There is always a story behind every picture.
I was 16 years old on my first day at the Ateneo de Manila University, and we had an organised group walking tour of the huge campus.
I remember us stopping near the Social Sciences building, close to Leong Hall, to catch our breath at midday, and I remember looking around at a beautiful little park-like walk with stone benches and more trees.
Clog, clog, clog.
Something was making a weird sound. I looked around, and then I saw it, and I saw them.
I saw a structure: one of a few in that little triangular park of grass and green. It was made of multiple pieces of big bamboo, and they were hung from a strong metal fixture. From that distance, it looked like a spiral of bamboo. They were positioned a few inches off the ground, and I could see that the bamboo had made the weird sound when a couple entered the little spiral-like bamboo structure. I forced myself to look away to give them their privacy.
But something clicked in me then. I found myself sighing, “One day, I’m going to bring my future husband here.” It was a wistful wishing of a 16-year-old romantic.
In my next four years at the Ateneo, through the many times I would pass by it on the way home or to classes and the library, I amazingly never dared enter that structure alone. I had a few guys come along, and a few times I attempted to bring them to that structure, but somehow, it just never happened.
That art structure, which I only now discovered is called “The Chime Halo,” also served a second purpose for me: it was my little beacon of hope amidst the many difficulties over the four years: it is, as they have all said, one thing to be admitted to the Ateneo, but another thing to graduate. Oftentimes I would look at the structure, and remember that somewhere out in the world, God had someone for me cheering me on and praying for me as much as I was for him.
When I moved to Australia, I abandoned all hopes of ever bringing someone to the Halo, as I thought I would never go back to the Ateneo. I buried this as another secret hope. Little did I know that five years after graduating, God would bring me back to this place; back to the university that destroyed my faith, built my love for my country and nation, and moulded my mind. After five years of refusing to come back to this university, I did come back…with my fiancé.
Clog, clog, clog.
Nine years after I first saw it, Zac and I (with a chaperone, my brother and co-alumni Josh) stepped into that curious bamboo structure, which was still surprisingly standing where it always used to stand, there on that little round patch of grass and green inside beautiful private university grounds in Quezon City. Amazingly, it was not a spiral as I always imagined it was. It was simply…oval. But that didn’t dissuade the fondness I always had for it.
As I looked up at the sky from inside the Chime Halo with my beloved, I whispered a quick prayer of amazement and thanks again to my amazing God, who had taken my simple wistful wishing when I was 16 and answered it with a yes almost 9 years later.
Clog, clog, clog.
The bamboo hitting each other made a strange hollow sounds, as we made our way out of them. The sound will forever remind me that God is never late, and He answers even the most little, seemingly inconsequential things we dream of. That structure will always remind me of hope. Hope in God.
The “Chime Halo” on the left, with an art series, always constant but mostly overlooked in this beautiful campus.