REFLECTION: “Kuwentong UP Estudyante” – How Important Education even in Time of Crises

Alam niyo folks, nung panahon ko, di madaling mag-aral sa UP as far I am concerned. I am from the province, so nung una kong tapak sa UP Diliman, I felt I was in a huge forest na feeling ko mawawala ako sa laki ng university. But I was determined that time to have my UP education for I felt very lucky to be in UP. Madami nag take ng UPCAT sa probinsya namin pero nung panahon ko, iilan lang pumasa at isa ako sa mga lucky ones, so I felt obligated na need ko mag-survive, though I felt a little insecure that time, kasi yung mga nakakasalamuha ko, eh feeling ko ang gagaling nila, at ako feeling ko lahat ng alam ko after graduating high-school ay biglang naglaho nung nasa UP Diliman na ako. But I was really determined to survive, kasi sabi ng tatay ko, need ko matapos yung 4 years ko if not bahala na ako sa buhay ko. Takot ako coz I value my education so much, coz I know na yan lang ang magiging pamana sa akin ng mga magulang ko na di kayang nakawin nino man.

Nung panahon ko sa UP, typewriter ang gamit ko for my term/research papers. Naalala ko, binilhan ako ng maliit na typewrite ng mga magulang ko. Pero sinusulat ko muna ng longhand sa yellow paper yung research/term papers ko before ko pa i-type sa typewriter or ipa-type sa Shopping Center. Pero para makatipid, most of the time, ako na na mismo magtypewrite. Wala naman akong sariling computer kasi or laptop ng time na yun. Researching for my term papers di internet gamit ko dahil wala akong access sa internet, at nun time na yun, di pa uso yan at widely use yung internet, so talagang mga libro, and academic journals yung binabasa at pinagkukunan ng information for our papers as part of our academic requirements. Sa library ako nagpupunta para mag research at makipag-agawan sa reserve sections ng libro. Magastos if lahat photocopies. Kaya tiyaga talaga library magbabad at mag-take notes para sa papers or para sa exam. Sa main library ng UPD ako madalas.

At pag sinabi ng professors naming nun na ito yung deadline, deadline yan, ipasa mo or else bahala ka sa buhay mo, so I really need to make it sure na whatever man extra-curricular ginagawa ko maparally man yan or activities sa academic organizations, by hook or by crook, magpapasa talaga ako ng papers or else babagsak ako sa courses ko. At di ako pede bumagsak sa courses ko kasi papauwin ako ng tatay ko sa probinsya namin at feeling ko nun, sayang naman opportunity at pagkakataon na naibigay sa akin makapag-aral sa premiere university ng bansa if uuwi lang akong luhaan at galit pa tatay ko at nanay ko sa akin.

And mind you folks, nung time ko sa UP, super busy ko sa extra-curricular activities sa time ko sa UP sa dami ng organizations na member ako at naging officer pa kasama na dyan yung pagiging student leader ko kasi naging part din ako ng student council ng college namin ng panahon ko sa UP. But despite all these, di ko naalala na nag rally kami or nag reklamo kami sa dami ng academic requirements ng bawat course nun time namin. Sobrang hirap mag manage ng acads at school activities, terror pa mga professors ko, but I guess, ganun talaga yung price of being in UP nun time namin. Survive or perish ang peg.   

May bagyo man o wala, basta sinabi ng prof namin na ito yung deadline ng paper or may exam after bagyo or ano pa mang national events na nangyayari, tuloy submission ng academic requirements namin, di kami pede magrereklamo, coz we know na as students we need to comply sa academic requirements given to us if gusto namin na pumasa, or if not ok lang din sa profs kasi kami naman babagsak sa course di sila eh. At tsaka, sasabihin ng prof namin choice mo yan, if di ka magsubmit. But they did not treat us like babies na need spoon-feed kami sa lahat ng bagay. They treated us as individuals na may responsibility sa studies namin at may accountability sa pag-aaral namin bilang mga estudyante at iskolar ng bayan.   

Yung mga naging professors ko ay yung seasoned political science professors sa department namin at karamihan sa kanila ay institusyon na ng UP at department namin, but most of them are retired na rin, tulad nila Prof. Carlos, Hernandez, Sir Dodong Nemenzo, Alex Magno, the late Renato Velasco, at iba pa. But mind you, they are terror professors too. They never take NO for an answer. Sa klase out of the blue tatawagin ka for graded recitation pag di ka nakasagot, sorry ka, so it’s really important to read and prepare before going to class or else mapapahiya ka if di mo masagot tanong. And mind you, nakakahiya din talaga. As much as possible di ka pede malate kasi kilala ng mga professors ko mga students nila at first name/surname basis pa yan sila if magtawag sa klase, so alam nila if wala ka sa klase nila, so nakakahiya if special mention ka, or late ka. Tatanungin ka why late ka or bakit wala ka sa klase lagi, so better na di ka late or asa spot light ka. Deadlines are dealines nung time ko. NO buts, pass or fail ka unless kayang mong mag-invent ng reasons na ma-convince mo profs. Ganern!

It was not easy studying in UP during my time as far as I am concerned. It was challenging both mentally, psychologically, and even physically, kasi malaki and UP Diliman, at ako ay naglalakad most of the time papunta sa iba’t ibang building and colleges kung asan classes ko kasi if sumakay ako ng ikot or toki, eh nawawala ako at mas nalalate ako sa klase dahil di ko matandaan saan ba ako baba exactly. Isa yan sa mga bluepers ko as a student of UP nung time ko. But, I guess, it was worth it for it taught me the meaning of survival, and how to be tough, resourceful, madiskarte, and resilient, and made me ready to face the bigger world after graduation. I am thankful to my professors until now for they did not treat us like babies or fragile beings, and did not spoon-feed us.

You know what folks, sa tingin ko lang naman, kasi nagturo din ako sa ilang university tulad ng UP, Ateneo, DLSU, at PWU, comparatively, mas madali na mag-aral these days kasi all amenities are at the disposal ng mga students. Ngayon nga academic requirements pede na via email, nun panahon ko in person submission ng academic requirements.  Students are lucky, free pa tuition sa state universities, kami nun nagbabayad pa din pag kaya ng parents magbayad ng tuition unless academic scholar ka. Feeling ko lang naman ito, pero mas madaling mga-aral ngayon kaysa before. So, I guess, dapat ma-appreciate ito ng ating mga young people napag-igihan ang kanilang pag-aaral if andyan opportunities to study coz there are children/youth out there who want to study but cannot for various reasons.   

I know that nowadays, because of the pandemic at kabi-kabilang crises dulot ng successive typhoons na dumating sa bansa, maraming hamon ang kinahaharap ng ating bansa at mas challenging mag-aral. But students should not be discouraged and retreat from studying. Rather, they should take it as a challenge and pursue their studies for it is still a huge opportunity that they can still study despite all the problems that this country is faced with. Even in times of crises, learning and studying are never a waste, though is quite challenging I must admit. I know how hard it is for I have children who are studying via blended learning too. But it did not cross my mind that I want them to stop their studies. I don’t want to give up on the education of my children despite difficulties for I know it is important, and my children share my sentiment.    

Folks, the government is doing its best to make it sure that no students will be left behind. Though, may mga lapses din at di naman perfect, but the fact is, we have a working government, and it is doing its job and patching its lapses as it continues to serve our people in general. This is even despite the many things on the government’s plate at the moment. I guess this is something that is already comforting. DepEd and CHED are doing their best to respond to the challenges faced by the students and teachers just to ensure that the education of our youth continues. This is something that we all must appreciate, to say the least.

Folks, I just hope that Filipino students, in general, will value education the way it should be valued. Education is a right yes, but it should not be abused and be taken for granted, especially in time crises. Rather it should be valued and appreciated more.

Anna Rosario Malindog-Uy

Anna Rosario Malindog-Uy is Professor of Political Science, International Relations, Development Studies, European Studies, SEA and China Studies. She is a researcher-writer, academic and consultant on a wide array of issues. She has worked with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and other local and international NGOs as a consultant. She is President of Techperformance Corp, an IT-based company in the Philippines.