04 February 2017

When DLSU First Became a University


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The course that I enrolled in at DLSC was a double degree program called Liberal Arts-Commerce or just Lia-Com. The engineering programs aside, and I had absolutely no intention of applying for any of these, Lia-Com was the college’s glamor program at the time. It was actually less my choice than my Mom’s. If I was being honest, I was really clueless about what I was getting myself into.

Having laid to rest my dream of becoming a pilot years before, by this time, were it possible and were it up to me, there was nothing I would like more than to become a professional football player. This was just a dream, of course. I didn’t know that I was even good enough to make the college’s varsity football team, let alone a professional team. Unlike in the present day, of course, a career in football was just not possible then in this country. I had to go to college whether I liked it or not, but essentially I was doing so not really sure what I wanted the outcome of my college education to be. It was like walking down a road blindfolded.

On the first day of the new school year, all freshmen were required to be at the Athanasius Gym for an orientation. The session was nothing as elaborate as what freshman orientation has become in the present day. Basically, there were just the inevitable welcome speeches and then the cheerleaders took over to teach everyone the school cheers for use, I supposed, in the NCAA. I knew the cheers from my days in Lipa, so I was participating only half-heartedly.

One important announcement, though, was that DLSC had already been granted a university charter and was henceforth to be called De La Salle University. The charter was actually granted as early as February of the same year, but the change in name was being effected in the new school year. The signage at the St. La Salle Building facing Taft Avenue, however, would not be changed to “university” until midway through the first semester.

The school’s change in name didn’t seem all that significant to me at the time, but years later, I would realize that it was actually quite historic as far as I was personally concerned. By an accident of timing, I was part of the school’s first class of freshmen after it became De La Salle University.

On the second day of school, I finally met my new classmates. Most were English-speaking rich kids from Metro Manila’s uppity schools. Most of them were really not bad; but it also quickly became apparent, at least to me, that they were not my crowd. Most of them had to go through Grade 7 which we did not have in Lipa, so were at least a year older than I was, since I had recently just turned sixteen. Before long, I was gravitating towards classmates who were either from the provinces or were about my age.

The university was considerate towards freshmen at the time. We were given 8-5 schedules and grouped together in so-called “block sections.” It was actually no different from high school, except that the faces were different.

Just like in high school, in every new subject the professors asked each of us to introduce ourselves and state which schools we came from. One of my classmates was from Ateneo, and he was good-naturedly booed each time he said so in his self-introductions. Each time, professors would tell him, “You have seen the light.” By leaving Ateneo and going to La Salle, they meant. My guess was that they said the same to students from La Salle who went to Ateneo for college.

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