Honor can be such a non-word sometimes. It loses its meaning, its potency.
Surprisingly, I found myself wondering what honor really means. I even looked its meaning in the dictionary – high respect, distinction, recognition, glory, credit, privilege. Yes, there are many meanings attached to this word. However, what struck me the most is that honor also means “to fulfill an obligation or keep an agreement.”
Knowing that I am among those privileged to enter the premier state university, I have committed myself to the university’s long tradition of honor and excellence – the guiding principles and values I have to embody. For this reason, I am accountable to the people, who with their blood and sweat, fund my education in the university. I have to deliver what is asked from me, being academically excellent and exemplifying honor. No ifs or buts.
As a Metrobank Foundation scholar as well, I have to maintain a certain general weighted average. Of course, this entails being academically responsible and active – completing requirements on time, studying hard for exams, and having a motivation to achieve legitimate goals. Another requirement that I have to fulfill for my scholarship is that every semester, I have to be a volunteer of the Metrobank Purple Hearts Club to join efforts with the teachers of Cuatro Christian School in Rizal to educate five and six year old kids (and some older) in the community who have not been to school. Using a value-based story program, we are helping to set children on a different road, a different future, gained through learning to read and write. This is really rewarding and fulfilling for me as I help the impoverished children of Cuatro break the cycle of poverty through education. I really want to and have to demonstrate to Metrobank Foundation that UP has shown me it is not enough that I achieve academic excellence but also exemplify honor so that I may more effectively contribute to society.
Because of lots of academic stuff I have to do, I sacrifice my sleeping hours to finish studying for my exams, my papers, bucket of readings. I have to balance my activities in volunteering, my commitment in my church, and my personal struggles. Well, all people have to. But sometimes there are just so many things to analyze, to think about. Sometimes things are just so mixed up in a confusing way that I wish I would just fall asleep because of stress. However, there is a time for everything, and I have to set my priorities right to be more organized. Being in UP, I adapted and learned to exert all the best in what’s within me – to every work at hand despite the stress and pressure.
Sadly, I received a failing grade in one subject this second semester. I admit it was negligence on my part that I had fallen short to do one of the course requirements. I even used some excuses that are not supposed to be used to justify my failure. Truth be told, lots of realizations came to me. Then I told myself that I refuse to be trapped in this mistake. I am not going to let this get the best of me. I will certainly strive all the more, so that I won’t screw up again. I take the responsibility for my mistakes and failures. I want to and will perform to the best of my ability in the coming semesters.
Yes, I do acknowledge with understanding that UP students are ordinary people too – with emotions and could commit mistakes. I love what Confucius said, “The greatest glory is not in ever falling, but in rising every time we fall.” However, if a fellow Iskolar ng Bayan would tell me that “mistakes can make people better persons” every time he receives a failing mark because of negligence and outright irresponsibility, I would not hesitate to say, “Excuse me, but failing to do something several times is not a mistake. And saying sorry doesn’t cut it.” This is when a UP student illustrates that honor can be such a non-word sometimes. Professors keep on stressing the UP values to us. However, maybe some are already over familiar with this, and it doesn’t amount to anything anymore. Honor is in danger of meaning nothing at all – it loses its meaning, its potency. I believe this is the most dangerous thing a UP student can get involved into. We have to break this over familiarity.
As for me, when I am tempted to fall again in the clutch of miscalculation, negligence and irresponsibility, I will think and reflect on the meaning and essence of being an Iskolar para sa Bayan – to give back to the country by embodying honor and excellence. I will go back to my “why.” For this is where a UP student’s energy lies!
Live your life for a purpose that is bigger than yourself.
What are you living for?
Honor is not fame.
Honor is not making yourself a name.
Honor is giving back to the country.
It’s putting others before yourself.
It’s fighting for a cause worth dying for, a purpose worth living for.
(Adapted from Jaeson Ma’s song Glory)
“If you have lived up to your promise and your potential as a university student, you are in a position to be part of the solution to this country’s problems, not part of the problem.”
(Solita Monsod, Professor Emeritus, UP School of Economics)