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From Our Readers: "I Wasn't the Smartest Kid in Class"

I wasn't able to finish college on time.
Rizz Escaño

I wasn't always the smartest kid in class.

When I was in kindergarten, I was class valedictorian and my parents were so proud of me. I could even remember delivering a very long speech that took weeks to memorize for Graduation Day. I was consistently part of the honor roll until third grade. Unfortunately, because I belonged to the star section, whiz kids who were very intelligent got ahead and I barely made it to the top 20. It was okay, TBH. As long as I was in that class, I was fine. During those times, I felt that being part of that group mattered more than anything. Being kicked out after a year was my biggest fear, but thankfully it didn't happen.

In high school, I was part of the star section until sophomore year. During my junior year, it was my first time to be part of a regular class; it shocked me. It wasn't like I didn't do my best the past year, but maybe my grades were beginning to be average—something I've never experienced before. I got used to being in the class and even made really good friends, but eventually my grades were not getting any better.

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I got used to being in the class and even made really good friends, but eventually my grades were not getting any better.

Senior year turned out well that I made it to the top ten. That motivated me to do better every day. However, a spot in the top ten of a regular class didn't guarantee anyone a spotlight on Graduation Day, not even during Recognition Day. You just become part of the class honor roll, and that's it. Then you graduate.

I definitely missed the feeling of being called up on stage to receive a medal, a plaque, or even a piece of paper that says you've achieved something. I knew I had it in me, but I just didn't know why I didn't make it in high school.

College was very different. Somehow, I was able to adjust quickly during freshman year that I made it to the Dean's List. On sophomore year, I got the second level scholarship and I even won some competitions during the academic year. My achievements motivated me to end my college days with flying colors until eventually, I failed to comply with a very important requirement.

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It wasn't because I forgot or I didn't do my best. I really did try to complete my grades for that particular class during the next semester but it was too late. I got an F, a very striking F, which clearly meant that I could no longer vie for honors come Graduation Day. I lost it all because of one class. I could never go up on stage again. It was my last chance and I screwed it.

I got an F, a very striking F, which clearly meant that I could no longer vie for honors come Graduation Day. I lost it all because of one class. I could never go up on stage again. It was my last chance and I screwed it.

I stopped for a semester to work. When I got back, I recovered and realized that the game isn't over yet. I could still do well in school. I could still make my parents proud even if I didn't graduate with honors. Eventually, all went well in school and I even got a position in three school organizations which really made my college years feel worthwhile.

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During the last semester of my stay in college, we were all looking forward to graduation. Everything was set. I even had in mind what I'd wear or how I'd do my hair for the occasion even if it was still months away. We still had to finish our internships and work on that dreaded college graduation requirement: thesis.

Unfortunately, we didn't make the deadline of the defense. It was painful. It was the only thing left that I had to do to finish school, and I wasn't able to comply! Although I wasn't the only person who got left behind, it was still heartbreaking not to graduate with my closest friends. We all got to college on the same day, and we promised to be together on the very last day, too. I didn't even attend their graduation day because I wasn't sure if I could witness an event I was supposed to be in. That would be painful to watch. Sure, I was proud of them, but I knew I was supposed to be there, too.

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Although I wasn't the only person who got left behind, it was still heartbreaking not to graduate with my closest friends.

It took weeks before I got over the trauma of not graduating on time. The famous graduation song even haunted me that every time I heard it on the radio, I'd bawl. I didn't want to see anyone wearing a toga even on TV. I wasn't doing well, but life had to go on. I had to wait for another six months.

Since we were only waiting for the final defense, I honestly had nothing else to do so I decided to take a part-time job. But something came to me one day and I realized that the game really isn't over yet. My instructors told me that I was a potential recipient of the Leadership Award because of the competitions, publications, events, and conferences that I attended for the past five years. I was only missing one more event to make me a qualified nominee for the said recognition. So I began gathering people from the organizations that I've handled and tried to make one more event possible. It turned out to be successful one and the next thing I know, after a few more months of working on all my documents, I was officially going to receive the award.

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I realized that the game really isn't over yet. My instructors told me that I was a potential recipient of the Leadership Award because of the competitions, publications, events, and conferences that I attended for the past five years.

Graduation came and this time, I wasn't crying because I wasn't part of the final list. I wasn't crying because I wasn't going to march. I was crying because I was finally there. Success is truly sweeter because it's worth the wait. After all the disappointments, heartbreaks, and delays that I encountered on my journey to graduation, I finally realized why I had to stay six more months in college.

If I didn't get delayed, I wouldn't be able to take my mom up on stage again. In the end, I was able to, and I knew she always wanted that to happen. I knew I could have graduated without an award and still make my family proud, but it was such a welcome bonus. It took a long time, but it was definitely worth it.

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I was't always the smartest kid in class, but that didn't stop me from fulfilling my goals. Anyone can. You don't have to be the best or the most intelligent student there is. You can make mistakes along the way and still finish school. And if ever it takes you a long time to get to that success, always remember that there is a bigger reason why life took you to that long cut.

And if ever it takes you a long time to get to that success, always remember that there is a bigger reason why life took you to that long cut. 

Written by Rizz Escaño a.ka. DJ Gabby Ginger of 89.5 Star FM.

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Katherine Go 2 hours ago

Cold Food

The most thrilling and delightful moment of any school day is opening up your baon during breaks. There is always so much excitement in unveiling your homemade meal and snacks housed inside matching heat-insulating containers. Because preparing packed meals is an age-old tradition of showing parental love, loved ones pour effort into curating a nutritious meal accompanied by a selection of side dishes, desserts, and beverages daily; it reminds us that we are being taken care of, even from far away.

Baon plays a significant role in a Filipino childhood. Almost every Filipino child comes to school with baon made especially for them by their parents or household helpers. Even Filipinos in the labor force continue to bring baon for varying reasons: to save money, recycle leftovers, cater to personal taste, or attend to special needs. Nonetheless, eating your baon is a heart-warming experience that allows Filipinos to bring a piece of home along with them wherever they go.

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Even other cultures practice making packed lunch. In Japan, mothers create bento--Japanese meals in partitioned boxes. Because of the popularity of bento, trends have emerged, such as the Kyaraben, or character-themed bento. Naturally, Japanese parents and students began competing for who had the cutest and tastiest bento, and this is similar to what I have witnessed in my own childhood. I remember seeing my classmates sharing their snacks and lunches. They would compare and boast about their parents' or yayas’ cooking. In my case, I never had the chance to join in the competition or indulge in homemade cooking. Up until this day, I have never brought any baon to school.

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For a long time, I envied others. As trivial or petty as it may seem, not having baon became a problem for my grade school self. During that time, I had to sit in a separate cafeteria away from my friends because the kids who bought food were assigned to sit elsewhere. You could consider me spoiled, but I wanted to experience something most kids did. I had food at home, so what made it so hard to bring some with me to school?

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Now that I am on my final year in high school I have come to realize the benefits of purchasing my own food. Since I spent on food everyday, I learned to budget my allowance at a young age. Over the years, I learned to practice self-control whenever I wanted to eat more greasy fries and drink sweetened beverages. I have tasted the strangest viands at the school cafeterias, and I have repeatedly satiated myself over my latest delicious discoveries. Despite the struggles, I am thankful that I have never had baon because of what I have learned. Not to mention, I never had to experience eating cold food.

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Choosing between dreams and practicality is never easy. My CETs season just ended with the release of the UPCAT results. Anxious as I logged on the website, I started to think about what would happen if I didn't pass UP. Ever since I was six years old, I fixated on the idea that I will become an iska, serving the country and studying at my dream school, which is UP. I strived and studied hard for the UPCAT, sacrificing a lot of things like hang-outs and gala weekends for reviews.

Throughout my CETs journey, I started seeing myself studying only in UP, and while there were no results yet, my friends and I already started planning our lives around the fact that we're gonna study in UP. It was a big deal for me, my friends and my family that I get the chance to study in UP since it's so far from my hometown which is Benguet, and better yet, it's a very well known university.

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January 2020 came and universities started releasing CETs results. I was expecting my DCAT and ACET results that month. I passed DCAT but brushed it off because even though I liked the school, I never really saw myself studying there. Same thoughts with Ateneo, since it never really crossed my mind that I might study in ADMU. In fact, Ateneo was never really a choice for me, I only took it just to have another choice in case I failed the UPCAT. I also applied for financial aid not because I was really planning on studying there, but more of "para lang sure na may college ako". I know it's a bad thing but they were just my back-up schools because my main goal was really UP.

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One Friday afternoon, ACET results came out. I passed, managed to get a scholarship, and in that moment, my plans just started to crumble.

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Seeing that I got a 100% tuition and fees discount, free dorm fees, and an additional book allowance got me into considering studying to Ateneo. Suddenly, I got torn between UP, my dream school, and Ateneo, which offers so much more.

As the months passed, and after talking to my parents, my plans and decisions got more jumbled and messy. I still wanted to go to UP even if there were no results yet but Ateneo offering so much would mean a lesser burden to my parents in terms of finances.

Even though my parents told me that they'll support me no matter where I choose to go, the practicality that Ateneo offers in terms of finances was not an easy thing to waive. Sometimes I would laugh at the fact that I'd spend less on a private school than on a state university. Talking to my friends helped somehow, but they also have various opinions about the two universities. I managed to tell myself to hold off the problem until UPCAT results get released, and so I did.

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UP released the UPCAT results and seeing that I passed made me scream and cry, literally. At that moment, all I was thinking was that I passed my dream school and I'm officially a QC college student.

My parents were so proud of me even though they got scared because I screamed, but ultimately, they were happy for me. The next day, I sat down, stared at my UPCAT and ACET results, and told myself that I needed to decide. This was the hardest part. I tried deciding using the pros and cons method but it didn't really work. Talking to my parents also didn't help because they'd support me either way, so their judgement was not a factor at all. I also had the same course in both schools so that wasn't a big help. I was 99% close to letting go of my dream university and decide to go to Ateneo.

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I weighed options and Ateneo was the cheaper and more practical option. I also started to see myself studying as a blue eagle, roaming around the campus etc. And financially, I didn't need to worry much except for food. At that point, I started to really like the idea of going to Ateneo more than studying in UP. But then, as the weeks went by, the Ateneo Plan started to lose my interest.

I realized that studying in Ateneo would be a great opportunity, but not something that will really make me happy. The finances and all would be so much better but I wouldn't be happy and content, and I felt that Ateneo couldn't give me everything that I wanted and needed. Then a light bulb lit up.

As I was imagining myself at UP, I ultimately felt that happiness and content that I didn't feel with Ateneo. I realized that, if I didn't study in UP, I know later in my life, I would regret it. I would regret not choosing my dream university because I didn't choose what would make me happy.

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In short, I chose my dream over practicality. I know that I would be successful in both tracks, but I simply chose my dream because it is where I'm happier and more content. Besides, we can make our dreams practical but not all the time can the practical choice equate to our dreams. So to those having a hard time choosing between dreams and practicality, weigh it out and always remember to put yourself and your happiness first. And of course, choose the choice that you know you'll not regret later on.

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