My stint with Varsi

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Jan 3 2011

By Bernardita S. Fortuno

JUST RECENTLY, I was asked this question, “Did you regret having prematurely left Varsitarian?” After twenty two years from the incident, I pondered the question and said “Yes, I did.” Employing my hindsight, of course I regretted leaving. My only consolation is that I did not make any other relatively bigger personal mistakes.

But then my hindsight can never really accurately predict what might have happened had I stayed. I honestly do not know. I was young and impulsive during those years. It might be the most wonderful decision I could ever make, or it might have resulted to a bigger catastrophe I could not extricate myself from.

I had that insight in the light of my present work as a practicing attorney. A large part of my present work involves handling, litigating and counseling marriage nullity cases. In many times, when I interview female clients, I seem to see mirror images of myself. It is sometimes disturbing but it gives some insights of my youth. I thought that those cases helped me a lot in relationships. After all, being bruised (court battles could be very punishing) from handling several of these nullity cases made me realize that if there is one major decision I need to make right, it is how to choose the proper partner.

In those clients I interviewed, I saw the part of me that first came out as a young news reporter in Varsi. I saw in their dreams, in their hopes, in their intelligence and liveliness, the part of me that was so unashamedly young before real life destroyed those illusions.

I passed the qualifying examinations for V staffers on March 1986. I remembered that I was eighteen years old and was totally excited with going to the beach in Balayan. I had not been to the beach for a very long time. It was pretty exciting, coupled with the prospect that boys will be with us for the six-day trip.

At that time, I did not have much interactions with boys. I graduated from an exclusive girls’ school. When I was in my fourth year high school, the nun I confided with regularly told me to choose a college with boys in it. The purpose was not to have a boyfriend but to demystify boys. So I could learn to work in the real world which contains both sexes. Hence, the prospect of being in an outing with guys in close proximity made the whole thing exciting and dangerous at the same time.

Looking back, what made the whole Varsi thing very significant was not the romantic attachments, but the prospect of working and thinking with boys. Varsi gave me a perfect opportunity to do this. It made me measure up with them, which made me realize that I could be equally efficient in a different environment. This realization was very important later on when I entered law school, where I was involved in debates with predominantly males on a regular basis.

Being a news reporter had honed my data gathering skills. It had helped me to gather courage and make the proper interviews and write what I know. I particularly remembered the case of a guy named Corpus who was killed by the University security guards within the UST premises. It gave me a small peep into investigative reporting and police procedures. That became a very good foundation for my future career.

Admittedly, my stay in Varsi only took a few months. But it is enough for me. I made some good friends in the process. It felt good to be a part of something truly significant. In the end, I realized that I could write and probably be a good human being as well. V

Bernardita S. Fortuno used to work in the Varsitarian as news reporter in the first semester of 1986. While practicing law, Atty. Fortuno also writes a legal columnist titled “Casebook”: for Woman Today magazine. She is married to Tomas Rarela and is a mother to two boys, Mozart and Ernest.