During the first day of classes, I found myself isolated from my classmates since I was the only freshman in the classroom. I found myself intimidated when I learned most—if not all—of my classmates were upperclassmen. I was so intimidated that even before the professor arrived to start the lecture (if there’s such on a first day), I walked out of the classroom with a promise to drop the course as soon as possible.
Upon enlistment for the second semester, this certain course caught my eye once again. It’s as if it’s following me around like Mary’s lamb, for I chanced upon it while looking for other subjects to take to complete my units. I asked myself if I should enlist in this course yet again, and found myself debating for almost an hour. With much hesitation and internal pressure, I decided to take the course anyway; after all, there’s no harm in trying—again.
This time, I wasn’t as intimated as I was during the first semester, since there were quite a few freshmen like me who signed up for the course, too. The professor swiftly arrived and words started coming out of his mouth as he approached the table, “Thank you for taking this course; today, as expected, we’ll only fill up your class cards and I’m telling you now,” with this he picked up the chalk and wrote these words on the board: “Attendance is optional”. He underlined the sentence twice and the whole class started to scream wildly in jubilation. Where else can you find such a class where attendance is optional? It’s a surefire “uno-able”, as university jargon would say. The professor went on and on saying, “Yes, attendance is optional, but let me tell you this: I expect highly from you for you are a fortunate lot of your generation. Other students from other universities look up to you, and it is not only my expectations you should live up to—more like, exceed—but also theirs and those of the people who worked their asses off just to put yours in this dingy four-walled classroom, if you can call it that.” With a thud from his fist to the table the whole classroom went quiet, and he broke it again by saying, “Class dismissed.”
After class, I really thought hard about my situation. Attendance is optional in the class but people expect highly of me. I pondered deeply upon the words of my professor, trying to comprehend how such words ended up in such a sentence.
A delinquent student that I am, I abused the “no attendance” privilege of the class. I skipped every meeting after the first, because most of the time I would end up going home, lounge about with my friends or go malling with my barkada. I never really considered going to that class, and guilt wasn’t upon me because attendance is optional anyway.
On certain occasions, I would pass by our classroom but won’t enter to attend class—I would just peek in and would see the faces of my classmates. I didn’t find out the lectures and wasn’t able to know what the course was really about. In a word, I was really apathetic as to what this course had to offer and its bearing to my academics. The mere fact that I enlisted in this class gives me an “uno” in my class card, and that was all I needed to know.
When the semester was about to end, I received a text message from an acquaintance in the class informing me of a make-up class on a certain Thursday. I attended the make-up class albeit the numerous absences I incurred, which didn’t matter anyway. There we talked about our last concrete activity as a class, so as to have a symbolic cap-off of the school year.
The next day, we carried out our plans about our cap-off. Prior to it, we prepared all our materials, made all our attires and practiced our songs. We assembled at our classroom and made our way around the university, with various onlookers, passersby and vehicles stopping for a few seconds to witness our show.
It was the first time I attended a lecture of the class and it had me regretting the many times I missed it to pursue another agenda. I regret the most times I abused the power given to me not to attend the class, and now I realized what I have missed. It was frustrating at first but I only had myself to blame. I continued asking myself, “why only now? Why have I missed so many of our meetings?” Questions, rhetoric as they may seem, can never be answered. It was my fault for not partaking in the activities of the class, and now I reap what I have sown.
It was the first and last time I attended a lecture of the class, and whatever grade I might get out of it, it’s most definitely upon my professor’s discretion. I regret the many times I missed class, but I cherish this one true moment that I partook in such a cause, even though some people may say it’s worthless and would most probably bring us nowhere. It was the first and last time I attended the class, but I promised myself to live out what I learned out of that single lecture all throughout my stay—and even longer—in the university.
The class is called MOB101. The classroom is U.P. Diliman, and the professor is the Oblation. The course description read “Student Activism” and the grade is always 1.0, just as long as you live out the true meaning of the course. Attendance in class activities is optional; for what’s important is that your heart is powered and flamed by the ideals taught by the professor—may it be inside or outside the four walls of the classroom.