At ground level

A column about LIFE

What a difference a meme makes

Last I looked there were 22,498 members and counting, just in a matter of days. And I dare not count the number of posts and comments. If my inbox is any indication, it has reached thousands upon thousands.

Like the article “Facebook meme triggers UP frenzy of nostalgia” by JM Tuazon of GMA News says, in just a matter of days Facebook became a time machine for us graduates of the University of the Philippines – Diliman (UPD), bringing together thousands of UP alumni and thus creating an “online bonfire.”

Cleve JD Mallari, the group administrator, set up a group page on Facebook, which tasked members to complete the sentence “Taga-UP Diliman ka kung …” (You are from UP Diliman if …) with memories to which only alumni of UP Diliman could relate. Little did he know his Facebook page would explode in just a matter of days. Nostalgia set in and within a few days, the group page was filled with posts from enthusiastic alumni from all over the world. They flooded the site with memories of those good old days from food – like the best butterfly ice tea, the barbecue and delicious fish balls, to seemingly endless nights of studying, riding the “ikot” (the jeepney that serves as transportation around the UP Diliman campus), the terror teachers and the cool ones, and many amusing anecdotes about trying to register for classes and answering test questions on that famous blue book. They remembered the rallies against Martial Law and the boycotts. And, after all these years, so many of us still remember our student ID number!

Ann Angala’s post (807 and counting) “Taga UP-Diliman ka kung … hanggang ngayon memorize mo pa din student number mo…game! 87-00440,” (You’re from UP-Diliman if … until now you still have your student number memorized) along with many similar posts by others, made me recall that once very valuable student ID.

Like some other alumni, I still have my student ID 73-02494 – with my picture in my baul (treasure chest). I scanned and shared it with the group. I completed the sentence: “Taga UP- Diliman ka kung … hanggang ngayon nasa iyo pa ang UP ID card mo to recall the first time you became ‘a number.’” (… if until now you still have your UP ID card to recall the first time you became ‘a number.’) It generated 42 likes and 50 comments within a couple of hours. Ancient, paleolithic age, some of the young grads quipped, and some even noted “wagas!” (perfect)

I’m not sure why I kept my student ID. I think it signified freedom and independence for me. For 12 years, through nursery, pre-school, grade school and high school, I attended a convent school run by the Maryknoll sisters. Though the American sisters were already thought to be educating us to be independent thinkers and decision makers way ahead of the times, it just seemed natural that attending UP would be the next step for me after high school.

In UP I was just a number, but the freedom felt good. Freedom to learn – or not. Freedom to make something of myself – or not. With teachers who took us to task and challenged our minds. But it was not only the teachers, for there were many great teachers in the other good schools. In UP, there was just something different in the air you breathed. Whatever it was, just like the Maryknoll sisters, the university shaped me to be who I am and I am grateful for it.

I thought I had special grade school and high school memories, which I continue to share with longtime and very special friends, but this group page opened up yet another of many chapters in my life, which I had almost forgotten and it has been a pleasure to look back and cherish those times. Thank you, Cleve JD Mallari, for doing just that!

Whether it be due to common experiences over time, or our idealism, love for country, quest for truth (especially during the Martial Law days), and hope for a better future for a country that continues to have difficulty getting out of the trenches of graft and corruption, we have all united and made even more friends through your group page.

Mallari himself sums it up well in the article: “Iba-iba kasi yung kagandahan na nakikita ng bawat isa sa iba’t-ibang panahon na nag-stay sila sa campus,” he said. “Pero nagkakaisa kaming lahat sa pagmamahal namin sa pamantasang ito bilang mga Iskolar ng Bayan.” (Each generation experienced a special time when they stayed at the campus, but they all unite in their love for a university that reared scholars of our nation.)

In June Taguiwalo’s post (183 and counting): “Ano ang natapos mo sa UPD at ano naman ang trabaho mo?:)” (What did you finish in UP and what is your job now?), you see fruits that this powerful academic echelon of a university has produced, from international engineers, distinguished teachers, scientists, writers, proud fathers, mothers, homemakers, to highly regarded public servants. How can one not dare to hope for a better tomorrow?

73-02494 - just a number back then

August 16, 2011 - Posted by | Life, Philippines |


  1. Hi, Rose! I chanced upon your blog when I searched for articles written about the Facebook group “Taga-UP Diliman Ka Kung…” It’s really amazing no? This triggered a lot of things inside of me and kept me restless for the past few days. I know I need to put these thoughts in writing soon. Reading your blog here made me smile and encouraged me to post in my blog again.

    Thanks for sharing this!

    Comment by Azl | August 28, 2011 | Reply

  2. Thank you! The reaction to this group page really stirred memories and emotions inside me that I felt compelled to put them down in writing. So many good, fun things about UP that I had forgotten. I’m glad you enjoyed reading this.

    Comment by rosemeily | August 28, 2011 | Reply

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