“Slow down. Life is crossing the road.” — Debasish Mridha
Last weekend we had our reunion of University of Santo Tomas, B.S. Biology Accelerated Class, Batch ’87. It was a virtual event on the Zoom platform. Our class was a close-knit batch even after all these years and out of the 48 class members, 33 showed up for the reunion. That was close to 70% attendance which is pretty amazing considering it was after 35 long years. I believe there were 3 or 4 that we cannot even contact and don’t know their whereabouts; there was1 who had gone before us; and the rest, for some reason or another, were not able to join.
Almost half of our class are now living outside the Philippines, and given that we are scattered all over the world, meeting by Zoom may be the most plausible way to meet-up especially that travel is still quite limited due to the pandemic. Even though it was a virtual reunion, I invited some classmates of mine who are near me to come to my home. Two (husband and wife) were in the same US State I am in, and they’re the one who convinced me to move here in Iowa, and one came from Illinois which is 5 hours drive away. So we had an in-person mini-reunion on top of the big virtual reunion.
To spice up a little, I even placed a sign on my yard to welcome my 3 classmates who came (photo below).
There were many “pakulo” (loosely translated as gimmicks, though literally it means “boiling”) during our reunion. What we lack in in-person interaction we made up with what we can do in a virtual meeting. We played trivia games, showed photos, and watch video presentations. We even sent short clips of ourselves dancing to an old disco tune of “Awitin Mo At Isasayaw Ko,” which was transformed into a captivating short movie. Of course the rest of the time we just catch up with each other sharing old memories and making new ones.
One of the reason our class is close-knit is because we were the only accelerated course offered in our university. We finished the BS Biology degree in 3 years instead of 4. That means we had more load during normal semesters that translates to longer school hours. In addition, we took summer classes together as a group. So we were with each other the whole year through until we graduated.
The Accelerated Class they say was the ‘cream of the crop’ (or some will argue ‘cream of the crap‘) among the students as it was by merits and only by invitation that you can join that class. In fact if you were a member of the Accelerated Class you have a guaranteed slot in the UST Medical School if you decide to pursue an MD degree. Come to think of it, only 1 from our class did not enroll to medical school.
During our reunion, one of the questions that was asked by the facilitators was what advice will you give your 18-year old self. And I was randomly asked that question. I thought for a quick moment, and then said: “I would tell my 18-year old self not to join the Accelerated Class; your life would be less crazy.”
That illicit a lot of laughter among our classmates. Of course I may be half jesting, but there may be some truth to that.
Looking back now, I would really tell my young self this:
“Take it slow. Don’t rush. Take your time. Have more leisure summer vacations. Enjoy your youth. For you are only young once.
“In the long run you would realize that the one year you thought you’ve gained trying to rush things does not mean much. When you start working as a doctor, you will always be busy and scrambling. You’ll get the chance of living in the fast-track. Your meals will be hurried. Your sleep is shortened and your rest is momentary. Especially with the specialty that you will choose as an ICU doctor where it is fast-paced and where seconds and minutes count. You will always be under pressure and you will always be in constant acceleration.
“So take it slow while you can. Because the next time you will take it slow is when you hang up your white coat for good.”
I heard that the BS Biology Accelerated Program in UST was scrapped several years after we graduated. Maybe they realized that rushing these young kids’ lives on their education may not be really for their benefit.
However, in fairness, because I joined the Accelerated Class, I gained lifetime friends that I still cherish to this day.
(*photo credits: my wife)