I will always remember, CenTree

July 26, 2014

 I will always remember.

I entered the portals of Bicol University in 2009 with mixed emotions. I was out to explore the “college jungle” and I felt all possible levels of being stoked to start chasing my dreams. As I was nervously walking to my college, I passed by you. Back when I was in highschool, I already heard about you from a few friends from BU. You were the famous CenTree (Century Tree). A sturdy acacia tree in the heart of BU, home to thousands of students in the main and satellite campuses. A tree not only famous for giving shade, but was once a spot where the food lounge was. You stood strong despite Reming though the cemented bench circling you had an opposite fate. I was still in awe during my first few months. But as I started waking up late, arriving in school a few minutes before class started, I started running around to make sure I get in my class. I didn’t stare as much as I did before but you still stood there watching, sometimes as if reprimanding me, “You’re late again, Ms. Relova. Better sleep early tonight.” I do, and yet a few days after, I go running around again.

I will always remember.

You were a meeting place. A practice field. A bystander’s best friend. You were all those to me and so much more, even for others. I can gladly recount with joy how incomplete my school days were without catching a glimpse of you. Whenever I had a bad day, or one of thes best ones, you were a part of it. I can’t remember how many times I sent, “Sa centree nalang kita mag-ilingan. (Let’s just meet near the centree.)” whenever I planned to meet up with friends or group mates. I can’t remember how many times I’ve shed tears in front of you – both of joy and of pain. I can’t remember how many times you heard my annoying laughter. I can’t remember how many times I would look up while sitting under you, wondering how you’ve come to grow so tall. I can’t remember all those things but…

I will always remember.

If you had any recording device in you, I can say that you hold more than a hundred thousand overheard secrets, sweet nothings, tears, and laughters. You  were a witness to friendships created and built stronger than ever, to relationships blossoming and bittersweetly ending, to cat fights and apologies, to reprimands and issues, to open forums and announcements, to anything, everything under the sun and the rain. You hold so much more than a person could possibly hold. I secretly hope that people would be more like you, dear CenTree – consistent and always there, no matter what.

I will always remember.

I know people may find it quite odd for us to lament for about a week now. I mean for some you may just be a tree, an ordinary one, but for us you’re even more. University of the Philippines has its Oblation, University of Sto. Tomas has its Arch of the Centuries. For us, it’s you. We had you. I’m saying had because by now I have slowly come to accept the fact that whatever we feel could not bring you back. Gone at 107 years old, allow me to say, gone to soon. You will always remind me what it really means to be a student of my beloved university. BUenos are strong as you are. No matter what life may bring, we stand strong. Despite the storms of life, we are grounded firmly. BUenos are hopeful. Although I can’t speak for everyone because I know not every person who graduated and is still in BU believe in the same faith that I have, but like your branches extending up to the sky, it’s a picture of people praying and having faith that God will be always there to help us. BUenos are effective in whatever fields they have chosen. Effective as you are, giving shade, and more than what a tree offers. You are a representation of what a true BUeno is.

I will always remember. How do you try to write about something which has given you so much to remember? How do you try to let other people know why the loss is such a big deal? How do you try to let other people know that, no, this is not nonsense grieving? I tried hard to pour it all out here, but my post can never justify the feeling of sorrow over an icon lost.

It is with a sad heart that I write this post and say that I couldn’t see you, I couldn’t be there to see how Glenda brought down what Reming didn’t. I couldn’t go home to see you who have been a part in the journey I now call “Chasing Dreams in Reality”. Even when you’ve been uprooted, your glory still shines about. I feel sad for the generations that are grieving with me but I feel even more for the generations to come who will never get to experience all that we had with you. I feel even more sad because the cliche “You only know the value of something once you’ve lost it.” is what happened. I must say, and I know a lot will agree, that BU won’t ever be the same without you. Posts, tweets, statuses, and poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.

No, CenTree. You will never be forgotten. I will always remember.

And so will hundreds of thousands more.

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  • Reply Jastene Galacio January 17, 2015 at 9:20 am

    wow memories are built in this tree..
    I hope this will stay strong.
    I want to hug the tree. 🙂

  • Reply Superaena January 20, 2015 at 1:37 am

    It was already destroyed by the typhoon 🙁

  • Reply Kai September 4, 2016 at 8:50 am

    Awww this is soooo touching! So this is the CenTree that my friends from BU talks about! I hope to see this too hehe

    • Reply Rej Relova September 5, 2016 at 1:47 pm

      It’s not there anymore. 🙁 Only the remnants.

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