“Congratulations, Mhae.” Most beautiful words that seemed music to my ears. I just graduated from UP last Saturday (June 24, 2017). Cheers!
I am celebrating my success. After the n years of hardwork, tears, joy, doubt and fear, I am now here. I have officially graduated from the university that used to be my second sanctuary– the home where my heart grew and my soul bloomed.
I can’t help it but mesmerize all the memoirs and gather all these thoughts on top of my head after reaching for this success. Going back to the first days I’ve stepped my foot in the university grounds, to the day I became its student, to the day I’ve stepped out of UP, thoughts kept on baffling in me.
I’ve known the existences of University of the Philippines Los Baňos back in 2008. I was in my Second Year back then when one of my high school teachers, Mam Alice Maligalig, let me join a scientific gathering among the seniors. I was once a mere observer that time. I was with the senior delegates from our school competing for their Science Investigatory Project. I can still remember, that time, Mam Maligalig told/asked me: “Ang ganda dito, ano? Ikaw, gusto mo dito pumasok sa college? Galingan mo lalo.” I just smiled. I have no idea how does it seem to go to college. I was thirteen.
I took the UPCAT (University of the Philippines College Admission Test) on August 7, 2010 not because I want to but because my mother, Ninong and cousin wanted to. So, I did. Bahala na kung papasa o hindi. Feeling ko naman hindi kawalan. I didn’t even review for the exam. I just do not want to get my hopes up for only to be let down. I even submitted my UPCAT Application form three days after the deadline. Power! I did not have any concrete plan before where to go to college, what course to take or whatsoever. I was savoring on the last year of my high school life and that’s it. Guilty to say, but I didn’t care about my future. All that matters to me is today.
It was January 5, 2011 when I heard the good news. I passed UPCAT! Ate Joy texted me and sent me her congratulatory messages. I checked it online. And legit! Pumasa nga ako. I can still recall from my memory how my mother jumped into joy upon hearing the best news– so far. She was extremely happy and was excited to enroll me to the university. And so enrollment came. My parents were beside me in each and every moment. From falling in (very long) lines, filing/submitting documents, Campus tour, looking for dorms and all. I can no longer ask for more. They are the best parents one could ever have.
Living my parents and relatives’ dream for me was something I’ve earned to adopt to. As I go on with my (pointless) directions in life, I unconsciously learned to love UP, the life here and the dreams I started drawing in the constellations of stars. I dreamt of becoming a doctor. I loved the biological sciences. But as time passed by, that dream gradually vanished. *sobbs* I then found my interest and passion in the social sciences. And even dreamed of becoming a lawyer someday. This little reverie of mine still hung in the air, but it would never be more than a few golden memoirs and a bundle of “what if’s”.
I shifted course, from BS Mathematics and Science Teaching major in Biology and took up BA Sociology. The road wasn’t and will never be easy. From my day-to-day life in the laboratory, mixing up chemicals, dissecting organisms and classifying microscopic life has transformed to skimming and scanning bulk of reading materials, going to and fro the social field, interviewing people in all walks of life, listening to multiple narratives, statistical analyses, transcribing and writing and presenting technical papers. But I never harvested a barren of regret upon making this brave decision back then.
Surviving the UP life was a matter of life and death. Studying a number of topics in a day while attending classes, gathering data and writing papers and manuscripts– name it! I will not mention all the instances when I felt that my world was about to collapse. It might take forever to cite all. My body was squandered, mind was deteriorated, fingers were calloused, soul was tormented and my heart was broken.
Life got real hard for me. I didn’t had lots of friends and that felt strange. I used to be someone who knows numerous people back in high school. Anywhere I go, anywhere I cast my eyes at, there is someone I know. Someone I am friends with. All of a sudden, that changed. I was alone most of the time. I can count my college friends in my fingers. I didn’t have barkada I can turn to in times of sorrows and despair. I never knew how to conceal this discomfiture I was feeling. I missed home, too. My family, childhood friends, my bed, the noise, the chirping of the birds and all. The university was once a toxin absorbed by my whole system. I always wanted to escape from that cold unforgiving ground and discover an abyss and find my way home. Oftentimes, I wallowed in pain alone and wanted to shut myself from the world. I was the only one who hushed myself when I couldn’t do anything but cry all the pain and worries in my heart out.
But no matter how hard and tumultuous my university life was, I still found massive joy in my heart. Here are few reasons why I found my UP life worthwhile.
- I learned how to be independent, that I can never depend on others all the time. It is myself whom I can solely depend on. And it is always a mean for me to be stronger.
- I also realized that I cannot keep everyone. The day-to-day reality that I was with different persons in each every class is a subtle indication that people come, people go. And you cannot wish them to stay. Only the true ones will remain and others were meant to have a mere cameo-appearances in our lives. Maybe we need this to see ourselves grow and discover more things as we venture along.
- I found my brave heart in UPLB. I learned to be bold and take risks. Cause only those who would risk can possibly determine how far can they go.
- I found a home in UPLB. That no matter how strange and difficult life gets, I can always get home, take a rest, breathe and fight again.
- I got to know what the word “patience” meant more. It took me 5.5 semesters to graduate. And from that, I realized that graduation is not a race, never about who came and finished first. There is no timer set for success. It is more of learning things in life whilst enjoying the picturesque view of the race.
- Lasty, God has always a better plan. Cliche and overrated as it may sound. But factual. I kept the faith in my heart and prayed most of the time. In best and worst time, I talk to God. He knows all that I keep in my heart even before I compose and say the words. God will never left me hanging. There He is, no matter what I go through in life.
Learning isn’t solely confined in the four corners of the classroom and the function halls. It traverses all across every line. It is even possible to learn from the both ends of the rainbows and the multi-colored unicorns. Learning may come from a hurricane. Learning comes from north to south like it does from alpha and omega. But the best thing I’ve learned from my mundane UP life is to learn something from failures and success. Learning is the foundation for survival and determination is the foundation of success.
*so fast forward to graduation day* *plays aida march by Harmonya UPLB*
June 24, 2017. University Graduation.
T’was held at DL Umali Freedom Park. I can sense its solemnity. I dunno but I felt that the place radiates positive vibes. I felt excited to receive my (fake) diploma. The event’s call up time was 1:30pm and the procession started at exactly 3pm. I arrived few minutes before 2pm. Waiting for more than an hour with 5-inch heels on was a pain in the arse. #TiisGanda But G lang! Ngayon pa ba ako susuko? I and my coursemates/collegemates got inside the tent early since we came second among all the colleges. But that was not a good thing! That meant standing all throughout the processional march until all the 2500-ish graduates finally get in. And we were standing until 5pm. Imagine my sore legs.
Senator Dick Gordon arrived few minutes after 3o’clock via chopper. Meaning, he must leave the place on or before 5pm. But since the procession ended at around 5pm, there was nothing he can do but to wait and deliver his speech afterwards. I was impressed by him– the way he delivered his speech, the message he conveyed, his accomplishments and his patience during the processional march. I’ve seen him a couple of times and must I say, he is one of the best politicians we have nowadays. (See his speech’s transcript here.)
The names of the graduates were then called. Good thing, we were the second college to receive our diplomas next to College of Agriculture and Food Sciences since it was alphabetically arranged. But since our college (College of Arts and Sciences) is the biggest college in UPLB and has produced around 700 graduates, we remained standing until the last person under CAS has been called. Hello, sore-r legs! What was only good during that time was, I get to have selfies with my friends/fellow graduates while waiting.
(Forgive me for the oily face. Haggard na ang lola mo!)
With too much fatigue, muscle cramps, hunger and dehydration, the commencement exercises ended at around 11pm. It officially ended with beautiful fireworks to light up the sky after we sang UP Naming Mahal where I got to experience goosebumps. But imagine a deprived self who has last eaten her meal at 10am. I thought I was about to pass out too. Some graduates needed medical attention since they passed out during the processional march. Good thing I brought a tumbler of water. I kept myself (a little) dehydrated.
But here. Let me thank all those who have been part and parcel of my success. Despite all my imperfections and shortcomings, I’d like to extend my deepest gratitude and sincerest appreciation to those who- in one way or another- made my college journey full of sugar and spice. Cheers!
To my Inay, Tatay, Aan and the rest of my loving family, thank you from the bottom of my heart! Thank you for constantly loving me through all these years and for always believing in my spirit. Thank you for picking me up when I’m down. Thank you for never giving up on me. You were the person who stood by me through all these . In constant pain, in temporary happiness, in failures, success and every little achievement. This success is really for you. I love you to the moon and back.
To all my friends in all walks of life, batchmates, colleagues, Narralites 1011, I am also sharing with you this success. Thank you for cheering me on whenever I feel that I am about to give up. Thank you for showering all the unicorns and rainbows in my grayscale world. Kampay!
To all the friends I found in UP, thank you! It was nice seeing us conquering the battles not only in the academic arena but more of in life. Our sleepless nights and hard work has paid off and is paying off. Fight for Sablay. Padayon!
To Mam Lei Pangilinan, and the rest of the DSS Faculty, thank you so much! I am very honored and privileged to have great mentors like you. I learned so much from the discipline. I never and will never regret accepting the ‘invitation to sociology’.
To my former teachers and advisers since pre-school to high school, thank you so much for the best foundation. I owe you every little thing I’ve learned before I begin stepping my foot at UPLB. Thank you for your patience and constant understanding. I hope I made you all proud.
To Ninong Edwin and Ate Essel, thank you for forcing me to take UPCAT. I wouldn’t be here if you did not drag me to take the exam.
To every Filipino taxpayer, salute! Tax is mandatory but I promise to serve the people in my own little ways. Serve the country!
To those heartless creatures who doubted me, thanks to you still. You boosted the inner courage sleeping in me. But I surely won’t need you in the next chapters in my life.
To everyone who supported and cheered me all the way through- from day first until the day I finally get my Sablay- those who sent me simple text messages, tweets, comments, facebook messages, I greatly appreciate those little things. Thank you all so much!
To UP Naming Mahal, thank you for everything! You are my home away from home, my serendipity and my sweetest downfall.
To myself, you did it with flying colors! You summoned all the flecks of courage in you like little zaps from somewhere in your bloodstream. You wanted to conquer the world but you’ve done better as you conquered yourself. Best things are yet to come. I am so proud of you! Congratulations, self!
And to the Greatest Sociologist above all, thank You, Father for giving me strength and fiery determination. Thank You for all the stories of failures and success. You are the reason why I am here and the reason why I exist.
Recalling Mam Alice’s words back then, “Ang ganda dito, ano? Ikaw, gusto mo dito pumasok sa college? Galingan mo lalo.” I now know my response. “Opo. Maganda po ang UPLB. Madami ako natutunan, hindi lamang sa loob ng klasrum, kundi mga aral sa buhay. Ginusto ko po dito at muli’t-muli ay gugustuhin. At alam ko sa sarili kong ginalingan ko..” Graduate na ako! Must I say, THAT WAS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE.