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A message from a Senior citizen.

The news on TV and my news feed on Facebook and Twitter are abuzz with updates about the UPCAT. Tips, complaints, traumatic experiences, dreams, futures - all suddenly sprawled before us. The virtual air is filled with a harrowing mix of excitement and tension, and I can't blame them. I can still remember the feeling after all - and very vividly at that. My memory serves me well especially in times of great anxiety. (It helps that I blogged about it, too.)

But how could I ever forget that day? More importantly, how could I ever forget the impending feeling of nauseousness taunting to break itself free into some gooey form of indistinguishable substances out my throat? I was that nervous. It was, undeniably, the biggest examination of my life. Sure, the ACET mattered. Sure, DLSU-CET mattered. But this was UP. The University of the Philippines College Admissions Test. No other exam gets as much coverage, as much anticipation. And no other university has thrilled the private-school-girl-waiting-to-get-liberated in me the way this one did. In my mind, it was the only thing that counted. I knew I could never forgive myself if I didn't get in. I was dying to bleed maroon.

Flash forward to four years later, and I am in fact, dying. Bleeding to death. In this maroon university. Awfully sleep-deprived. Body clock gone whack. Hormones berserk. Brain cells zapped to exhaustion and/or death. Pimples threatening to hold a revolution any moment now. I thought the UPCAT was the biggest hurdle I had to face - turns out, it would be the easiest. Unlike the UPCAT which only lasts for five hours, this torture has gone on for about hmm, four years now. And for some that extends to an indefinite amount of time, even.

Getting into UP would seem such a great achievement, at some point in one's life. But you know what? It's leaving it (with a diploma, of course) that's more challenging. Getting out alive is the battle you really have to be prepared for. Trust me, no amount of review centers can groom you for that. But the whole process of just being here, fighting your way out of this combat zone (filled with professors armed with machine guns of insults, people with enough brains to annihilate your self-confidence, readings and exams that could detonate your mental capacities, etcetera, etcetera) - it will definitely make you stronger. It's only when you've gone through the victories and the losses, wounded, but hopefully still intact, will your departure be truly worth the taxpayers' money. And your time.

UPCAT takers, I hope you don't look at the exam as the end - it's just the beginning. Surviving the test is barely a fraction of the battle. Getting into UP shouldn't be your goal - it's to be a future UP graduate that you're supposed to be aiming at. Not only that, a deserving, honorable and excellent UP graduate. Only then will it all matter.

Good luck, kids. The long wait looms ahead.

(Oh God. Do I sound like a college lola?)