The UPCAT results came out last night. By now, at least thousands of high school seniors in the country must be exercising their bragging rights for making it to the finest university in the Philippines. I remember when my UPCAT results came out. I was at a birthday party of my grade school friend when her sister who was already studying in UP called to congratulate her for passing the UPCAT. We didn’t finish her party anymore. Instead, we all rushed to Diliman to check our names. This was before the era of cellphones and texts so imagine the suspense we felt going there, not knowing whether we were about to hear some good news or not. I remember getting down at PHAN and saying a prayer before looking for my name. I remember thinking how miserable I’d feel in case I don’t see my name on the list. I remember wondering if I should have chosen a non-quota course instead so that my chances of getting in would be higher. But then there it was: my full name, my college, and my course. I think the first thought that came to my mind then was, “Ah, so matalino din pala ako.” Haha. I guess I needed to pass the UPCAT to convince myself of that.
But this isn’t about UP pride. I’ll probably write about that some other time when I start to feel good about myself again and I can somehow connect that feeling to my UP degree. Haha. Good luck with that. Instead, this is about the wonderful friends I met in UP, who, when I passed the UPCAT years ago, were just names on the same list on the same bulletin board where I found mine.
Our block was randomly given the name A4. Seeing how we all jelled together, however, I think there was nothing so random about how we were all grouped in one class. To our block belonged the following people: Hannah who was smart, beautiful, and, apart from being one of the few who understood Math ( a rarity for Polsci people), also excelled in our fencing class, thereby proving that there’s no justice in the world; Joyleen our childlike and sweet blockmate who attended our first Pol Sci class with her yaya (I swear, only in UP!); Mara who must have been born speaking Spanish because she aced all our Spanish tests from day one; Pie who made every guy in AS fall in love with her because she had this I’m-pretty-but-I- don’t- know-it aura; Amor who was easily one of the smartest and most privileged kids in our block, and one of the humblest ones also; Sienna who designated herself– and with good reasons— as the block’s Ate Sienna; and, as in all blocks, all the nerds who shall not be named here because they surely know who they are.
But among these people I simply used to call blockmates, several became really good friends.
The first person I met in college was Kai. I was early for my 7:00 a.m. Comm I class and there she was, striking a conversation with me as if we’ve been friends all our lives. Years later, I would realize that that was classic Kai. You feel at home with her right away. When I visited her office when we were already lawyers and after years of not seeing each other, she wasted no time telling me about this office mate she had just started to see who later on became her husband. She told me about their story without any hesitation, as if we were just talking about it over the phone the night before. With Kai, the phrase “you pick up from where you left off” squarely applies. (I hate it when I use phrases like this. But there. 😉 )
There’s also Myke who used to wait for me after my classes even when we were no longer blockmates because she loved hanging out with me. It’s probably because we both enjoyed staying in the main library so that I could read all the back issues of the lifestyle magazines at the Filipiniana section while she finished our Polsci readings. And our Nat Sci readings. Or Econ readings. And even our STS readings. I swear, she read everything!
I also became good friends with Luke who made me sleep and watch TV in her dorm while waiting for our next class. Before she got married, Luke and I lived in one apartment for a few months. Even then, I always counted on her to cook for me and do stuff for me every time I was too lazy to fend for myself.
And of course, there’s Jo and Ches, who remain as my favorite couple up to now. They have become my good friends through years and years of tambay hours, exchanging cards and letters, surprise birthday parties at the Sunken garden, bad recitations in law school, cramming for exams, swooning over our favorite celebrities (Hugh Grant for Jo and Brad Pitt for me), attending OLA hearings, and bashing people we don’t like. Yes, we still do the latter. Haha. When Papa got sick, Jo and Ches were the first ones to respond to our request for blood donations. I guess you couldn’t get any more committed as a friend than that. They were also there during the wake, and Jo even managed to make me smile when she mentioned the name of a law school crush. Haha. My mom loves Jo because, in her words, she seems “honest and sincere and she doesn’t look like she’s just feigning interest.” I told mom that feigning anything was never Jo’s thing. Maybe that’s why she has remained a good friend.
Finally, there’s Kat. Where do I begin describing my friendship with Kat? She is, hands down, and without qualification, the one person who gets me the most. She’s also probably one of the most brilliant people I know, so I often tell her that she makes me look good just by association. Haha. In her law school grad pic which she gave me, she wrote: “Soon enough, Gay, these will be the good old days.” I think I’ll point out to her one of these days that while she was right, what she didn’t know was that those good old days were bound to be replaced by better ones, as the past ten years of my friendship with her would show.
I remembered all these people when I heard that the UPCAT results came out last night. I was reminded that more than the education I got from UP, my grand take-away and biggest blessing from that university are the people I met there and the friendships I now have with them. I guess, when God answered my prayer to pass the UPCAT, I thought it was only so that I could get a good education and a degree I can be proud of. Turns out, I got something more lasting and valuable. I love it when God does that.