One of the main reasons why I went back to the Philippines in May of this year is because I attended my MA graduation at the University of the Philippines Open University.
Since the graduation venue and UP OU’s headquarters is at UP Los Banos, my family and I decided to book and stay in a nearest hotel. Upon research and my father’s inquiry, we stayed at Trace Suite, which is 10 minutes away from UP Los Banos.
I was so delighted to attend the UP OU graduation. I tell you, it’s unusual and all the graduates were pampered. Everyone was welcomed with great food and superb cultural shows. With the two day affair – the first day is for Departmental Fellowship, Alumni Meeting and Rehearsal and the second day is the actual graduation – I had the chance to meet some of my classmates which I get to interact with via online classes. Positively, I met most of my classmates because of frequent vacation in the Philippines and meet-ups.
So what happened in the first day of the two-day exclusive UP OU graduation extravaganza? Read on to know more.
I arrived in the Philippines on the first day of May, yes, it’s Labor day. So upon arrival in the Philippines, I was left with two days before my family and I had to drive down to Los Banos. My family and I were booked at Trace Suite in Los Banos from the 4th until the 6th of May.
The days moved so fast and so I found myself in Los Banos. Days prior to staying in Los Banos, my dad and I strolled at SM Fairview to find a black pants which I will wear on my graduation day. Good thing, I found and bought a cheap yet elegant looking pants. With so much excitement, I asked our manang to wash it.
May 4 came and we traveled all the way from FARview (Fairview) to Los Banos.
Actually, as usual, I was late. I arrived at past 12 in the venue. This time, the program of the Faculty of Information and Communication Studies Recognition and Fellowship started and I was left with no choice but to sneaked in quietly.
In the room, I saw my classmates and they were halfway in enjoying the congratulatory ambiance of the indoors.
I didn’t ask my family to stay with me on the FICS Recognition and Fellowship. I was dropped off at UP OU Headquarters and my family went to Trace Suite to check in.
As I gasped for air and waved hello to my classmates, soon, the recognition rites began. Yours truly was conferred with an Academic Excellence Award.
The moment I went up on stage, I got nervous. So to ward off the bonggang kaba, I just received the award with my quirky and playful personality. When Chancellor Alfonso put on the medal, I acted with a twist. Kunyari eh sobrang bigat nung medal at nang isabit ito sa akin ay napaluhod ako. Chancellor Alfonso, together with Ma’am Mel, laughed and said “Nakakagulat ka namang bata ka!. I answered back: “Ma’am Gigi, puede na ito isanla!” The crowd laughed.
|Photo by Jher. "Maligaya Much?"|
|"Bigat-bigatan ang Medal!"|
|With UP OU Chancellor Dr. Alfonso and FICS Dean Dr. Bandelaria!|
|The Academic Excellence Award!|
Aside from me, other DevComm Majors received an award. Ms. Vicky, Ice and Kate were recipients of the award. So how does the selection of the Academic Excellence Award is made? Only FICS can answer that.
What I loved the most about the fellowship is the moment of seeing and being with my classmates, again. While I knew most of them through online and offline interactions, some faces were unfamiliar. Positively, with hi’s and hello’s paired with a thread of sharing of stories, everyone bonded; it's as if everyone knows each other for the longest time. Actually, magkakakilala naman pero sa online class at ngayon lang nagkita.
My mentor and nanay-nanayan Dr. Armi was also present during the FICS fellowship and recognition. With Sir Gerard’s short and snappy speech tapping on the concept of “Crossroad,” Ma’am Armi’s speech also worked on the theme. She even shared her thoughts and advices on me to the students. Madalas kasi kami magkita ni ma’am pag umuuwi ako ng Pilipinas and she’s the person that I meet to solicit advices on my academic sojourn. By the way, Ma’am Armi was my professor in Media 220: Media Literacy at UP Diliman when I was still under UP CMC’s MA in Media Studies (Broadcasting) and prior to moving in Brunei. Meanwhile, Dr. Alfonso shared her speech on lifelong learning.
I was moved with Sir Ravasco's speech. Dumaan na rin at dumaraan pa rin kasi ako sa crossroad. This is the sole reason why I want to get my MA and soon PhD as to eventually shift in the academic world. I want to teach and be one of my idols in UP! But at the moment, I'm still working in the same company and waiting for my PhD application. Hopefully, I'll will a scholarship overseas for my PhD!
Apart from the light and warm welcome, everyone was stuffed with scrumptious food. Actually, I was surprised to enjoy such “privilege.” In other UP units, there’s no pakain on recognition day or even in graduation day. But at UP OU, I was surprised to know that there’s just too much to experience and enjoy. So as I devoured my food, I also exchanged stories with my classmates.
|Mango and malagkit!|
On a more lighter side, everyone was asked to introduce oneself. Yours truly was just unstoppable. I introduced myself with bonggang bonggang animated kadaldalan. Meanwhile, what caught my attention and perhaps everyone’s was Arlyn’s take on taking a MA degree and its impact on one’s love life. Super palakpakan ang lahat!
Before the FICS Recognition and Fellowship program capped off, as usual, we had a photo session. Everyone was just ecstatic!
|DevComm Major Graduates!|
|Staff and Graduates of FICS!|
The day didn’t end with our FICS Recognition and Fellowship. I guess, it's just an appetizer to a host of delightful treats among UP OU graduates!
Meanwhile, we all received a UP Open University FICS Memorabilia!
Meanwhile, we all received a UP Open University FICS Memorabilia!
After an hour and a half, we headed to another venue to attend the UP Open University Alumni Foundation Inc. Orientation Program.
|Photo by Joms. Goofing around on our way to the next building!|
|Formal-Formalan! Photo by Joms.|
In the orientation program, we were briefed on the mission and vision of the foundation. Also, we took an oath.
Aside from the program, there was also a cultural show before proceeding to the graduation rehearsals.
What’s funny, with Jom’s prodding and my classmates’ as well, I ended up singing an acapella song on stage. Yes! Yours truly gave in to singing “When You Believe.” And to make it more special, I added the words “UP Open University” in the end of the song and more kulot in tono!
|Emote! Photo by Joms!|
|Emotero! Photo by Joms.|
I enjoyed the cultural show as it showcased local music such as compositions using authentic Philipine musical instruments. There were also Philippine dances and a choir sang. On top of it all, we were served with a snack, na parang lebel ng kinain nung lunch.
|A song number!|
|The UP OU Chorale!|
|Kodakan during the program!|
|Sarap ng gulaman!|
Soon, the program ended and we prepped up for the rehearsals.
The rehearsal was held indoor. Actually, the graduation is supposed to be held in an open area. However, since it was raining that day, a plan B was made and so an indoor venue was opted. On the side, high hopes were on to execute the actual graduation at outdoors.
|Goofing around in the waiting area for the grad rehearsals!|
During the rehearsals, I knew that I will receive another award. It’s the Chancellor’s Lister award, a university wide award given to outstanding graduating student at UP Open University. As you all know, I was blessed to be one of the Top 3 of the graduating class.
I was very honored with the award given to me by the Faculty of Information and Communication Studies. In my mind, at least, my hardship overseas on coping up with homesickness through focusing on my studies led to something fruitful. Plus, I was pleased that at least I can inspire other OFWs to make each time worthwhile and invest on education or lifelong learning.
Eventually, the rehearsal ended and my family picked me up at OU.