The first obstacle to hurdle is getting accepted in UP, which has been dreadful for applicants from the provinces who need to pass the most difficult college entrance test in the country. The rise of commercial college entrance review centers is reality we have to factor in. Without a good review, it’s tough luck even for local high school topnotchers to achieve their dream to be counted among members of this elite government-funded state university. Increasingly,the review centers determine one’s success or failure in passing the entrance exam, and the most sophisticated and resourceful, some say “naughtiest,” centers are in Manila.
With end view of leveling the playing field for the sake of Bicolano students, the UP Ibalon alumni,a Bicolano organization of former students and graduates of the UP Diliman campus embarks on a UP College Admission Test (UPCAT) Assistance Project. This is a long haul group effort that combines live seminars with Web-based activities. UP Ibalon Bicol, as the alumni group is called, is also preparing to put up its College Admission Review Website to leverage not only its vast talent pool but also the power of the Web.
The project officially launches at Fernando Hall, 3rd Floor Plaza Medica, Panganiban Street, Naga City with a review-information campaign on June 14, 2008. Top graduating high school students of Bicolandia are the target beneficiaries of this, although the first 100 participants for this year could only include high school students immediately around Naga City. Dr. Eden Borja-Fernando, owner of Plaza Medica and a UP Ibalon pioneer, has offered free use of its lecture hall as the venue for all Naga-based review sessions. The project’s reach and range of services are expected to widen as the group broadens its region-wide base and augments its financial resources.
The activities will start at 9:45 A.M. with the national anthem, prayers and welcome remarks by the organization’s president Jose (Butch) Robredo. Video presentations follow.
An interesting eye-opener lecture on the Life in UP will be delivered by Jake Tabora. Invaluable tips in choosing a course will be tackled by Dr. Roland Elicay. An insightful testimonial from a famous UP student will be shared by Mike Padua. Fatima Edna C. Balaquiao’s lecture on The Socialized Tuition Fee Assistance Program (STFAP), more popularly known as the Iskolar ng Bayan Program, will bring clarity to opportunities for making studies at UP affordable. Another UP Ibalon alumnae, Clarine Tobias, owner and manager of Memorecall, will give in-depth insights on test-taking strategies.
Free review materials will be distributed to participants and food will be served. Participants will also have the chance to try out the review questions.
This remarkable project is a result of the cooperative work of the organization’s members and friends who share Dr. Andy Gimpaya’s concern that Bicolanos are a vanishing breed in UP. Dr. Gimpaya, who takes charge of the Internet component of the project, has never been disappointed by his Ibalon pals who are ready to help young minds eager to pursue quality education.
In a friendly collaboration with UP Panginuhud, a UP outreach organization, Apolonio Baylon, Annaliza Mariano, Jazon Morillo, Dr. May Velasco-Yorobe, Ma. Zerlaine Alberto-Fornoles, Adolfo Badiola, Tess A.Arbo, Dan M. Daz, Dulce B. Dionisio, Rose Bernardo-Nayve, Sieglinde E.B. Bulaong, and Jun Olin—all Ibalonians joined forces to compile sample test questions. The UP Panginuhud donated more than 200 pages of review materials. The burden of sorting out the materials and providing answers to test questions is shared by Pitoy Moreno, an engineer based overseas and now on vacation, and Dulce Bernardo-Dionisio, a professional teacher.
With communications through the Internet easier than ever, the UP Ibalon alumni can draw strength from all corners of the world where other Ibalonians quietly reach out in support of the project: Dr. Yasmin Paje-Banzon, Dr. Delen Padilla-de la Paz, Dr. Ray G. Rayel, Gods Lanuza, Dr. Jose Remo, Dr. Divinia Nolasco-Ries, Dr. Fems Espinas-Paladin, Mac Pavia, Acela B. Bretan, Annelee Badiola-Lojo, Monina S. Badiola, Raniela Barbaza, Dr Arnel V. Malaya, Dr. Abet Guballa, Dr. Amy Goleta-Dy, Wilma Rojas, Imelda Cabañes, Carmela Magpantay, Pitoy Moreno, Jovy Mijares, Alan V. Badiola, Stephen Acabado, Jason Oliva, Maria Eusebia Quiñones, Ma. Celestina Manlagñit-Tam, Lorna Vigil-Baylon, Sarge Colambo, Atty. Joel Cadiz, Ruditu Espiritu, Jr., Zuyen Tria-Valencia, Ariel Padua, Zarah Padua, Nathaniel Chavez, Dr. Annelee Badiola-Lojo, Dr. Augusto Mesia among others.
In their minds, the university terrain is still bumpy and steep; its high horse is still tall and barely reachable. The sense of being Bicolanos drives the UP Ibalon alumni to extend a helping hand so that Handiong’s children may thrive and succeed.