Life for me has been rather interesting the past two weeks, but there were developments I was waiting for before I could finally blog about them.
My son Maui is in fourth year high school, a time when you can no longer postpone the decision of what you want to do with your life. A huge part of that is where to go to college. At first I thought it was not going to be that difficult, as I had attended a parent-teacher meeting at his school where his adviser said that the school’s guidance office will coordinate with the colleges and the students regarding applications for entrance exams. This is, the advisor said, to avoid the absences a student would have to incur on the days that he/she would go to the chosen college to get application forms and such.
I thought this was a laudable move from the school—that was until Maui asked the guidance office about the University of the Philippines College Admissions Test (UPCAT). The Guidance Counselor showed him the announcement poster, which had been stuffed in her drawer and had not been displayed on the bulletin board, and it said the deadline for submission of applications had been on the 18th of June. It was now the second week of July.
Maui and I searched the internet and found the UP Office of Admissions Online, where it did confirm the deadline for submission for Metro Manila schools was 18 June and 25 June for non-Metro Manila schools. But one could still register online, fill out the application forms and generate a printout ready for the school’s registrar’s office to put in this grades from the previous first second and third years of high school, and for the principal of the school to sign and affix the school seal.
Armed with the printout (2 copies of the 3-paged application form) and four 2*2 ID photos of my son I went off to see the High School Principal of the Basic Education Department of Olivarez College. I told her what we needed and she proceeded to tell me that it will take the registrar a week to generate the historical grades, something I thought unbelievable as the entire college was computerized and networked, which was why it was so quick to make a payment at the cashier’s, because they could pull the records from their computers within seconds. I voiced this out to the principal and took the guidance office to task for not displaying the UPCAT announcement for the students benefit, when the adviser said they would help the students in this regard.
The principal said “Did the adviser say that we would help out with the UPCAT in particular?” I said no, but since he meant college entrance exams applications I thought he meant all of the colleges available. The principal then said that they had been under no obligation to display the UPCAT announcement.
Why? I said, incredulous.
Just that, the principal said, they were under no obligation to post announcements from other colleges.
Because you have your own college? Which Olivarez of course did. She said nothing. What if the course my son wants to take is not offered in your college? And why NOT display the UPCAT announcement, wouldn’t you be proud to be known as a school who can prepare kids for the most prestigious state university in the country?
The principal also said I will have to get the registrar’s entries on the historical grades, after which the principal’s office will verify the entries, and after that she will sign the papers, a process which would take more than five days. I wanted to tell her that if they had made good on their promise to help the students with their college applications I wouldn’t even be here in the first place, but I knew a conversation in that vein would go nowhere, so I said goodbye to the principal and headed off to the registrars office.
The registrar was more helpful than the principal, and after hearing me out, he called out the person in charge of filling out the grades sheet, who in turn told me to come back in two days. Two days is better than five, so I thanked them and went on my way.
The other problem was how to get the application form accepted when it was already past the published deadline. For this I had to turn to my best friend Sam who knew a few people at UP. All I wanted was to get the application in of course, if it’s not too big a favor. So Sam made a call to a friend who told him to bring the application forms and bank deposit slip from Landbank (P450 + P25 transaction fee) to his house on campus and he’ll see what he could do. Two days later Sam got a call from UP Admissions saying that Maui’s pass was ready, but that we had to pay the late filing fine of P150 at the system cashier. After all that we’ve been through, P150 was fine.
So this is how I got to celebrate my actual birthday—walking around the Diliman Republic with Sam and getting to see almost every hallowed building there was on campus. A short trip to the cashier at the basement of the building behind the Oblation to pay the fine, and then on to the Admissions building to present our receipt and get Maui’s exam pass. We asked admissions if they were still accepting late applications and they said Yes, they were, and would keep accepting them until the last possible minute.
With Maui’s exam pass in hand we walked on to find Malcom Hall, where Maui needs to be at half past six in the morning on Sunday, the 3rd of August.
We then walked to Mang Jimmy’s in Balara for an early lunch. We congratulated ourselves for a mission accomplished with sizzling blue marlin and bulalo and kare-kare, all yummy and at surprisingly affordable prices. Mang Jimmy’s also has a wall of fame where photos of famous people who had eaten at this restaurant were spread across.
After lunch at Mang Jimmy’s we walked back to campus and dropped in at the Parish of the Holy Sacrifice, where a mass was ending. While we sat there I surreptitiously took out the envelope containing Maui’s pass and showed it to Jesus who was hanging benignly from a cross on the ceiling. Mind blessing this, Jesus? Every little bit helps.
We had coffee at Khaz by the swimming pool where the foreign exchange students hung out, then walked through the commercial center to case the place. Lots of internet cafes, copying centers, a Western Union outlet, a store where you can get kitted out in maroon. We even dropped by Kalayaan hall where I had been billeted for a week back in ’85 when I had been a fellow at the Summer Writers Workshop.
After that very long walk we dropped by on Sam’s friend, the person who took the trip out to the Admissions office with his cane and all, to hand Maui’s application over to the Director of Admissions himself. He was having lunch at the Tree House over at the SOLAIR after a holding a class and attending a meeting. He bought us coffee and asked us about Maui and gave us a few tips on what Maui should be prepared for come August 3. And so we sat there while he chain-smoked his Rothmans and talked to Sam about old friends and we agreed that Cebu was no longer the city we remember it to be. He was from the municipalities of Pinamungahan and Carcar.
We would have talked into the early evening if we hadn’t told him of our plans to get a reviewer for Maui on the way home, and so we walked him to his car (he still drives himself around campus) and he even offered to drop us off to where we were going next. But we felt we had imposed on him too much already.
Sam and I left UP campus and headed off to National Bookstore in Cubao for the reviewer, and then hopped on a bus going home. We were so tired we slept for most of the trip. When we got home we gave Maui his exam pass, his revierwer, and told him everything the old man told us.
But this was just the first step. Now it’s up to Maui to make an old man proud, not to mention his parents. Wish him luck.