I did read it in the publications last year. They plan to rehabilitate South Gate, which means when I went down from the bus, crossed Taft Avenue and went past the other establishments, all I see is a closed gate and scaffolding.
So I went in to what I used to call the conservatory gate, now with an additional ID scanner, presumably moved from the construction site. It was almost half past three in the afternoon, and the traffic along the Alabang-Zapote Road was heavy, a surprise considering the time of day. Now I remember that today is a Monday, a day when drivers want less of their work and more of their play. It just wouldn't happen.
I walked past the accounting lobby, which used to be the university's grand reception area. That was when the La Salle building stood alone; now, there's twelve buildings, each with their own lobby, or an excuse for one. The first days of the term always mean adjustment period for those too chicken to take swimming for PE, and find themselves having to pay more (or get more) for the units they either gave up or took on. It isn't as busy as during the last day of the last term, the day when most decide to pay their tuition fee.
As people walked by, I found myself lost. Did I just see the school's future freshmen?
I still know my way around the university - as compressed as it already is - but today seemed to be my first day in college. I never got the feeling that everybody I pass by is an unfamiliar face during the seven other terms I've had to endure as an old student. My feet never failed me, and I proceeded to spend around an hour waiting for my gender studies class - familiarity, at last. Supposedly.
Earlier this morning I was talking to Leslie. She, like a surprisingly modest number of students, don't have class on Mondays. I told her my weirdly-placed fear of being alone in that class, although just a month ago I confirmed the presence of at least two blockmates in that class. But I was quick to comfort myself before she did, thinking that the world would have shrunk considerably for me to be even alone.
Caresse was also early for class - too early, in fact. The American professor tending to his class at M319 was barely halfway through when we waited. It slowly felt like a reunion, although she's been a ubiquitous presence for three years of my life now, more so with her high-pitched voice, which surprisingly stays despite working the graveyard shift at Starbucks. We ended up talking about the celebrities that buy cappuccinos from her.
Overall, there were around sixteen familiar faces in that class, and that doesn't include Miss Averion. We were familiar faces to her, after all - most of the children of the Department of Communication were her students at one point. Drea and Marielle were the next to show up at the corridor-turned-waiting shed, and eventually Bea and Paula, then John, then Kizia - yes, I sort of walked out on her, but more of a surprise, actually. Even funnier was the realization that I'm classmates with Reena for the fourth straight term, and on another class that involves social values.
It actually feels like I took up philosophy again. Mara was in another room to my right, like last time. There were the familiar faces, although now I don't know Chiqui as Miss Guison, the prayer leader who isn't Catholic. The only difference laid on three things: Danggay, Naomi, and the sun, all of which won't be there for the next thirteen weeks.
And then the usual happened. Group discussion, with me moderating it, thanks to Paula's persistence. The fact that it's technically my last term in college never sank in.