My sister Beng, and our aunts before us, all spent wonderful, glorious years at UIC (University of the Immaculate Conception), then ICC (Immaculate Conception College).
UIC is one of the leading, if not the top, universities in Davao City. It was established in 1905 as the St. Peter’s Parochial School and used to be an all-girls school. It is ran by the Religious of the Virgin Mary sisters, and now offers Nursing (which we didn’t have when I left the school in 2001), along with its banner courses Pharmacy, Medical Technology, Accountancy, Graduate School, etc.
I spent 10 years there. But if you come to think of it, I never just spent my 10 years there. Most of what I am now, is because of UIC. The friendships that I forged, the small successes (which I thought at that time were the end-all and be-all of all students), the heartbreaking failures (again, I thought they were going to ruin me), the secret crushes, girlfriends, naughtiness, nastiness, dreams, the sweet high school life.
I’ve had 4 girlfriends when I was still there (I’m sure the late Rev. Mother Assumpta David would frown at me, but bless her soul), and countless of crushes, and I’d like to say, admirers. Haha.
I met lifetime mentors Mam Pet Tahura, Mam Robles (now married), Mam Collado, Mam Sobrecarey (yes, the word “scary” can be formed out of her name), Mam Agton, Mr. Quintero, Sir Grandeza and most especially, Mam Adriano.
In my entire life and self-exile in Manila, I’ve always been animated whenever I tell UIC stories to me new friends, and girlfriends. I have so many dreams about the school, the teachers, the students that most people who know me say I still have an unfinished business with my school. And that’s true. I left without saying. I sure have a lot of unfinished business.
So when I went home after 11 years, I told Joy that I could never go back to Manila without doing these 5 things:
1.) Visit Ate Beng and observe her 10th Death Anniversary
2.) Visit the house we used to call our own, until somebody out-smarted Lola
3.) Go back to Samal Island
4.) Visit UIC, and
5.) Thank Mam Adriano
All of which, I am happy to tell you, I have accomplished.
Getting back to the school gave me a nostalgic feeling. The chapel, the IT floor, the canteen, basketball court, the lobby, clinic, playground, guard house, and the alumni office.
I felt like I was 15 or 16 again. This is where I built (or so I thought) my name. This is my childhood, my dreams, my everything.
When we were about to leave, the guard who got my ID for a visitor’s pass informed Mam Agton that an alumni was in the campus. I got summoned.
And I was surprised because when I entered her office, she called by my complete name. OMG! She remembered me. She told her a lot of stories about me, my aunts before me, my sister, and how “popular” I was back in the day. Haha.
And then came down Mam Sobrecarey who also remembered the misadventures I’ve had in high school. They haven’t changed a bit. =)
On a Holy Thursday, I went to visit Mam Adriano’s residence to thank her, and told her that wherever I went, the story of her kindness resounded. She knows what I meant with that.
In the end before I went home, we hugged and she told me “I’m happy you’re successful”. I was teary eyed while walking away from a home I’ve grown too familiar with.
UIC is not just a school. It’s a home. It’s not just a university. It’s a community. The teachers are not just educators. They are mentors of life’s lessons. The students are not just a source of income. We were, and still are, their source of inspiration.