Love for Literature

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Last Wednesday was one of the biggest days of my life as a literature major - we had our very last major class with my block and the dreaded Thesis1 Defense. The night before, I was very unsure of how I should prepare. I was really worried that I might fail, afraid that the panel was going to grill me alive. I ended up doing my nails while re-reading my thesis to ease my nervousness. On the day itself, I arrived three hours early so I could watch my classmates with their defense. I met my mentor outside the classroom. He was very kind and supportive. He told me that there is nothing to worry about and that I should just be confident with what I have prepared. I made at least five trips to the library that day. At 1:30pm, the Vice Chair asked me to begin with a word of prayer - this really helped because one can never say too much prayers. God always listens. ☺ The defense went smoother than I had imagined. Despite my stuttering and inability to express my thoughts well, the panel was honest and suggested a lot of ideas to improve my work. I would look at my mentor from where I was and he would give a reassuring nod. I'm doing okay. After deliberation, they told me my grade. It was a lot higher than I expected, and I was really happy. 

Thesis1 Defense done! ☺ with lit blockmates Clari, Marian, and Bea
As I was walking along SJ Walk, I passed by one of my batchmates. He had his final thesis defense that day and passed with flying colors. I congratulated him because after three grueling years in college, he was graduating. As cliche as it may sound, really, time flies so fast. It made me think a lot. Just one more term, I would say to myself. I would make my parents proud too.

After a few hours of chitchat in school, Sharmaigne, April, and I proceeded to Bistro Remedios in Malate for our Southeast Asian Literature class Fellowship Night. It was our very last 'class' together so everyone was feeling nostalgic. The whole restaurant was designed like an old Filipino household, with stained glass and classic wooden interiors. Several musicians serenaded our evening with traditional Filipino songs and a couple of Spanish songs. The food there was also very delicious. They served our rice from split bamboo shoots. It's sticky and flavored with small pieces of chicken, mushroom, and shrimp. Aside from the yummy Bamboo Rice, we also had the Adobong Kambeng (goat meat stewed in soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic), Binukadkad na Crispy Pla Pla (butterflied fried pla pla fish served with bato bato and fresh mustard leaves), Sinigang na Tapi at Bangus (traditional Filipino sour soup with milk fish and vegetables), and another white dish with sauce (I think it was the Hipon sa Saluyot at Labong, tender bamboo shoots and jute's mallow sauteed with shrimps and enriched with coconut cream).

Binukadkad na Crispy Pla Pla - my personal favorite

We had Golden Banana Crumb from LLC for dessert. Thanks, Jes! 

Smile and I were both in costume~

Peter was reciting a poem that he wrote.
We ate heartily, played guessing games, and just walked down memory lane. Some classmates presented their final creative project and gave parting gifts, while our professor, also the Chair of the Literature Department, took commemorative photos. It was a pleasant time to eat good food with great company. After dinner, we proceeded to Cafe Adriatico to end the night with a more conversations in a relaxing atmosphere.

I took a cab with April and Sharmaigne back to La Salle because it was already getting late. It was overall a wonderful and memorable day. As I was in the train going home, I got a message from April saying that she had a great time and was thankful for our company. Again, it reminded me of how much we have gone through as a block together. Surviving the qualifying exams and interview, a probationary period as majors, the comprehensive exams, and now, thesis - I have gotten so far in the program. I could not count the times I have wanted to give up or shift to another course, something that others would deem 'useful' in the corporate world, but I always convince myself that I am pursuing my passion.

After three years in college, I have learned that it takes a whole lot more than love for reading to survive in the literature program. You would be forced to read things you may not like or agree with, to finish a number of novels and write critical papers in less than a week, to theorize and over-analyze, think twice about your taste for books, and you may end up disliking the very thing that you love doing all together. It happened to me, and at some point in my lit 'journey' I had wished that I had taken a different course in a different college. When people find out that I am taking lit as a degree, they would follow up with a question of "what will that make you?" or "what job would you get after graduation?" A lot of my close friends know that I have been constantly asking myself whether I want this or not. Am I doing this right? How will this help me with life or business in the long run? I'm still striving. And little by little, I get answers.

I am very thankful for the professors and the friends that had been with me in the program. They make me feel that what I am doing is really worth it. I still have a term (hopefully) to go before I finally march down the graduation aisle, so I still have a lot to do and learn. I may not have classes with my blockmates any more, but I'm sure I would still see some of them around campus. At the end of my third year, I now find myself looking back at how fun and stressful the years had been.

There are days where I feel like I don't want to do anything productive. I was already taking Thesis Writing 1 along with my major and general classes, so it was really one helluva term. I have already experienced failures and disappointments, and yet I am a queen of procrastination. I find a lot of reasons to keep myself from doing what I have to do. People say that when choosing a course or a job, one should pursue the thing that they love the most. I took up literature because I love reading. It was as simple as that. Reading is a way to explore the world outside my own, to learn and appreciate life through the written word. I like the smell of freshly printed ink on paper, the feel of running my fingers through pages and pages of paperbacks, the sound of someone reciting lines of a sonnet... No matter how tough it gets, I'm finishing what I started.

I love literature. Let's leave it at that.

Credits to Peter Pichler for some of the photos. ☺


  1. The pursuit for scholarship and erudition never ceases. We are, perpetually, students in the sequence of our being. If there is a time you feel short in the materialist world, you can learn its demands and requirements; at least you get to live without the expense of your soul.

    1. That's true! It's good to learn more about ourselves as we go through life and the challenges it brings. We are always growing. :)