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--- Janielle Ann Vallestero


--- by TJ Tijam

It was on the eve of January 1, 2000 that we witnessed spectacular production numbers and firework displays as all the countries around the world welcomed the much awaited turn of the century. But for most Filipinos, they anticipated 2000 as just another ordinary calendar year. In the Philippines, the New Year started with a bang when the sensational Vizconde massacre finally received the course of justice. Then suspects who came from prominent families were convicted and were sentenced with reclusion perpetua. This event was a landmark in Philippine history as many Filipinos were believed to reinforce their trust on the Philippine judicial system. It was in February that a controversial economic scam was exposed. The BW Resources was accused of irregularities such as insider trading and stock market manipulation. The owner of which is a close friend of the President. And then the country experienced a serious problem on peace and order. It was in March that the Estrada administration launched an all-out war in Mindanao to crush insurgency and secessionist movements that displaced thousands of civilians in the South. Bombings occurred in various parts of the country as well, mall and other establishments were subject to bomb scares. And then the Philippines was taken to global limelight with the kidnapping of 20 people (local and foreign nationals) staged by the Abu Sayyaf. The Abu Sayyaf demanded huge amount of ransom money for the release of their hostages. It was in July that the tragic Payatas trashslide took the lives of over 200 people then living and making a living from the condemned dumpsite. During the rainy seasons, several typhoons left most Central Luzon provinces flooded for months and greatly affected the lives of those who were displaced, and their properties destroyed, leaving many of our countrymen homeless. The oil prices continue to increase, the peso was bleeding to the dollar, high interest rates, there was too little investments left millions of Filipinos unemployed and underemployed. But the most popular event of 2000 for the Philippines is the IMPEACHMENT TRIAL of Pres. Estrada. It started on October when Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis Singson, a known close friend of the President did an expose, he claimed that Mr. Estrada was receiving jueteng money. The long list of criticism against the President like his being incompetent, being immoral, having poor leadership and being identified with cronies was worsened by Singson's allegation. And for the opposition, and to the organized sectors of the society, it is now the high time to call for Mr. Estrada's resignation. With an overwhelming support of Congressmen from the House of Representatives who signed the impeachment complaint against the President, and various politicians bolting out from the ruling coalition LAMP and some cabinet members tendering their resignation. The Articles of Impeachment were automatically transmitted on November 13 to the Senate. On the same day, Sen. Drilon and Rep. Manny Villar were ousted as Senate President and House Speaker, respectively. November seems to be the national month of protest, several rallies were held by the different sectors of the society asking the president to RESIGN. December 7 was the first day of the impeachment trial, the Philippine Supreme Court Chief Justice Davide presided over the impeachment court while the senators will serve as judges. Several documents were presented, many witnesses testified. As the year 2000 ends, the Impeachment Tribunal held the first 12 days of the first impeachment trial not only in the history of the Philippines, but all throughout Asia. As the Season of Christmas was awaited, so too was the coming of the year, 2001. But the year 2000 as it started with a bang, also ended with a bang. Five bombings occurred all over different places in the Metropolis, figures says around 18 people died, and over 80 people injured, some are still in critical condition. These ruthless acts of aggression must be condemned, senseless killings of innocent people has no place in our society, it's already 2001 and the culprits were not barbarics that seem to have lived during by gone era. May the victims be served with due justice.  

I have been in this organization for 2 years now and I have witnessed a transition from one Security Council after another, one batch of applicants that became members . . .and more applicants. I have been part of the dynamism of relationships and organizational endeavors and what comes with it - both the joys and the sorrows. But most importantly, I have been a component of the friendships that blossomed and matured under an atmosphere of camaraderie and mutual respect.
I have enjoyed being a part of this organization. I have gained friendships that I have been dreaming of since the moment I set foot in this college. It was the transition period from high school to college that established my fears about being friends with college people who I know I don't know anything about, especially women, for my exposure to women classmates was non-existent of the several years of grade school and high school. I frankly don't know how to be part of a coeducational system or a new kind of educational system. I was at a loss. 
But then I discovered this organization that guided me away from my fears. Being part of this organization taught me a lot. I really learned a lot, from organizing activities to people relationships, and of course dealing with women without any form of malice. I have gained enough, that for sure. Thus I believe that I am a better person than the yesteryears. 
I love this organization, I really do. I love being with my orgmates, who are basically my barkada. I love the way we joke about anything, which mostly I believe at my expense. But I don't mind for it is the people laughing with me that matter. I find it amazing that helping out is a very natural trait of a member of this organization. You can be rest assured that when faced with a problem or even a minor obstacle, people will aid you, may it be personal or academic in nature.

As a graduating student, I have my regrets of not knowing people longer. I am wishing that if I entered earlier, I could have known more people and developed more friendships. Or if I could stay longer, I will know people longer. But nonetheless, I have no regrets for I am happy and I have to plan my future post-college scenario.
What lies beyond? Are we going to be in constant contact? Is it for a worthwhile friendship or just to practice patronage politics? Am I asking the right questions? 
I wish I know. I sincerely hope I know.

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