The pain of almosts
“Happy April Fool’s Day!” was what was supposed to be on my news feed on April 1st, but instead, what I saw on my Facebook wall after I woke up stirred my half-asleep mind.
It was a news report stating that the results for UPCAT (University of the Philippines College Admission Test) 2019 were finally out after an eternity of waiting. I felt a mini-heart attack, the one you receive when you’re walking down the stairs and miss a step, when your heart never calms down and the butterflies remain in the pit of your stomach.
I locked my phone, closed my eyes, took a deep breath and silently prayed. After releasing a heavy sigh, I opened my phone again and read some of the messages. Most of them were from my classmates who also took the exam. Just like me, they could not contain their trepidation.
The names of all UPCAT passers were posted on the bulletin board in UP Diliman, and the list would not be posted online. Thus, we still had to wait for someone to take photos of the full list, or just opt to go to Diliman and see the results for ourselves. I saw on Twitter that an ocean of students had already gathered around the Office of Admissions.
I explored the whole Twitter community just to find a kindhearted soul who would upload the list, and luckily, a freshman student from Diliman was able to capture all of the lists and promised to upload them alphabetically.
After holding my breath for almost an hour, Ate Celine (the freshman who uploaded the list photos), began uploading the list covering letters E to G. My heart pounded so hard again, I scanned through the names; unfortunately, the part with the surnames starting with GU was too blurred that I struggled reading the names. I zoomed in on the image with all my might just to have a glimpse. And then, on the sixth row before the list ended, I saw my name.
For a few seconds, I felt numb. Tears ran down my cheeks upon realizing that I did pass. I was now an “Iska.” I rushed to the kitchen, crying, and looked for my mom. She asked me what was wrong. I was silent for a moment and could only sob, but after a while, I was able to utter the words I never thought I’d be able to tell her: “Ma, pumasa ako sa UP!”
My mom paused for a bit, smiled and said, “Congrats, ’nak! Proud ako sa ’yo!” I was so happy that I hugged her. She laughed, knowing how much I hated showing my affection to others.
After that little drama moment, I suddenly remembered something that washed away the ecstatic feeling. I passed the entrance exam to the course my parents told me not to take. I looked at the list once more and confirmed that the course written next to my name was Bachelor of Secondary Education.
Ever since I was a child, I have always dreamed of becoming a teacher. I love children and I love teaching them. My teachers in elementary often discouraged me from pursuing teaching as a profession, because according to them, there is no money in teaching. As a young and innocent child, I was very confused as to why my own teachers discouraged me from following their chosen path. In high school, it was my parents who often reminded me not to take Education in college. But it was really what I wanted.
Having received a lot of discouragement, I chose to enroll in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) strand in senior high school, because I thought that engineering was also a good course and my parents would like it for me.
At that time, I was certain I’d be taking up Engineering. When the UPCAT application came, I settled for Civil Engineering as my first choice and Industrial Engineering as second. I still had one available slot. Not even thinking twice, I chose Education as my last choice, without knowing it was the course I’d eventually qualify for.
Studying at UP Diliman had always been my dream. I passed the UPCAT with the bonus of passing my dream course. I was very determined and willing to do what it would take to fulfill my dreams.
At 18, I felt like I had grown too familiar with my small, comfortable world. I wanted and needed to see what else lay outside of my confines. I had to know whether there was something else out there for me, and for me to know this, I had to do everything just to make my parents agree to let me study in Manila.
My parents allowed me to go and chase my dreams. I went to UP Diliman, not as an UPCAT applicant this time, but as an enrollee. On our way there, my boyfriend and I took the bus. No matter how dull the surroundings outside the bus seemed, I did not want to miss the sights, and I wanted to remember what I felt right then and there forever.
We finally got to UP for my medical and dental check-up. Upon seeing the campus scenery — after so many years of only having dreamed about it — I felt the urge to welcome a huge change in my life.
Two weeks before my enrollment and advance registration, I was still struggling to find a decent dorm. Then, the catastrophe that I was very much afraid of came. My mom talked to me one night. She went straight to the point and told me she and my dad had changed their minds about allowing me to go to Manila.
It felt like a bucket of cold water was poured over me. I was not even given a chance to ask them why, because from my mom’s look, I knew that nothing could change their decision, not even if I told them that it would shatter my dream. I spent the whole night crying and thinking about how devastated I was.
The next day, my mom told me to go to my school and process all of the requirements so I could enroll, even though classes had already started a week before. Going to school and processing my enrollment that day was the toughest decision I had to make for myself. I came to the realization that this was just the start; soon, I would have to face more painful choices in life.
I don’t hold any grudge against my parents, because I know where they were coming from and I understand that they only want what’s best for me. Now, I am a freshman at Holy Angel University, taking up Science in Radiologic Technology. I do not regret any of my decisions, because I know God has better plans for me.
It is truly painful to be fooled by circumstances in life, but when I come to think of it, it is better to be stung by pain sometimes. It is better to have a taste of bitterness early, so that when sweet success comes, we will be able to appreciate it even more. I am filled with hope and happiness now, but still trying to mend my broken heart over a dream that I almost achieved. I guess almosts are more painful than nevers.
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Anjenette Gueco, 18, is a Radiologic Technology student at Holy Angel University.
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