■ John Kenneth Zapata
During my first days as a freshie, I was just a typical student driven by a clichéd set of goals: finish college, get a job, earn money, and survive whatever comes after. I poised myself to achieve everything—the earlier, the better. The rest is unnecessary. Until I met you.
It was on the 15th of February when a friend of mine introduced me to you. I never thought that our first jittering ‘gamble-just-for-fun’ meeting—the time when I shared every piece of me for you to review, would be my turning point toward who I am today.
Upon meeting you, I realized that there’s more to being an Isko than focusing on academics. It was you who brought me to my second family which I never thought I would treasure. You also helped me find the purpose of my craft: to shed light on the stories, dreams, and hard-fought struggles of the unheard.
Learning how much my works can contribute in amplifying their voices motivates me to give it my all—just as how you would always do fearlessly. Thanks to you, not only did I get to widen my horizons with all the far-flung places we have visited, you have also propelled me to take my first step beyond my comfort zone.
Our story, however, was not always a chirpy ride atop the world—the people dear to me have looked down on our relationship. It was tough, but I kept standing by you just like how you continuously stood by the underprivileged.
It has also been emotionally and mentally taxing at times, by assuming the role to inform and persuade the people with limited manpower. I even almost lost the spirit to continue. But I stayed, and nothing would beat the sense of fulfillment as we triumph over every hurdles together.
If I were to choose, I would rather keep on reliving the moments I had with you.
Someone once told me that time seemed to run faster when you’re happy with what you are doing. Man, how time flies. A few days from now, we will be celebrating our second anniversary. It has been a long and draining ride, but it was fun, and I have no intention of leaving you on the road ahead.
As I wrote this piece, I saw how far we have come and have realized how much I am indebted to you.
Thank you Kulê for setting my eyes on the things that matter. I may have a lot of shortcomings, but you continuously help me rise beyond my limits—molding me to become a responsible, critical, and informed artist for the people. You gave my craft direction when I was lost and filled all the gaps in my being.
Thank you for making my ‘legit’ first love meaningful—in a year full of clumsy and regrettable decisions, you are one of the very few right decisions I have taken as a freshie. As a token of my gratitude, I vow to continue on practicing the medium with principles that you have instilled in me as an artist—critical, responsible, and fearless, and to pass it on to the future members of our family. ■
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