GRADUATING from college is inarguably the most awaited day in a student’s life. It is, after all, the conclusion of a long journey in the academe. And in the eyes of an isko and iska (scholar at the University of the Philippines), it’s probably the most liberating moment: Imagine, finally, breaking the well-known curse that at UP, “mahirap makapasok pero mas mahirap makalabas.”
Sunflowers and ‘sablay’
The UP graduation is the greatest reward for all the struggles you’ve gone through and survived in your college life. What makes it different from other graduations is its rich culture and tradition.
People who visit UP Diliman enjoy the sight of blooming sunflowers along University Avenue during graduation season. The sunflower is a symbol of hope for many, a reminder of a bright future ahead. It’s also a refreshing sight amid the daily hustle and bustle of metro living. For graduating isko and iska, it serves as motivation to finish their theses and remaining requirements.
Add the famous sablay, the sash you see graduating students wear on top of their barong Tagalog and dresses during commencement exercises. In colloquial terms, sablay actually means failure. But at UP, it’s a different story. The sablay is a gift, a symbol of the conquest of your college years. It’s a remembrance of all your sleepless nights and hard work.
Singing the university hymn, “UP Naming Mahal,” as an “undergrad” for the last time will definitely give you goose bumps. It almost feels like saying goodbye to a loved one, or leaving home, both of which are never easy to do.
During the graduation ceremony, expect to see your UP life flash before you. You’ll recall the moment you found out you passed the UP College Admission Test, or the time your parents and siblings cried as you bade them goodbye to live in a dorm.
You’ll also look back on the time you were an innocent freshman searching for the building called TBA (it stood for To Be Announced, not a building’s name), and the time you laid eyes on your happy crush in a GE class.
Such memories mean that you will actually miss UP life. Terror teachers, stressful exams, surprise quizzes, challenging term papers—they’re now all fond memories. Weird. Everything feels weird in retrospect. But everything also feels new. And as the old cliche goes, change is inevitable.
The last leg
What do fresh grads think about graduating from UP?
“It’s an experience where you are most aware of what you had to go through,” says Eliza Arellano, a BS Industrial Engineering grad. “Probably because it’s the time in your life where you cross the line between being young and naive and suddenly having to live independently.”
BS Community Development grad Yasser Gutierrez plans to continue serving the people after graduation. “UP graduation marks the beginning of a new chapter dedicated to serving the nation for a lifetime. It becomes meaningful and extraordinary as we accept the challenge to be at the forefront of advancing the interests of the Filipino,” he says.
“It’s more than special because it’s not just a one-day culmination of all the years of struggle,” says Paul Jason Flores, who finished BS Industrial Engineering. “It’s also a part of the journey—the last leg of the journey—when you get to look back and remember every person and every event that made the tiniest and biggest impact in your life.”
Lisette Erica Dimalanta, a BA Sociology grad, equates UP graduation to a pledge for greater love and service to the nation and its people. “UP prides itself as an institution that produces young leaders and pioneers of the country,” she says. “It presents itself as the beginning of a life, where one strives for excellence for one’s self and the larger community.”
At the end of the day, what makes UP graduation really special depends on the graduating isko or iska. It can mean the sweet and simple promise of a better life. It can be the start of a lifelong commitment to service. Or it can mean living a life of honor and excellence, the two virtues instilled in every UP student.
Tomorrow marks a fresh start. You may choose to look for a job, plan a monthlong getaway, or just rest for a while and enjoy the moment. Do whatever the hell you want. You truly deserve it.
Last Sunday, and for the very last time, UP students fell in line to get something they’ve been working for since Day 1 of school. No, not a precious slot to an in-demand class, as UP, or the University of Pila, is notoriously known for.
This time, new graduates waited in line for their turn to take a selfie with the ultimate symbol of UP, the iconic Oblation (“Oble”) statue. It took a while to get it, but this selfie was worth the wait.
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