It’s usual for schools to conduct orientation days, school tours and other activities to make incoming freshmen feel at ease in their new school.
San Beda College has had a unique tradition of welcoming new students, called the freshmen orientation week. This activity starts with freshmen roaming Mendiola in offbeat attires or costumes. If you see a teenage guy walking around the vicinity in diapers, or a girl dressed as Sadako, they’re probably doing the San Beda orientation bit.
In recent years, boodle fights have been made part of the integration activity, to encourage freshman students to unite with the larger Bedan community.
The highlight of the activity is the Mendiola run, where freshmen are made to undergo physical challenges while they are playfully bombarded with flour, water, cola and other stuff by the upperclassmen. They are then asked to line up and run from the San Beda main gate to Mendiola to C. Aguila and back to San Beda through the back gate on the 3rd street.
The activity’s final leg becomes evident to the freshmen at the end of the run, when they espy two fire trucks parked beside the athletes’ quarters and hear the famous Indian Yell being played by the San Beda College Band. When the freshmen reach the designated area, they are given a communal bath, signifying their baptism as true Bedans.
All Bedans have been integrated this way. It’s a shared experience—not an ordeal, but a rite of passage. You’d regret missing out on this activity—it’s like missing your own birthday party.
When the high-school department was still based in Mendiola and was still an exclusive boys’ school, freshmen high-school students also underwent the integration activity, and the integrators could do pretty much anything. During my time as a high-school integrant, our section had a separate classroom integration with a fourth-year class. They set up an obstacle course using our old high-school chairs and the teacher’s table.
After we went through the course, they put powder and paint on our bodies, then we were sent out of the classroom to perform a short play or dance in front of the student body. I remember that we were only wearing cycling shorts then!
Sense of belonging
Being integrated gives you a sense of belonging. You immediately make a lot of friends from the upperclassmen, and share stories with those who have gone through the same activity. You and your classmates will now have bonding stories to share, about how stupid you looked or how awful you smelled during the integration days.
Integration is a humbling experience, because it is an equalizer—whether you’re the son of a high-ranking government official, a celebrity or a prized athlete, it doesn’t matter; everyone gets doused with the same goop.
The fun spirit also allows freshmen to overcome their inhibitions. They no longer need to try and fit in, because they’ve been officially welcomed by the entire Bedan community. San Beda is now their home.