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Missing Ú: One Year in Quarantine

Words by: Marianne Lois M. Boncolmo, Crismhil S. Anselmo, and Therese Anne B. Cruz


Graphics by: Marianne Lois M. Boncolmo


On March 15, 2020, the entirety of Metro Manila was placed under community quarantine to mitigate the cases of the then growing pandemic. A year later and everyone is still advised to stay at home for safety precautions.


Commute hours, quick breakfasts, and the Metro Manila breeze occupied the mornings then. Mapúans today welcome school days by turning on their devices and joining a Zoom meeting within the (hopefully) quiet walls of their own room. One year in quarantine, The New Builder reminisces about the rich Cardinal campus life as the red and gold misses Ú.


The Morning Rush


With campuses both in Manila and Makati, the University caters to a diverse community of learners from the Metro to nearby provinces. Hence, it is no surprise that most Cardinals are well-accustomed to the daily struggle of the commute life. They are experts in swimming through crowds in LRT stations, standing in hour-long bus rides, and squeezing through tight jeepney seats.


A quick stop by McDonald’s to buy iced coffee is a common routine for some. Like marathon runners, latecomers usually sprint along hallways to try to catch up to their first class. Or second.


Compared to all of that, Mapúans today simply have to make their own coffee and sit in front of their desks to attend classes.

If they wake up on time, that is.


The Campus Spirit


The restrictions in response to the pandemic have forced campus life to become completely online – altering the dynamics not only of classroom discussions and activities, but also of events. The tense atmosphere during recitations, the anxiety in the air before a long quiz starts, and the crowded heat in the gym on certain occasions; these are some of the subtly annoying things that Mapúans now miss. The school spirit and lively concerts enjoyed during every Paskong Mapúan and Foundation Week festivities, among others, became virtual concerts and celebrations.


Indeed, the unique Mapúan atmosphere, be it in terms of academics or in school events, is something that the online interactions can never really mimic.


The Taste of Simpler Times

With a fast-paced curriculum, one could function properly for long with an empty stomach. The long lines at Paotsin or Vmes during lunch time is a sight that Mapúans look back to – a reminder of when things were normal, and life was simpler.


Nostalgia is that sip of iced coffee in the morning, or that savory sisig tofu during lunch, or that sweet ensaymada at Julie’s for a boost of energy during breaks.


The longing for these flavors may seem insatiable but can be remedied with hot coffee for breakfast, ordering food for delivery, and home-cooked meals with the family. Still, eating in a crowded place filled with just-as-stressed fellows hits differently.


Hallways and Memory Lanes


Students exiting their respective rooms and blocking those running late, and students sleeping on corridors used to fill the now-empty corridors of the University with life. Vacant periods then were spent with classmates at the tambayan area. Some used their time wisely and utilized the library to hit the books or take a nap. The air-conditioned canteen always greeted with a pungent smell that clung their clothes as they enter. Despite that, it is still a place where the Cardinals wish they are in right now – in the company of their good friends.

Now, virtual interactions with fellow Mapúans does not provide the same bliss as it did within the campus walls.


Cardinal Camaraderie


Truth be told, feeling the Cardinal pride proves to be difficult behind computer screens. As the saying goes, “birds of the same feather, flock together,” but bonding virtually is a whole different type of flocking together. Group studies with block mates at the discussion room has been replaced with group chats via Messenger. Quality time with friends at coffee shops became occasional video calls. Getting through 11 weeks of academic pressure without fellow Mapúans to share the stress with just feels a tad bit lonelier.


One year in quarantine truly sparks emotions of longing. Evenings then were painted with tired students making their way home. Mapúans now spend their nights already at their respective homes, trying to survive a global health crisis, while missing the Mapúan campus life.

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