Six years ago, I decided to take the UPCAT. All I remember was the test was so long and my neck hurt from all that looking down and shading the circles. I thought I didn't pass come results, but it turned out that I wasn't looking properly. On the average, only 16% pass the entrance test. And out of those 16%, 10% or 1200~ students qualified for UP Diliman, the main campus. Which is where I passed with a premedical course. I had no idea what I signed up for. I didn't even know the curriculum.
Five years ago. I started as a naive 17 year old, giddy and proud to be a student of the premiere university in the country. I recently saw my past Facebook statuses, because of the Memories feature, when I was gushing about the freshie welcome assembly and the achievements of the UP alumni. How psyched I am on being in UP. There were no dress code, except for my chemistry classes, and the conversations were always interesting. First time to live independently. NO DRESS CODE! That was superficial, but it was the highlight of being in UP. Hey, I wasn't politicized back then.
One of my first memories was reading a flyer by STAND UP during enrollment. I was inspired by their passion to genuinely serve the masses by forwarding campaigns that benefit everyone. This happened in May, and I wanted to join right then and there, even though classes haven't started already. The University Student Council `11-`12 did a lightning rally during the welcome assembly. That's what UP stands for, I thought. My plan to immediately join was postponed because of my course. I was a Community Nutrition major back then, and I struggled with chemistry. Me, coming from a crappy private school that didn't even have a laboratory, is now expected to know stoichiometry and unknown analysis. The speed of lessons can be a bit overwhelming, with three to five chapters of lessons in 1.5 hours, with professors skipping over some parts because they expect everyone to know them already. UPCAT turned out to be the easiest thing you'll take here.
So I shifted course, and became a Tourism major. Then, I decided to join them. It changed me. I will not compare myself to a diamond, for those are mainly used by the elite class. I am like wood instead, chopped and burned to make charcoals for ordinary people to heat. A chemical reaction, one that cannot be reversed. The trip Haciena Luisita--where there are army barracks inside the farm lands, to protect the interests of the ruling class, more specifically, President Benigno Aquino III's wealth, the suicide Kristel Tejada, who killed herself because she was forced to take a leave of absence due to unpaid tuition fees, the massacre of Lumad in Mindanao... There were so many issues that my permanent state is agitated. One can't help but act all hardcore against the inequality and human rights violations we experience everyday. Activism is something I am deeply passionate about, and even though I laid low for a bit, I will always be one with the struggle.
Graduating in UP is no easy feat. It maybe one of the most difficult things I did. For the sleepless nights (and the wild ones after), endless time facing the computer screens, dance rehearsals, protest actions, mass integration, educational discussions and meetings, I've pulled through. But I will always be thankful that I chose this university during my formative years. I may have graduated, but the struggle continues. I know I have a bigger task to fulfill, to serve the interests of the oppressed, to fight for scientific, nationalist, mass oriented education that UP has given me. To give back to the country, not through charity and philanthropy, but through the only way I know, by dedicating oneself to the fight for national democracy.
I owe everything to the Filipino people, without which I won't be the person I am today. Serve the people! Hanggang sa tagumpay!
|The only picture of me that matters.|