I knew there would come a time when I would have to talk about UP Mass Comm and an alumni homecoming of sorts, but I did not expect it to come this soon, only three years after graduation, and without anything really major to brag about (hehe). But yeah, I would have loved to go to this Saturday’s party, had my schedule permitted it. But alas, I have to settle for making badges to compensate for my upcoming absence.
I think my most vivid memories of Maskom were spent mostly here, underneath the Skywalk:
The Skywalk is a hallway connecting the two Mass Comm buildings, and the space underneath it used to be a perfect hangout for smokers. (I don’t think they still allow that though) I first adapted the smoking habit in my freshman year, as passed on by my blockmate John (the last I heard, this guy is directing this year’s Live A.I.D.S.). Having quit the habit (seven months and counting) I guess I’d always associate smoking with college, after all.
A few months ago, I returned to Mass Comm as a favor for a friend who taught J109. I talked about, of all things, writing survey stories. Waiting for the class to start, I noticed how a lot has changed since I was a student, and mostly for the better, I mean, facilities-wise. Do any of the rooms still use electric fans, I wondered.
But yeah, the most glaring difference was that space underneath the Skywalk. For one, it didn’t contain smokers anymore. A part of me was glad, having found this new lifestyle of sorts. But of course, another part of me was a little sad – I kept looking for a face I knew, but I found none.
We used to smoke a lot here, I and my smoker friends – Mamu mostly, Julie, Pat (when she still smoked; she quit eons ahead of me), for a time Yani. This was where I met Edz, who was the one who led me to my Maginhawa flat in the first place, and with whom I had shared several sleepless nights with, poring over their theses and projects or simply pondering – life, love, happiness and contentment. (Mare miss ko na kayo ni Pogo at Rida, btw)
So really, when you ask me what I do remember about Mass Comm, this place is the first thing that comes to mind, and who could blame me? Class groups used to meet here to rehearse hurried reports due in fifteen minutes; students used cram here while smoking (I know I have) for exams set to begin in the next ten minutes; orgs used to hold their GAs here because their tambayans were a little cramped. (well, better small than nothing, I guess, as the case has been lately) And yes, friends used to stay here after class until dusk, discussing life, class, boys and yes, of course, girls.
Come to think of it, those concrete posts were witnesses to perhaps all known jokes, confessions, sabaw stories and yes, of course, all that heartbreak (a part of college will always be about the heartbreaks hehe).
I remember there used to be a very useful Nescafe vendo machine here that transformed the ever famous Ilalim ng Skywalk into a cheaper and closer version of Starbucks – I think this was in sophomore or junior year. Ate Fishball stood just across the street, beside the Katipunan “station” – but since she does not sell yosi, you have to walk a little to the right to Manong Music, who used to sell Winston lights (for the always “gapang” [read: poor]) for P1.50, because at some point he sold Marlboro for a little more (P1.75? 3 for P5?)
I remember how sometimes, I could just sit here and smoke alone and for sure, in the next five to ten minutes, I would be joined by someone I somehow knew – may it be a blockmate, an orgmate or a classmate in one of my electives, always there would be *someone* and at some point, I felt that I knew practically everybody, because Mass Comm was so *small* and everybody knew everybody else.
It was the nicest feeling – to know so many people, and to be known, to a degree, by so many as well. Sometimes I could just sit there and start smoking, and someone would come up to ask for a stick and I would gladly offer my pack and my lighter, and we’d sit down side by side and start talking about the people we certainly knew (kamusta na si…?), or about class or terror professors (hay naku, C— na naman ang class ko an aga-aga torture) or even the general politics of the University (rally mamaya, sama ka?) and it would be fine, I almost forget I only knew this person from one class or one project or one inter-org meeting.
It was the nicest feeling – to walk through corridors and know practically everybody that you have to keep waving, and it’s so hard to be *not* late for class because of some random chika in between classes and while queuing up in the canteen on what was supposedly only a 5-minute bathroom break in between a 3-hour class.
There are Journ blockmates and orgmates; the Comm Res people you know from your Comm subjects; the BC people you meet in BC 100; the Film people you meet in (crowd fave) Film electives (and you and I know where else hehe).
Looking back it still amazes me, how someone who used to be admonished by her Grade 2 adviser for being so *suplada* could grow up to know so many people. And by no means was I popular. I just happened to be around a lot – because I had an org to run, an endless list of meetings under the Skywalk to attend. Because I practically lived inside campus. Because I smoked a lot. Because I had jokes to tell over fishballs and cheese sticks. Because there were sabaw stories to share, heartbreaks to consult with friends.
Because Mass Comm was my life. No – MASKOM was my *life*. I remember when I submitted the first badge I made for Sir Danny, it said “Proudly UP MASKOM”, and Sir Danny just had to ask if Maskom was already an accepted slang for the college. I may have said something like its use was fairly common, especially online.
It’s only now that I realize the difference – Mass Comm is the building, Maskom is the life. Mass Comm is made up of fixtures, of hallways and rooms. Maskom is made up of the people, the habits, the colorful language, the lifestyle. Mass Comm is the place, Maskom is what is in it.
I miss Mass Comm and what Maskom used to mean to me. I mean now, three years later, life is so fast and the world is so big and do you know how hard it is to keep on making friends when the daily grind is like this and you’re always rushing from one deadline to the next and there’s no time to just simply “hang out” because there’s always something work-related that ought to be done anyway? It’s hard, and when did life become so adult anyway? And yes, let’s face it, the energy level is harder to maintain now than it was years ago when we were sixteen and we could go two, three, four straight days on 3 hours of sleep. Hehe.
But still, we try. We keep seeing our college friends, reconciling erratic work scheds and all that. It’s just like fixing unmatched class schedules, only now we’re from all over the Metro instead of all over campus. We keep texting, we keep emailing, we keep leaving testimonials on Friendster and poking each other on Facebook and uploading pictures of our new found lives on Multiply, and to a degree, it almost feels like we never left college. The keyword being *almost* of course. Now more than being blockmates and college classmates and orgmates, we’re also colleagues, and more often than not, godmothers and godfathers.
I remember having written about Maskom once, I said I lit a cigarette and said a long slow goodbye. That was when I moved out of QC and into Makati. But then again, unearthing all of these old photographs, I just thought, maybe there really are no enough goodbyes for Maskom and I – I’d just say hello over, and over, and over again…
ps maskom photos here: