Abet never made it to UP.
His father said yes, they can manage, but his mother was more pragmatic. College in Manila is just too expensive for them. “You should try PMA instead”, she said, “they pay you to study”. Abet crumpled the filled-up UPCAT form and threw it in the banauang. The ball of paper seemed to resist the flow at first, marooned in the small dimples of whirlpools, before the current triumphed and took it away.
Abet never made it to PMA either.
He took the entrance exam and spent several early mornings forcing his 16-year old body to do this much push-ups, sit-ups, and running within this much time. But he missed the cut by a whisker.
Abet never made it to high school that year.
The frustration of UP and PMA was just too much. It was the nascent year of the Samahang Dilim, and they got so notorious that Abet was refused a permit to take the NCEE. “You will only pull down our passing rate,” said the coordinator. But his mother had connections and got him a permit although he was not allowed to join the review classes. In 1987, Abet made history by being the only senior student not to graduate while registering the 3rd highest NCEE score of his school. It made him a legend that is still remembered until today.
He would try UP again in another time with a different name.
But then again, Bertong Langis’ measly NGO salary stood in the way. He was thankful to K who helped him inquire on a graduate course on Philippine Studies but his only moment there would be an overnight stay during the last big mobilization before the great split.
On UP’s centennial year, he finally got a certificate from the university for presenting a paper during an international conference. It came with a centennial key chain too. Good enough. But the fascinating world of Hogwarts would always be tops for him. It gave him his wings and the winds to fly on.
Profile: The UP Chapel
The Univeristy of the Philippines’ Church of the Holy Sacrifice is the first circular and thin-shell domed chapel in the Philippines. Its construction was spearheaded by UP Chaplain Fr. John Delanney (SJ) in 1955 following the design of National Artist for Architecture Leandro V. Locsin. The chapel is a treasure trove of art work contributed by the following renowned Filipino artists: the murals of the Stations of the Cross by Vicente S. Manansal with Ang Kiukok, the crucifix and the altar by Napoleon V. Abueva, and the floor mural on the River of Life by Arturo R. Luz. On October of 1985, Kabagis Manny Lazo from the Tribe of Lam-ang: Dagite Natutured, Nalalaing, Nabibileg, Nasisiglat of Hogwarts was felled down by a sniper during a demonstration along Taft Avenue. A luksang parangal was held for him at the UP chapel for almost a week before he was brought back to Hogwarts then to Nueva Vizcaya where he was buried as a hero.