Part- time Superhero

Dear Friend,

You are one of my favorite blind items in my blog. Let me reveal your identity by sharing a piece I wrote for your year book ages ago.

Happy Birthday, Rima

                                                                                              

rimaThe eyes speak much of who we are. So when you cover your eyes, you hide one-fourth of yourself. This does not hold true to everyone but with the case of Rima, yes, it does. Not only one-fourth of who she is is covered by her eyeglasses but half of who she is. People portray Rima as someone smart, serious, studious, plain and simple, kind and quiet. There is some truth with how people perceived her but there are greater truths. To add to people’s delusion about her, she sits alone or sits with a group yet she finds herself locked in her wonderland. Then observe her closely, and surprisingly you will discover her mouth moving to speak with no words. And in moments when people think she is quiet, the possible explanation is that sometimes the brain works hard enough that it does not leave time for the mouth to speak. Nevertheless, this is Rima, at least one-half of who she is, or one-fourth rather.

In the qualifying essay exam for shifting in to Journalism, she wrote there that it was her childhood dream to be a journalist. Her self-prophecy might eventually become her reality because now, she thinks like a journalist, acts like a journalist, and writes like a journalist. She can meet deadlines no matter what time she starts her work. She is dedicated to her work that sometimes it leaves her trauma when her laptop shuts off at the night before the deadline. And God knows how many drops of tears she shed to finish an article. Well, all students cram but not all students have much success from cramming. Thank heavens though, that she can work under pressure. She wakes up at 6:30 for her 7am class. And like the speed of the bullet, she now has her clothes on and combs her hair. For all we know, superheroes have to cram and work on the very last minute. For her speed and agility, Rima is a superhero in some sense.

Our heroine then gathers information for the day and begins with who, what, when, where and why. Who and another who, when and another when, where and another where, why and another why are all important to her. That‘s how journalistic she is or that’s how nosy she is. Nevertheless, she searches for more and more facts and details. This also includes spending quality time with the newspaper vendor, the photocopier at the library, the security guard and all the people from different walks of life. And so she is a journalist in the making.

Also, she said that writing for news is an art. Having a pair of glasses for blurry eyes does not necessarily mean having artists’ eye. She does have an artist’s name, though. Rima is a Filipino word for rhyme. A link to her name would probably explain why she finds inner rhythm within words whether it is in poetry or in straight news.

And everybody remembers Rima as someone having wings on her back and a halo floating on top of her head. This is not to say that they are wrong. But she would be happier to hear if you remember her as Beyonce or Mariah Carey. But can you imagine a girl with wings on her back would sing ‘Touch my body?’

So this girl, who acts, thinks, writes like a journalist, sings Beyonce’s song and the next thing you’ll see her do is watching Gossip Girl. But, behold, she indulges herself in business, economics, geography. These sound pretty heavy for someone who has a special addiction for SIMS. While she takes care of her own family, dream house, and love affair in the computer game SIMS, she is also concerned with graphs and figures. Maybe she finds art in numbers as she finds art in words. Maybe numbers and figures have rhyme to her as what her name implies, Rima.

The most lovable trait of Rima is that anybody can make her happy. Her happiness is found on a simple slice of cake, or a slice of pizza, or a doughnut, in short, food. She is fully aware that the most basic need of human existence is food. So she cannot trade a box of chocolates with a new branded skinny jeans . If you ask her why, she would say, “It’s impractical.” For her, fashion, glamour, parties are secondary because the most basic need of human existence is food.

The image of Rima with wings on her back and a halo on top of her head appears again. Someone might describe Rima being pure in heart. “Pure in heart” is such a cliché to describe somebody as if there are no better words left. But this is the true Rima that is visible to others. Her roommates back in Ilang Residence Hall would wait patiently for Rima to come home with the hope that she brings take-home food. She fills their empty stomachs. Also, she is a friend who will accompany you in the narrow streets of Divisora. She will spend the whole day with you in Divisoria buying a single belt while you do the rest of the shopping. To prove that she is pure in heart, she saves her first kiss for her wedding day. A memory of Drew Barryome of the movie, Never Been Kissed flashes. Therefore, “pure in heart” is not a substitute for having no better words.

Behind the pair of glasses is a part- time superhero and a part-time journalist. But the most visible part of who she is is the wings and the halo she do not hide. Some things about her remain hidden. This is when her brain works hard enough and leaves no time for her mouth to speak. We might only see one-fourth of who she is. But the rest of who she is can be seen in her writings, in her true copy of grades, and in the people who guessed and were right in perceiving her as a girl with wings on her back and halo on top of her head.

As I saw him naked

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When it’s naked, it’s not wholesome. When it’s naked, it’s beauty. For Oble, when it’s naked, it’s symbolic.

My mom asked me, “Why is UP statue naked?” I’d like to remind my mother that nudity is not new or unconventional. In fact, there are a lot of naked statues. Our province has some naked statutes. And I wonder why they have to be. At least Oble is naked for a reason.

When I entered UP, I did not really care how Oble looked. I accepted that he was naked but I did not look closely on the details. I didn’t bother to know if he had biceps or abs. I did not even know that there was a leaf hiding his manhood.

Oble did not wear any clothes. But as he stood there lifting his hands, it was as if he was wearing a branded wardrobe glimmering in the sun and many people envied him. And I ,who just stared at him, carried his brand name.

As the years went by, I did not want people to know that I saw him naked. Because when I told them that I did, they would challenge me with an IQ test. They would let me solve brain teasers. And when I could not give answers, I felt so ashamed.

They would call me activist and atheist. They would think I  am well-versed with current events. They would ask me if I knew a lot of trivia. They would openly ask me questions that they would not normally ask to other people, such as “Did you have an affair with women?” “Have you done this and that?” They would judge me for every grammar lapse that I made. And they would remark, “Did you really study in UP?”

I’d just like people to know that Oble did not teach me everything but it taught me one big lesson- how to teach myself.  My opinions are not from Oble. They are mine. My skills are not  necessarily from Oble. They are mine. My passion is fueled by Oble but my ambitions and desires are my creations. Oble did not provide me all the facts, formula, theories but he gave me understanding. Oble did not make artists, leaders, activists, innovators. He only gave these people an opportunity to be what they were meant to be.

I looked at that naked man again.

Oble symbolizes selfless offering. His nakedness means giving your all to the country. For some, it means freedom. As a home of free thinkers, it attracts all kinds of people. But for me, the naked man lifting his arms and facing the heavens is a man who offers himself to God. He serves humanity, not only his race. By my interpretation, I am no atheist and I am no member of any patriotic group. I am just a life student who studies, reads, listens, and reflects.

To freshies with love…

As opposed to what others believe, Oble does not change who you are. He only magnifies who you are.

Speech 121

One of the advantages studying in Diliman is the freedom to choose your subjects, schedule, and teachers.

As a shiftee, I did not grab the chance to avail such student’s “benefit” of choosing teachers. I just wanted to enroll all the prerequisite subjects I could get so that I could catch up with my batch mates.

One of the basic subjects of a Speechcomm student is Speech 121, Oral Interpretation. Ma’am Villy’s Speech 121 class was the only one that had slots and complemented well with my schedule. If my first impression was solely based on her name, she sounded like a flower. Water Lily? I gathered opinions from other students and found out that she was no flower at all. There were nice comments about her but the negative comments were more elaborate. She was one of the “terror” teachers. Some even described her as ”bitchy.” They said she gave low grades to students. For someone who had stage fright and who was often intimidated, like me, it was already a courageous act to be in her class.

Courageous Act 1 

She was known for being frank to her students. When I heard stories about her, I felt I was going to lose my self-esteem in her class. By her looks, you would judge her as someone snobbish. For a better word, she looked “regal” Sometimes, I had this illusion that she was always raising her eyebrows. Did she or was I imagining? She did not smile a lot. As what I believed, “It’s either you hate her or you love her.”

On our first day of class, when I told her I was living in KNL, she said, “So you’re living in the squatter area of UP?” Of course, it was a joke. But she delivered it well like a villain. She reprimanded me for using Wikipedia in my report (which I am very shameful to say up to this very day.) She did not let me finish a sentence with an unheard word ( words I mumbled due to poor vocabulary).

Courageous Act 2

Our first oral interpretation assignment was to deliver a poem. And of all the pieces in the world, I chose a Shakespeare sonnet. “Your piece is too short. You should have memorized it. The way you did in your introduction. You introduction was very good. ” I did not memorize my introduction. I prepared the introduction five minutes before the class whereas as I spent a day practicing 14 Shakespearean lines. Earlier in class, she said to underline the words in our pieces that needed stress. After my performance, she told me I used stress in almost all the words in the poem.

Courageous Act 3

What would you if I told you I wanted to kill myself?”

As usual I had one of the best introductions but had one of the worst performances in class, (as usual). I delivered a part of a play about a daughter who wanted to kill herself and her mother wanted to stop her. She then gave her comments. “You were OA (overacting)”

Courageous Act 4

For our final performance, we made an interpretation of a play for children. I was one of the minor fairies in the play. I was Courage who had about five to eight lines in the play. My greatest line: “Good day Prince, I am Courage.” On our final rehearsal, she dropped Courage (me) as one who had the strongest voices. At last, she said something nice about my performance!

Courageous Act 5

After our performance ended, she noticed my voice. I don’t know if my memory is right. She said I had one of the outstanding voices referring to my volume and intensity? She noticed I wore a camouflage jumper to symbolize courage while the rest were wearing Sunday dresses. Then she continued: “Except your costume was off.” And for the very last, she said something negative about my performance.

By the end of our class, she ordered ice cream for us. We had our class photo. She smiled with me in the camera. She was not the woman I thought of when I was filling up my enrollment form. In contrary to what others believed, she was not a ‘ terror’ teacher. When I got to know more of her personality in class, I was not as scared to listen to her remarks as to listen to my classmates’ remarks. Her honesty was just right. She would tell you what you deserved to know. She would not throw praises to you for free. And she would not throw insults to you out of nowhere. Having said that, I was brave enough to take another subject with her but by fate and by computer system of enrollment, I never had the chance to take another subject, and I never will…

I may be one of her easy-to-forget students but I will never forget her. After all, Speech 121 is one of my favorite subjects. I discovered that I actually like to perform. If it weren’t my favorite, I would not have written all of this. One of my college professors said that a teacher finds fulfillment when a student can still remember a single lesson or a single thought from her class… Not a single lesson..Not a single thought …..but if it has to be a single thought, it is Courage.

Rest in peace, Prof. Villy Buenaventura. You are one of the best Speech teachers I’ve ever had.