January 30, 2008 at 7:11 pm | Posted in Musings and Epiphanies | 1 Comment

what’s that saying that goes you can never really get away from your past? i think mclachlan sang about it once, asking if you can “look out the window without your shadow getting in the way”?

i’ve come to accept that we should never judge people on the basis of where they are in life, or who they were before we knew them. (there was a time when i didn’t, especially when it came to me).

but now i get to thinking just how much of this is true, and where is it applicable. i find my past deeds catching up with me; though thankfully not in relation to people in my life.

i’ve been considering taking up graduate school and have looked forward to knowing more about a couple of programs in the old university. but something about their admission requirements unsettle me: the requisite GWA of a 2.0 or better for undergraduate studies. this wouldn’t actually be a problem but if my memory serves me right, there’s two 5.0 tucked away in some corner of my transcript that would be more than enough to pull down my GWA to something like 2.02 or something, effectively shutting me off from being entertained as a candidate in the PolSci department, for one, where applicants are advised not to bother if their GWA does not meet the required average.

and this is how my undergrad days catch up with me. i was an average student who, at one point in his academic life had to find a job just to stay in school. that may not be an excuse, but anyone would agree that having additional personal burdens can and do take a toll on your academic performance. maybe not much for others, but for some, it can.

i look back and realize that i could see my college years as a time when i still didn’t know where i wanted to be in life. i thought i did, but i was often displaced — by choice, and then by circumstance, at other times. i shifted courses, i got into activism, i almost went full time, i left, i lost friends, my stipend couldn’t keep up with the costs of my thesis, my siblings didn’t offer support, etc etc etc.

what i mean is, life wasn’t easy back then, and excelling in school eventually took a backseat to the primordial concern: just get a degree and get a job. i could say i crawled my way out of college, but if that inability to keep up with the rest of the pack is the bar against which my suitability for further studies will be measured, then what hope can we really offer people who have not had it easy in life?

i’ve met people who can’t even string together a decent sentence in english get accepted into masteral programs (yes, you, melody!) . i’ve even seen some people attach MAs to their names but can’t even spell BIMP-EAGA correctly, much less know what the hell it is. i know this is rather shallow, but my point is, i’ve learned a lot outside of school, and my critical senses have, i hope, remained intact all this time. and my writing — goddamnit, my writing is just fine.

but will i always have to bear the mark of an underachieving young (gay) man who didn’t know what he really wanted in life? i didn’t have parents who provided me with weekly stipends. i took public transportation every single day of my college life, in clothes i would rotate almost twice a week. i scraped my pockets to photocopy readings, i packed lunches because CASAA prices were starting to get a bit pricey. and when everybody else were getting in touch through pagers, i didn’t even know how to place a message to those damned things.

i wasn’t mainstream because at the time, i had a vague feeling i was in the margins, but didn’t have the consciousness to make sense of where i was. but my UP education presented me with an enormous amount of opportunity. all i had to say was i graduated from UP and the reputation preceded the reality. but what i chose to do with that education — using it to pursue a calling to tap into my basic sense of human decency; to build on that notion of selflessness that UP says it wants to do to every student; to make what i do know count for something more than just anything — that’s not something you can grade on a scale of uno to sinco.

additional requirements include referral letters from peers and professors, but i suspect with the forms that i’ve seen so far — these letters are not intended to gauge suitability as much as to ascertain if the candidate is career-oriented. these letters can only do so much because the graduate admissions will always go back to that 2.0.

and here i am after all these years, facing a hurdle with only a diploma and an intellectual potency so lacking in a lot of people who flaunt their 1.75s. and here is my old university telling me i’m not good enough because i don’t meet the cut-off grade. and here is my old university telling me they won’t listen to the other half of my story — where i’ve been and what i’ve done after graduating, and most importantly, what i’ve learned? it just doesn’t make sense.

despite these odds, i’m still going to try. that cut-off scares me, but i will try. i want to go back to school because i want the structure, the discipline, and the formality of a teacher-student interface to affirm and compliment the work i do outside. i wasn’t cum laude material back in my teenage years, and maybe i am not the smartest of the crop after all these years, but i am competent enough not to allow myself to get left behind and condemned to the inadequacies of my past.


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  1. hi vince!

    unfair, di ba? i agree. 2.0 across the board is just way too arbitrary. ibig sabihin, ung nag comm arts sa (supply name of chaka school) in (supply name of remote province) pwede mag masteral at ung nag-collegian, mataas ang iq, magaling magsulat, but who had to put himself through school, hindi pwede?

    labo nun.

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