Even at approximately 1,000+ students, I consider LSQC High School as a relatively private educational institution- be it in size, population, and perhaps in ego.
After all, if we compare our alma mater to the big shots such as La Salle Greenhills, Ateneo, Xavier High School and many more, we seem… cute. Our cuteness and relative fame (or lack thereof) is reinforced by this common incident I often experience when making acquaintances at De La Salle University, Manila.
“Saan ka nag-study ng high school?” speaks a beautiful woman who most probably studied at the South (Alabang and Paranaque areas), with a konyo accent that I would need to get used to.
I will then reply, “Sa Lourdes-“
“Ah, there sa Madaluyong?” she would try to finish my sentence, but to my dismay, she only knows Lourdes School Mandaluyong. I would go on and try to speak of landmarks- the lechonan, Banawe Street, and all the wonderful things I could think of. But alas, only our lucky “brother” school would be recognized.
It is with this story in mind that I forced myself to reflect: college means hitting the rest button: no one knows me, my grades, my accolades, my embarrassing instances, and my moments of glory– a double-edged sword of a reset button, indeed. All I had was this cute ego, previously bombarded with the echoes of Christian Leadership and Gospel brotherhood, mixed with hints of an underdog mentality as I thought of the rich-kid students, child-of-owners, and other worldly geniuses.
At first, I felt anxious. How should I continue to mingle with diverse set of individuals in classes and organizations? Does adapting to a prestigious University’s culture mean adopting a persona far from what I have cultivated during my LSQC days? Should I drink every Happy Thursdays, party hard during gatherings and experience ‘freedom’ which LSQC may have prohibited me from living?
I cannot only imagine the diversity of cultures in the University of the Philippines, but even though DLSU is a Catholic and private school, the mixture of people is indeed varied. Torn between spectrums and combinations of the easy-go-lucky-party-peeps and the cum-laude-at-all-cost-nerds, I needed to retrace my way back to my roots. After all, a decade of Lourdesian education is hard to undo.
With this mindset that I am an underdog, I yearned to work harder than my seemingly gifted peers– be it in money or brains. With few successes that I would be fortunate to bathe myself on, I tried to not let my ego evolve into an uncontrollable air-filled monster. With doses of failures, I forced myself to think it is even more fortunate to feel them early on as they are the dips and signals that would eventually direct me to my Personal legend – or God’s intentions for me.
Armed with my love for writing– thanks to English and Filipino classes from my Alma Mater, tempered by the logic and systematicness of Math and Science, and refined by the holistic honing of MAKABAYAN subjects, I found the confidence to say, “Kaya ko naman pala makipagsabayan sa kanila.”
Adopting a paradoxical lens of a cute ego with the relentlessness to pursue greatness, I began to see that what truly separated excellent students from the superficial ones is the ability to ask the right questions, and not merely memorize pre-ordained yet falsifiable answers. It is recognizing a version of humility, perhaps subconsciously inspired by the previously continuous bombardments of St. Francis, St. Pio, Mama Mary, and Jesus Christ’s examples- having the faith in one’s self that is possible to do well like the Father in Heaven, yet finding the ability to remain grounded. I thought, “So this was what ‘Christian leadership’ felt like as a college student preparing for a career felt like.”
After finishing a recognized management degree on time and being awarded with Most Outstanding Thesis, I felt validated that the Lourdesian Education, though small in ego, is not in any way inferior to the Lasallians, the Ateneans, and the Xavierans. Perhaps a Lourdesian is destined to have a niche of being an underdog-with nothing to lose but everything to gain!
Looking back I remember little of formulas, the facts, and the textbook answers. Yes, I know they are important and they should not be overlooked, but the true essence of a Lourdesian education goes back to the values- when our advisers would scold us lovingly; when our strict teachers would fail yet encourage us to push further; when we sometimes forsake academics to help our friends in need, invariably passing some subjects in the high school of life.
When I was in high school, a part of me found the motto of “Becoming like Christ” somewhat cheesy and sometimes corny; yet in a college life resembling the status quo of style over substance, following Lourdesian values becomes a welcome respite to those who want to pursue greatness in a differently significant way.
The truth of the matter is, it does not matter whether a Lourdesian is the archetypal cream honor student, the all-star athlete, the great president or the regular joe who knows how to have fun yet bring it on when life offers challenges. What matters is being value-driven in a results-at-all-cost world, and knowing when to shift gears and excel despite a humble underdog ego.
For the cream and semi-cream classes, sustain your excellence and let it carry over to college. A special mention to the regular classes-realize that college is your time to shine, and there is no better arena to display your Lourdesian underdog guts than in college.
Because beyond the four walls of LSQC, what a Lourdesian should realize is a more relatable version of Christian leadership, a version fit to leading one’s self:
Cute in ego, but Titan-like in values and guts.