I am lucky enough to be born in the ’87, be a part of those students who bear a prefix of 2004 in their student numbers, and be in the university just a year before graduating to experience the grandest event of the century – the UP Centennial celebrations.
Whatever circumstance that had brought me into this world, I still could not find a reason good enough to blame the fate that brought me here inasmuch as University of the Philippines is concerned. And while I, together with my publication staff, am discussing to write any column as a tribute to the university, I cannot think of anything to offer but myself. It might be a cliché, but I am just a small piece of grain in the universe of testimonies exclaiming how UP had taught me to experience dealing with life with zero investment but with just a thirst of learning. Putting altogether the isolated testimonies of all the “Iskolars ng Bayan”, we cannot defy the eminence of UP and we can at least justify what we brag of and what we are truly proud of.
Being a people’s scholar does not require us to belong in a particular stratum of the society. As the man who guards our gates stands naked, we too are empty when we first entered the university premises. Better are those who came from science high schools who learned finer knowledge in college algebra or advanced chemistry and afforded not to listen well in their professors during first year college, or cut classes at most. But the thirst of learning for more is the “invisible hand” that places all at equal footing as years pass by, differentiated only by the level of effort we have given up to get the level of excellence we desire to reach. This modified statement in effect does not only give us equal opportunities to learn and be accomplished, but as well give us the same propensities to fail.
It is only in UP where we are not reprimanded by the guidance counselors for not attending classes consecutively or rebutting the professors inside the class. This is not a “No ID, No Entry” school inasmuch as we are open to the community, implicitly explaining our convergence with the Filipino society through our service and interaction. And this is the only campus so profuse of personal stories that sometimes make us saturated of our own personal issues that it is not just enough to be emotional for it brings us no good at all. This is the very reason why we see thousands of students very determined to be closer to their dreams and finish off the rally victoriously. This is the same reason why sometimes it is heavy to look at both the professors’ and the students’ eyes because each one carries their own dreams in the expectation of reaching them in the very near term, after sacrificing years of being away from home or being away from the world their batchmates enjoy outside UP.
When we talk about failures and heartbreaking experiences, our life as “Iskolars ng Bayan” is not deemed complete when we haven’t experienced flanking our long exams, being caught brain-dead in the middle of the class, crying over our test papers when we haven’t reached our self-imposed standards, chasing after our Profs just to submit papers but failed to please them, getting unreasonable grades from self-proclaimed genius persons, being misunderstood by friends, consecutively skipping reasonable hours of rest, and taking exams with unresolved personal issues inside. The list is not exhaustive to enumerate all we get to experience to painstakingly attain the designation as a successful Iskolar ng Bayan.
Given all those things that we could be proud of, however, UP employs a unique system of scraping off our excesses to let us learn our shortfalls and mistakes primarily caused by our bloating heads. So this leads us to the fact that sometimes we have no right to question why we have stern professors, unbecoming classmates having diametrically opposite ideals, and conflicts of personalities with other persons around. This system nevertheless brings us to a challenging scenario where we squeeze all our wits to survive and be alive.
After all, it pays to substantiate what we are claiming. May the centennial celebrations will bring us all to a common place where we rekindle our true UP spirit: the spirit of excellence and critical-thinking.