Dearest Alma Mater

Arden Salas and Sergei Maderazo

When a child squeezes the underside of her mother’s hands, it signifies her fear of breaching an unfamiliar territory. Early 2007 saw me doing the exact same thing. I was a new face in the institution they called LVD, losing herself to the fresh tinge of narra trees and digging her polished shoes into the dirt by the playground. In truth, I was merely warming up to the place. Liceo del Verbo Divino, new as it was, had welcomed me with open arms with the promise of embracing the person I was bound to become.

One would wish to ask, “Why LVD?” See, it’s not a question I can address by stringing words together. The first day of kindergarten greeted me with a written assignment; I was the only one inside the room who failed to hold a pencil the right way. Second grade became a time for emergence — what I once failed to say during recitations grew into small talk between peers that accompanied me during recess. A year later, I flaunted the luster of my silken veil on a Saturday, gripping a candle to my chest as I tread along the aisle upon receiving my First Communion.

Who could never forget the merciless wrath of Yolanda that shook Tacloban to its core? The tempestuous winds stripped the covered walk barren. Intense gales uprooted trees. The storm’s cry shattered glass panes. Everything was rendered into debris and scraps. But it was the Divinian spirit which the typhoon cannot destroy. As class resumed, my classmates sported smiles that spoke of their relief, mourning over acquaintances that had lost to the punishing storm. The raging flood washed my books away, yet my classmates were generous enough to share theirs. This was social responsibility at its prime — holding each other’s hands through thick and thin. Raising my cap after sixth grade, I tearfully bid my farewells to my friends whom I held dear in my heart, as we set forth to our respective paths.

And yet I am to face a new environment. Except I was not holding my mother’s hands; I was by myself from now on. As I pass through the corridors along an unusual route, I see unfamiliar faces and personalities from different sections. Each encounter drives me into questioning whether or not the bond before would be felt again. After two years, the answer lay in front of my eyes. We were in the Martyr’s Hall as a teacher gripped the microphone in her right hand and uttered a statement that floored everyone: “You are the best batch we have ever encountered.” And that was coming from the best batch of teachers. We all wore that title with pride and vigor as we set forth a brand new path in tenth grade. Unity and harmony were all witnessed in each class — in the whole batch.

No matter how far the years stretch, LVD’s competence will forever be a constant in my life’s narrative. The school thrives today despite the persistent pandemic. It continues to shape Divinians into what would be compassionate leaders that carry values deeply rooted in LVD’s nature. In fact, my senior year stands as a profound turning point, a natural progression for the girl who started from fumbling with pencils on Day 1 to finally uncovering her full potential. With the Divinian Spirit on my side, I’ve become a mage of my own generation, a young woman gifted with LVD’s timeless lessons that guarantee a future full of wisdom.

When I encounter kindergarten children a decade from now, it will be a natural instinct of mine to squeeze their hands. They will need the courage, the genuine trust that students like them possess the wisdom to prosper. And the fears that plague their heads may prove too vivid, but their very strength stems from a place of counsel. They’re Divinians, raised to find camaraderie on the quest for holistic growth. And as I flit my eyes to the familiar building in their shadows, I lose myself once again to the flashes of my Divinian experience. LVD… my second home, my dearest alma mater.