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Seeing my Facebook friends posting photos of themselves wearing the “sablay” or toga together with their certificates of achievement gives me a roller coaster of emotions.

I feel happy and proud – especially for the friends I personally know and whom I have witnessed their educational journey – that after years of dedication, hard work, obstacles overcame, and sacrifices made along the way, they are finally a step closer to their goals and dreams. My sincerest congratulations to them for this success.

However, thinking about how another batch of completers and graduates missed the opportunity and the energy of a much-anticipated live recognition and graduation ceremony, I can’t help but feel melancholic for them and myself as well.

Two more years (in God’s grace), I will be graduating from college. I have always dreamt of my college graduation rites. I already even had planned on what I’d wear or how I’d walk up the stage to get my diploma. But reality hit me hard, that the possibility of graduating in a face-to-face set-up, as what I have always looked forward to, may unlikely happen given the gravity of the circumstances we are in right now.

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And that’s where another emotion comes in.

I feel outraged because, as any student of this time would say, I was robbed of my experience to enjoy the beauty of my campus, to savor moments with my schoolmates, and to live a completely normal college life.

All this is because of a global pandemic that has stricken and taken away millions of lives.

I am even more dismayed that this isn’t just about the pandemic. It’s also how the whole nation has been managing the crisis. If only we had a better set of administration which gives immediate attention and solution to the cries of each sector whilst in the pandemic, we wouldn’t have to worry that much in terms of the possibility of the safe reopening of our schools. We could have reopened the schools, like in other countries, if the vaccination rollout program was fast and medical solutions were efficient. We could have prevented a tragedy of errors, corruption, and “politicking” amid the crisis if the system we have only focused on serving the masses.

The call for a #LigtasNaBalikEskwela amplifies the fact that not every student is privileged to continue remote learning as not everyone has the means to possess a gadget which seems to be a requirement in this kind of set-up or maybe not everyone is skilled enough to learn on their own. The truth is, many were forced to stop schooling due to financial reasons and some because of mental health issues aggravated by the pandemic, among others.

Whatever reasons there might be, the thing is, by reopening our schools as soon as possible, we are also reviving the hope of many of our youth and their families to pursue the education they need to land a better future ahead of them.

And while we wait for that time to come that our call will be heard, of course, we should also do our part. As citizens, we have responsibilities to fulfill as simple as following health and safety protocols to keep us safe from any ill, helping out one another, and other social obligations like registering for the 2022 elections and being critical in our choices.

As we keep ourselves busy doing these duties, we’ll never notice that time passes by and until then, it’s graduation season once again. I just hope by that time, it would no longer be virtual claps we’d be receiving but diplomas personally granted in our hands, signifying that we survived the roller-coaster ride.

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is a student-intern reporter of Palawan News and is currently taking up Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Media Studies at University of the Philippines Visayas. She covers special reports in tourism, business and other human interest stories. Her interests includes singing, painting, and volunteering in civic organizations like the Girl Scouts of the Philippines.