College Days

DLSU General Elections 2012

It’s elections season once again in De La Salle University. This is definitely one of the unique things that Lasallians can be proud of. Every year, you can expect good platforms, exciting campaigns, competitive supporters and inspiring candidates from BOTH Tapat and Santugon. I am particularly proud, however, of the way the two rival parties seem to really bring out the best in their candidates. I should know, because one of them brought out the best in me. 🙂

I won’t make myself the point of this entry though. I’ve enjoyed two elections and two years to serve. Laos na ako guys!!  While candidates in yellows and orange were running from room to room for their campaigns, I was running in my (regretful) wedges trying to get our thesis approved for an oral defense.

As much as I want to be a “normal student”, however, Lord knows I’ll never run out of blue and yellow outfits to wear. I’ll always force a few minutes of my time to introduce my best bets and your best bets for the Student Government. And I’ll always have better reasons as to why people should vote for Santugon. (No point in trying to conceal that anymore, because..)

In this entry, I will tell you my personal reasons as to why the students are ready for a DERECHO Executive Board. And don’t worry, I will avoid being redundant to the point of annoying. I will only include personal insights that I’ve never said before.

I’ve been trying to do person-to-person campaigns, and from talking to the real “normal students”, I’ve gathered a few of their common concerns:

1. What’s the difference between the platforms of Tapat and Santugon?
So evidently, platforms are important to the students. And this year, the platforms are distinct and clear. I’m glad that both reflect the principles of the respective parties. I remember joining Santugon in my frosh year because it believes in individuality, in developing from micro to macro. That is why this year’s campaign is all about putting the students first. Santugon is all about identifying root causes of repetitive issues and giving them achievable and sustainable SOLUTIONS. I understand, however, where Tapat is coming from. And I can see that it is strongly based on their belief that Lasallians can start a revolutionary change in society. More than being Lasallians, Tapat wants us to realize that we are citizens first. And finally, achieving that concept is not that vague anymore. I think they did a good job in pointing out the first step – to take a closer look, to ask.

So if you’re a normal student trying to choose between the platforms, ASK yourselves – ano nga ba ang mas POSIBLE?

2. What have the candidates done in the past, and what are they planning to do next year?
These questions are answerable by the speeches, posters and the specific/general plans of action of both parties. I’m glad that the students consider past achievements as a basis for their vote. But I hope they also understand that a candidate’s credentials do not just say WHAT HE DID, but also HOW and WHY he did it. If his achievements took a lot of skill, time and effort, he must be PASSIONATE about his work. If it required the respect and cooperation from his subordinates and co-workers, I can say that he’s a true LEADER with a sense of command and direction. If it was written in the SPOA the previous year, surely he must be a person of his word.

So if you think about it, your credentials don’t just say WHAT YOU DID. In the end, it will also show WHO YOU ARE.

3. What other important things should I consider when voting?
HAHA just kidding. Not one person asked me this. But I wish people considered the following criteria too:

Do people like to work with that person? Will his fellow elected officers respect him? Are his/her work ethics admirable? Will that person know what to do the moment he gets elected? Does he have experience to base his future actions on? Did he already have mistakes in the past that he can learn from?

Because if they did, Santugon will surely sweep the Executive Board. 🙂

Anyway, in a week’s time, all this will be over. Victors will be named. Everyone can go back to their normal beds and normal classes. I really hope the students see that they are very lucky to have this kind of politics in the university. I can only imagine it being this sensible in the national level as well. 🙂

The universe will conspire.

Two things I am worrying about at the moment – finishing my thesis, and getting accepted in my med school of choice.

Gallstones, gallstones, gallstones.
A lot of my sophomore classmates are asking me about my thesis, since they have to come up with their own research topics this term.

To all those who trusted my advice – this is to let you know that I sincerely regret underestimating our study and advising you to make yours similar in nature.

I thought ours would be easy, quick and basically costless. We just needed to hand out surveys to get our data. No spending of hours in the lab trying to extract DNA of unusual fish species, no waiting for two weeks just to get test results back from Malaysia or something, and no need for research funding from a fancy professor.

Ours is an epidemiological study about gallstones in the Philippines. We basically want to answer three questions:
1. Are people at risk?
2. Are people aware?
3. Are people at risk, aware?

But these are the reasons why Sherry (my thesis partner) and I are going crazy:
1. Coming up with our own survey questions was hard
2. Finding people with and without gallstones was hard
3. Coming up with our own thesis altogether – no similar study to serve as reference – was… and still is.. hard!!!

Sherry and I, preparing the informative brochures to give to survey respondents.

We’re about done with our data collection (which was supposed to be finished last term, thanks to our procrastination). Now we have to spend the next 2 weeks coming up with graphs and visual representations for our findings. And finally, we hope to start and finish writing our discussion before the end of the month.

What else, what else.. ah.

That med school I need to get into.
The process of applying has been hard so far, and I’m not even halfway into it. Preparing that long list of requirements (including lining up for an NBI clearance and getting a “hit” because some suspicious person’s name sounds like mine) and now pretending to review for the exam that we all have to take in seven days. I heard it will include topics in Pharmacy and Psychology. And it is only after that exam will I find out if I am even qualified for the interview.

All I know is that it’s that school or no school for me. And that I have to finish my thesis to be able to march in the June 2012 graduation.

My Plan B is to become an artista.

Her expectations stay small but her dreams stay big.

I’d like to diagnose myself with a case of senioritis just as I did three years ago when I was a high school senior, but I feel like I don’t have the right to.

I’m on my supposed last term in college, and I’ve spent the past few weeks acting lazy and out of focus. No list of things to do, always forgetting deadlines. Good thing I had an honest intervention from my friends.

Needless to say, the pressure on me right now is not like what I expected. I am so worried! Sleepless worried! Will we be able to finish our thesis and defend it this term? Will I even get accepted in the med schools I applied to? Where will I be in four months??! 🙁

WHERE!!!! 🙁

Sorry. Anyway. I’d like to complain some more, but I know I shouldn’t. In our thesis meeting last week, the thesis coordinator emphasized that there are around 80 of us who want the same thing – to successfully defend and graduate.  So I can’t just cry and plead and explain that I need to graduate on time so I can go to med school on time, cos there might be 79 others who can cry better than me. (Not possible. Ehem may Judy Ann talent ako.)

And can I just put it out there, that the pressure on us Biology majors is much, much greater. If we don’t graduate this term, our whole life plan will be off track! Most of us can’t afford to get delayed another year, especially when we are still 6-10 years away from being established, specialized doctors. We have a lot to lose!!!

Sorry. Anyway. Here’s my high school yearbook write-up.

Never a goal-setter but still quite an achiever, Aura takes everything one at a time, with enough optimism, charisma and wit to boost. Though “one of the boys” and usually caught without poise, she is still able to grace the many things she’s passionate about. These include being the SRCC President, LSYC and Search-In retreatant and facilitator, Interbatch cheerdancer, and more. She is happy-go-lucky and always goofing around (sometimes by herself) but her childlike ways will teach you to find joy in the simplest things, see the good in others, stay humble, and not worry about the things that are beyond your control. Her expectations stay small but her dreams stay big. In more ways than one, she already has and will continue to make an impact on others, believing this: “If you don’t like something, change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”

Some things never change. I’m glad.

What are your most compelling strengths and weaknesses?

Answering this type of question has always been a challenge for me. It doesn’t just require a deep level of self-awareness, but it also needs a special attention on finding the perfect words – words that make practical sense, with a hint of positivity to make the person look good. (But not superfluously good that it sounds impractical!)

Wait a minute, I found them. The perfect words, just like that! Practicality and positivity – the two things that I constantly seek for, and the two things I constantly show. I’d like to believe I am known for being practical and positive in many ways. And now that I think about it, these two traits are both my most compelling strengths and weaknesses at the same time.

(Oha! Becha didn’t see that coming. Got you there!!! Anyway…)

I can say I am a very practical person, always thinking ahead and choosing the most sensible option when faced with a forked road. This is why I work hard so I will always have the best options in life. That has worked well for me, because I find comfort in having a safety net at all times. But I admit this sometimes limits the spontaneity and surprises that others normally look for. So when things don’t go as planned (a million dollar example is umm hmm when I ended up not going to med school this year!?), I get shocked and shattered. But of course, I find a way to pick myself up again.

Which brings me to another noteworthy trait – my positivity. I am always looking for ways to look at situations from another point of view, because I want to understand that things always happen for a good reason. I believe in good karma, and I like to “pay it forward”. I inject humor and wit in just about anything. I believe in people, I believe in things, and I believe in myself – no matter how idealistic that sounds. So there goes the thin line that could make this my weakness – when my optimism becomes idealistic, and idealism becomes impractical. I admit that in my yearning to do so many things and in my ability to find hope in almost all things, I get over-extended and distracted. But I eventually snap back to reality, and accomplish what’s needed. I eventually open my eyes and regain my common sense.

(Huling huli akong nagppractice ng isasagot sa Q&A ng future beauty pageant na pagbibidahan ko. Joke. Hahaha.)

UMAEL Centennial World Congress

Last October 26-30, I served as a bus coordinator for the UMAEL Centennial World Congress here in Manila, Philippines. It was an event where Lasallians all over the world gathered to discuss how the La Salle Alumni should move forward, with special focus on the education of children.

I was given the opportunity at the last minute, but I still said yes! (Ako pa!) My job sounds simple enough – to pick up the delegates from their hotel early in the morning, and drop them off at whatever La Salle school they’re supposed to go to for that day. Since I was assigned to foreign delegates, I had to act as a host slash Bb. Pilipinas – Tourism in between.

I thought the biggest challenge would be how to humor foreign oldies. I was wrong.

Challenge #1: The fabulous Ms. Virginia, este Miss Venezuela, must have googled “La Salle Greenhills” but found something else. “I want to shop! Can I go to Greenhills shopping center?” The other Austrian and Mexican delegates overheard. 😐 😐

I worked it out, of course.  Here they are, ready to escape the current session and head off to Greenhills! (With student translators, thank God.)

Challenge #2:  Trying to understand the small talk Senor Alejandro from Mexico was trying to have with me. He even walked to the back of the bus to tell me this!

Him: “Are you Catholic?”

Me: “No, but I’m also a Christian.”

Him: “Lady! Image! Guadalupe. You, you! Like…. her!”

Me: “Oh! Thanks!” (MEEE??!? How wholesome naman my image here!)

Challenge #3: Getting Sir Alfred to go home with us on the last night after the concert. When I asked the other delegates where he was, they all laughed! “Good luck trying to get him on the bus! He found himself a girlfriend!”

I ran back to the venue. True enough, he was there on the dance floor. Drinks on one hand, a Filipina on the other. I wonder if he made it back safe to his hotel, or better yet, to Austria.

Challenge #4: Having the delegates greet my mom a simple happy birthday. They didn’t want it to be simple.

Sir Sergio Casas (the president of UMAEL!): “Oh you’re showing that to your mother tonight? She might think you’re just with a bunch of drunkards everyday!”

Me: “We’ll see! I hope to still see you guys tomorrow!” (How do I make her believe that I was with VIPs, Lasallian Brothers and guest speakers for real?!)

Challenge #5: Being quick but thoughtful in my parting words. Here’s what I came up with.

Brother Charles’ last message was my favorite – “Come to Rome!”

That alone gave me the wonderful feeling that I can come to any country, and I’ll find a fellow Lasallian there.

One Vision. One Hope. One La Salle.

Phone calls and cold sweats

Here I am, sweating beside our telephone, postponing my task to call up 15 more gastroenterologists. I need to request for an interview for our thesis data gathering, and I already called up two. I was just expecting to speak with the secretary, but I ended up talking to the doctor myself. I was flabbergasted, or maybe one step less exaggerated than that.

What is it with doctors and their innate ability to scare callers off? Or is it just me? I should get over this soon. I have thirty minutes left. I’m thinking, in a few years, I will be the one speaking on the other line, causing a random undergraduate to break out in cold sweats.

But for now… let me distract myself with our doggies. They’re keeping me company.

Cheston, our 8-year-old Lhasa Apso

This is Cheston, our 8-year-old Lhasa Apso. He looks like a crocodile.

Chuychuy, our 2-year-old Shih Tzu

I can’t find a direct English translation for the Filipino word “gigil”, but this picture might do! This is me with Chuychuy, our 2-year-old Shih Tzu. He is VERY fat.

…. Will dial those numbers now. 🙂