Archive for April, 2007

26 April 2007

Learnings from the UP Experience

by misslampa

After what felt like forever, I finally got my UP yearbook back from Meta moderators Sneil Mendoza and Grace Manatad. And so for the nth time, I scanned through its pages again and went emo because I saw my bloc mates’ pages and then some. The lines on the first few pages say it perfectly: “One voice amidst diversity. Stirring. Potent. Free.” God, we all felt tough enough for the world then. I guess youth does that to people.

With much more fondness this time, I read my write-up again, for which I had to twist the arm of one Jeff PeBenito. It was a major leap of faith on my part, really, because my cunning “ka-berk” agreed to do it only if I couldn’t edit it in anyway. And what better way to achieve that than NOT SHOWING ME THE WRITE-UP UNTIL AFTER IT WAS SUBMITTED!!! But I’m glad I said yes. I found the write-up too mean then, but now it’s wacky and loving and witty, so I guess Jeff delivered after all.

The Palma Hall is where it all starts for those who are fortunate enough to get into UP.

So amid all this enlistment and pagpapa-medical sa infirmary brouhaha of the enlightened Xavier newly-grads who are doing the right thing (because, as one mean joke goes, they do not have to settle because they are not Di Lumusot Sa Upcat or Ang Daming Mali sa Upcat – Peace tayong lahat, ayoko ng away, hahaha!), I remember some of the funny and painful things I learned from The UP experience.

It pays to have a sister (or anyone, really) who will tell you that only clueless freshies think that the no-uniform policy makes making mega-porma everyday acceptable, that “TBA” is either some room or the initials of a professor and that the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy is called Palma Hall for short. (It’s AS, by the way.) It’s good to be armed, you know, para hindi ka mapapag-tripan.

Lack of (or even the absence of) sleep does not necessarily slow you down or make you less productive. Corollary to that, coffee is the best antidote to an all-nighter of post-production or newspaper work. Up until UP came around, I didn’t think it was humanly possible to not sleep for three nights straight and go through the daily motions of commuting and attending classes and all that.

The process of joining an org, especially if it’s the right one, can be either the most harrowing or most rewarding experience in your UP life. If you are one sheltered person (like I was when I entered UP), you are up for the time of your life! Who could ever forget the taxing sig sheets and tambay hours? But hey, I love UPJC!

My orgmates from The UP Journalism Club. The Pen. The Minds. The People.

Despite UP being supposedly “makamasa” (well, with the almost 30thou/sem price tag, not anymore), driving one’s own car is seen as cool. But throw in a personal driver into the mix (or have someone pick you up and drop you off everyday) is, well, reserved for losers. It’s quite arbitrary, I know, but I think it’s got something to do with independence, or the semblance of it, at least. If you don’t own a car, it’s also deemed equally cool if you can manage to walk from Masscom (2nd floor) to AS (4th floor) or from Science (1st floor) to Math (3rd floor) in time for your next class, especially if your Masscom class ends at 11:30am at there are no Toki jeeps around and you have to run like hell under the glaring sun just to make it to your class in AS which is supposed to start at 11:30am as well. It’s a skill you pick up as you go along, I guess.

The photocopy machine is the UPian’s best friend. Buying books isn’t really the way to go for most of the subjects in the arts and humanities (Ewan ko lang sa maths and sciences, malay at pakialam ko sa kanila!), because your readings come from a host of different books and what-not. Also, good photocopies need not be overpriced at P1.50/page, like in high school.

UP teems with professors of all kinds. Good ones from whom you’ll learn, bad and lazy ones from whom you’ll learn much more (kasi sariling kayod ka, haha!), really sucky ones who do not know what to do so they let their students report all sem and then everyone gets 1.0 – pampalubag-loob, and brilliant ones who can keep you in awe for the entire sem and even long after you’ve stopped attending their classes. And since you choose most of your classes, you choose how good or bad your UP education will be. And yes, some of them will scar you (read: toughen you up) for life, and believe me, that’s actually a good thing. Likewise, UP teems with all kinds of classmates / orgmates / bloc mates / group mates. Maaasahan at di maaasahan, credit hog at low-profile, eager beaver at di-mahagilap, mapagbigay at manggagamit, madaling pakisamahan at masarap itapon sa basurahan. All bases covered, to say the least. They would all end up making UP, instead of being just real-life preparatory, a slice of real life itself.

Life can get mercilessly cruel in the university and thus, you learn to survive in such an environment. I mean, most profs are manageable, but none of them will ever accept the my-printer-ran-out-of-ink / my-pc-crashed / my-net-connection-at-home-was-down-so-I-wasn’t-able-to-research excuse. Some wouldn’t even care if you’re absent on the due date as long as your paper gets to him/her on time. And a handful, sadly, don’t return papers, so in the end, you just have to trust them when they say they read your work. Well, at least journalism profs do.

One of the many stone sculptures around the university (Unfortunately, this one has been vandalized.)

Art thrives in UP – more than in most places, at least. If I had all the money then, I would have gone to as many plays and film screenings and art exhibits and drowned myself in all things done with heart. And, if you happen to have the money na rin naman, go around the campus and sample the best of UP cuisine: blueberry cheesecake sa Chocolate Kiss, Sisig daw sa Mang Jimmy’s, tapsilog (or something like that) daw sa Rodic’s, barbeque sa Beach House na walang beach, organic rice sa Likha-Diwa, the pita bread treats at Oz Café, and of course, the staples: banana-Q, lumpiang togue, fishballs, kwek2, isaw, cheese corn, monay w/cheese, footlong, chocolate-covered pulvoron, and buko juice.

Patience is The Virtue, really. Everything takes longer here. Your first transcript takes three months, and after that, it will take them just a month lang naman to process your second request. Documents from the college registrar take about a week, and your diploma takes almost a year. (Postscript: It’s not as bad na raw anymore, according to my friends who are still studying there. Thank God for computerization!Ü) And of course, the never-ending pila for everything, be it for a jeepney ride or during enrolments or actual enlistments or paying for your tuition. To keep ourselves from being bitter, most of us just charge all that to experience.

UP boasts of (and also hides under the guise of) academic freedom, so the environment’s kinda dynamic kasi everyone is, in theory, allowed to do as one pleases. Smoking whenever wherever’s just the tip of the iceberg (although before I graduated, people weren’t allowed to smoke inside the buildings anymore). We were shown R-18 movies in Film 101 (I was only 16 then!), enjoyed writing and reading porn and erotica for a creative class on sex and writing, and in one poetry class, drank flavored lambanog – and failed to drink the liquor quick enough to keep it from making tunaw the plastic cups we placed them in. But hey, the average UP class still has the semblance of a class pa rin naman, so these are more the exception than the norm.

UP also has poetically beautiful scenery, especially if you give up being so caught up in your readings for a moment and take the time to just marvel at it all. The green landscapes are best during the summer; I don’t know where the cotton-like stuff comes from, but it’s there (softly cuddled on the grass or on the branches of trees) when April comes around and lasts all summer.  The big trees lining the acad oval are also breathtaking, especially if you’re in the front seat of a car or a jeep, and you see soft sunrays playing with the branches arching over the road you’re on. I’m not sure if the lagoon’s any better now, but that, I do not miss, haha!

You have to be blind to not find this byoootiful. ÜüÜ

There are a lot of scholarships up for grabs, and they give you that satisfying hey-I-am-not-counting-on-just-my-parents-to-put-myself-through-school feeling. Even if the tuition now’s gone way way up, I still hope this will continue to be the case. Also, it pays to get part-time work. It instills discipline, hard work and time management, and gives you more leg room to get the things you wouldn’t normally afford given your meager allowance.

The green UP jeep, bow. (There are yellow and red ones as well. Jeeps are color-coded according to their routes.)

Commuting – and by that, I do not mean hailing a cab – equips you with useful survival skills. I was a hatid-sundo girl when I was in high school, and even during the entire enrolment process and my first days in UP. Then my dad nixed the car on his last drop-me-off day and did the most thoughtful thing of commuting with me, para matuto raw ako. And learn I did. Boxing out other passengers so you’d get on the bus early enough to snag a seat, turning the MRT train ride into a balancing act when there are no seats and hand rails left, committing to memory the bus lines which have mercilessly reckless drivers so you can deliberately ride them when you’re running late), figuring out whether it’s the Toki or the Ikot jeep which would get you to building X at the soonest possible time – the list goes on. While stuck in traffic, you can do people-watching, reflect on the day, or even play with your thoughts for an essay you plan to write. Or, if you have a test and you dozed off the night before while reviewing, you can go through your readings (not recommended so much, of course, but we all go through this once in a while).

Making tambay is what UP free time is all about. And for the most part, you make tambay for the sole purpose of doing what falls under the general term “wala lang.” Kulitan, asaran, remembering bloc mates who have shifted or those who have left you for a more happening barkada, chatting about classmates who are weirder than weird, reminiscing previous tambay sessions or the first time you saw the Oblation run or joined the Lantern Parade – in short, whiling away precious time in the company of friends who have proven themselves as precious, if not more.

Some of my friends from bloc K1, so many years and pounds ago.

And if you are lucky, you will stumble upon bloc mates like mine who are as silly as they are serious, as sarcastic as they are loving, and as brutally honest as they are appreciative. And you will continue to be gut friends even after college. They will know most of your secrets and flaws, and you will know theirs, but you will love each other despite and even because of that. And regardless of how ugly life in and after UP can get, they will always make you feel that you – and everything else in this sick, cynical world – will be all right.

So here’s one heartfelt toast to the dilapidated rooms and wonderful experiences and dearth of facilities and unforgettable people which and who make up the University of the Philippines – Diliman I know and will always love.

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19 Oct ’09 , 12:59 a.m.

SHAMELESS PLUG >> I took the pretty pictures from the Tabblo of the brilliant SirNicolay. And the good news is, he gives photography classes! Go to http://sirnicolay.com/ to know more about how you can also rock as a photographer.

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