Friday, January 20, 2012

UPCAT

DURING MY TIME, THE UPCAT WAS MORE THAN AN ENTRANCE TEST. IN OUR CLOSE CIRCLE OF NERDS, THE UPCAT WAS A TEST NOT JUST OF YOUR STOCK KNOWLEDGE BUT YOUR WILL. IT IS ALSO A BRAGGING RIGHT.


When I took the UPCAT in 1987, I had no expectations. I found the test, especially the science part, easy. The rest of the sections, I found to be rather okey. When I asked my schoolmates and classmates, they found it quite difficult. 


Back then, the country was in a period of great turmoil. The year old Aquino administration has just been formed and a new Constitution has just been presented before the masses for their approval. Publicity says it was the freest of all Constitutions, and the people were convinced.


I was then a Boy Councilor of the Municipality of Marikina. A close Aquino appointee, Mayor OIC Valentino just created the Marikina Youth Development Foundation. We were the first board directors of the Foundation. And we were the very first "boy officials" of Marikina. 


As a boy councilor, I was tasked and was asked to familiarize with legislative procedure. Admittedly, I still remember the experience and I enjoy every minute of it, especially the debates. I love debates. 


These first boy councilors were elected by a thousand other student leaders of different schools in Marikina. I don't know, but I was elected by a majority. 


Conquering the "political scene" of Marikina, then, was something extraordinary. Passing the UPCAT iced the cake.


When I saw my name among those who passed the quota course in Political Science (I ranked 23rd overall), I was stricken by uncertainty. This is a totally different experience. HOw will I fare in this university? I was a new comer from the backwaters of Philippine society. My family is not as rich as the others. I also had several relatives who died fighting the Marcos regime. 


UPCAT is the first obstacle to hurdle. The next was, the rigorous academic discipline that UP imposed upon a freshman like me. 


UPCAT for me, is the great equalizer. It gave young people like me the chance to cross swords with the rich and the privileged other students of my generation. UPCAT gave me the opportunity to learn more about the world. 


IN my time, the UNiversity just accepted 8,000 plus freshmen. Today, I learned that 12,000 plus passed the UPCAT from 73,000 applicants. Eventually, this 12,000 will still be pruned to manageable levels. And those who will survive the pruning, expect the next steps to also be as tough and even tougher than the UPCAT.