Essay Lanao del Norte

Third year

By on June 13, 2006

I visited my previous university last Friday. Not much happened except that I almost got lost in a sea of freshmen faces. After talking with an old friend later in the afternoon, I realized that we have read 100 Years of Solitude twice, that I still love writing, and that life actually moves on without our permission.

The article below almost but never made it to Youngblood. I wrote it when I was still third year in college. Here’s to all late night pancit canton experiences, the dreaded class cards – and everything else in between.

We thought that the month of March would signal the end of our academic worries. After all, it’s the unofficial start of the summer season, another time to give ourselves a big break, head for the beaches and literally freak out. But more than that, my classmates and I have all looked forward to this moment when our PE sessions, Arts and Sciences classes and most of all, the dreaded ROTC formations would all come to a close.

I call this ‘the sophomore dream’ – that sudden urge to rush through all these seemingly “minor” subjects and go to the dreaded “majors.” We just can’t wait, in plain and simple words.

That is why after taking the last exam last semester, we noticed that the sun was brighter and our smiles were bigger than the usual. We felt a pinch of bliss, a little taste of Nirvana. We are finally free or maybe that’s just what we’ve thought.

In less than two months, we will all be in our third year in college. Although we have not finished even half the required units in our course, there are more reasons why I should be happy – I tried to comfort myself with this thought. For one, we have breezed through our first two years seemingly without difficulty. We could do exactly the same thing with our remaining years.

“Think again” – our kuyas and ates in the college blurted out at us. The freshman and sophomore years may have been pancit to us, but the third year is definitely another story. It is like a final initiation rite, and those who could make it through the tough semesters without a red mark in their class cards are either undeniably geniuses or really good cheaters.

They told us that the third year in the college of engineering is the most crucial, and even the most emotional. A singko is indeed inevitable. Add to that, the legendary terror professors who will stop at nothing just to see that the population of their class is reduced to 15 (or even lesser) students. Or instructors who will give the most difficult exams in the universe that even Einstein would never finish in less than an hour.

I wish our kuyas and ates only said those just to scare us into shifting into another course, or transfer to another college. Or just to make us green with envy because they have gone through it and here we are, the clueless soon-to-be third year students helplessly waiting next in line to be butchered by the mean professors. (Now we know how a pig feels during Christmas.)

They are, without a doubt, telling the whole truth we wished we would not have to believe in pretty soon. We sure have heard of engineering students taking the same subject thrice already and even of smart ones that after a failure in EE 131, decided to shift to AB English. Yes, the magna na-nine years joke is not funny, especially when you are already 22 but you are in your fourth year still – irregular third year, advanced fourth year.

I wanted to scream to the top of my lungs all these thoughts, but I realized that the world would never stop turning even if I will get the attention of the college dean. How I wished there was some step-by-step manual or an Idiot’s-guide-to-the-third-year book that would be provided to all of us. At least, the task would be a lot easier. We will be more prepared for the unknown: how not to get intimidated by a professor, how to cope with failures and how to study for real and not just merely memorizing and cramming.

Just try to imagine all the answers to all the dreaded third year exams written for us in a reviewer of some sort. And if that reviewer exists, everything for sure will be pancit all the more. But I wondered what meaning is there when we will know all the answers to our exams even before we will take it. We will get more than passing scores, but we will definitely miss the whole point of learning. Perhaps anything done the disturbingly convenient way is cheating in a less menacing form. If our soon-to-be-professors would give only the easiest exams in the universe, it is still cheating. We are cheated of our intelligence or of whatever that’s left between our ears.

Why am I still doing all these? I asked my God this question. Is it merely for that diploma, or because there is no other logical thing to do than going to college, getting laid after, then having dozens of children and sporting a 36 inch waistline? Of course, the second reason is equally pathetic and absurd as the first.

“This too shall pass,” as what my very good classmate would say. And that I believe is the wisdom of the years reduced to a sentence. All of this third year angst will pass, and our fervent prayer is that we all will too, in our subjects.

So what am I expecting now from my third year? If I’ll have flat 1s or even treses, then it’s fine with me either way. It’s only ink and paper. And there’s no way my life will revolve around my class cards. But this I expect from myself: that at the end of these coming two semesters, if I will not be a good student, then at the very least, I will be a better person.

Yes, we will all be in third year soon. And it is not an easy year. But our classmates and I have made a solemn vow to ourselves that we will give our best shot even if our best would seem not good enough. No matter what, we will definitely survive!

But for the moment, let me just enjoy the heat of the sun and the sound of the waves. Even if our summer escapades are now numbered, I should get a nice tan first before the first semester starts.

I deleted three paragraphs and a handful of sentences before I published this post. And after much thought, I realized that the Youngblood editors actually made the right decision. How about you? 😉

  1. Reply

    Miko's Little Utopia

    June 17, 2006

    Nice piece, Bren. It’s good that you have your own style.

    You’re also based in Cebu? I’m here working. Cheers!

  2. Reply


    June 19, 2006

    i wish i could visit that place too one of these days… missed the guys there… 🙂

  3. Reply

    the caterpillar

    June 19, 2006

    you have a writer’s blood in you. try youngblood again!

  4. Reply

    ken blog

    July 6, 2006

    haha ok lang yan. try mo submit sa bandera! haha

    siguro taas ra imong expectations ato nga panahon. the important thing is that, na publish lang japun sya, and more accessible pa because it is online. unlike when its in a magazine, himuon rang pangputos sa gulay inig daan na.

    visit my blog, dami ko ng updates since your last visit.

  5. Reply

    Carissa Bongalosa

    August 4, 2015

    Hi, Bren,

    You're not meant to be 'just' a writer for Youngblood. You're destined to be a CEO. 🙂

    This reminds me, I used to read YB and wonder if the stories were real.hehe..

    • Reply


      November 8, 2015

      Issa! 🙂 Stay away from my old posts… hehehe.


Brennan Mercado
The Philippines

Brennan is an electronics engineer by profession. From time to time, he gets to travel beyond his office cubicle, try new restaurants or catch up with his terribly long list of unread books. He likes museums, spicy food and talking with habal-habal drivers. For now, he's still deciding on whether to play Pokémon GO or not.

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