Friday, June 21, 2024


By John Macklien Olandag | March 3, 2021

To my fellow tired but determined learners,

When I pass through the school, I see images of you randomly walking through those grasses covered with golden leaves– an atmosphere of sweet surrender with those Acacia trees around despite the sound of your chikas and shouts– as you head to your next classes or even to food stalls.

Who can forget those smiling faces too or even those frustrations over tons of reflection papers to be passed?

I see those images with my foggy eyes. But when I wipe them clean, everything becomes clearer. The campus is empty and teary-eyed, just like me. How I wish I did not wipe my tears, for even at a quick moment, I see a picture of what used to make my day back then.

When I arrive home, I grab my laptop or phone and open our virtual classrooms. I am still mesmerized by those vivid images as I see the loading screen. I have to tell you before I can even see the profile pictures of your classroom accounts, those tasks and deadlines are the ones that welcome me first.

From lunch dates to due dates, from turning doorknobs to seeing turning buffer symbols before entering lecture rooms, I guess that’s the new normal, right? No more back and front rows, just tiled faces of us that can be seen at once by our teachers.

Your pixelated and buffering faces along with your choppy voices, although a norm now for me, still cannot equate the seemingly slow motion of your smiling face as it turns towards the shining sun, which then continues to ask in a sometimes annoying but beautiful voice, “Naa tay assignment karon?

These are the trying times, my friends. It pressed us hard enough that we have learned to be more conscious of our studies. It taught us the importance of deadlines, that even a minute late is a grim fate. And who would have thought that we went through this online modality despite our financial downturns?

Even before this pandemic, I already see you in nurses’ caps, in business attires, in hospital gowns, in company polos, or even camouflage uniforms. Beyond that cry-baby in you, I see a black toga along with your diploma. I see success even in your lousy behavior sometimes or your struggling faces.

I just want to say that the best version of you is already in there. You just have to gain that confidence to let it out. The teachers, well, we should expect that not all of them have that same considerate character.

But they have the same goal, to help us let out that best version of ourselves.

While we are bombarded with tasks to comply with, remember to rest in-between. We are not machines who can do work in a constant time frame. But also, do not compromise your responsibilities. Remember why you are there in the first place. You challenge yourself. Do not think of things. Do them. Thinking about them is a nightmare, but doing them is satisfaction.

I am rooting for you, future professionals! Do not always take things negatively, for the real world is crueler than our lecture rooms and laboratories. Instead, train yourself to strive more, get up if you fall, and try again. 

I am also talking to myself, and you can say the same things for me as well too.

Remember, diamonds are precious, but they are made out of pressure. The light bulb that illuminates our study tables today, is also a product of a thousand failures. Desire for strength and not deceiving comfort. Always opt to try again and don’t quit.

See you all soon, guys! I can’t wait to witness ourselves throwing our black togas through the salty air of our dear campus by the sea.

Padayon! Para sa matam-is nga kaugmaon!


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