Mall, campus, and memory
It takes 10,000 footsteps to know my university campus in La Trinidad. Its hundred-year old memory of farmers, teachers, scientists, builders, and many more remains to be the inspiration of our youth today.
The land lays the heavy toils and the river meanders the borders to sustain the gardens, the flowers, the trees, all life forms there. The wide roofs like mountains in the backdrop, the cornerstones of the buildings underlie thousands of bedrocks hauled by the students from the river.
Yet now the landscape begins to alter as numerous structures have been built. The surroundings of the school are tightening up and my campus begins to become smaller and smaller in view.
At the very heart of where it began, the few students who first toiled the land in 1916 wouldn’t have imagined this scene. Never in the hundred reports would have the first administrators place in their vision a crowning mall in its façade. Many may not know but the wall gates of the school were put up by the school’s alumni from year to year, and in each post their names are inscribed. The very same cut across the heart of valley bearing memory of the first builders are now washed by new paintings, dug up to the roots and the implacable banner of a mall hangs to the posts. The posts where the abundant kayabang filled with the first harvest sit, are now like torched haunted skulls of forgetfulness.
I should not forget also the children that used to run the ground and swing the trees now have to play in the small corridors. Their confinement to smaller and smaller spaces has borne the lack of freedom we have used to see before. A true educator remembers his childhood, the space he needed to be creative and explorative and to commune with the nature. Children shouldn’t be brought up eating fast food, one hub to another surrounded by the indifference of the crowd and dulled by popular gadgets and commodities sold around.
I don’t want to disremember my campus where like in the cities, college students dine in cozy coffee shops inside their school. Instead, I want to sit on the ground under the shade of a tree. Trees should line up the way to my next class and not stalls of merchandise. My school should be a safe ground where I could learn, not where I could do business. It should have space and air where my learnings and creativity could thrive. My vision should be wide and far-reaching and not blocked by another building blinding my future. It should be a wide panorama at the heart of the valley, the hundred milestones, the hundred acres of vast knowledge I used to walk through.
I expect that to remain that way even after this pandemic. After this crisis, I could still count on my memory of my school before Covid-19, where I stood on the ground my school had long built on the shoulders of our alumni, administrators, and teachers.
Help me remember the story of my school – its beginning, the hallmark of its classrooms, the first students, the first farmers and scientists. The ground where it stands should remain to be for the purpose of educating the next generation. Its lands should be tilled; the gardens should continue to nourish us with real food from the ground. The legacy of the farmers and the children of the farmers should be rewarded by this continuing memory. (RICHARD A. GIYE)