Our Valentine's at the 'V'

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Jan 3 2011

By Nicolo F. Bernardo

STATE your purpose for applying in the Varsitarian. I remember answering this question from the application sheet given to me. I recall writing that I wanted to express students’ opinions on issues affecting them, and I wanted to grow and be known as a writer. Oh yes, with tongue-in-cheek and naiveté, I added that I wanted to be a humble maidservant of the University.

Most of my fellow applicants wrote similar reasons. It did not cross our minds that there are other “perks” that could go along with being a Varsi staff, especially the perks of the heart.

I was a graduating senior and it was my second year at the V. Since I was a seminarian-on-regency-leave, I was supposed to go back at the Dominican Aspirancy in Calamba after college. But an editor ahead of me once said that Varsi has a “sumpa” for seminarians who stay there for two years: they never become priests.

It was Paskuhan of 2004 (and the spell is nearly broken!). At the same time, my V friends and I went to Star City to celebrate my 21st birthday, December 15. During the rides, I would hold hands with a fellow writer, Deni Rose Afinidad—whose parents were grooming to become a nun by the way—and to our fears and surprises, we would hug around and scream.

We were both very close to each other, as we had the same spiritual vibe and her brother was a seminarian too. Besides, she was then the top Varsi writer and I was the top Varsi section editor. We used to hear Masses together at the UST chapel in a fellowship of prayer, right after V biz. All the while, I dreamed of becoming the next rector, or the next Pope perhaps! All the while she was planning to buy that book, “No boyfriend since birth.” In fact, I had been preparing my hit column for singles, “Valentines for the Loveless.” Come Feb.14, I was looking forward to giving anonymous roses to my Varsi mates. (V has had a tradition of sharing roses and sweet nothings to those who were left with no “sweethearts” for the day).

But all the lights, fun, carols, sweets, and well-wishes of my Varsi-mates seem to have conspired to make that Star City get-away our “Valentine moment” as well. We became fiancées, and we have been so for the next three years and counting. She was V’s greatest birthday gift to me.

The decision not to go back to the seminary hit me hard. My relatives, neighborhood, classmates, friends, and sycophants were all expecting me to become their “Father.” Even my fiancée’s parents would like me to go back. After all, I had trained myself to become a priest. But from that night, I just realized what Blaise Pascal said to be true: “The heart has reasons that reason cannot understand.” It is a reason only the two of us—and the heavens our witness—could know and understand.

There is this apocalyptic legend that the child of a nun and a priest would become the Antichrist. Good heavens that I never took any vow yet! But there is also this true story of the child of a would-be-priest and a would-be-nun who became a saint, St. Therese of Lisieux. Sooner or later, Deni and I would like to raise our own stock of Thereses too, thanks to the V! We would like to get our V sponsors and patrons, as we keep our contacts with our other V mates, especially those who have been lovers too.

So is Varsi’s “spell” on long-staying seminarians true? I don’t know. Ask the seminaries around. I suppose I was among the last they could afford to join the V. But what I think is true is that the Varsi has wedded affections generation after generation, whether seminarian or not.

Now, whenever Deni and I visit the old office of the Varsitarian, we reminisce the moment we met each other there and surreptitiously expressed our love. As you see, there are interdictions in the Varsi Code of Conduct and staff evaluation to keep passionate lovers on check. Ho-ho-ho! I hope we had duly complied.

Just like many other Varsi couples ahead of us, we look at that Room 112 door as our portal of love. Love is never a legitimate reason for staying and applying in the V of course. But it is a lasting reason the V has given to the many sweethearts it has made and unmade. For once to many of us, the V has played the Cupid, writing our unforgettable love stories. V

CBCP Monitor’s youngest columnist Nicolo F. Bernardio is Varsitarian Witness writer from 2003-2004, Witness and Science and Technology editor from 2004-2005, and editor in chief from 2006-2007. He now teaches Humanities and Philosophy at UST.