Friday, July 16, 2010

Why Sachi should go to UP

This is a very old story, but I can't help but RE-POST. I was still enrolled at Saint Louis University when this was published in the Young Blood section of The Philippine Daily Inquirer. I just found it again today. Thanks to the Live Journal.

Why Sachi should go to UP
By Herdy L. Yumul

DEAR Kuya Henry,

Allow me write this letter to you--a first in many years--as you exert influence on one of the most important decisions in the life of our beloved Sachi.

I have known that after a careful assessment, you have decided to send Sachi to Saint Louis University in Baguio for college. While I receive this news with utmost respect, let me air my dissent and give you my thoughts on it.

I believe that SLU is a good school but I wish Sachi could go to the University of the Philippines because there, Sachi will grow among the best and the brightest, the future movers and shakers of our country. In UP, sure to open before Sachi’s eyes are doors of opportunities that graduates of lesser schools can only dream of. But above all, in UP, Sachi would continue to be the best, the brightest and the most promising person that she is by nature.

If Sachi were just a mediocre student, I wouldn’t care. But we know that she is far from ordinary. She has the skills and the attitude typical of those who make it "big time."

Some of our relatives commented that it wouldn’t matter much where Sachi would go to college. She could go abroad and earn precious dollars, anyway. But if that is the case, we should as well let her go to a school in Timbuktu and the old American patient in San Diego she would nurse in the future would never mind.

Not infrequently, going abroad is a desperate move. It is an open acceptance of one’s failure to succeed in one’s own country. Overseas Filipino workers are not heroes all the time. Sometimes they are victims of poverty, if not of greed.

It is in this light that we admire Mommy and Daddy because they were able to raise us with success. They may have not set foot in college but their hard work, discipline and business acumen paved the way for them. They made a mark without a college diploma and without having to leave us to earn money elsewhere.

But Sachi wants to be a physician. Because entrusted in a doctor’s hands are lives of human beings, academic training is of primary consideration. Dr. Benjie Flor (Daddy’s cardiologist) knows that very well and so he went to UP for college. He also had the chance to go abroad, not to battle against time for green money, but to further his expertise. Now, Dr. Flor serves his Mother Ilocos by being a good and trusted professional. And his job pays him well.

I am both amused and saddened by the irony of it all: many parents break their bones just to send their children to Manila for better education. Not few of them do not mind if their kids go to the so-called "diploma mills" where degrees are gained without much pain. There are so many schools of that kind, many of them are in Recto. But to many parents, it really does not matter, basta mapag-aral lang sa Manila, okay na.

Here we have Sachi, admitted to the premier institution of learning in this country. And we do not send her to UP? Many Upcat passers tender parties to celebrate their victory, their having won the key to their dreams. And on the bleak side, I have also heard of some young people claim their lives upon receiving the kind of "thank you but you did not make it" letter sent by the university. And we dismiss Sachi’s chance to go to UP with such ease?

I hope to make you realize that this humble request is born neither of caprice nor of boastfulness. This is born out of ambition and concern for our beloved Sachi.

I remember very well when I was about to go to college. Almost everybody did not want me to go to Manila. But Mommy was there and I will forever be thankful to her. Together, "Inkgidem mi iti panagbasak (we just closed our eyes and went on against all odds)." In the same manner, let us transcend the present and on to the future.

Opportunities like these knock but once.

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago once said that non-UP graduates belong to "lower life forms," like insects. While we are much aware that the lady senator is really out of her wits most of the time, it is, to some extent, reflective of how society looks at graduates of UP and other top schools. It might be unfair, yes. But it is impossible to change the world in a few years when Sachi graduates from college.

Several times, I have heard personnel managers say that they do not even bother to glance at the resum├ęs of graduates who are not graduates of top schools. Their papers are a regular visitor of the wastebasket. This practice may sound unfair but not totally irrational. Ateneans, La Sallians, Bedans, UP graduates and alumni of other equally reputable schools often need less training and are generally more competitive. Companies invest in them. And so, a UP Diliman diploma is a VIP passport that is recognized by every Filipino in any point and corner of the world.

One does not have to be an academician to realize that when you are a graduate of a top school, you do not have much proving to do. And true enough, we do not always have the opportunity to present our collegiate achievements to other people. Sachi will not always be able to tell her patients that she enjoyed a scholarship in SLU or that she was awarded 12 medals when she graduated there. But If people know that you are a graduate of UP (no matter if you finished last and spent seven years to complete your four-year course), the assumption is that you are excellent, a cut above the rest.

You bear the indelible mark of greatness.

It is thus no wonder why the other honor graduates of Sachi’s class, from rank No. 2 to rank No. 7 are raring to go to UP. And after 25 years, when they meet again in their class reunion, how will our dear Sachi, their valedictorian, fare?

Looking at your concerns, I know how concerned you are for Sachi’s safety and that financial concerns are carefully considered.

On the question of safety, we do not deny the risks. But if only to ease your worries, let me tell you, thousands and thousands of little probinsiyanas, like our dear Sachi (like Miriam then), flock to UP every year. With faith in God and in themselves, they emerge victorious! Many of them are my friends. We know very well that one does not have to go to Manila to encounter danger. Dangers and risks are eminent in Baguio too, even in Laoag.

As to monetary considerations, a UP education is a most profitable investment. Did you know that government subsidizes almost P50,000 for the education of every UP student every semester? Sending Sachi to Manila would mean a pocket less full, or even empty. But the money is never put to waste. Every centavo is an investment to Sachi’s character. From my humble means, I also offer to help Sachi in her finances if she goes to Manila for college.

A few weeks ago our family rejoiced because of Sachi’s feat. She graduated valedictorian in the only science high school in Ilocos Norte. I hope we do not reward her by depriving her of the education she deserves.

To those who were given more, more will be expected. I pray that we present the treasure of a UP education so she could well serve God and country in the measure becoming of her.

I hope I did not sound antagonizing as I presented my views. My chest suddenly became heavy when Sachi told me that a decision has been made. I hope the decision is not irrevocable so that the feelings of grief and great loss--for the Sachi that should be--will leave me soon.

I never wanted to interfere with your affairs and so I always called Sachi to ask her to talk it over with you. But because she is a really good and understanding daughter, she could not demand too much. She pretends not to have any regrets but her voice says something and I am bothered. Before it’s late, please accept my last-ditch appeal.
Herdy L. Yumul, 22, is a Philosophy and Human Resource Development graduate of the San Beda College.

After a week, my beloved Alma Mater, responded:

SLU’s hard-earned credentials

THE YOUNGBLOOD article published last May 24 came across to us as insensitive, to say the least. I am referring to the letter of Herdy L. Yumul urging his brother to send his daughter Sachi to UP Diliman and not to Saint Louis University, Baguio.

We don’t mind Yumul’s sending his otherwise very private and personal communication to his brother via the column (he is free to do what he wants), but we do mind that his personal correspondence made an unflattering judgment on our school. We don’t mind if he belittles the capacity of SLU and its students and alumni in his private correspondence, but we do mind that these unfair and harsh remarks are made in public and published by a highly regarded daily.

Yumul’s logic says that the University of the Philippines is the premier school in the land (he also mentions in passing La Salle, Ateneo and San Beda as reputable schools) and therefore, Sachi, who is the class valedictorian in the only science high school in Ilocos Norte, should go there for otherwise she wouldn’t "continue to be the best, the brightest and the most promising person that she is by nature." For emphasis, he adds that if his niece were mediocre, he wouldn’t mind if she went to a ‘‘lesser school" (read: SLU and, you might as well include, other institutions that are not on Yumul’s list of reputable schools in Manila).

I am afraid that Yumul’s condescending attitude toward other schools is the kind that leads to something like Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s now infamous remark that people who have not studied at UP constitute "lower life forms." (The writer uses the quotation in his letter but apparently misses the point.)

First, Yumul could have sung hallelujahs to UP (I wonder why he didn’t say the same for San Beda, his alma mater), but he didn’t have to do so at the expense of other schools.
We take issue with the fact that he specifically mentioned SLU. He could have left our school unnamed and his hallelujahs to UP would still have rang out loud and clear.

Second, we take offense when, in a more unpleasant tone, he states: "Sachi will not always be able to tell her patients that she enjoyed a scholarship in SLU or that she was awarded 12 medals when she graduated there."

SLU is definitely not UP, but we don’t know of any Louisian who does not feel proud of his diploma, scholarship or medal. And for a reason: SLU is No. 3 (after UP and Ateneo de Davao) among the universities with the highest passing rates in 10 or more licensure examinations from 1994-1998, according to the March 2000 report of the Professional Regulation Commission and the Commission on Higher Education. Moreover, the same report put SLU among the top five medical schools nationwide whose examinees number 100 to 999, with consistently high passing rates in the medical board exam.

According to the CHED, SLU is among the few Philippine universities which pass the International Standards in Tertiary Education. It is a Center of Excellence for Nursing and Teacher Education and a Center of Development for Business and Management Education as well as for Engineering and Architecture.

All these are hard-earned credentials which SLU has assiduously gained through the years, and we cannot just allow them to be simply brushed aside by one uninformed writer.

As for Sachi, it’s our wish--just like her uncle’s--that wherever she goes for college, she will "continue to be the best, the brightest and the most promising person that she is by nature."--GASTON P. KIBITEN, director, Public Information and Community Relations Office, Saint Louis University, Baguio City

Did Sachi go to UP? I don't know...


Monday, July 5, 2010

Electric sparks to wake me up

The electrician messed up with the electrical wiring in my room. I arrived yesterday to find out that the wall outlets are not working. I talked to my landlord who then contacted the electrician for help. I’ll have to be without electricity for 30 minutes more.

I can’t wait that long so I went back to my room, and tried to figure out how to fix the thing myself. I knew the electrical tapes are loose as I saw how the electrician hastily taped the two live wires together when he came to remove the electric meter two weeks ago. I bravely wrapped my hands with a dry cloth and pressed the still taped wires together. Everything started to power on.

I decided to proceed and just D.I.Y everything and asked for an electrical tape and pliers from my landlord. I un-gently pulled the loose tape off the wires. I was about to put them back together when it started to spark. Not once, not twice, many times. I stopped for awhile. I’m not an expert; I never worked with live wires before. What if I get electrocuted? I don't wanna die that ugly.

I was sweating like hell after a few attempts of getting the wires taped. I don’t know if it’s because of the heat, the thought of getting toasted by one wrong move, or both. But certainly, I don’t want to risk my life for this.


The life that I’ve taken for granted. My life which is for the most stupid reason, I once thought of claiming. I never thought I’d still get to value this gift.

I patiently waited for the electrician.