Five is just a number

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First Year

Rec Week, Freshman year. For a freshie to see all these orgs can be quite overwhelming especially when there are a lot of interesting ones. I’ve already joined AMS, my home org, and I think I can still join a few more. Instead of signing up alone for this other org, I decide to join my block mate in SPEED because at least I know one person there. It seemed interesting, anyway.

***

It was a Saturday and we were supposed to have our culminating activity in SOC to end the sem. Sadly, I woke up at around 10 and missed our 8am-call time. I tried calling our area head, Carlos, and said sorry a lot of times. I was really looking forward to it and would’ve wanted to spend time with the kids but I guess I could never win a fight against sleep.

I guess one of the reasons why I couldn’t wake up that time was the weather. Ever since I woke up, it was raining and it just got worse as the day went on. Eventually, all the Saturday classes got cancelled, warnings were given, and the waters kept rising. That was the day Typhoon Ondoy hit.

I later found out that they were in SOC for more than 5 hours; they got home at around 10pm because of the rain and therefore couldn’t really leave the area. They played cards and tried to assure each other and the kids that it will be alright. I’m not sure if missing the last area visit was a good thing or a bad thing.

Second Year

It goes without saying that Sophomore year was my lowest year; things just kept going from bad to worse. Yet, I’m glad how SPEED kept me afloat and gave me enough motivation to still swim. Instead of worrying about Accounting, I had long forms and program flows to settle as part of being SpFiesta’s co-project head, along with Steph. I know acads should’ve been the first priority but doing things for the org was what kept me going, enough to at least give me a reason to look forward to another day. At least I was waking up for something and for someone.

Finally, it was time for SpFiesta. All the kids and volunteers were all very happy from playing all the games we prepared, watching the performances, and just by spending time with each other. In the end, the project turned out to be a big success. I can’t say the same about my grades, though. Still.

Third Year

It’s already my third year in SPEED and I still haven’t been to one EvSem. I’ve been invited to attend one a lot of times but kept missing it since I always have a ticket home ready before I even know about the dates. This time though, I made sure to schedule it properly. EvSem was when I met a lot of new people. I initially thought Benjhoe was really quiet since he didn’t talk much on the way to the venue. I later found out I was wrong. Super.

Since I don’t usually hang out in the Sproom, it was a first for me to really get to talk to the other speple. For someone who doesn’t talk much, it was quite a challenge for me but it turned out really well. By the time we were back in Katip, I already knew how to play Werewolf, saved the phone numbers of male speple in my phone, and, most importantly, gained a lot of new friends.

That was also the year I finally decided to run for Spofficership. After long hours of discernment, I became the next VP for Advocacy.

Fourth Year

I thought I would be good at this since I’ve headed projects before but you’ll never know until you’re actually there, juggling different aspects of the project—and of the org—all at the same time so I was really glad that I could always count on Joni to help me, saving me from my tendencies to be disorganized or to panic easily. A student’s smile or hug, and even from the volunteers are enough reasons to remind me—us, the whole Advocacy Team—to keep doing what we do and how all the panic and stress is worth it.

Senior Year was also when I started going to the Sproom during my break, getting to know not only the welcoming atmosphere of the room (despite how it’s usually full of people and other things) but also the people inside it. I got to know their stories and I told them mine as well. I learned to go past my introversion and actually talked to everyone; I even joined Sproove. It was when I really found what it meant to be a Speple, to be in a SpFamily.

Like all families, disagreements are inevitable. It could have ended on a better note but there are things you can’t control. So we just move on and learn from them.

Fifth Year

I always have this feeling that my time as a Speple has just begun. There are always new people to get to know and talk to, official events and even random bonding moments to attend. I thought it would be a quieter year this year since most of the people I know have graduated but I was wrong (again). In fact, the list of Speple that I meet just keeps growing exponentially. There’s still a lot of things to talk about and bond over. More importantly, there’s still so much we can do for our students and for the advocacy. I haven’t even been to some of our areas but I intend to do that before this year ends.

I know the clock keeps ticking—there’s only two or so months left—but my five years in SPEED has taught me that you never really stop being a Speple. Although you may have graduated, the random kulitan and bonding moments will never stop. The advocacy will still be there and I hope that graduating and being in the real world will even drive us to do more for it.

I can only imagine how it will be to see the students again in a few years’ time and realize how much they have improved yet they remain to be the sweetest and best people to give out hugs. Those who stayed would’ve taken care of the org well and then there’d be new faces who, like me, were drawn to the org in their own way. Then, it would feel like I never left.

I wrote this article for my org’s Tumblr site (Check it out here). My org, Ateneo Special Education Society, caters to persons with special needs and we do weekly visits as well as organize various advocacy and fundraising projects for our students from partner and non-partner institutions. Looking back, I don’t know how I different I would be if I didn’t join the org. I’m going to miss it once I graduate (which is, hopefully, in two months). 😦

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