Going back

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Jan 2 2011

By Ruben Jeffrey Asuncion

Ruben Jeffrey AsuncionTwo years on from my graduation , I have crossed narrow streets and alleys as well as wide roads and highways for various purposes. Whether this is in my search for people, places, and topics, which I would cover for as a contributor for some publications, or rushing for my classes along the State University’s tree-lined roads, I have also met different situations and faces. Such is life right now, But every now and then, Dapitan street comes to my mind. Or rather, my mind tries to come back to that stretch of street which runs alongside the back part of the University.

I don’t know if this street is the most ideal place to offer paeans with. To begin with, during my stay as a Thomasian student, I always associate Dapitan with floods, thieves and traffic. In fact, I do have experiences with two of the three things I mentioned; I’ve waded through some of the flooded stretches of the street during the first semester of my classes when the monsoon sets in in earnest. On occasion, my patience wore thin every time the FX I’ve riding in passed through the street hoping to shortcut the perennially penitential drive through España Boulevard; instead the FX found itself trapped in the gridlock usually at the intersection of A.Lacson and Dapitan streets. Even as this happened, the ticking of my watch made my heart beat faster than the usual, hoping I can make it in time for class. Meanwhile, I am fortunate enough not being victimized by those cunning thieves; accounts of many a student or professor having the bad luck to have their cellphones or wallets snatched is already more than enough .

These are the sort of stuff one won’t mind not praising heavens to.

By virtue and by fate, I always passed through Dapitan on countless occasions: to buy fried peanuts, shawarma, fried noodles, passed through the street hoping to shortcut the perennially penitential drive through España Boulevard; instead the FX found itself trapped in the gridlock usually at the intersection of A.Lacson and Dapitan streets. Even as this happened, the ticking of my watch made my heart beat faster than the usual, hoping I can make it in time for class. Meanwhile, I am fortunate enough not being victimized by those cunning thieves; accounts of many a student or professor having the bad luck to have their cellphones or wallets snatched is already more than enough .

These are the sort of stuff one may won’t mind not praising heavens to.

But for better or for ill, I will always associate Dapitan (at least the stretch paralleling the University of my four year stay in the Pontifical University as well as my term in The Varsitarian). By virtue and by fate, I always passed through Dapitan on countless occasions: to buy fried peanuts, shawarma, fried noodles, processed food stuffs and tapsilog to munch on in between classes. I also crossed Dapitan street to have my assignments and research papers printed in one of the motley of computer shops standing along the street and the side alleys; or to simply eat out with friends. When time and money permits, I and my friends would eat at the Jollibee branch along the corner with Asturias. How can I also forget the times when during our press works at the university paper, I hurriedly buy coffee and snacks at the nearby convenience store before the Dapitan gate close at 9 pm? In my last year in college, as well as the months when I visit the University as an alumni, I played DOTA-which was then a popular computer strategy game- at one of those many computer shops with my former colleagues. During those times, I also joined some drinking sprees with them at the so-called Dapitan Square ( a cluster of beer gardens located at the intersection with Lacson which is reportedly gone already.) or at Tapsi (which is also along Asturias street).

(By the way, Dapitan street has historical connotations, which reminds us of a far-away town in Mindanao where Jose Rizal spent four years in exile. This time I am the exile yearning back to those times even though granting the possibility I could go back to the four years I spent as a Journalism student, those events may never be the same again )

 

Every time one stepped onto the asphalt, pot-hole filled street, one sees the hoi polloi mingling with the students: vendors selling snacks and cigarette sticks to food-and nicotine-hungry students etc. etc. During those break times, we seem to forget the burdens of passing requirements or answering exams as we just enjoy laughing our hearts out on funny anecdotes or spill our sentiments on problems. .One should be also be careful of crossing the street; there are instances when jeepneys or any vehicle go speeding through without warning.

Two years on, it’s different enough.

Every now and then, after I had crossed a wide variety of streets throughout the metropolis: narrow alleys in Navotas to interview a group of foreigners or crossing over major thorougfares in Quezon City, or rushing along the lanes of Diliman, there is still something in Dapitan which makes me want to go back But for now, only my memory is able to attempt it. And even it has not been successful as it aimed to do so.

So given a chance, what would I do? Just walk again along that stretch of Dapitan fronting the University, even if the faces and buildings there are different from what I saw two years ago. V

*Ruben Asuncion graduated Journalism and was also the Filipino Editor of the Varsitarian from 2007-2008. He iscurrently pursuing a mater’s degree in history at UP-Diliman while working for ABS-CBN.