Sally Campus, a freshman studying at the UP Diliman College of Human Kinetics as a Physical Education major and a member of the UP Track and Field Team, becoming a UP student is a special source of pride: in her family of nine siblings, she is the sixth child and the first one to go to college.
This knowledge is also a source of worry. “Nakakakaba, kasi po baka hindi ako maka-survive dito. Mahirap masyado [I feel anxious about it, because I’m afraid I might not be able to survive here. It’s hard],” she admitted.
It is also not surprising that her close-knit family has been worried about her living so far away from her hometown of Digos, Davao del Sur, particularly at a time of unprecedented crisis such as the global pandemic. But Sally is excited to go home and see her family again. “Noong June po sana eh kaso na-cancel [It should’ve been in June but the trip was canceled],” she explained. It also doesn’t help that travel restrictions in Davao have been particularly strict during the quarantine.
For Sally, the first in her family to travel so far away from home, adjusting to life in UP Diliman was made easier through the help of her teammates. Life had been fairly busy before the lockdown. “Madami pong requirements na pwede pong ipasa. Pero kinakaya din naman po kasi tinutulungan din naman ako ng mga ka-teammate ko po dito. Kasi ang sabi po ng Coach namin magtulungan na lang po, kung sino yung mga freshie. At tsaka i-guide po nila kami. Tsaka rin po mahirap yung mga subject na kinukuha ko [There were a lot of requirements we had to pass, but I managed them with my teammates’ help. And our Coach [Rio Dela Cruz] urged us to help and guide one another, especially us freshies. Also, some of the subjects I took were hard].”
Since the lockdown in March, she has spent her time at Balay Atleta, where she boards along with other UP athletes, working on finishing their academic requirements for the past semester and waiting for the chance to be reunited with their families. Fortunately, UP athletes are provided lunches and dinners during weekdays by the University Food Service, although the athletes are left to find other sources of meals during weekends. However, the lockdown has worsened the academic challenges that Sally had to face.
“Noong March, nanghihiram po ako ng laptop sa kasama ko po. At tsaka nagpatulong na din po magpa-video. Hiramin ko din po yung cellphone nila gamit na pang-video sa akin, kasi kailangan kasing mag-pasa ng mga video kasama sa mga requirements [Back in March, I would borrow the laptop computer of one of my companions, and I’d ask for help as well. One of my courses required me making videos, and I had to borrow my teammates’ cell phone and ask for help in making videos],” Sally related, saying that her own phone’s paltry memory could not handle the demands.
Life during lockdown was “mahirap po eh. Pinapangunahan po ng pangamba, takot po, ganon. At tsaka naiinggit po ako sa kasamahan ko po eh kasi nakauwi na sila, ako wala pa po eh. Gustong gusto ko na po kasing umuwi eh tsaka miss ko na din po sila. Mag-one year na din po kasi ako nandito, hindi ko po sila nakikita [Life was so hard. We had to deal with the dread and fear. And on top of that, I was so envious of my teammates who were able to go home. I really miss my family; it’s already been a year since I last saw them],” she confessed.
Kaunti lang po kasi yung may laptop sa amin eh. Yung senior na nandito ngayon…Nahihiya na din po ako eh, lagi na lang sila yung tinatakbuhan ko. Baka kung anong sabihin nila. – Sally Campus, Iskolar ng Bayan
Her companions going home meant she had even fewer technological resources with which to finish her academic requirements. “Kaunti lang po kasi yung may laptop sa amin eh. Yung senior na nandito ngayon at tsaka yung isa na umuwi na po [There are so few of us who have laptops. I’d borrow the laptop of my seniors here].” She had to wait until they were finished working on their own requirements, of course. “Nahihiya na din po ako eh, lagi na lang sila yung tinatakbuhan ko. Baka kung anong sabihin nila. Buti na lang mababait [I felt embarrassed about always running to them to borrow their laptop. It’s a good thing they’re so nice],” she said.
For Sally, to survive and thrive in UP, especially when remote learning has become the “new normal” by default, one needs the basic tools. A laptop computer is of course, a must, as is a good cell phone “para pagdating sa pasahan ng requirements eh madali na lang po [so passing academic requirements would be easier],” she said. “Tsaka mahirap din po kasi kapag nandun kami sa amin, mahirap ang signal doon. Kailangan ko din ng load na pang-Internet access [It will also be hard to study back in our home because there’s no signal there. I also need load for Internet access].”
Pag naka-graduate po ako at maging coach or teacher, educate ko po yung mga students at tutulungan ko sila para makapag-aral din sila at makatapos. Magko-coach din po ako doon sa amin ng mga bata na may potential na maging athlete. Importante po sa akin ang pagiging athlete kasi dahil sa pagiging athlete ko nakapag-aral ako dito sa UP. Nabigyan po ako ng scholarship. – Sally Campus, Iskolar ng Bayan
She dreams of becoming a coach or an educator when she graduates. “Pag naka-graduate po ako at maging professional na coach or teacher po, educate ko po yung mga students at tutulungan ko sila para makapag-aral din sila at makatapos. Magko-coach din po ako doon sa amin ng mga bata na may potential na maging athlete. Importante po sa akin ang pagiging athlete kasi dahil sa pagiging athlete ko nakapag-aral ako dito sa UP. Nabigyan po ako ng scholarship [I want to educate students and help them to be able to finish their studies. I want to coach the children in our community, especially the ones who have the potential to become athletes. I want to help them become athletes, because becoming an athlete is important to me. It’s how I am able to earn a scholarship and study in UP].”
Dapat hindi mag-alinlangan, dapat magsikap po sa kabila ng mga pangangailangan. Patuloy lang sa pangarap. – Sally Campus, Iskolar ng Bayan
She also urges her fellow students who are also going through similar challenges not to give up. “Dapat hindi mag-alinlangan, dapat magsikap po sa kabila ng mga pangangailangan. Patuloy lang sa pangarap. At tsaka hindi po dapat mahiya na maghingi ng tulong sa mga seniors [We have to work hard despite the struggles. We have to keep going. And we shouldn’t be embarrassed about asking for help from our seniors],” she added.
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