Waiting for the sunflower army

Originally posted on Tumblr three years ago. Edited for errors but I’m keeping some words and emo (Joshua Dalupang’s words, not mine) tone, haha.


It’s April, and for thousands of Iskolar ng Bayan graduating from the University of the Philippines Diliman, the month spells an end to our undergraduate lives.

We will be gathered right behind the Oblation as our final student day turns to night. Joining the university in bidding us farewell are our parents, as well as our classmates who became friends, friends who became professors and professors who became friends, all of which have been part of our college days.

One cannot miss the iconic sunflowers that greet everyone along the road that the Oblation eternally faces. The army of flowers has been a staple sight during graduation season. For most, it’s a reminder of a looming farewell. For me, it’s a sign of a great beginning.

After all, the sunflowers remind me of the day when I woke up as a prospective Atenean and went to bed as an incoming Iskolar ng Bayan.

Sunflowers were blooming along the University Avenue when I got my (late) admission letter from our university’s admissions office four years ago. I just paid the slot reservation fee that morning when I got a call telling me that the ever-efficient admissions officers finally put me in a course months after passing the UPCAT with a pending degree program (Hence the Comm Res to Journ shift). My parents, excited that their son is going to be an Iskolar ng Bayan, immediately brought me to UP to get my papers.

I was too dazed to grasp the situation that I can only remember looking at the sunflowers along the way, amazed at the pretty sight of the yellow wonders valiantly standing at the side, as if paying respects to those who pass. Or maybe my mind, fugacious as ever, chose to admire the plants even if I did not know what they were for. Arbitrarily.

Unlike other universities, UP holds its graduation relatively late. All my friends from other universities are probably done with vacation while us UP students are busy preparing for our barong tagalogs, dresses and sablays, not to mention the numerous send-offs and final bows that we have to fit in our schedules.

Graduation is a license for everyone to be sentimental, overdone at times but dramatic just the same. Everyone is hit with nostalgia: at least someone has to post block pics for all to see and comment how folks have grown fatter, or thinner. Everybody starts posting graduation photos. Every other post has the word “graduation” in it. Overemphasis has never been as insufficient.

I digress, however. My Facebook profile photo shows me and my notebook in a sea of balloons, a Fine Arts thesis. My only grad-related post is about attending the university graduation. I refuse to show excitement. However, the excess drama from my batchmates should be more than enough to make up for any sentimentality that I may lack.

But I can’t blame them for celebrating. Getting in UP was a great hurdle. Staying was another. Finishing with flying colors is a different issue all together when surviving is all that mattered, but it all ends with graduation. Yet while my classmates are eagerly waiting for parties and diplomas, I’m waiting for the sunflowers to bloom.

They are, after all, the first university regulars aside from the Oblation who welcomed me to college life.

A few weeks into April and the sunflowers have not yet bloomed. I started asking friends who graduated a year ago if the flowers made it to their special day. They told me that they had sunflowers, and kept reassuring me that the sunflowers will come.

But I haven’t seen a big yellow flower look up to the sky just yet.

This month, I spent every ride going into the university looking at the line of shrubs looking for a single sign that the sunflowers are coming, but with graduation only a couple of weeks ago, I almost gave up hope.

Then I saw it: a familiar speck of yellow in a thick line of green.

It’s a sign. A good sign.

The sunflower army is coming. Get ready to march.