Friday, September 13, 2002

Jenny De Dios left for Japan yesterday, and Paul E. left for Stanford the day before that.

Shucks. I’ll miss ‘em both.

Paul E. Here’s a guy who was valedictorian of his high school batch in La Salle, which comes with a full scholarship to La Salle University, but he chooses to go to Ateneo because he knows it’s the right thing to do. He maintains a damn near impossible average. He gets the departmental award, is offered a P100,000/month job after getting his first degree, but turns it down to finish his studies in Humanities. He graduates summa cum laude. Many believe he should’ve been valedictorian, and that it was bungled by politics. He was also very active in his organization, Heights, serving in different editorial positions his last 2 or 3 years. He’s also a writer, and a fine artist. Knows how to cook. Full of general information.

Basically, the stuff of genius. He’s going to Stanford because he can, because he’s not paying for it. You know what he’s going to be doing in return for the waived tuition fee?

Study dark matter.

That’s right. You don’t know it, neither does your seatmate, or your cousin. Only people like Paul know what dark matter is, and can apply themselves to studying it so that he can get into Stanford free (it’s actually conceptual matter smaller than atoms, the space between stars or some such ambiguous description, theorized to be multiplying since the universe is literally expanding, which at one point will be so much that its generated gravity [because mass is proportional to gravity] should collapse the entire universe, including time, into a superdense point, also called the Big Crunch, the reverse of the Big Bang and the end of our existence [and the possible beginning of another]).

What’s amazing is that Paul does not have an ego. He does not have “issues.” He is down-to-Earth, approachable, amiable, funny, and one of the nicest people you’ll find. Ever, anywhere, in history. And he’s gone, to make us proud and get rich and fund our projects, hopefully. His girlfriend’s a genius, too. She’s at Georgetown now, also a scholarship. Something in chemistry.

In Paul’s “Michelle” shoebox, I found her transcript. Imagine that. He keeps her transcript.

One day they will breed genius children who will perfect cold fusion and reverse global warming, make batteries that never run out and all of us, all over the world, will be working for them.

Good thing I’m already friends with the father.

As we were leaving his house on his despedida: “You don’t have to worry about staying in touch. That’s the good thing with everyone addicted to blogging.”
Jenny De Dios of the mean hug, the generous laugh, the gracious smile and the kind heart that the De Dios family has patented. She and her sister Jeline are also some of the finest, nicest, most charming, most wickedly funny people you will meet. Fiercely intelligent, Jenny is nonetheless able to appreciate lowbrow humor, which is something everyone should do. She’s going to Japan to live on her own, to study. She’ll be living in an apartment all by herself, will force herself to learn how to cook, clean, launder, and other fun games. Commuting, too. She’ll be spending Christmas there, alone, traveling, seeing Japan swallowed in snow, seeing its mountains and all those other places she’s read about in Memoirs of a Geisha or Haruki Murakami novels.

I met Jenny in the Ateneo Musicians’ Pool. Jeline wasn’t in Ateneo yet. Even then she was fascinated with Japan (even looked Japanese). She lent me lots of Rumiko Takahashi stuff: Ranma ½ novels and Maison Ikkoku. For her, it’ll be the culmination of that fascination that began in high school. She’ll only be gone a year, but we’ll still miss her. And how brave, to completely and utterly immerse yourself in a separate culture for a full year, alone. I suppose the best way to learn all those domestic skills is to jump in at the deep end of the pool.

I don’t know if I could to that.

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