Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Ode to UP

I passed the UPCAT but not sure whether I could say the same for the other college entrance exams I took. I passed the LAE and pretty sure flunked the entrance exam for San Beda College of Law coz I didn’t bother to answer the essay part. Somehow this makes me feel I was meant to be in UP.

I remember law school as a lot of stress – with the tons of readings to be done every night, eccentric professors you had to get along with so you don’t flunk out. But UP undergrad, Pol Sci – that is The Life.

Looking back, I guess I loved it bcoz I’ve never been so free in my whole life – free to do and be anything, with so much time on my hands and the whole world just beginning to open up for me. It’s like the line from Little Man Tate (with Jodie Foster playing a mom whose son is a genius) – the only place where you can truly belong is where everyone is different, or something to that effect. In UP, you have every opportunity to make waves – run for the student council, write for the Collegian, or be the type who speaks into the megaphone to lead mobs (yes! I still remember the slang for student mobilizations or rallies.) Or you can be the geek you’ve always been, racking up unos in your class card sem after sem. Or for that matter be the separatist you were born as, and be one of those figures roaming the campus by their lonesome, seemingly aimless but perfectly content. Or you can just be normal, like I’d like to believe I was – mostly hanging out with my friends at the APSM tambayan, just enjoying the chicken roll from CASAA and paella in ISMED, studying only for the lessons that piqued my curiosity (the life of Jose Rizal in PI 100, Pol Pot and Khmer Rouge, Cuban missile crisis, and all the required literature for Comm and Hum 1).

I once took a cab where the driver was particularly talkative. He was quite impressed when he found out I was from UP. Apparently he had this mistaken notion that I fit into the stereotypical UP student – intelligent, hardworking, patriotic, radical-minded, cause-oriented. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I was none of those noble things and was actually a pretty shallow creature, my main concern then being maybe cooking up a gimmick with my orgmates or saving for a Kamiseta top. Saving my countrymen was just not in my agenda, sorry. It would’ve broken his heart for sure, especially after I had explained to him that part of the taxes he pays goes into subsidizing my tuition, as well as that of every other UP student’s, including those who live in Forbes Park. I guess that’s the best thing about having a UP education – the instant respect we get from everyone, the impression that we’re anak ng Diyos and pag-asa ng bayan, no matter how undeserved.

UP is what taught me that it’s perfectly ok to have a dissenting opinion, and to speak up even when the majority is keeping silent. UP is when I had my happiest days with my very best friends, without even having to spend for an expensive cup of coffee, just walking amid the age-old acacias from AS to Econ and Math and NatSci and PE, or lying on the grass in the Sunken Garden. UP is where the teachers hardly get paid and the buildings hardly get re-painted, but there are always just enough funds to put on the sunflower show in University Ave. summer after summer. UP is what offers a class on something as interesting as Sex and Culture and credits you three units for attending it. UP is when you could show up in class in the outfit you slept in, without even bothering to comb your hair, and still perfectly belong anyway. UP is where I will always go back to taste the barbecue in Beach House, to see the Oblation as well as the Oblation Run, to join the Lantern Parade. UP is where I met the love of my life.

Happy 100th birthday, UP. Thank you. Keep the torch burning.