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You Have to Read This Girl's Hugot Graduation Post

"UP wasn't UP without you in it, simply because, you were my UP."
IMAGE Arra Bayan

Most graduating students commemorate their four- or five-year journey in college by posting their grad photo along with a rather long entry about the challenges they've encountered, how they overcame them, and thanking those who have helped them along the way. When we saw the post of Candy Correspondent Arra Bayan, who graduated Cum Laude from UP Diliman this month, we thought it to be the same, until we started reading it and realized that the beloved she was talking about wasn't just UP, her school, but someone else, too.

"My five years in the university was culminated by a significant event in my life, or as I'd like to call it—the most hurtful, but most important lesson I had to learn. Since I was a freshman I always felt like something was missing. I couldn't see UP as the hype people put it out to be; it served merely as a container to many students striving to attain a degree. In my final year, I realized the reason—UP wasn't UP without you in it, simply because, you were my UP.

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UP wasn't UP without you in it, simply because, you were my UP.

You were my UP, because from the very first time I laid eyes on you, I was captivated. Your smile radiated like the picturesque sun on the oblation backdrop. From that moment on, I knew you were truly special.

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You were my UP, because you were my first love. You showed me how to live life in happiness and contentment. We shared some stellar moments togetherthe walks around the university, the piggy back rides, the first time you held my hand... These are moments I'm sure to cherish forever.

You were my UP, because you taught me a great deal of things. And in a way, these things have altered me, some for the best, some for the worst. These lessons weren't an easy digest, but taking them to heart was a must to grow.

You were my UP, because like the many impossible class requirements, I cried and lamented over you, and what it would feel like to fail you. And in times when I actually did, it was never a good feeling. But you almost always seemed to be accepting to let me back in.

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You were my UP, because despite the struggle, I couldn't seem to give you up, because I knew I'd be fighting for something of great worth. It became more and more difficult and tiring, especially after numerous rejections by you. But amidst this unpleasantry, I was determined to continue my efforts.

You were my UP, because even though a lot of words have been held against you, your greatness was never lessened. The more negativity that stacked, the more I wanted to stand by you. You see, when you love someone as much as I loved you, you simply do not give up, even if all signs point to the impossibility of things. Like a true Iskolar ng Bayan, hinding hindi natatapos ang laban.

You see, when you love someone as much as I loved you, you simply do not give up, even if all signs point to the impossibility of things.

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You were my UP, because in just a short amount of time, you made me realize my worth and significance. You made me aware of the things that I should fight for. You made me believe in my capabilities to represent something larger than life. You made me feel fearless.

You were my UP, because like the sunflowers along University Avenue, you gave me hope that one day, all the efforts will pay off and will not have been for naught. You gave me hope, that no matter how tough the going gets, something good will blossom in the end.

You gave me hope, that no matter how tough the going gets, something good will blossom in the end.

Lastly, you were my UP, because now, we are going our separate ways. I'll be out to chase the future, and you'll be doing the same. The only difference is, we won't be chasing it together anymore. This is perhaps the hardest fact to accept. The only thing that makes it bearable is knowing that I loved you no less than when I loved you the most.

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I will miss you so much, even more than words can reach. Sa taong papalit sa aking pwesto, hiling ko lang na 'wag mong biguin ang pamantasang minahal ko ng buong puso.

Sa ngayon, paalam UP. Maraming maraming salamat."

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About the author
Mara Agner
Assistant Lifestyle and Features Editor
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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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