Saturday, April 30, 2011

Pagpapanggap

A story is told about a strongman who consciously built a legend for himself from the time he probably decided to enter politics. This included impressive feats like defending himself for a crime he committed, scoring high in the bar exams and others that could be at least validated for truths. He is, however, remembered more for his infamy, part of which is inventing stories about himself and his alleged accomplishments in order to impress upon a people his supposed superiority. He was, after all, supposed to be very intelligent yet this was wasted on the crimes he eventually committed in order to perpetuate himself in power.

Among the many tales the strongman invented, one was about his exploits during the Second World War. In that war, he was supposed to have been the leader of a guerrilla unit, one he formed after escaping from the Death March. In truth, he was a soldier who managed to escape and evade the Japanese forces. He was probably part of the guerrilla movement but he was no hero and probably didn't deserve the Medal of Valor that he claimed. The name if the unit he invented would become a fixation including for a proposal for renaming the country that he played around with for some time. And together with his spouse, he continued to pretend he was in another world or another level, or so perhaps was the truth in his mind. He invented other accomplishments that he mixed with actual ones that, in fairness to the man, we are still benefiting from now. This was to make it appear as if the fictitious accomplishments were real and he did so consciously in order to make himself larger than life.

There are many including perhaps ourselves who like to pretend, whether consciously, unconsciously, out of habit or out of necessity. It is usually a mix and there is always a purpose for doing so. A friend who was himself in the business of pretending to be someone, appropriated the Filipino word for pretending - pagpapanggap. There are so many of us who do so partly because we do not have enough skills, intelligence or raw talent to succeed without the help of unconventional talents. Perhaps, pagpapanggap is even the talent that some of us have and we use it to further ourselves, believing it is only fair as long as no one notices or exposes the truth.

I have known such people including some whom I considered friends. It is sad to know the truth and disappointing that we cannot correct certain things without committing so much damage that these people will be ruined if we did the right thing. One such person even faked his way towards attaining an advanced degree with the help, of course, of several accomplices. The quality of his work even today and his approach to what he claims to be research betrays his pagpapanggap. Unfortunately, his pretentiousness seems to be infectious, as I suspect he has spread this on to others whom I assumed were not of the same mindset before.

There are others whom I have knowledge of who prey upon unsuspecting people, even establishing themselves in networks where they hope to propagate their pagpapanggap. On group stands out in the environment sector where they continue to spread misconceptions and misinformation about air quality and other concepts. These are the more dangerous ones who claim to be experts and who engage those less knowledgeable, using them as conduits to their twisted reasoning and wisdom(?). A good friend was duped by these same people and we continue to disown or deny any connection with them even as they continue to drop the name of the Center for their personal benefit. Perhaps, one day, they will be exposed for what they truly are and that other may learn from their pagpapanggap.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

All roads lead to Antipolo, Part 2

Antipolo has been a popular pilgrimage site since the Spanish Period ever since the reports of miracles performed through the image of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. These include her image being reportedly found among the Antipolo tree that is the basis for the name of the town that now is a highly urbanized city and capital to the Province of Rizal. Rizal, of course, is the name of the province that once was generally called Morong. One town of the province still bears that name and it, too, has a beautiful, picturesque church. The Shrine is often visited by those seeking safe travel, perhaps these days it has even become more popular due to the tremendous numbers of overseas foreign workers (OFWs) employed abroad. Antipolo is also allegedly the richest among the most popular shrines or churches in the Philippines, supposedly ahead of Quiapo (Black Nazarene), Cebu (Sto. Nino), Baclaran (Our Lady of Perpetual Help), Naga (Penafrancia) and Manaoag (Our Lady of Manaoag), though not necessarily in that order. I think I read about this in one of Ambeth Ocampos' columns from the Inquirer.

The popularity of the Shrine is so much so that a road was built to directly connect it with Manila, particularly to Intramuros where the seat of government was at the time. This road is most probably along the corridor that is now Ortigas Avenue. Of course, in the Spanish Period, this would be a more general route that would have likely included many rough trails considering that the Ortigas we know now was only developed in the 1970's. I witnessed this when we moved from Manadaluyong to Cainta in 1976, often seeing huge machines work their way along what is now Valle Verde to carve out a wider right of way for Ortigas Avenue.

During the American Period, the trams operated by the Manila Electric Rail and Light Company (MERaLCo) included a line that went up to Antipolo. Those trams were the state of the art and representative of high technology in public transportation in those years after the turn of the century and a line to Antipolo reinforced the shrine's importance to many people and the government's recognition of this. The tram network, which was probably the most developed in Southeast Asia if not in Asia at the time, was destroyed during World War 2 and was never rebuilt for some reason. It is something that Metro Manila now continues to regret if only to postulate what might have beens and what could have beens if the network was revived after the war. Of course, this bit of history is related to the eventual rise of the jeepneys but that is another story for another post. Nevertheless, there still exists in Antipolo some remnants of the tram's glory days and it is remembered as a road which is still called "daang bakal," as the railways were fondly called then and now.

There are now many ways from Metro Manila and its neighboring provinces to Antipolo, although several of these eventually merge into three main roads en route to the Shrine. One is via the old route along Ortigas Avenue, a second is the route via Sumulong Highway, and the third is through a "back door" via the Antipolo-Teresa Road. Routes from the general areas of Manila, Makati, Pasig, Mandaluyong, Taguig and the southern cities of Metro Manila and towns from Laguna, Batangas and Cavite will most likely merge to Ortigas Avenue. Meanwhile, people coming from Quezon City, Caloocan, Marikina, Bulacan, Pampanga and the northern Rizal towns of San Mateo and Rodriguez (Montalban) will likely converge along Sumulong Highway. Meanwhile, those coming from the east including the Rizal towns like Tanay, Teresa, Morong, and Jala-jala, the Laguna towns like Paete, Pakil, Pangil, the Quezon towns of Luisiana, Lucban, Infanta and General Nakar, and others will most likely take the Antipolo-Teresa Road that climbs from the east of Antipolo. People from Marikina, Cainta and Pasig generally may take either the Ortigas or the Marcos Highway/Sumulong Highway route.

Public transport to Antipolo these days include mostly jeepneys as the city is the end point of many routes - a testament to its importance even as a reference point for public transportation. One can easily spot the Antipolo-Cubao jeepneys in the Araneta Center in the Cubao business district in Quezon City. There are two lines, one via Cainta Junction (where jeepneys eventually turn to Ortigas Avenue) and another via Marcos Highway, turning at the Masinag Junction towards Sumulong Highway). Another terminal is at the EDSA Central near the Ortigas Center in Mandaluyong where Antipolo-Crossing jeepneys are queued. And still there is another, albeit somewhat informal terminal near Jose Rizal University (JRU, which was formerly a college and hence the old JRC endpoint), which passes through Shaw Boulevard, Meralco Avenue and eventually turns towards Ortigas Avenue. Other jeepneys from the Rizal towns all have routes ending in Antipolo simbahan, referring to the shrine.

There are now also multicabs, shuttles offering express trips between Antipolo and the same end points of Cubao or Crossing. Others go all the way to Makati in the Ayala financial district. These evolved out of the Tamaraw FX taxis that started charging fixed fares during the 1990's and competed directly with the jeepneys. These are popular, however, with office employees and students during weekdays and the nature of their ownerships and operations do not make them serious competitors to the jeepneys during the merry month of May and the Lenten Holy Week.

There was an Antpolo Bus Line before. These were the red buses that plied routes between Antipolo and Divisoria in Manila. These died out sometime between the late 80's and the early 90's probably due to decreasing profitability and likely because of its competition with the jeepneys. That bus company, along with the green-colored G-Liners, the red EMBCs (Eastern Metropolitan Bus Co.) and CERTs, and the blue Metro Manila Transit Corp. buses used to form a formidable mass transport system for Rizal and the eastern towns of Metro Manila. There were even mini-buses (one I recall were the Antipolo "baby" buses and those that plied routes betwen Binangonan and Recto). Most of these, except the G-Liners eventually succumbed to the jeepneys.

In the future, perhaps the jeepneys should give way to buses as the latter will provide a higher level and quality of service along Ortigas Avenue and Marcos and Sumulong Highways. Already in the drawing boards is a plan to ultimately extend LRT Line 2, which currently terminates at Santolan, Pasig, to Masinag Junction and then have a branch climb along Sumulong Highway and terminate near the shrine. This will bring back the trains to Antipolo and would surely make the church and the city very accessible to people. I look forward to these developments both in my capacity as a transportation researcher-engineer and a Catholic who also visits the Shrine to pray for safe travel for loved ones and myself.

Friday, April 22, 2011

All roads lead to Antipolo, Part 1

The title of this post is based on a saying referring to the Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage that is located in what is now the City of Antipolo in the Province of Rizal, to the east of Metro Manila. The saying is based on observations during May when the feast of Our Lady is celebrated the entire month. While people flock to the shrine throughout the year often to pray for safe travel, many devotees go up the city on top of a mountain of the Sierra Madre range to pray the novena to Our Lady, hear Mass, or simply to partake of the other attractions of the city, including, of course, the food.

Leaving the village to fetch the Clairvoyant at the airport late last night, I was reminded of just how many people flock to Antipolo during the Lenten Season. The eve of Good Friday is usually the time when devotees walk from all over Metro Manila and the nearby towns of Rizal to the Shrine of Our Lady in what is commonly termed as "alay lakad" or literally "walk of offering." It is actually a pilgrimage of sorts for most people. I mention "of sorts" here as a form of reservation, a hesitation on my part to call it a pilgrimage like what people did in the old times. My reason is that there are now many temptations along the way to Antipolo and many people usually succumb to these temptations, usually arriving at the Shrine with full stomachs that betray the sacrifice they claim to have made in order to reach their destination. It is better, I think, that one should take a vehicle (even a bicycle) straight to the Shrine and say an honest prayer than walking and feasting along the way. The only difference perhaps is the exercise. Call it a sour grape, but I am still somewhat a purist in these things so I must apologize to any reader who would not share my view.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Maundy Thursday

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary has an entry for Maundy Thursday. Its origins are traced to the Middle English maunde ceremony of washing the feet of the poor on the Thursday before Good Friday. The word "maundy" is supposedly taken from the Anglo-French mandet, from the Latin mandatum command.

The Mass celebrating the Last Supper and the washing of the feet of the Apostles is held on Maundy Thursday. My memories of these Masses are mostly of those in Cabatuan, Iloilo, the hometown of my father, which I also consider my own hometown. It is usually a High Mass and in the province I appreciate that it is celebrated in a grand but still solemn fashion. A former mayor friend of my father's used to refer to these Masses as "misang Batman," a humorous allusion to the comic book superhero for the cape used by the parish priest during the Mass.

I have good memories of many parts of the Mass being sung by the celebrant (back in the 80's and the 90's, that was Rev. Fr. Amado Escanan) who had an excellent baritone. The choir was also usually good but I remember a couple of soloists who had operatic voices (and clearly showed they had professional training to hone their talents), whom I was told were music teachers or professors from one of the older families of the town. One can really feel the essence of the Mass when it is sung and sung well. And I get it from the comments of the churchgoers that they too are appreciative of the efforts of the Parish Priest, the choir and the musicians to make this and other Masses a wonderful experience of faith.

The Mass in Cabatuan usually started from 5:00 PM and ended around 7:00 PM depending on the length of the sermon, the ceremony of the washing of the feet, and the rites and procession for the Holy Sacrament after the Mass. The sermon may drag on depending on the message the priest would want to impart on the parishioners. There was one Maundy Thursday during an election period when the priest delivered a scathing sermon over 30 minutes (it felt even longer than that) admonishing politicians and candidates about their shortcomings and controversies they were involved in, and reminding everyone about responsibilities in the context of the season and mentioning the ceremony of the washing of the feet. There were even ceremonies of the washing when those whose feet were washed were not only those of the "Apostoles" but included candidates for local elections.

I usually went with my Nanay Nene (Enriqueta Regidor), an elder sister of my father, and Manang Maya (Rebecca Brey) to the Mass and we usually entered the church by the side entrance near the altar. From there, we had a good vantage of the altar and the choir during the Mass and I can remember the strong smell of incense used throughout various stages of the celebration. This scent is embedded in my memory and I associate it with the High Masses in Cabatuan.

After the Mass and the procession for the Holy Sacrament, we always walked back together with other relatives and friends (neighbors) to our house along Serrano Street. Passing through the plaza and other streets before reaching home, we see the preparations for Good Friday activities including the many still unfinished chapels for the stations of the cross that were set up at the intersections of streets surrounding the plaza. These chapels will be competing the following day when they will be all lighted up and choirs singing the pabasa beside them. It is a recent tradition (from the late 1980's) that has become an attraction not just for those who resided in Cabatuan but also from neighboring towns and even tourists from abroad.

Once back at home, we usually shared a simple dinner and exchange stories well until late at night. Eventually, we go to our respective rooms to get some sleep in preparation for waking up early the following day for activities for Good Friday.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Back in Manila: Quick Comparisons

I couldn't help but make a few quick comparisons of Manila and Singapore upon my return to my country and write about these while they are still quite fresh in my mind. Being in the field of transportation, the first thing I noticed when we drove from the airport was that the roads were so bumpy with potholes here and there. In most sections where asphalt is used, the overlay is poorly executed, resulting in an uneven ride. The impacts of such not only to the passengers but to the vehicle itself are often unappreciated and drivers do not realize the effects of such "quality" of roads on their fuel consumption, emissions and yes, vehicle suspensions.

Another comparison dawned upon me when we negotiated the short tunnel as we ascended the C5 section from E. Rodriguez to Katipunan. The tunnel was still poorly lighted though there was a slight improvement from the old lighting installed when the tunnel became operational many years ago. The tunnel walls were dirty, and this was clear to any observer because of the white tiles used for the walls that were supposed to be low maintenance (assuming of course, that regular maintenance was performed by whoever was in-charge). It seems to me that most, if not all, our tunnels are just that - poorly lighted and dirty. These are the equivalent of poor maintenance of what was already a poorly designed infrastructure.

These are a stark contrast to the very impressive road infrastructure in Singapore, where the highway pavements are of excellent quality and the tunnels very clean and well lighted. Is it because they are a wealthy city-state that they can afford to have these and we can't? Or is it just a matter of those responsible for our infrastructure not being able to deliver the quality we desire and we deserve considering the taxes we pay?

While some people might consider my quick comparisons as perhaps something that led to hasty conclusions, I would like to remind the reader that what I just wrote about are pretty much established facts that anyone can plainly see and experience going around either Manila or Singapore. It seems that when it comes to the quality of our infrastructure, we accept these as something we would have to endure for the rest of our lives when it does not have to be like that. Are our taxes really working for us or are they working for our inconvenience ( an obvious spin to the signs we commonly see when there is road construction - "Sorry for the inconvenience. Your taxes are working for you." )? Or maybe some people aren't paying their taxes or the right taxes? These are quite serious questions regarding our taxes but the point probably isn't just whether our taxes are enough but if these revenues are actually used wisely and efficiently. What kind of leaders have we had and do we have now that we still have poor road infrastructure and in the capital city at that?

I will write about this more in future blogs here and in my other account. I think it is my way of reflecting during this Holy Week that I feel obliged to document these stuff and offer my humble yet scathing opinions not just as a civil servant but as a citizen of this country who has not given up (yet) in as far as putting an honest effort to improve quality of life in our beloved country.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Moving about in Singapore

I’m back in Singapore and enjoying going around the city using its efficient public transportation system and pedestrian facilities. I am quite at home with the system considering I lived in Japan for quite some time and commuted daily using the rail and bus systems there. It was in Japan where I had a first hand experience of what an efficient public transport system should be whether for long distance commuting (i.e., I knew some supercommuters in Japan who used the Shinkansen to go to the office or laboratory every weekday although using the Tokaido Line to commute between Kanagawa to Tokyo qualifies as supercommuting.) or for short distance trips.

I was able to appreciate mobility in Japan considering the interconnectivity of transport modes and the ease by which one can use the system. Even the payment of fares was efficient as one had many options for paying fares and could use various cards including using either the Pasmo card issued by private railway companies or the Suica card issued by Japan Railways (JR). One only needed to load the cards with enough credits to be able to use the cards for not only transport fares but even for paying for items such as food and drinks. One can even personalize the card and it can be reloaded after a period of not being able to use the card.

Singapore is not so much different from Japan in terms of transport systems and if one considers the electronic road pricing (ERP) being applied throughout the state, may even be more advanced in applications of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). Moving around in Singapore is so easy considering its rail and bus systems. There are even a number of bus types plying routes around the system including articulated buses much like those used by Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems and double deckers like the ones in Hongkong and London. I haven’t noticed and am not aware if there are paratransit systems outside the human powered rickshaws I found near Bugis but which appears only during night-time, considering the city-state being compact and there seems no need for paratransit like the jeepneys, multicabs and tricycles in the Philippines, or the tuktuks in Thailand. There should be no need considering the strategic placing of bus stops and train stations throughout the city and the well planned pedestrian facilities that complement these mass transit modes.

I have always looked forward to having such a system realized in the Philippines whether its going to be in Metro Manila or another city. It is still a vision that has often been derailed what with the systems that have been constructed so far and the weak handling of issues pertaining to bus, jeepney and tricycle services in the Philippines. And some people even argue that “service” shouldn’t be a word to be used to describe public transport in the Philippines. Rationalization of public transport systems back home seems a distant vision considering the chaos surrounding the matter. We can only hope that our efforts will not go to naught and that we can realize an efficient system within our lifespans. Perhaps that will be our legacy for the coming generations, for them to have system that they can be proud of and not drool over when they experience such in other countries such as Singapore.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bawal ang pasaway

It took me some time since the last when I wrote about my experiences of being interviewed for media. I believe I've had many enjoyable interviews including guesting on recorded or live shows. The former included the now defunct "Hot Seat" hosted by Jessica Soho on what was QTV Channel 11. Jessica was the best interview I had and she was really very good in making people comfortable and asking the right questions. Parang nagkukuwentuhan lang kayo but she was able to draw out the answers to even tough or sensitive questions like the ones she asked the other guests. I think I was a guest of the show to talk about road traffic safety and probably was asked questions pertaining to how dangerous our roads were. Well they are still quite dangerous now and despite the combined efforts of many people, agencies and entities, there's still so much to do to improve the situation.

That topic on road traffic safety brings me to my latest guesting and this one perhaps is among the most enjoyable considering that I have so much respect and am actually a fan of the host Professor Emeritus Winnie Monsod. This evening's episode of "Bawal ang Pasaway kay Mareng Winnie" on NewsTV 11 featured pedestrian safety in particular and road traffic safety in general in Metropolitan Manila. I had the pleasure of meeting my fellow guests prior to the taping of the show 2 weeks ago. One guest was a Mr. Gutierrez, who headed the special unit of the MMDA for Commonwealth Avenue, and whom I learned was a trainee of our center from way back. Another guest was Dr. Raffy Consunji of SafeKids Philippines and a faculty member of the UP-PGH. There was also Dr. Aurora Corpuz-Mendoza, the chair of the UP Diliman's Department of Psychology. Finally, there was Atty. Emerson Carlos, the MMDA Assistant General Manager for Operations and head of its Transport and Traffic Management Office. I was in a couple of segments with Prof. Monsod and Atty. Carlos and the format was more like a discussion with Prof. Monsod facilitating and asking questions about the state of road safety in Metro Manila. I especially liked the part where we talked about statistics and the economics of traffic safety. She obviously knew her stuff and her staff did their homework on the facts. Her conclusions toward the end of the show provides a clear picture of the costs of road crashes in Metro Manila and articulates what must be done considering the losses incurred. Hopefully, her message is received well, her points understood, and decision makers heed her call for action to address our dangerous roads.

Photo below with Prof. Emeritus Winnie Monsod (UPSE) after the tapings:


Photo below was taken after the segments discussing state of traffic safety along Metro Manila roads. From left: Attty. Carlos of the MMDA, Prof. Monsod, and me.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sem-end, Part 6: Graduation Speakers

When we graduated in 1993, our graduation speaker for the University Commencement Exercise was then President Fidel V. Ramos. He was elected President of the Republic of the Philippines in the previous year, winning a plurality after securing the endorsement of Pres. Corazon C. Aquino in what was then a surprise considering that FVR ran under his fledgling Lakas party and Cory belonged to the ruling Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP), which fielded then Speaker of the House of Representatives Ramon Mitra.

I remember the 1992 presidential elections very well as it was the first time I voted. I believe it captured the imagination of a generation born and raised during the martial law period and much of the debates were on issues pertaining to new politics considering that EDSA and the atrocities of martial law were still fresh in the minds of the people. There were also references to trapo (traditional politicians). I shall talk about these elections in another blog as there are many things about it that I remember and believe should be written down if only to present my views on that part of our history.

Meanwhile, I don't really remember the guest speaker during the recognition rites of the College of Engineering at the time though I suspect it was then Energy Secretary Francisco L. Viray, who was freshly recruited to solve the energy crisis (read: regular blackouts). He was succeeded at the time at the college by the future water czar and eventual President of Mapua Dr. Reynaldo B. Vea.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sem-end, Part 5: Sunflowers

Passing along the University Avenue the past few weeks, I have witnessed the growth of the sunflowers planted along the road. These are supposed to be gifts from U.P. Diliman's sister campus in Los Banos where the seeds are kept and cared for from the time they are harvested from their sources from the same University Avenue until the time when they are planted weeks before the university commencement rites.

The sunflowers have become indicators of when graduation time is at the university. The time of planting the seeds is scheduled and the plants are nurtured so that they will be in full bloom once the various recognition rites of the different colleges and the university's commencement exercises are held. I have faint or no memory of these sunflowers the two times I graduated from the university - the first time for my undergrad degree and the second time for my MS, both in Civil Engineering. Yet, I have come to appreciate their symbolism come graduation day.

One modern theory goes the way of the popular game Plants vs. Zombies. In this theory, the sunflowers are supposed to provide the power (sun) necessary to vanquish zombies, who happen to be brainless and are determined to eat one's brains. The storyline is actually very relevant to graduates of the country' premier university as they must not succumb to the real-life manifestations of zombies, who probably won't be satisfied with just your brain (or mind) but would also want your soul.

The sunflowers have become popular attractions to families looking for photo ops during graduation day so much so that one can usually see cars stopped along the avenue with their occupants posing beside the rows of sunflowers. It is indeed a good photo-op that even non-graduates and visitors of the university stop to take photos of the sunflowers. I am sure that these will again be a favorite subject to aspiring, amateur and professional photographers alike once the flowers are in full bloom. Perhaps I will be among those who will take a few choice shots of the sunflowers for posterity.

Below is a shot taken by the Clairvoyant last year using her Blackberry phone.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Cool April

We've been experiencing unusually cool weather in late March and early April in Manila. I have no memory of when this last occurred but I'm pretty sure that this time of year it is usually already hot and humid not just in Manila but in other parts of the country as well. The exception seems to be the eastern regions of the country like Samar and Leyte in the Visayas and Agusan and Surigao in Mindanao where rains are typical in March. Those areas, however, have received a tremendous amount of precipitation that for them is unusual this time of year. In fact, Tacloban City in Leyte was flooded last month after continuous downpours in the province.

Meanwhile, there was little or no rain in Metro Manila. Instead, it was usually nice and sunny although on occasion there were some cloudy or gloomy days. But it was cool and breezy especially in the mornings and evenings so it was quite comfortable the past days. I am sure a lot of people took advantage of the nice weather by going outdoors or traveling to other parts of the country where it is even cooler like Tagaytay in Cavite or Baguio in Benguet. I was recently in Tagaytay and the weather there is perfect for families, barkadas or even lovers or honeymooners.

In the university, where the environment is conducive to outdoor activities, there have been increasing numbers of walkers, joggers, cyclists and others preferring to play or picnic in the many open areas in the campus. These areas include the Sunken Garden, the Lagoon and the Track & Field facilities in UP Diliman. I also took advantage of the cool weather by jogging regularly and enjoying the cool evening breeze.

I won't delve into the science of this cool weather we have been experiencing. But I'm sure this is partly explained by the arrival of spring in the northern parts of the globe, particularly in Siberia where the cold air eventually descends to Japan, Taiwan and then to the Philippines. This usually occurs in March but seldom does it continue until April. Thus, I am also quite sure that the temporary respite from the impending summer heat will soon pass. Until then, I shall enjoy the cool mornings and evenings and perhaps think about getting away on some trip once the heat finally arrives. To the beach perhaps? Or maybe a retreat to Singapore.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sem-end, Part 4: Batchmates

I was reminded by an old friend of how long it's been since graduation. Since we've been classmates and batchmates in both our undergraduate and graduate years, I usually remember first the last time we graduated, 1995. That was when we graduated with our M.S. degrees in Civil Engineering and almost 16 years to the day this April. 1995 was also 2 years later than when we graduated in 1993, obtaining our B.S. in Civil Engineering, with few doing it within the 5 year period that is prescribed for the Civil Engineering program at U.P.

Some who graduated in 1993 eventually left the country, with some even electing to have careers outside of Civil Engineering. One of them was Emmanuel "Noel" Siscar, who dabbled in computers and is now living with his family in the U.S. Another classmate is now based in Saipan and there are other batchmates from the Class of 1993 who are now in the Middle East. One batchmate is now a high ranking officer with the Philippine Army Corps of Engineers, having graduated from the Philippine Military Academy prior to studying at U.P.

Some of us opted to continue on with graduate work and eventually joined the University. That included our topnotcher, Karl Vergel (BSCE 93 cum laude), who left for Japan that same year to pursue his Master's at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Three of us, Crispin Diaz, Noriel Tiglao and me, remained and got a scholarship to pursue our Master's at U.P. where we were joined by other fresh graduates from other Philippine universities including one Alex Ladaga, who graduated magna cum laude from Mindanao State University, and another Frederick Mangubat, who also graduated magna cum laude but from the University of San Jose-Recoletos in Cebu City.

I have not accounted for many of our batchmates from 1993 though I have reconnected with some of them via Facebook. Some probably prefer to remain in obscurity as we certainly haven't heard about them or their work/accomplishments. There are also few who attend the alumni homecomings organized by the U.P. Alumni Engineers and the same thing with the centennial reunion organized by the Institute of Civil Engineering last year. It's been 18 years since we graduated and we will be Silver Jubilarians in a few years time. As they say, time flies and 7 years may just be a wink of an eye if we're not paying much attention. Perhaps we'll have our batch reunion then and hopefully, there will be many of us to get reacquainted with.