Shifting paradigms

… and new mindsets. To my beloved classmates and individuals who consider (or have considered) the University of the Philippines Manila their second (or first) home, this may ring a bell.

My degree program (for my undergrad), Organizational Communication (OrCom), celebrated its Silver anniversary with a conference entitled “Shifting Paradigms, New Mindsets: Strategic Approaches to Managing the Communication Function in Organizations.” It was held on a Saturday, a rather normal one, more than a year ago. I was in my junior year then and my batch (class of 2011) was tasked to organize this once in a lifetime event. And once in a lifetime it truly was.

One of our course requirements for the subject Group Discussion and Conference Leadership, otherwise known as Speech Communications 137, was to make this conference successful. Easier read than done like anything in this world. Speech 137 held two classes to accommodate the entire batch, hence the conference’s morning session and the session I was supposed to co-host: the afternoon session.

Now if you’re paying attention to this post, have a few minutes to spare, and Google images using the keywords September 26, 2009, assuming we get the same results, you would know what did happen that day in the Philippines from the 5th picture on the second row.

While we were in what we called the campus’ Little Theater, busied with the day’s pressures and excitement, Ondoy was doing an event of its own. I would like to say I was sheltered into that space for hours because it wasn’t until lunch time when I realized why my parents were flooding me with text messages asking if we were okay. I was so absorbed with listening- okay, partly- and just being there anticipating if the afternoon session’s going to work out as well as the morning session did. Little did I know my mind could have been preoccupied with something more urgent at that time. Little did I know that people, regardless of wealth, would lose their homes that day. The gravity of the event is just unthinkable.

As you would expect, a lot of us weren’t able to go home that day. We spent the night at school, getting most information from friends who had internet on their phones. I slept on our cold classroom floor, the classroom where we hold our Speech 137 classes.

The morning session’s lessons urged itself be learned that very same day.

I went home the next day with a feeling of changed excitement and an extra sense of adventure as I’ve trodden flooded paths to get to the train. A little over a year later, I’m treading (a) different path(s) again, rethinking keywords that I can want to remember from the morning session’s keynote speaker: Vision, Dreams, Advocacy, Crisis and Change. And this time around, I’m not letting anything shelter me from insignificant worries (redundancy emphasized) anymore. I’m going out of my little theater faced with the consequence that I might have to tread flooded, dirty, unwanted paths, but that would not consume me (or so I pray). Because that is the way home.

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