What’s Your UPCAT Story: Between Mind and Heart

Last month, Tinig ng Plaridel put out a call for stories from past UPCAT-takers, encouraging them to tell us their motivations for taking the exam, their preparations for it, their results and their reactions. Some stories were triumphant, some hopeful, some bittersweet, but each one told of different experiences and different people. Before the University of the Philippines College Admission Test comes to challenge another round of examiners this Aug. 6 and 7, we take a look at how others faced it in the years before.


Between Mind and Heart

By Billie Dela Paz

The UPCAT wasn’t just an exam I took. The whole process of reviewing, filling out forms, taking the test, anxiously waiting for the results to come out was not what defined my UPCAT experience. To me, the UPCAT was a battle between my mind and heart. It led to the biggest mistake I’ve made in my life – or so I thought.

Unlike many Iskolar ng Bayan, going to UP was never part of my plans. I had my life set since I was in my freshman year of high school. Ideally, I wanted to go to De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde to take up AB Multimedia Arts with a scholarship so that I could make it big in the visual communication and graphic design industry in the future.

Then I fell in love… And I fell hard.

Just like that, my goals and aspirations in life shifted from being a big shot graphic artist to being with my boyfriend, a student of UP Diliman, 24/7. The best way to do that, I thought, was to pass the UPCAT and go to UP Diliman for college. I never prepared for anything as much as I did for the UPCAT. I spent a large sum of money for the review classes that I took the summer before the test. From then until the night before the UPCAT, I barely had any sleep and I finished almost three sets of yellow pad paper studying for the subject I’m worst at – Math. I even visited my high school’s chapel every single morning praying that God might be kind enough to shower me with answers while I’m taking the exam. I was determined to pass the UPCAT for what may be a shallow reason for others: to have my boyfriend close to me everyday.

Eventually, my hard work paid off. I made it to BA Broadcast Communication and most importantly, I finally had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with the “love of my life”. Everything was perfect until I received a letter from DLS-CSB stating, “DLS-CSB is granting you 100% waiver of your tuition and fees.” I never imagined that everything I’ve wanted since I was young was within my reach. I passed the CSB entrance exam, I got into the course I wanted and best of all, I got the full scholarship I dreamed of. It was unbelievable. All I had to do was reach for my dream.

But, I had to choose: my dream or my boyfriend.

Obviously, I chose the latter. The weird thing is that within my first week as a UP student, we broke up. Yes, I did have feelings of regret for a time but I believe in second chances. I may not have been a scholar at my dream school but maybe UP was the plan for me all along. If it wasn’t for my desire to be with my boyfriend then, I probably wouldn’t have taken the UPCAT at all. Now, I go to the best university in the Philippines and I can proudly say that I’m having the time of my life as an Iskolar ng Bayan.


Billie Dela Paz is a 19 year old a BA Broadcast Communication major from the University of the Philippines Diliman.

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