Who doesn’t want to study in cities to enroll in prestigious universities??? At the beginning of our senior year in high school, forms from different universities and colleges flooded in our class. The first form handed to me was the application form for UPCAT – University of the Philippines College Admission Test. The application form is for free but students wish to take the exam should pay 450.00 pesos at that time, but since I was a member of the top 10 in graduating class I am exempted to pay. Everyone wanted to study in any UP system, but the entrance exam given by this university is very tough among all universities in the country. In Tawi-Tawi only two or three or five able to passed the UPCAT each year. Most(All) them from MSU Science High School (which I spent my first two years in high school here). Me, my best friend Fatima Tasneem, and all the top 10 ranking students really wanted to take the UPCAT but the problem was the there was no UPCAT testing center in Bongao. Anyone who wants to take the exam should go to Zamboanga because the testing center nearest to Bongao is at Westerm Mindanao State University. Eventually, only Jamalul had taken the exam. The rest of us got no budget for the transportation. There came forms from Ateneo de Zamboanga University, Wetern Mindanao State University, STI, AMA and many more. I filled up all the forms given to me but I didn’t pass it. One of my friends asked me why I didn’t pass the forms, I replied “I didn’t pass the form ‘cause I am unsure in studying there”. “So where you gonna study in college? Here?”, she said. I said that “Yes!”. “What will gonna happen to you? You’r knowledge doesn’t fit here, a student like you should study in a good university in a city”, she added. I said that I don’t have a choice my parents can’t afford me to send for school in the city. In all the forms we received I only the passed and accomplished the SASE form. SASE stands for System Admission and Scholarship Examniation given by the Mindanao State University (MSU) who wishes to study in any MSU Campus. A month before graduation the SASE results were announced and each one of us took the exam got a mail containing our scores in competency areas. Luckily, I was the second highest scorer in our batch. I got full scholarship in many MSU campuses based on my score except for the MSU-IIT ‘cause the cut of score for scholars there should have be at least in the top 20 examinees among thousands of students took the exam. I was glad enough for that, some of my friends thought I’ll be studying in MSU Marawi but I told them that I’ll be spending my college days in MSU Tawi-Tawi. My parents got no enough money to support my college studies, scholarship was my only hope in finishing college back then. It was amazing as an scholar, you receive monthly stipend from school and you got no tuition to pay. For four years I maintained my scholarship, though there were times I nearly didn’t cope up the maintaining average. For non-scholars they only spend about 2,500.00 or less for the tuition fees.
Moving on, I can still remember one of the student teachers in our high school English. His name was Reynaldo P. Abid Jr. Because he was the only intern teacher we liked, we asked so much about him. He was from Cagayan de Oro City. He didn’t want to learn the Taosug or Sama which are the major dialects in Tawi-Tawi ‘cause he didn’t want to understand when somebody backstab or say something bad about him so that he wouldn’t be hurt. He played guitar and sang acoustic songs. He hated English but pursued the BSEd major English. He said, he did that intentionally ‘cause he wanted to make it as his inspiration. One of my classmates asked him “Sir, why you study here in Tawi-Tawi? There are a lot of good colleges in your hometown.” He said that he just grabbed the opportunities given by the MSU Tawi-Tawi which the Tawi-Tawians itself didn’t realize and give importance to it. He was a scholar and a candidate for magna cumlaude (with high honor). Aside from the allowance from school he earned, he earned also by being a working student. He did house chores in some of his instructor. And the payments he received from it was the one he spent in his daily needs and other expenses. He saved the allowances he received from school. For him schools are all the same. It isn’t matter about where you studied in college what matters is the person/student. Although, school and professors are major factors to horn and produce a quality graduates, but it lies in the hand of a student. Its up to him to strive hard and become a globally competitive. Some of us who listened to him, realized that. Why go to the city to study and spend so much money if you can study in MSU Tawi-Tawi and spend only a little?
My best friend Fatima Tasneem studied at Far Eastern University in Manila, Omar-Khan went to University of San Carlos in Cebu, some studied in Zamboanga, the rest scattered in some part of the country in fullfilling their dreams. Their parents can afford to sent them to prestigious school. Only few of us left in Bongao and studied at MSU Tawi-Tawi while others in Mahardika Institute of Technology and took up nursing. Anyway Fatima Tasneem got an academic scholarship in FEU and graduated as Cum Laude. Currently, she’s taking master of arts in nursing at the University of the Philippines in Manila. So her dream in studying at UP someday is now at her hand and granted by the almighty Allah….. Anyway, I don’t regret in studying in MSU Tawi-Tawi, in fact I considered it as a blessing ’cause not everyone has the opportunity to go to college after finishing high school. I even topped the NAT last April 2006 given by the Mahardika Institute of Technology, Inc. one of the famous nursing school in Tawi-Tawi and was the top nursing performing school in ARMM in 2009, but I didn’t study there ’cause I don’t have any plan to take nursing or any courses related to medicine though computer science was not my dream course. Engineering or accountancy were really I wanted to pursue back then though there was a school in Tawi-Tawi offered this degree but its not my preferred school and besides the tuition was really high. Somehow, I can say that the performance of student is not only base from what he came from but from how he shape himself and did well in the board exam he has taken. Even a student from a top university failed in a board exam, that could only mean that it’s not the fault of the university but the student itself. Even MSU Tawi-Tawi is in the southern most part of the country, it has produced topnotchers in board exam. In 2008, one of the BS Fisheries graduate topped the Fisheries Technologist Licensure Examination. In 2010, one of our batch made it to the top 8 in the Licensure Examination for Teachers. Though MSU Tawi-Tawi, doesn’t have a large percentage of board passers each year like those in some country’s finest universities, but it has produced several board passers and efficient professionals over the decades of its existence.
Anyway, I think I have written so much…… I gonna end my post here…. PS! I started my fast today. I wish everyone has a good ramadhan….. wassalam….