Yesterday, having less than three hours of sleep, I accompanied my sister to UP Diliman for her postgraduate application at the College of Arts and Letters. It was her first time in this UP campus as it was my first time to be somebody else’s tour guide in the Diliman campus of the University of the Philippines. We lost our way a number of times which was completely within the bounds of reason. However, being lost still was not a good justification to ask for direction from undergraduate students. It was a good thing that all the big colleges in Diliman are located just around Sunken Garden, so as long as one orients everything around this garden, which is less of a garden than a vacant lot that badly needs tending, no way will he get lost.
But finding our way inside the building of CAL proved to be more challenging. The interior of the building reminded me of a run-down college dormitory built just after the second world war; it was just awaiting demolition. We asked for a lot of times where the graduate office is located but it took us more than half an hour to find it. Passing by doors bearing the names of the occupants of the rooms, I was star stricken in a very academic way. Where else can one find a concentration of brain and creative power of Almario, Lumbera, De Ungria, David, and some national artists whose names escaped me?
The College of Arts and Letters building is also being shared with the faculty members from the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy in a labyrinthine complex of rooms and staircase that look and smell antique. Instead of going to the graduate office of CAL we ended up at the door of the graduate department of Social Sciences. And there I saw Randy David. He is an aging, unassuming man who exuded a rare combination of wisdom and erudition. A friend of mine, who is also teaching in the same college as David related to me that since David has not gotten a Doctoral degree, whenever the college makes a display of the roster of its faculty, it would leave blank the academic credentials of its members as David, its most prominent and probably the most published of its members, only has a master’s degree. He then added that David does not need a PhD to prove that he is good, because he is.
I excused myself and told my sister I was going to the toilet to wash my face. The sight of my scarlet eyes already so horrible due to lack of sleep was compounded by the droplets of sweat on my face making me look like a cored and peeled apple left in an oxygen-rich environment. I dabbed my face with tap water and while doing this, I noticed somebody coming in.
It was Randy. He was standing in front of the only urinal located next to the lavatory. Everything seemed to be in slow motion. It probably was the longest time I spent washing my face. I noticed his right shoulder being raised a bit which signified that he’s done; he looked to my direction and saw that I’m still standing in front of the lavatory. The professor hesitated a bit then went out of the toilet.
Randy David, the great sociologist failed to wash his hands after holding that appendage of his body. I was disturbed for the rest of the day by the thought of a countless number of people smiling while shaking hands with him.