KWENTONG PEYUPS: Growing Up To Grown Up
My first semester in UP, I remember how one of my blockmates was reprimanded in Comm 1 class for her wrong grammar, and how we were then sternly reminded that we ought to speak in proper English. E nung hayskul pa naman, ‘I spoke medyo mixed, like ganito.’ Taglish kumbaga. Shet, ibang level to!
A couple of meetings after, we had to write an essay on adolescence. To make matters worse, our professor, Neil Garcia, required us to read our essays in front of the class. When my turn came, I stood in front, shaking. It wasn’t simply nerves as I’ve spoken in public countless times before. I think I was terrified they’d judge me on my thoughts on the subject. As evinced by the same tentativeness in my Taglish, I realized that before college – before UP – I had reached puberty without really growing up.
Baduy Day in Neil Garcia’s class. The same spot where I stood in front of the class,
trembling uncontrollably as I read them my essay on adolesence.
Note the distinction between UP and college. In my mind, UP is unlike other colleges. It’s the microcosm of Philippine society. It couldn’t be truer than in the Diliman campus, my alma mater. After sitting through my first ever class in the wrong classroom, I realized how naïve and unprepared I was for the real world. No wonder I trembled during that recitation. UP had yet to teach me what adolescence was about.
theCouncil reenacting our first day in UP. PH306. Maling klasrum!
To be fair, it wasn’t all UP. It was a confluence of many factors. Less than two years before my college life commenced, my father died. Being an only child whose mother worked overseas, I was sheltered, pampered, and suddenly, I had no choice but to be independent. The decision to move to a new city, a new place, all on my own took that rite of passage to another dimension. UP was my chance to live independently in the real world.
As if I missed out on high school, I rushed through all of life’s lessons during my stay in UP. I learned to treasure every hump and bump I encountered along the way: my first failing mark (P.E. lang naman). Crashing my car. Singing, dancing and acting on stage. Losing my virginity. Falling in love. Getting hazed applying for an org. Getting drunk as a skunk and passing out. Smoking a joint and passing out. Smoking. Making out in my RAV and getting flashlighted by the UPDP. Voting. Ousting a President. Impressing professors, infuriating even more.
Batchmates ko sa hazing (wala lang si Angge).
All those experiences, mundane and profound, carried with them lessons big and small. Ngayon, alam ko nang tumba na ko sa limang baso ng rhum-coke. Na ang uno sa mabait na professor ay mas mababa sa dos ng magaling na mentor. Na pwedeng lumusot sa anumang uri ng gusot. Every exploit was invaluable, and UP did it by introducing me to people of every possible vocation and tradition, in the skin of my professors and classmates, the visiting lecturers, staff members, orgmates and friends. Sina Manang fishball sa Mass Comm, Ate Xerox sa Lib, Manong Guard sa may entrance, Kuya Bantay sa AS, at Sir Pulis na nang-flashlight sa kin.
I soaked it all in, excitedly, and even grudgingly at times. I started to love my country even more. UP made me cherish my identity as a Filipino not only because my education was paid for by my fellow countrymen’s hard earned taxes (though that remains a huge part of it) but because of the pride instilled in me by simply surrounding me with greatness. Greatness in both the excellence of the alumni whose footsteps I follow (pa’nong hindi kung yung prof mo sa BC 121 ay unang Pilipina lang namang nagtrabaho sa BBC?) and the nobleness I recognized in the non-academic members of our community. It made greatness not only a possibility but also a responsibility.
In short, UP was the manger on which the real me was birthed. In being comfortable with all kinds of people, I came to better comprehend what the real world is like, and I learned to be proud and comfortable with who I was. I nurtured a deeper sense of empathy and a more profound identification of my place and role in the society. If you’d met me in high school, you probably wouldn’t think I’d end up as a movie scriptwriter whose currency, apart from imagination, is skill in interacting and empathizing with people. Who would’ve thought all that could be done in just 500 hectares of land? Sa UP lang!
The 2001 Graduates, with my Mom 🙂
Since then, no matter where I went, I was assured of who I am and confident of what I could be. Like when I was a Freshman representing the Philippines in a youth forum in Japan. Or when I was traveling all over Mindanao making a documentary on issues faced by journalists covering war and terrorism. Or as a Fellowship student in Singapore. Even now, as I pursue further studies here in Great Britain, I’m mindful of how I represent myself as well as the Filipino people. Such awareness drives me to be the best version of myself. I owe it to my country, my alma mater, and myself. UP ata to. Matapang, matalino. Walang takot kahit kanino.
Kaya ngayon, pag recitation, di na ko nanginginig. At dahil nasa London, syempre proper English!
So anong kwentong Peyups ko, exactly? Is it how UP was the scene of my adolescence, or how it made me value my being Filipino? Or is it how it taught me to survive in the real world?
Baka magalit pa professors ko, sabihin para kong hindi taga-UP. Let me sum up this way, then (and in straight English):
It was in UP that I grew up to be a Filipino who is grounded in the realities of the world.
I composed this the weekend before the start of our second term at LFS. I originally called it, “A U.P.-Grown Grown Up on Growing Up” – a sort of word play which I didn’t really expect to be adapted as its title upon publication. I had some time in my hands and wanted to contribute to my Alma Mater’s celebration of its centennial.
I honestly thought this wouldn’t get published because I didn’t feel like it was what Campaigns & Grey wanted for the series. You’d notice I wasn’t very specific about the experiences I recounted in the article. It’s more like an abbreviation how my UP life was kasi. I’ve read a lot of the articles published, including my friends’. They, however, wrote of specific life episodes while they were still studying in the campus. I realized my article wasn’t like that after I made my friend Jean read it, which was after I had emailed the article. I thought of writing a new one but never got around to doing it. Classes started and I got busy. I figured, I can always post it in my blog anyway. That’s why I was surprised when I was woken up by Norman’s text (at 7AM on Saturday!), saying “Yours is today’s Kwentong Peyups! Congrats Ü”
Thanks to my cousin Majah who took a picture of the article to send to me. There it was…
Growing Up To Grown Up
Raz Sobida de la Torre
BA Broadcast Communication
97-18393 U.P. Diliman
I’m glad they printed this anyway. Among the reasons for my apprehension in leaving the country to study in London this year is the thought of missing out on all the festivities. Seryoso, sobra kong bad trip na wala ako sa Pinas para sa Centennial Lecture Series (though I was lucky enough to attend Sheila Coronel’s during my summer vacation there), Homecomings, and the UP Pep Squad’s defense of its title, among other things. This certainly helps make up for my absence 🙂