UP theatre while donning our sablays.
I began to really miss everyone. Somehow, I felt like I got separated from the entire batch (i.e. everyone’s living up north while I’m residing and working down south of Luzon) for the longest time that I am just so excited to know how they are. I’m pretty sure everyone has grown so much since we parted ways.
I did not bother to look at the pages of the other 2009 College of Science graduates. Sorry. It’s just that, I didn’t have much connection with them as oppose to my chemistry friends.
Before I closed the yearbook, there were other things that I noticed though: (a) the group photo of the Institute of Chemistry graduates appears to be a test shot (look closely at how some of the people weren’t even looking at the camera). Why was it chosen instead of the shots with the balloons and the confetti? We were aiming for a festivity—a party-like group shot similar to the one in thirteen-going-thirty starring Jennifer Garner. And that photo in the yearbook didn’t capture our intention at all. Very Disappointing; (b) there’s something wrong with that page for KaSCIyahan and I have no desire to explain it for it is very (very) obvious; (c) I am happy with how the chemistry batch description was presented (aesthetics-wise) on a single page. I thank everyone for being an inspiration; and finally something highly positive and appreciative, (d) kudos to the editorial board for a yearbook that is bursting with colour and creativity!
Insitute of Chemistry Batch Photos Page (Photograph by EK Encarnacion)
Institute of Chemistry Batch Description Page (Photograph by EK Encarnacion)
I got down at the shed near the College of Economics. It was drizzling and I feared that my yearbook will get soaked. I walked briskly and kept the yearbook as close to me as possible in order to minimize the chances of it being drenched and eventually, easily torn apart and destroyed. I hurried to the doors of Melchor Hall. As I pass by the unfriendly guard, I looked at the state of my yearbook. A few pages were wet and showed signs of wrinkling. And being partially, obsessive-compulsive, I was devastated (If I was entirely OC, imagine what adjective could I have used for this sentence). Aside from the sky-high price we all shouldered just so the publication of the yearbook pushes through for our batch, it took decades before distribution became possible and the hard copies reached our very own hands—many of us have obtained our licenses already and have been working for more than a year while some have already reached residency for their masters!
But then as I sat down inside the classroom, I realized that there wasn’t really much that the yearbook offered and presented. It was simply a tangible memory of college. And no matter how cheesy this may sound, every priceless moment that my chemistry friends and I shared during our undergraduate years is engraved in our hearts and our minds—flavourful stories which cannot be retold in, not even summarized by, a single page in the yearbook.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
EK Encarnacion wanted a different creative shot. But because the studio can’t fulfil what he envisioned, he settled for the rock-and-roll theme (shown at the bottom of his Yearbook Page). He wishes he can do a much better photo shoot someday. *Calling Photographer Friends* To learn more of him, visit: Culinary Coliseum (food blog), Travelocities (travel blog), and By God’s Grace (gratitude blog). His works are also indexed at the Pinoy blog, The Filipino Diaspora.