Saturday, August 6, 2011

White hair chronicles LXV - UPCAT and other memories

In a note in their cool Facebook page, Diliman Republic gave some sensible advice to parents of UPCAT takers. The thread comments remind me of my own UPCAT days. Much more now, 'cause I'm at the University Shopping Center whiling my time away via this post, while waiting for my son to finish his stab to be admitted at the country's premier university.

When I took the UPCAT many years ago, I don't recall having traffic extending all the way to Quezon City Hall. The Ikot ride cost only 15 centavos and there were no Toki rides yet. The jeepney fare from San Juan to Katipunan was 25 centavos. There were Manila Bus (the Love Bus), JD (with wooden bodies), and DM (rolling coffins) buses. I particularly liked the JD because its lower ceiling made the overhead rail easier to reach. I was much shorter then. Taxi from Cubao to Diliman was just P5.

By daily allowance then was just P5 but it afforded me transport fare and lunch at Rodic's. There were houses in Area2 that offered unlimited rice. Some burly students pay just P1.50 for a plate of menudo spiced with chili sauce to make it last all the way with five plates of rice.

I also remember the first time I set foot on the campus. The expansive UP Campus would hold anyone in awe. The grand buildings where many great, brave minds studied and taught are inspiring. I was still in grade school then when my father, on a nostalgic mood, took me to the campus and told me, 'This is where you'll study college". My reaction was "Ang layo naman". Our house was within walking distance to my elementary school and UP took forever to reach. Imagine passing from Araneta Avenue to Quezon Avenue with almost no traffic but in a seemingly endless sea of grass. Parang field trip sa layo. There were not many buildings then along Quezon Avenue. It was just cogon in the Bopis Center (Kidney Center, Heart Center, and Lung Center). The BIR road was not even there yet.

Fast forward to present. UPCAT review centers command big business now. The say less than 20% of the throng who patiently waded through traffic and human lines make it. Many office buildings line up East Avenue, Quezon Avenue and Katipunan. Traffic won't make your trip a breeze. Taxi from Cubao to Diliman will set you back by at least P100, more if you have the bad luck of being stuck in traffic, much more if you have the double bad luck of chancing upon the batingting powered taxi meter. Nowadays, Mang Inasal and other food establishments have rice-all-you-can promos.

Times have changed. The world has gotten smaller. But the crowded UP Campus will still hold anyone in awe. The grand buildings where many great, brave minds studied and taught are still inspiring. After all, UP is still the premiere school.

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