For more than three decades, Valentine’s In August (VIA) never fails to breathe new life (and love) into the beginning of the new semester in Ateneo de Manila University. As one of the Ateneo Economics Association’s (AEA) longest running events, VIA has evolved into more than just a fundraiser, becoming a meaningful tradition for the entire Ateneo community. It’s also the reason why, despite numerous setbacks this year due to class suspensions and thus having VIA pushed to later dates— September 3-7, the choice to keep the event’s name intact is ultimately a significant one.
“We firmly believe that VIA is more than an event and its date, but it is a tradition […] that AEA has cultivated for over 30 years, and we want to uphold that integrity and identity as we continue to spread love in the Ateneo community,” says Patricia Ramos, the Vice President for Asset Acquisition in AEA.
While VIA has been an age-old, annual event, each year manages to be distinct from the other— using different themes and concepts to engage with a bigger market. From “Taking a Chance” (2015) to “New Beginnings” (2016) and to “Going the Distance” (2017), the garden of motifs only grows wilder and more colourful. This year, VIA’s opening with the theme “Bloom”, emphasizing the importance of growth within ourselves and with others.
Patricia finds this to be an apt description of the changes the event has undergone. “VIA is constantly evolving, and that includes having an openness to change, and learning to adjust. It isn’t about expecting the situation to adjust itself, but, learning to adapt to it, and we have no regrets or doubts on moving it to September while still keeping the name ‘Valentine’s in August’.”
Although February is considered the peak month for majority of flower shops and enterprises due to Valentine’s Day, VIA makes it possible to create this market in August (in this year, September) by essentially having a pop-up flower shop accessible to the students, and marketing it with a strong social media presence. The idea is similar to that of greeting card businesses—in order to sell more cards, create more holidays. People would then be inclined to buy cards and tokens of appreciation to give to those significant to them.
What VIA did was to initiate this artificial demand on a month where flower sales would be considered at one of its lowest points. By doing so, they’re able to maximize their profits with minimal cost, as well as help local flower business who struggle to sell their goods during this time. VIA partners with local flower shops, buying their goods in large amounts to give them revenue on days when there usually aren’t any.
Business this year is expected to literally bloom for VIA. The event has been steadily growing, and for the first time ever, it’s been decided that two venues would be allotted for the event—the Doghouse and Sec-C Foyer, which are ideal places on campus located at the center of student traffic as they go from one class to the other. Having two venues expands VIA’s presence on campus, but student volunteers makes its presence known further. They roam around and end up everywhere, carrying and delivering huge bouquets of flowers. This delivery service provided by VIA allows large quantities of flowers— ranging from roses to sunflowers, to be successfully sold throughout this week-long event.
While the classic red rose is a traditional, must-have product, VIA also offers a diverse selection of flowers— such as cacti and sunflowers, to keep up with rising trends in the business. There is an inextricable nature between flowers and love. Each one has its own significance— all the way to their species and their varying colours. With the help of promotional posters, buyers can find out the meanings, and match them with the feelings or messages they would want to convey.
VIA is an emblem of AEA, as much as it is a time to share love around the Loyola Schools campus. Although there were numerous points of struggle and challenges faced before the event— from external factors, such as the weather, and internal problems in developing efficient ways for order processing, at the end of the day, love is resilient. Neither typhoon nor technical error can stop this season of love from spreading around.