Settling in, budgeting, and readjusting—as the new term caters to more face-to-face classes for different degree programs, students who live outside the metro were obligated to leave the comfort of their homes and move into the buzzing city of Manila to continue their education and pursue their dreams at Benilde
Heavy traffic, pollution, and high prices plague the minds of Filipinos when talking about Manila. While most of the population is no stranger to such, students from different provinces face a new environment, separate from the one they call home. This year welcomes more new dormitory students than ever, hailing from batches 120 to 122—a fiesta of new faces for the college and Manila to welcome home.
The Benildean interviewed five Benildeans from different provinces and cities on their first experience living in Manila for their face-to-face classes. In the first year of CHED’s push for colleges to prioritize face-to-face learning after the lockdown, students begin to rediscover the Benildean experience through the lens of living in the middle of a bustling city.
Among the list of things that could go wrong, ID 120 AB Multimedia Arts student Blaze Antiniolos recalls his worries on the day of his move to Manila. “Andami ko kasing pinack, ‘di ko naman siya nagamit agad. Since umuuwi naman ako ng weekends, sana ‘yung iba different day ko na lang dinala,” he says, though relieved how everything else laid out nicely without trouble.
“There are problems sa province pero iba ‘yung problems dito sa Manila,” ID 121 Architecture student Kevin Charles Altarejos points out, explaining how “lax” his life back home was compared to how it is now living away. The change in environment has prompted him into an adjustment period, learning the many ways the city moves.
While for some, like ID 121 Architecture student Robert Kervine Tan, they felt the transition from Cebu City to Manila to be more so a transition towards independence. “I wouldn’t be able to approach certain people right away [...] It’s going to be a challenge also to meet new people who could be someone I can trust,” he says, wanting a group of friends he can always approach for help as he has back home.
Tripping over in the LRT
Coming from Imus, Cavite, ID 122 AB Multimedia Arts student Kian Jade Manguiat only had a few issues with transitioning from the General Manila Area, “Mas sanay lang (ako) sa Cavite since dito kasi (sa Manila) maraming tao and sasakyan, medyo overwhelming siya sa ‘kin.” Antiniolos felt the same with the unexpected amount of people around. “Sa (Kawit) kasi, marami nang tao pero ‘di ko in-expect here lalo ‘pag gabi na andami ring (tao) [...] students… workers,” he says, which explains the big difference living in Manila poses to other populated cities as well.
“For some reason, hindi ko inexpect na ganun kabilis mababawasan ‘yung allowance ko. ‘Di ko inexpect na mas mahal ang cost of living here,” Antiniolos airs out his frustration when it comes to budgeting while living in a dorm. “Siguro kasi, sa province, mostly ‘yung parents ko ‘yung gumagastos, nahirapan ako nung una sa budgeting,” he continues, realizing the possible reality of what costs are made everyday back at home.
ID 122 AB Photography student Athena Chloe Janda later rants about the struggles that come with navigating one’s way in Manila. “Walang kamatayang traffic talaga,” she says, “(Mayroong) iba-iba na ‘yung ruta, minsan maliligaw ka na lang—iba na pala ruta ng place na ‘to.” To which Altarejos does thank the presence of navigation apps that helped her find her way around.
The many faces of the rush hour
Though it could be easy to ask for directions, language interestingly became another factor in adjusting to Manila. “I really don’t speak Tagalog in Cebu; since (we’re in) Benilde naman, it’s easy to communicate with students who can be flexible enough to adjust for you,” Tan says, thankful for Benildeans being able to speak both Tagalog and English. Altarejos, a Bicolano speaker, relates himself as well, “Sa Bicol, sanay na ako sa (Bicolano), here sa Manila, ‘yung mga tao, they usually talk in Tagalog and English, and hindi ako sanay to hear ‘yung mix na ganon.”
This experience isn’t at all limited to people far from Manila, however, as Antiniolos, though comfortable with English, still experienced some adjusting to the amount of English being used, recalling how they spoke Tagalog back home in Kawit most of the time. Experiences like that of Tan, Altarejos, and Antiniolos show how different people are within the same country.
Finally, your new home
Moving was a bittersweet experience for these Benildeans. Janda explains how as you start to enjoy the freedoms of dorm life, you also begin to miss your family—something challenging, especially for those who have more than a few bus rides away. But after living in Manila for a week, she realizes she might even want to stay here when she works in the future.
The importance of transitioning into Manila isn’t just about the culture. Most of it’s a transition into adulthood, at the very least. “Dapat matuto kang mag-ipon, dapat matuto kang mag-grocery, maglaba, mamalantsa, and especially pagbubudget,” Janda claims, urging fellow Benildeans to save up money and to separate wants and needs when it comes to budgeting. Her roommate, Manguiat, suggests looking for different lugaw places and cheap food stalls around Taft for a good Manila-student-friendly meal.
With Manguiat and Janda living in Benilde’s Sports and Dormitory Complex, they luckily feel the sense of a community with their roommates, welcomed by many like-minded people. They all discover this urban jungle together to make up for the lost years of college experiences caused by the pandemic.
Being in a place you’re unfamiliar with may leave you overwhelmed with shock and stress. However, there is always a silver lining that can be looked forward to in the end.
For Tan, he expressed that “You’ll eventually find yourself in the long run [...] I couldn't see or envision myself in a different environment [...] You’re going to go through this type of change [...] It takes time to be in that high place where you want to be.”
As for Altarejos, one key takeaway he’d like to impart to other students is to learn how to live by yourself, “Ask for advice from your parents or friends para smooth sailing ka while living in Manila [...] Once na ginawa mo na, familiar ka na.”
For Altarejos, Antiniolos, Janda, Manguiat, and Tan, leaving home would eventually happen, but with their mindset, these new “Taftians” face it head on.
From bidding farewell to their homes and comfort zones to taking a more challenging route, these Benildeans share an experience; the classic college experience of navigating the bumpy road to independence. After just a month’s long hurdle in a face-to-face setting, it all boils down to experiencing Benilde personally—all the good and the bad that come with it.