Thursday, January 29, 2015

10 things I miss about being an Iskolar ng Bayan

It's been three and a half years since I left the premier institution, the University of the Philippines. The best days of my life were spent in UP and I can't help but to be nostalgic after watching the #OneUP video, which went viral on social media.

These are the things that made me miss UP.

Luntian at Pula. Sagisag magpakailanman.

1) Hell Week.

"Hell" is an understatement in UP. If there's such a word that is worse than hell, then that's how I'd describe our hell week. You see, in UP we don't have 'prelims', 'midterms' or 'finals'. If our professors see that he has already covered several topics, he would set a schedule days prior the D-day. The kasabawan starts when your professors from other subjects set their respective exams on the same week.

I do remember back in second year college. In one week, we had major exams in the following subjects: Organic Chemistry Lecture, Organic Chemistry Lab, Earth Science and Geology, Intermediate Botany, Philippine History, and PE! Just imagine the flow of information:

"The structure of hexokinase after phosphorylation is... when Emilio Aguinaldo took over the republic in... the fifth extinction occurred during the Cretacious Period or Cenozoic Era, dating back in... grasses belong to Family Poaceae and are monocotyledonous..."


2) Spoon feeding? What's that?

In UP, instructors aren't fond of reading what was written in the prescribed book. Instead, they present it in their own understanding through powerpoint presentation. Others might think that printing the lecture printouts can already suffice as a study or review material. No. Base from my experience, you are compelled to read the recommended books or materials by your professor. You have to do your part as a student.

3) Open-mindedness.

Back in high school, I didn't have the chance to show my talents because I wasn't part of an affluent society. In short, I was just a nobody. In UP, whether you're an atheist, religious, or a member of the LGBT society, it doesn't really matter. Every one has the chance to show what you've got. More so, we learned not to give a damn. We know how to mind our own businesses. Which brings us to number 4:

4) Of becoming a true leader.

Everyone has the chance to become a student leader. It is actually a give and take relationship. I used to be a college representative for two semesters and also a vice president for external affairs in our course-based organization. It was really hard, but with the help of my brilliant cohorts and members, we help one another to strive for what is best to our organization. It's a healthy symbiotic relationship. We don't just give all the responsibilities to our leaders, but instead we help one another.

5) Quiz Bees sponsored by college organizations.

Back in college, my daily allowance was only Php 120. Sometimes, I ran out of cash because I had to photocopy a lot of reading materials (but I ended up NOT reading those... such a waste!). So, to compensate with the excess expenditures, we always join quiz bees sponsored by various organizations in the university. Aside from the bragging rights, winners shall receive cash prizes. You know, I really love trivia games and it's a WIN OR DIE situation. Yep, #competitive person here! Fortunately, we always win the first place and we'd receive a total amount of Php 600. We were three in our group, so we receive an additional Php 200 in our budget. That's already big.

And that's how we used our brain to earn money. And oh, did I tell you about the free snacks?

6) Lantern Parade.

Christmas wouldn't be complete without the annual lantern parade. Every units shall create a one of a kind Christmas lantern, following the criteria created by the judges. It's all about unity and creativity. The program marks the start of the much awaited Christmas break... well in my case, long before the academic calendar shift.

7) Cliques

You get to meet a lot of personalities in UP. You get the chance to meet the crush ng bayan, the nerds and the overachievers from Pisay, the affluent, the feeling affluent, the aloof ones, the one who always hangs out with his/her frat/sorority mates, the musician, the condescending, the assuming and the unassuming, the sporty, the know-it-all and the know-none-at-all, the brightest, and the slowest... basically all types of personalities that would truly make your UP experience one of a kind and memorable.

8) Resourcefulness

I hate to admit that the premier university of the country lack state-of-the-art facilities. But that doesn't stop us from learning. We learn how to become resourceful by going to the library and look for books that are available. If the library can't suffice the knowledge we were required to attain, we settle to the internet. Although, quoting Google or Wikipedia isn't our thing, we learn how to search thoroughly and find some reliable scientific journals that are important in our research.

9) Field Trips

As a former Biology student. we were required to conduct field work outside the university. In our Ecology subjects, we were assigned to do some laboratory works on different ecological niches or biomes such as rainforests, rivers, lakes, seas, estuaries, and mountains. It's really fun because we had the chance to explore the unexplored.

I guess my interest in photography and travel all started here.

10) When sablay means success.

Before you reach your ultimate goal, you need to experience failures along the way. These serve as life lessons that would be useful even after finishing your personal goals. And besides, life is a continuous journey. A sablay is worn during the graduation ceremony in UP. It is a unique, handwoven maroon and green cloth worn over plain or ecru colored barong and black pants by men, and ecru-colored dress by women.

Singing the UP Hymn during my graduation almost four years got me teary eyed. It was not just about the process of getting out of UP, but it was about embracing a new chapter of our lives. Because the truth is, once an Isko, will always be an Isko. You will be forever carrying that responsibility to serve the country in our own convenient ways.

The institution had truly molded me into a better person. Maraming, maraming salamat, UP!

Ikaw, anong kwentong UP mo?

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