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Blue Roast Stories

Blue Roast has always been one of my favorite events in the Ateneo. For those who don’t know what it is, it’s when the graduating batch gathers for one last night a few days before graduation to enjoy a night of roasted food, beer, funny awards, and, of course, the tradition of giving blue roses to that special someone.

Whether it’s their first crush in Ateneo or someone they couldn’t have imagined college without (the two most popular answers I get when I ask people who they’ll be giving their blue roses to), one thing is always for sure: it always makes for a good story. And as a storyteller and an occasional hopeless romantic, blue rose stories are a couple of my favorites.

I’ve heard a lot because I love asking people. I had a friend (a dormer) who borrowed his friend’s car just so he could deliver the rose to the person he liked. I’ve heard a stories of people who’ve received more than 5 roses, one of them even got more than 10. I’ve even heard of someone, believe it or not, who actually tried to eat her blue rose.

Out of the many I’ve been blessed to hear, though, there are three stories that have always been my favorite. And I really consider myself very lucky to see parts of these three stories happen before me. While they were happening, I already knew that they were a couple that I wanted to share with other people and I’m glad I finally got to writing them down. After a good two and three years after, they’re still stories that, I believe, hit home.

Before I get to telling the stories, I just want to take a moment to say thank you to my good friends: AJ, Fidel, Ariel, and Batman for letting me share their stories. Seeing them happen was one thing but hearing them from you over a quick chat after all these years really made them into another. I only hope you love hearing them from another person’s point of view as much as I love telling them to other people.

1) The risk-taker

This is my friend, AJ. Most of batch 2012 already knows his story if it wasn’t obvious in the photo below.

Photo c/o: Matt Lee

During the rose-giving segment of the night, he went up on stage and you can guess what he did. The reason why AJ’s story is one of my favorites is because it has most of the elements any good story: the never-will-we-back-down friends, a little alcohol, and the heart that makes a person want to try and do something amazing for someone who deserves it.

That night, Never the Strangers was the band assigned to play when everyone started giving out their roses. As fate would have it, AJ happened to be very good friends with Ace, Nash, and the rest of the group. He had already thought about giving his blue rose to a certain volleyball player since their senior’s retreat. The original plan was he was just supposed to give it to her on the night of Blue Roast. That’s it, no gimmicks. But we all know how matters of the heart never ever really go according to plan.

One thing led to another and he ended up backstage with the band and Ace asked him, “Pare, ano nang plano?” Though a little shocked, he took a look at their setlist for the night, asked if he could rearrange it a bit for what he had planned, and, in his own words, with his blue rose in one hand and his heart in another, he just let it out and made it count.

“I’d give my blue rose to someone who would make me take a risk, and the fact that I’m up here on stage, speaking in front of all of you, I think that’s quite a risk,” he uttered on the mic. And as he said her name and asked where she was, with loud cheering, blinding lights, and the sound of Bago Mahuli Ang Lahat playing in the background, he ran to the volleyball table where she was sitting. According to AJ, the first thing he got was a slap on the arm from his good friend, the rose’s recipient.

No, they didn’t end up together but when I asked AJ if he had any regrets about it he said he didn’t have any. “… In Mirador, I planned to give my blue rose to someone special, and I did. I planned to say what I had to say, and I did. I did what I had to do, and that’s okay. No one can take that away from me and diba, ilan ba sa atin ang pwedeng magsabi na “pare, I was able to share my blue rose moment with all my batchmates, and it was worth it.” make it count pare. So no regrets here,”  he told me.

When I asked if he had any advice for those still thinking about who to give their blue roses, this is what he said:

Always follow your heart. Your mind might second-guess yourself, but the heart knows what it wants. And no matter how much your mind tries to say you can’t do it, your heart will always help you do it. Puso lang pare. Give it to that person who made you take that risk. Pare, for sure, by the end of the night, everything will be all worth it.”

He gave his blue rose to Gretchen Ho.

2) The unlikely couple that ended up together

The next story belongs to my batchmates. Meet Ariel and Fidel.

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That night, they gave each other their blue roses but neither of them had any plans of doing so until the night itself. Two years down the road, they’re still together and as cheery as they are in this photo when they weren’t even together yet.

On the night of Blue Roast 2013, Fidel was on stage during the rose-giving portion. He was to serenade Batch 2013 with Michael Shimamoto, Josh Imperial, and yours truly. We watched our batchmates give out roses to each other as we played through our set. When we finished our final song: the Jason Mraz medley with the anthem of all hopeless romantics, I Won’t Give Up, we packed our instruments and stored them in the tent backstage.

While Fidel, Josh, and Shim stayed in the back, I decided to go out and look around. As soon as I got outside, I ended up bumping into Ariel and our friend, Jie. Jie was egging Ariel to push through with what she was planning to do. “Nasaan si Fidel?” Jai asked me. Ariel’s face was burning red and she didn’t look sure at all with the smile that she was wearing. Being the good friend that I am, I immediately told both of them to give me a second. After a while, I managed to pull Fidel out of backstage without telling him what was waiting for there: Ariel and her blue rose.

Just when I thought Ariel’s face was funny, I saw Fidel’s. It’s like he couldn’t believe that he just received a rose from her (and true enough after getting to ask him after all these years, he said he still couldn’t believe it.) In his own words, “When i got it from her gumuho yung mundo ko. Sa isip ko parang shet mas may betlog pa to sakin.”

As the night continued, Fidel managed to muster up the confidence, too, to give Ariel his blue rose. The funny thing, he actually dropped Ariel’s blue rose and lost it so they spent part of the night looking for it. He eventually found it by himself and gave it back to her, framed, for their first anniversary.

He knew it was Ariel’s because he snapped off part of the stem to to distinguish it from the rest. Fidel got 9 roses that night. Ariel got 6.

The only thing I love more than telling their story is looking forward to their promise of mentioning my name when they eventually get married. Hahaha!

When I asked if the love birds had any advice for the next batch of people celebrating Blue Roast,

Fidel said:

“Hindi isang pribilehiyo ang rose na ibibigay niila. It is necessary that they give it to the person they like. They owe it to themselves. Lalo na sa mga halos buong college e loving from a far ang peg. Oras niyo na. Utang niyo sa pagbibigyan niyo yang pagkakataon na yan. Maaaring yan lang ang inaabangan nya para masimulan na ang kwento ng buhay niyo. More than that, utang niyo yan sa sarili niyo. Pucha nag antay kayo ng napaka tagal, tinorture kayo ng sarili niyo sa pagkatorpe niyo, di ko kayo kayang sisihin torpe ren ako. Pero ito, may pagkakataon na, may excuse na kapalan ang muka, take advantage.

Para naman dun sa mga may beloved na:

Ipagpatuloy niyo lang yan. Lagyan niyo ng kaunting spice yung blue rose kasi alam niyo nang kayo rin magbibigayan. Pero wag niyo isiping boring na dahil may girlfriend or boyfriend na kayo. KAYO ANG TINITINGALA NG MGA SINGLE. Manatili kayong inspirasyon ng mga torpe.”

Ariel said:

“Seize the moment! Don’t overthink.”

3) The open-ended story

For personal reasons, the identities of Batman and Catwoman will remain secret. But, make no mistake, their anonymity doesn’t make their story any less amazing. To be honest, I still get chills whenever I tell this one.

To put things into context, Batman has liked Catwoman for most of his college life. Naturally, it’d be easy to assume that Batman would be giving his blue rose to Catwoman.

Wrong.

That night, as the music from the live band filled the air, and while everyone was scrambling to give their blue roses to the people they were going to, Batman left the busy Bellarmine field.

He made his way to the Gesu, and stood in front of the statue of Jesus that overlooked the field. He held his blue rose by the stem, left it by the statue’s feet, and looked at Him and paused for awhile for a quick prayer on the bench. And when he was done, before running back to his friends, he stood up and said with a smile on his face, “Ikaw na bahala.”

He made it back to the group just in time for a few beers and laughs before the fireworks filled the Ateneo sky. Batman found himself running again but this time with the group.

They made it to the front of Xavier Hall to get a better view of the lights that painted the night with bursts of red, green, and blue. It was one of the most beautiful fireworks displays anyone had ever seen– I know, I was there. I was behind Batman. And Catwoman was beside him.

And during that perfect scene of the light and sounds, I saw Catwoman give Batman her blue rose.

I couldn’t make out what was happening at the time because of the noise of the fireworks but all I could see was Batman grabbing Catwoman by the shoulders and shaking her, with a giant smile on his face, because he couldn’t believe it. I had never seen a person so surprised and happy in my life– all of this while fireworks lit up the sky.

So, the big question? Did Batman and Catwoman end up together?

No, they didn’t.

But you know, according to Batman, that’s okay. I asked him if he had any advice for those giving their blue roses and his answer was simple.

“Talk to the person you’re giving it to. Conversations give meaning roses cannot, things like clarity, closure, or even a chance to win his/her heart.” And he smiled.

As another year passes, another set of stories have yet to come in. And as much as I’ve enjoyed seeing, hearing, and telling these stories over and over again, I can only hope for what every storyteller hopes for: their stories to actually be heard, to mean something to other people; their stories to inspire others to make and tell their own stories because that really is what life is all about: making a good story.

Photo c/o: Matt Lee

To the brave souls of Blue Roast 2015, good luck!

Author’s note: I wasn’t kidding when I said I really do love good stories– especially those that involve the Blue Roast. If you want to share yours with me, I’d really love to hear it. Drop me an e-mail! sergiofgabriel04@gmail.com