Video recorded and edited by KIM Quilinguing, UP Media and Public Relations Office. Additional video and photos courtesy of Patrick Pabulayan.
Until four months ago, Patrick Pabulayan’s life, while full of escalating challenges, had been fairly straightforward.
He was in ninth grade at the Notre Dame of Marbel University, Koronadal City, South Cotabato, when he started out on the path of life as a student athlete.
Upon graduating from high school, he chose UP over another university because, according to him, “mas mataas yung standard, kaya kung makapag-graduate ka dito, maraming opportunity na mag-o-open para sa yo [the standards are higher, and when you graduate from UP a lot of opportunities will open up for you].” Having trained well in his chosen sport, he was selected by Coach Rio Dela Cruz to join the UP Track and Field Team.
As a freshman and now an incoming second year student at the UP Diliman College of Human Kinetics (UP CHK) currently enrolled in a Bachelor in Physical Education degree program, Patrick found life in UP more challenging than his previous life, “kasi sa varsity, mahirap po ipagsabay yung sports at tsaka acads [because as a student athlete and varsity team member, we have to balance sports and our academics,” he said.
And the training is rigorous. He and his teammates would wake up at 4:00 a.m. to go and train at ULTRA Pasig or at the Rizal National High School. Later, they would go to class. “Minsan, nakakapagod pero enjoy din kasi maraming mga VAAS [Varsity Athletic Admission System athletes] na makikita mo talaga yung patience at tsaka pursigido talaga sila. Tapos medyo mahirap talaga kasi yung kailangan ko pang mag-adjust dito pag dating ng Maynila kasi galing po ako sa province namin [It was tiring but I enjoyed it because you really get to see how patient and persevering the varsity athletes are. Then of course, there was the adjustment period I went through here in Manila, coming from our province],” he said.
Patrick, then a dormer at the Ipil Residence Hall, had been looking forward to the next challenge: completing the 21 academic units he signed up for during the semester and competing in the new UAAP Season. But with the COVID-19 pandemic escalating and the quarantines instituted, his next challenge turned out to be at a level nobody could have foreseen.
“Hindi mawala yung pangamba na meron din tayong mga families sa province na naiwan. Dahil sa lockdown nawalan sila ng trabaho, parang saan sila kukuha ng mga pangangailangan nila. [There was worry for our families in our provinces, who because of the lockdown had lost jobs and the means to meet their needs],” he said. “Tapos ako dito medyo okey, kasi merong may nag-do-donate, may mga blessing na dumadating sa amin dito every week noong first and second month namin dito [At least here, we were in a better place because there were people who gave donations during the first and second month of lockdown].”
UAAP season was canceled, which was unfortunate as it would’ve been his first time to compete, although he understood that safety came first. “Nakakapanghinayang kasi yung training ko noong June hanggang January…sayang-saya na kami kasi third week ng March na gaganapin…[pero] March 10 nagkaroon ng lockdown [It was just kind of regrettable because I’d been training since June and the competition would’ve been held in the third week of March,” he said. However, given the life of a student athlete, regular training continued, although this time by way of regular stationary workouts taught by Coach Dela Cruz via Zoom.
It was his 21 academic units that gave him the most trouble as regular classes stopped and everything was conducted online. Completing academic requirements became exponentially harder when one had to do it as he had no laptop or personal computer, only a phone and the good graces of one’s fellow students to rely on.
Inisip ko na lang po sana na mag-drop, pero nagsabi ako sa mga taga-dito sa Ipil na mga estudyante din na ipatuloy na lang kasi sayang yung 21 units. Problema din namin ang paggawa ng requirements kasi ang hirap. Sa cellphone lang po kami gumagawa. – Patrick Pabulayan, Iskolar ng Bayan
“Inisip ko na lang po sana na mag-drop, pero nagsabi ako sa mga taga-dito sa Ipil na mga estudyante din na ipatuloy na lang kasi sayang yung 21 units. Problema din namin ang paggawa ng requirements kasi ang hirap. Sa cellphone lang po kami gumagawa. Kailangan ko pang mag-type muna sa Messenger tapos i-forward ko pa doon sa senior ko, tapos doon ako mag-e-edit tapos ise-send sa mga professor [I thought about dropping, but my fellow students at Ipil Residence Hall encouraged me to continue. Completing academic requirements was so difficult because we had to do it on the phone. I had to type everything on Facebook Messenger then forward it to our senior [in Ipil Residence Hall] who had a laptop, then borrow their laptop and edit the work before sending it to our professor].”
The abrupt shift to online learning included moving exams and group work online. Patrick recalls being given PDF files to study, followed by exams also on PDFs which they had to edit to answer. This meant he had to borrow his senior’s laptop again, then ask another fellow student to teach him how to edit PDFs. It was a learning curve, to say the least. “Hindi pa rin ako marunong gumamit ng laptop kasi sanay sa sulat. Doon sa amin, walang laptop. Wala kaming mga online-online [I still don’t know how to use a laptop much because I’m used to written exams. Back home, we had no laptops, no online stuff to deal with],” he said.
The struggles of remote learning are very real, especially when you’re used to face-to-face class interactions. “Sa online class mahirap, kasi yung iba hindi rin makaka-connect. Hindi rin tuloy-tuloy yung class kasi yung ibang mga estudyante umuuwi sa kanila at walang Internet access. Medyo mahirap, kaya wala pong nag-Zoom sa amin. Nag-base na lang po sa mga exam namin sa class at tsaka mga attendance. Eh yung sa akin okey po kasi nag-aral naman po ako sa exam, kaya napasa [In online classes, some of your classmates will find it hard to connect online. And the classes don’t flow seamlessly because some of your classmates have to go home to places where they don’t have Internet access. That’s why we couldn’t do Zoom. We just based class performance on exams and class attendance. Well, in my case, I studied really hard for the exams, which is why I passed,” he said with a smile.
[Kapag] ako po ay makapagtapos ng course ko na Bachelor of Physical Education, ipagpapatuloy ko yung pagiging coach o di kaya maging teacher kasi gusto kong tulungan din yung mga student athletes dun sa province namin. Maraming mga athlete doon na willing talagang mag-sakripisyo; so babalik po ako sa amin at tutulungan ko po yung mga estudyante doon sa amin na magtrabaho sila sa pag-e-ensayo. – Patrick Pabulayan, Iskolar ng Bayan
When it comes to challenges, Patrick is not one to back down, especially when the challenge is completing your education no matter what. “[Kapag] ako po ay makapagtapos ng course ko na Bachelor of Physical Education, ipagpapatuloy ko yung pagiging coach o di kaya maging teacher kasi gusto kong tulungan din yung mga student athletes dun sa province namin. Maraming mga athlete doon na willing talagang mag-sakripisyo; so babalik po ako sa amin at tutulungan ko po yung mga estudyante doon sa amin na magtrabaho sila sa pag-e-ensayo [When I earn my Bachelor of Physical Education degree, I want to become a coach or a teacher because I want to help the student athletes in our home province. There are so many student athletes from all walks of life who are willing to work hard and make sacrifices to succeed; so I want to go back there and help them work and train].”
May mga balak din sila na after nito, uuwi din po sila sa kanila. Mas pinili nilang mag-sige dito sa Pilipinas kasi nandito yung puso nila. Dito sila magse-serbiyso sa bansa natin. So kanya-kanya po kaming balik after sa mga province namin after sa pagtapos namin dito. – Patrick Pabulayan, Iskolar ng Bayan
He believes that there is a future in sports and athletics, which he says has enabled him to travel to different parts of the country and find ways to help his family at home. He says that his seniors in the varsity teams feel the same way. “May mga balak din sila na after nito, uuwi din po sila sa kanila. Mas pinili nilang mag-sige dito sa Pilipinas kasi nandito yung puso nila. Dito sila magse-serbiyso sa bansa natin. So kanya-kanya po kaming balik after sa mga province namin after sa pagtapos namin dito [They all have plans to go back to their home provinces, to serve here in the country, where their hearts lie. They want to serve here, in the Philippines. That’s what we all aim to do after we graduate].”
He hopes that the stories of UP students and student athletes like him would serve as an inspiration for others. “Sana po ay maging inspirasyon po kami sa inyong lahat. Marami pa kayong mae-encourage na estudyanteng kagaya ko na pursigidong mag-aral, makapagtapos at ipakita na ang UP hindi lang po magaling sa acads kung hindi sa titulo din ng sports. May goal po kami sa UP CHK na dapat bigyan pa namin ng mataas na ranking [ang UP]…[So sana] yung mga taong handang tumulong sa amin hindi po nawawalan ng ganang tumulong sa mga estudyante na mga nagsusumikap pa po talaga [We student athletes want to show that UP doesn’t just excel in academics, we also excel in sports. We have a goal at the UP CHK to push UP to rank higher. So I hope people will never stop helping the deserving students who are working hard to achieve their dreams].”
To support the remote learning needs of Patrick and other Iskolar ng Bayan, please visit http://kaagapay.up.edu.ph. #KaagapayUP
For assistance, contact the Kaagapay secretariat at 0916 723 1200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.