Author's note: Here's the deal. I have no tolerance for rude people to just get in my face about my work. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, for example, kindly tell me nicely; because some of the things I write and post here arent exactly the original audience I had when writing it. Alright? Alright.

So, for those who aren't rude and would still like to read on. Fine, I'll let you in on the key metaphor I have for this essay of mine. ACP stands for Aerospace Cadets of the Philippines. Its a military training program in our school that requires all senior high school students to partake in it for 50 of our Physical eduaction grade. Its a really horrible 2 hour torture in the 3 o' clock sun every Thursday. There are physical punishments, drills, commands and exams. It was the cause of T-shirt tans of the students. ACP was created to train students into the reserve force of the military-or in ACP's case, the air force. It sucks. Everyone hates it. And the ACP open encampment is like a boot camp in military for 3 days for those who are interested in joining and those who are failing ACP. Its an all out attack on your physical, mental and emotional being because its a nonstop activity with obstacle courses, bravery tests where they leave you in the really dark school corridors alone, riddles and night navigation, etc.

So there.


By: Michelle del Rosario

-And understandings…Yes, whether we admit it or not, we do have a lot of them in our lives. Perhaps we would want to think that we know everything about something or someone—but that is where we are often very wrong.

I made some misconceptions lately due to an activity I underwent very recently.

I am a graduate of the recently held ACP Open Encampment, last March 18-19. That may not be much of a big deal to most of those who are reading this at the moment, but it is to me.

You see I have never really been fond of ACP. No, wait. That's a big understatement. I mean to say I really, really hated ACP. In my belief, it was pointless. Not only was it the cause of my weekly fatigue and headache, my sunburn, my darker—no, not tan—skin, and my dread for Thursdays, but I don't ever plan to use it in my life. Ever. So, you can understand why I think it is still a complete mystery as to what exactly came over me to sign up for Open Encampment. I told myself it was for the experience that everyone was saying it offered, but knew that I really didn't know what I signed up for.

As the day grew nearer I felt more nervous about running with our backpacks, doing punishments and possibly being inspected with facts that I did not remember or know. I had a mixture of dread and excitement as it was coming ever so closer. I admit; I had second, third, fourth and fifth thoughts about continuing to join or getting my money back. I told myself I could do it; and so, when the day finally came, I was confident about surviving the two days.

However, even at the very beginning of the camp, I was the first casualty and the first customer of the medic station. I couldn't do the physical punishments. I told myself that I could probably do punishments later on, but I realized that I couldn't. That, however, didn't stop me from trying to really find out what I came to the camp for. As the activities went on and on, I went through them one by one until I finally found myself holding a certificate and three badges, showing the success I and my flight achieved over the course of the encampment.

But that wasn't all that I walked away from camp with.

I can tell you this much now: I had fun. Regardless of how much my body hurts, I still enjoyed the time I spent with everyone that joined. Not only did I learn more about drills, procedure and stuff like that, but I also learned something more important. I realized my limitations and my capabilities during the course of it all. Meeting new people and experiencing new things really taught me that I can do things myself; and that I shouldn't be afraid. I was fortunate enough to meet people I got along with and felt comfortable with even if we've all only met recently. I now really understand the value of teamwork and unity—that it helps you get to places you can't reach on your own. I learned the value of trust, that at those times when you can't see, you have to put trust on the people who can and learn to use your judgement to know which words are true or false. I learned to be alert of things both seen and unseen; that I should prepare myself for what might come and even for what might not. I learned about duty and responsibility and that it really is something inevitable and something you have to uphold. I learned to be confident and to give my best in the actions that I do and the things I have to achieve but to know my limitations and not to push myself too hard. And I, lastly, learned that amidst all the trials and tribulations of life, there is always room for fun, happiness, and enjoyment—that not everything can be fun and not everything has to be serious. All that in a day and a half—phew.

Yeah, I guess it's fair to say that I was wrong about ACP and what it entails. What I once thought was stupid and pointless really had a lot of meaning and depth into it. I thought it once to be something not worth my time and effort; that I often wondered just what the officers and the CO's liked about it so much. But now I know and if I had know it back then, I would have probably pursued being an officer as well.

Even if my body now aches, what I learned was more important and worth the trouble.

It's the same with a lot of other experiences in our lives. Some say that they hate their lives and regret doing a lot of things they did once. Some judge those experiences too quickly and try to avoid them in order to escape the pain it might cause—without really understanding and really going through that experience fully. Some close themselves up in shells to protect themselves without knowing that the only way to really build defenses against bad experiences is to go through them directly.

I'm scared of leaving high school. I don't want to leave the comfort and the safety it makes me feel. To now be considered a college student is something big. College has a lot of factors that I don't feel or am too sure about—and that's why, at first, I was really scared to leave. But, after all that I've learned, I figured that I neither have a choice nor a way to escape the inevitable. That, in the same way, growing up and becoming an adult is inevitable too. I don't really want to leave school yet, but I have to learn to be strong and prepare myself for what is to come next. I don't want to have the same misconceptions about college as did about ACP. I don't want to imbed in my mind that it is hard or that I can't go through it. I want to be able to accept the fact that it's there and it is something I can't escape. Once I can do that, I can be able to prepare myself better for it so that, in the end, I can really learn something from it. I want all my experiences in life to be—if not easy or simple—a lesson learned each time I go through something new. I want to be brave.

So, I guess I just wanted to say that no one should judge things too quickly—especially if you're just hearing second-hand information. We should go through things as they come and be able to learn and adapt to them. Nothing in life is ever pointless. Everything and everyone has a reason for being who or what they are, and that should shouldn't base everything from just a first or second impression.

Perhaps I will no longer have another chance to have a bravery test in ACP, but there are more important things to face than ghosts from my over-active imagination—there are more things to clarify in life than to clarify the existence or the presence of a ghost or spirit. There's just way too much to live through and for.

And I'm not going to live my life based on misconceptions.

I loved, love and always will love my beloved Alma Mater. And even if I'm moving on to bigger things, those will never be more important than my home…here: in CSA.