A Tour at Wonderland

Yesterday, I brought some of my students to Ateneo.

We came from a home for the aged and since we still had two hours to spare before I had to deliver them back to their parents, I decided to tour them around my beloved alma matter.

Minutes before we got to Ateneo, my students kept bugging me with so many questions about the school. “Sir Ken, is it true that only rich people study there? Can we go to a huge playground? Can we meet Alyssa Valdez??” These questions I welcomed with much delight. We finally got in campus and the tour began.

I showed them the New Rizal Library and there was a collective grasp of how enormous a library can be. They begged me to take them inside but I sadly could not. They saw the different animal benches around Dela Costa and they laughed as they imagined themselves being eaten by an elephant, crying for help. We passed by the Old Rizal Library and they cannot believe that we actually have two damn libraries! They enjoyed themselves running in circles around the random poles of Red Brick Road as I, their proud tour guide explained the significance of MVP, Faura and PIPAC to the school.

What the boys enjoyed most was seeing the covered courts. They bragged about how they knew the sport of tennis and after counting the number of rings there were, one boy screamed at the top of his lungs “Sir! There are fourteen rings!!!” As he kept running and jumping excitedly towards it. We then went to the LS Swimming Pool and one of them was so tempted to jump in and swim around but I warned him that Ateneo will excommunicate me if he did so. This part of the tour gave me a really good idea. By this time, we were so close to my favorite spot in Ateneo and that’s when I decided to take them there.

We have arrived. The great Loyola School of Theology. My students finally encountered the first amazing thing they saw there: the water fountain. It was break time and after all the running they did around campus, they complained about wanting to pee and drink water. So we got into the building and when they were through with their business, I showed them the great water fountain. No exaggeration here, they spent 15 minutes in utter amazement with that thing . They were enraptured by how cold the water is and how it just shoots out of it. I had to force them out of the building because the secretary already warned us that we were getting too noisy.

We went outside and I walked them to the spot. I will always remember this spot with fondness but this will now be my favorite memory of it. The noisy little brats who were running around school finally stayed silent. The world presenting itself in front of them. It was just us and our own little space, seeing the sun set and feeling the wind brush our faces. They stood in wonder and awe as one student tugged my sleeve and asked “Sir Ken, do you think we can study here in the future?” I looked into that student’s eyes, and as stacked are the odds that life has given them, I said “Yes. But remember, it will never be easy.” To this, my student replied “I can do it sir! And we will see each other again in this place.”

My students at my favorite spot in Ateneo

For me, that was the most relevant question. “Can I study here?” All throughout the trip, wherever I took them and whatever I showed them, it was all welcomed by a collective reaction of amazement. And as we left the spot and continued walking, all they wanted was for me to keep showing them more. They asked how to apply for scholarship and they promised each other that they will study harder out of the desire to see this school once again. That night, they were dreamers filled with courage without signs of doubt nor signs of self-pity.

It was finally time to take them home. But I still have to take them to one final stop for this tour to be complete. When we arrived there, we were welcomed by the open arms of Christ and the pureness of its silence. The Church of Gesu. We all went inside and gave a little thanks for the wonderful day that we all shared together.

Giving thanks in Gesu.

We all said goodbye to Ateneo and to a bunch of random walking strangers before we left. I called the van and we finally went home. Back to the place most familiar to us. Back to Fairview. It was 6 in the evening and as I looked at their sleeping faces in the van, I prayed to God that these children will never stop dreaming.