Helping the future UP Students of Bicol (Rising above the shadow of poor expectation)

by

Lord Randolf Churchill didn’t think his son Sir Winston Churchill could accomplish great things. He was disconsolate believing that young Winston didn’t have a mind that soared to the sky; he assumed his son, somewhat slow, didn’t have much promise to measure up with the leadership he displayed as a Tory politician of the British House of Commons. When he died in 1895, Winston was only 20 years old and he hadn’t proven his father wrong. Lord Randolf didn’t live long enough to see his son emerge as a stellar leader, one of the greatest war heroes of World War II.

In retirement, as he looked back at his life, Winston Churchill wrote about a reverie in which he imagined his father’s ghost visiting him at home. Keeping the outstanding role he played in the British government and international politics to himself, Winston narrated to his dad the earth-shaking world events that shaped history’s course after he died. In their conversation, Lord Randolf’s ghost became regretful saying,

Fathers always expect their sons to have their virtues without their faults…Old people are always impatient with the young…I really wonder why you didn’t go into politics. You might have done a lot to help. You might even have made a name for yourself.”

At the concluding pages of Jacob Weisberg’s book “The Bush Tragedy,” the lines seemed a foolish joke Winston played on his father. Yet it made me recall the young promising students of Bicol who dreamed of going to the University of the Philippines (UP) on their own without much help from family members and friends. They faced seemingly insurmountable challenges which few people with tall career ambitions knew. With some tips and street-wise encouragements, the brainy students could be primed to achieve far greater things than what Lord Randolf expected for son.

Winston Churchill sullenly fought against the shadow of poor expectation. But in the end, he proved his autonomy to hone his talent against the towering achievements of his dad whose lack of attention and absence pained him. He rose above his limits to surpass his father’s political triumphs; he learned from mistakes which spread around, and pursued spectacular deeds which now honor his name.

Isn’t these what we want for our students to aspire for in UP?

Yet, we heard our Bicolano students entering the state university are at a disadvantage. Far in the provinces and sequestered in their own parochial milieu, they’re unfamiliar with the grueling university life whose system is a sort of a double-edged enigmatic mirage when they look at it from the outside.


Without good preparation and reliable information, they can’t go close to achieving their goal of being counted as proud members of the elite government-funded national university. That explains why they need our assistance in scaling down the steep and slippery ivory tower that UP is known for.

The playing field around UP is traditionally rough and blistering, but it has become dreadful and forbidding in recent years for the newcomers from the towns and provinces. For this reason, UP Ibalon members who know a bit about successfully negotiating the school’s complex maze, pool their time and energy to conduct the UP college admissions test review (UPCAT) and information campaign scheduled in June 2008.

The entrance test review is something students go through to increase their chance of passing and later succeeding in the university. In the past few years, it’s a proven tool which the smart and well-informed Manila students use, giving them unsurpassed urban advantage over their provincial counterparts.

So there’s the disadvantage our Bicolano students have to bear. The UPCAT review must available in Bicol or else, for lack of passers who can enter UP, we lose representation in the university.

Dr. Andy Gimpaya expresses his alarm: “Bicolanos are a vanishing breed in UP.” He speaks of the attrition of the handful of Bicolanos in school, a probable result of a lopsided selection process, an aftermath of the oppressive “survival of the fittest” campus atmosphere which he believes can be countered by a focused preparation for UPCAT, followed by commonsense advice in studying and nurturing.

Unlike the carillon bells with concordant harmonies that roused many Bicolanos from sleep when they were students living in Diliman, Dr. Gimpaya heard something discordant which needed action. Waylaid by sharp competition and brushed aside in a fierce selection process, he knew fewer Bicolanos are able to enter the school now than ever before. Concomitantly, there are those who leave school before finishing their courses dashing hopes that they’ll be leaders and contributors in making the world a better place.

The observation caught the sympathy of UP Ibalon, a group of caring Bicolanos who have their hearts ready to help young minds and share their university experience. Apolonio Mighty Baylon, Jose M. Robredo, Andy V. Gimpaya, Annaliza Mariano, Jazon Morillo, Fatima Edna C. Balaquiao, May Magdalene Velasco-Yorobe, Ma. Zerlaine Alberto-Fornoles, Adolfo Totoy Badiola, Tess Avenido-Arbo, Dan M. Daz, Dulce Bernardo-Dionisio, Annelee Badiola-Lojo, Rose Bernardo-Nayve, Sieglinde E. Borromeo-Bulaong among others—all UPians joined forces to do something for aspiring UP students coming from the Bicol region.

In coordination with friends from Libmanan, Camarines Sur, they’re preparing for this free review and information drive to assist students hurdle the UPCAT and learn something about university life and tradition which can be invaluable for their survival.==0==

For more information about the free review contact: Fatima Edna- 09183482305; 0548115061; Annaliza-09287006705; 0544722852; Jaze-092281143981; 09185785732; Andy at http://upibalonbicol.blogspot.com/ =0=

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