Author’s Note: Woops. It’s I again, feeding off a meme, yet again.

I’m writing this as some sort of my take on the rather lengthy discussions posted on sexy mom‘s blog on the merits of going Blue and White or Maroon.

As far as I’m concerned, I’m not a true-(insert color here) type of student. I was red and blue (with Claret School of QC), blue and white (with Ateneo High School), and maroon (with the College of Arts and Letters). I swear to no fanatical stand to any of my alma maters (and I’d rather forget about my Claret years for some reason).

Anyway, Ateneo and UP. I could go on and on about those two schools. But I’d rather tackle it in the perspective of one who benefited from those two institutions rather than using “or” as if I’m comparing the two.

To give you a bit of background how I wound up in several places in my tenure as a student, here’s a short autobiography.

For some reason I hated Claret. I hated it so much I wanted out ever since I was in Grade 6 (CSQC had Grade 7) I tried applying for Philippine Science and a lateral entry to UPIS. Unfortunately for me, I had an accident (broke my arm) which had me answering exams with my writing hand in a cast. Needless to say, I performed badly. So I had to chew out my last year of grade school with Claret. Good news that year, I passed the Ateneo exams and decided to transfer the next year.

Boy, not being from the grade school was tough. There was this Ateneo vibe which I just seemed not to have caught. Good thing I was in a class of really fine people so I did feel at home someway somehow. I was some sort of a bully back in grade school but I became sort of a brainy dork in high school. Also, being lower-middle-class was really tough given that Ateneo’s a school for rich bastards. Our mom and dad juggled finances just to send me to Ateneo.

Now our dad had this weird philosophy that Ateneo would make me rub elbows with rich people to better opportunities when the time comes. Stupid idea as I never touched base with the guys with that in mind. I’m no moocher in that sense. And I was there to learn, anyway. Tsk. God bless my dad’s soul.

Yes, there came a time when I was really thinking of where to go to college. My sister’s a die-hard UP student (from kinder to undergrad but with a bit of Chuo University – Japan). And being our dad’s un-favorite, I tired to keep it at that – always different from my sis.

I was really looking forward to studying in Ateneo for college, to take up ME or MIS. Me and my high school barkada really fantasized about forming our own firm after college. We were really good in computer (my partner and I aced our Computer subject :D) and I really looked forward to take up just that in college. Ateneo was my dream school. Financially, it was supposed to be tough but I aimed to cash in on a Bangko Sentral (our dad worked there) scholarship to pull it through.

Unfortunately for me, our dad died the summer before my senior year in high school. Call it corny but that’s when I decided to aim to cross Katipunan and don maroon. First of all, with a dead breadwinner, it’d be quadruply tough to study in a private institution. UP’s tuition would be more manageable. Second, I wanted to humor our dad and pursue law. His family’s a bunch of frustrated lawyers.

I just took two entrance exams then – UPCAT and ACET. Yes, I was so confident I’d pass UP. Good thing I did. My choices, BAA and English Studies. Lo and behold I chose English Studies (on the merits of that the program produces top qualifiers in the LAE) to the shock of everyone. Almost everyone in our class was heading for the Loyola Schools. I wasn’t. I was determined to be in UP, shitty classrooms and all.

Now here’s where it got interesting. I was prepared to stomach all sorts of things as I was new to the whole UP thing. I always considered my sister weird. So I had the impression all UP students were like my sister – brainy, weird, and very masa. I had the impression that most UP students are activists too.

But was I in for the shock of my life. My first day in UP. I had the rather pleasant opportunity of belonging to a block – very much like a class a la high school but with girls (which is now gladly done away with the RGEP). I thought I’d just fade away into obscurity and try to keep a low profile. I was wearing a shirt, shorts and sandals to mix in the UP masa appeal. But guess what? Everyone else in my block turned up looking like they’ll be hanging out in Starbucks, coño attires and all. So much for the culture shock.

A little introduction here and there and lo and behold, we’ve got a good chunk of blockmates who came from private schools too. Now most of our block were female so on my first day I was hanging out with an Assumptionista and a Paulinian thinking, “Hey, is this a soiree?” Yeah, I did feel underdressed that time.

But if there’s one thing I learned from Ateneo, it’s what we call confidence. In other words – yabang.” Let’s face it. Ateneans are bred to think that they’re the best. All that magis, and passion to be, and competence really sinks into you, leading you to think “I am a well-oiled killing machine and no one can take me down. I’m Atenean and I’m the best.”

With best efforts, toning the attitude down (just a bit) to plain confidence helped me in my college career. It was sort of pretentious but my bit of friendliness made me block president. Which feels nice being a liked guy for once. That confidence really helped me in many ways. With the skills in speech (also developed in Ateneo, let’s face it – the accent, the fear of being called barok…), I even ran and won in our local college student council (not to mention acing the speech course, Comm 3).

Oh yeah, and I was an activist back in college too. Unfortunately, I think I was too burgis for them and was never really considered a die-hard. So I’d say I’m a selective activist. Hehehe. Ateneo made me think and act middle-class. And I don’t regret that, at least I’m in tune with that reality. I’m burgis and I’m not pretentious about it. I digress, but some of these “activists” are quite hypocrital themselves. Talk about the uring manggagawa and sport the latest cellphone models. Bah!

Anyway, as far as academics went, I really have to thank Ateneo for getting me a good solid foundation in general education which helped me practically breeze through all my GE courses. Combined that with positive attitude (magis and the libog to be). Got great grades, graduated with high honors. And it’s mostly because Ateneo developed my higher order thinking skills. And I think it’s not a generalization based on myself, a fellow batchmate from Ateneo (A boy) graduated summa cum laude in 2005.

Now what I learned in UP and what happened after UP, are for a different story. You can just read this post on the greatest things I learned from UP aside from being too political, my degree, and the desire to learndiskarte and a bunch of really practical hardcore life skills.

UP helped me to a bit more socially responsible too. All that Atenean “bumaba ka sa bundok” mentality just intensifies the point that Ateneo’s “up there.” UP shows you life where the rubber meets the road.

Well, here I am going personal again with this post. Bottom line, as my take on the brouhaha of what school is the better school – Ateneo made me learn from books, UP concretized my learning. Got the best deal out of it, I guess. There’s still much to learn but at least I got a chock-full of experiences from them. And I’m just a bit more confident about taking on more challenging things now. I dropped my aspirations of being a lawyer (got jaded with the justice system here) when I was a college junior so here I am poised to take on the academe.

Simply put, no matter what school you come from, it’s how you use the learning that counts (corny!). My Ateneo and UP degrees count for nothing if I don’t use them.

A long post. Yeah, and too much Atenean-bred self-glorification in the process for this one. Harhar.

TRIVIA: J. Angelo was my “kuya” sponsor (both of us being B boys – sort of Math geeks :p) in our batch’s Freshman Welcoming Rites in Ateneo.

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