I have always dreamed of studying in the Ateneo. I guess this has been the result of my early addiction to televised college ball. If you’re an avid fan of the UAAP, but you’re not a student from any of the participating schools, then you’d most likely choose the hot team of this generation to cheer on. Obviously, like me, you’d pick the Ateneo Blue Eagles. And as shallow as it may sound, these cagers are the reason why I, at a very young age, already picture my future self walking around the Loyola Campus.
Little did I know that I’ll be walking around it soon enough.
It all started with a letter addressed not to me, but to Ms. Socorro M. Guiao, our school’s vice principal. It was an invitation for interested incoming senior students to participate in the 2-week Ateneo Summer Programming Camp (ASPC) 2012. This camp was held to teach the participants how to manipulate Java programming language. Together with my friend Weingel Galang, Ms. Guiao asked us if we were interested to join the camp. Well, I was beyond interested. I was ecstatic! To tell you the truth, I don’t know anything about Java Programming. Sure, we did learn about Visual Basic (another programming language) in Computer class but saying that I’m an awful programmer is an UNDERSTATEMENT. I know this camp is far beyond my my capabilities but still, this is Ateneo! It would be foolish if I would turn down an opportunity like this.
Entering this camp was not an easy choice as I thought it would be. The ASPC was held from April 16-27 and it collided with my UPCAT Review schedule. But I insisted that I really want this even if I had to put aside my UPCAT Review for a while. Then there’s also the slight dilemma where I’m going to stay since it would be such a hassle if I’ll be commuting from Laguna to Ateneo every single day. Good thing I’m blessed with the coolest relatives from Antipolo who were willing to adopt me and put up with my “very sweet” attitude for two weeks (Thank you Reyes family!) . At the end of the day, I got my wish and yes, I’ll be spending the first half of my summer in Katipunan.
April 16 arrived as fast as a speeding bullet. I didn’t know what to feel. My stomach was tied up in knots and butterflies were nibbling on it. Since it’s the first day, I came with my mom and my cousin (Hello Ate Maan!) . Honestly, we were all first timers to step foot in the Ateneo. Plus, we were commuting so we had no idea that once you arrived in Petron Katipunan, Ateneo’s like, a couple of blocks away and you can just walk to get there. But because we’re still ignorant of this little fact, we rode a jeepney (fare: Php 20.00 each) that dropped us in front of the Ateneo Gym in less than 10 seconds. That, my dear reader, is just ONE of our Katipunan Boohoo moments.
Luckily, we spotted the PLDT Building quickly thanks to the many manongs and kuya guards who gave us directions. It’s in Room 112, PLDT Building where camp was going to be held. Since it’s the first day, we, the participants, were given IDs and we were free to sit wherever we wanted to. The room was literally a huge computer lab with rows of computers (duh) and each student was provided with the use of a personal computer. Since I don’t know a single soul inside Room 112, I was faced with the dilemma of not knowing where to sit and not having anyone to sit with (unfortunately, Weingel couldn’t attend). I remember scanning the room and deciding to sit in the 2nd row right beside this very good looking guy (you’re welcome Francis!) whom I later learned was going to be my seatmate for the entire camp. A few minutes later, a Chinese-looking girl with two very CUTE boys sat beside me filling up the entire right side, 2nd row. I remember noticing them earlier before entering the room. Later, I learned that they’re names were Francine, Alan and Monty (I miss you Monty! T.T ).
Classes were from 8 am to 12 pm. Four hours of complete torture and brain explosion. It was only the first day and I can’t wait for it to end already. Yes, I’m being honest with you. I’m not really the judgmental type of person but on that first day, I already decided that Java is a cruel thing. Seriously.
After some deep and careful thinking, I came to the conclusion that I will never love Java but this won’t keep me from finishing this 2 week camp. I told myself that I need to be strong despite the fact that I have to fight the urge to smash the monitor in front of me just to keep me awake while the teacher drones on about “if-then” Java loops.
And I did it. For two weeks, I commute from Antipolo to Katipunan. I walk to Ateneo everyday, bravely facing the early morning pollution. I always arrive at 7 am meaning, I still have an hour to explore the campus. This is the primary reason why I joined this camp anyway, to feel and experience what it’s like to be an Atenean. Every morning, I walk anywhere my feet takes me. To the Gesu Church, the MVP building, the Blue Eagle gym, the waiting shed where students are dropped off (a good place to people watch), the cafeteria. Everywhere. But if I have to choose my favorite place in the campus, I have to say it’s the mini-forest in front of the PLDT Building. Aside from the fact that it’s where most of my classmates wait for class to begin, I always feel peaceful and calm sitting under the shade of the countless trees. It’s a good place for me to write on my journal and listen to Rivermaya blaring on my earphones. I feel as if I’m not in Manila or even in Laguna. Just sitting under those trees make me feel like I’m in a faraway place. The only reminder that I’m still in Ateneo are the students half-walking, half-running to get to class.
The classes turned harder everyday. Sometimes, I can keep up with the lessons and if I’m lucky, I get to answer some of the problems correctly. Most days, I just sat blankly praying for time to run faster. Good thing the teachers pass around candies so our brains won’t shut off or something (actually, mine already did since day 1). I can finish 13 Mentos candies in the course of 4 hours. And to tell you the truth, it’s not enough to keep me awake.
After 13 days of severe mental pain, April 27 had finally arrived. A contest was held since it’s the last day and all. Good thing it was done by pairs or else I’ll be dead again. Anyway, after four hours of giggling, doodling and chatting with my partner, class had finally ended. My partner and I were ranked 14th all in all. Not bad actually for programmer-doofuses like us that’s why we were so proud and happy.
During that last day of camp, I was beyond glad that it’s over and suprisingly, sad too. I didn’t want to leave Ateneo yet. This had been my home for two weeks. Here, I got to think about stuff since I’m always early and usually, I’m alone. As cheesy as it may sound, I think I found myself in this Loyola campus. I got to decide who I really am and who I really want to be (definitely not a programmer). I now know what’s going to make me happy and what I really need in my life (not all those useless shenanigans I once believed in). And how can I leave my new friends? Francis, the future creator of the game that’s going to beat DOTA, Francine who’s actually good at programming and still owes me pasyal, Alan, the basketball player who wants to steal my Paul Pierce jersey. And who could forget Monty? My “music-soulmate” who has the best playlist in the entire galaxy and who sucks at programming more than I do. We actually spent one class listening to each other’s playlists. Don’t ask why. These people are the reason why I don’t want camp to end yet.
But it ended already. Still, ASPC gave me lots of memories and experiences to remember. I may not learn very much about Java, but I did learn more important stuff like how to cross an overpass and how to commute from Antipolo to Katipunan. And that, dear reader, is a lot easier than making your Java codes run in commandhere.bat (that’s Java terms).
If there’s one crucial thing I learned from my Ateneo experience, it’s this:
I wasn’t born to program.