Top UPCAT qualifiers welcomed by President Pascual

“Adapt to University life, embrace opportunities to develop or acquire new skills, explore new worlds, accept and celebrate diversity, and further build your character and define your own identity.”

These are just some of the pieces of advice that UP President Alfredo Pascual gave the top 50 qualifiers of the UP College Admission Test (UPCAT) during the lunch reception hosted for them last 14 March 2015 at the Executive House in UP Diliman.

Such learning activities and processes, he stated, are crucial in preparing oneself for the bigger world: the society outside the University walls.

The top 50 examinees who compose only about 0.3 percent of all passers in the last UPCAT and who had been offered the UP Oblation Scholarship are “certainly making a grand entrance to UP,” according to the President.

Should they accept the scholarship, they will be exempt from paying tuition and laboratory and miscellaneous fees, and will be entitled to a monthly stipend for living expenses as well as an allowance every semester for their study materials.

President Pascual reminded them, however, that gaining admission to UP is only the beginning of the journey and it is staying in UP – while maintaining the scholarship – that is the bigger and more daunting challenge.

“Meeting class requirements and getting high grades are simply not enough,” said Pascual.

He also emphasized that between honor and excellence, honor should always come first.

He exhorted the top qualifiers to make a conscious effort to serve the people even at such a young age because they have the talents and capabilities to make a difference in the lives of others, especially the neglected, unrecognized and marginalized sectors of society.

According to Dr. Aurora Corpuz-Mendoza, director of the Office of Admissions, there were 88,525 UPCAT applicants last year. Of these, only 16.93 percent (or 14,988) qualified for admission. Thus, the top 50 qualifiers formed only 0.0056 percent of all UPCAT takers last year.

Of the top qualifiers, 64 percent are male while 36 percent are female. Almost half of them came from private high schools (52 percent); in close second are those from public science high schools (44 percent). There were also two (4 percent) from the UP Integrated School.

Geographically, a majority of them came from Metro Manila (68 percent), followed by Southern Luzon (20 percent), Visayas (8 percent), Northern Luzon (2 percent) and Mindanao (2 percent).

Forty-five of the top UPCAT passers chose the following colleges in UP Diliman: science (36 percent), engineering (34 percent), business (16 percent), social sciences (2 percent) and fine arts (2 percent).

Meanwhile, five are expected to enroll in UP Manila for degrees in occupational therapy, industrial pharmacy, public health, and biochemistry.

As Oblation Scholars, they are free to enroll in any undergraduate degree program of their choice in the UP System, provided that they meet all program entrance requirements.

The Oblation Scholarship was institutionalized in 1991.

[View Powerpoint presentation of Dr. Mendoza.]

Inspirational messages were likewise given by UP alumni achievers Atty. Dionne Marie Mercado Sanchez, Dr. Margaret Cristi-Limson, Office of International Linkages deputy director Dr. Aaron Joseph Villaraza, Technology Transfer and Business Development Office director Dr. Luis G. Sison and biochemistry graduate Michael Velarde.

Atty. Sanchez graduated summa cum laude and magna cum laude from BSBAA and LLB, respectively, while Dr. Cristi-Limson is a BSBMS and MD cum laude. Both Sanchez and Cristi-Limson were Oblation Scholars in 1997.

Vice President for Academic Affairs Gisela Concepcion told the top examinees that the University of the Philippines is a home that will nurture their mind, spirit, soul, body, heart, hands and limbs, where the deepening, heightening, broadening and quickening of the total experiential learning is supported.

She also mentioned how Michaelangelo’s David, based on the brave Biblical character who fought against Goliath, provides a good contrast to Tolentino’s Oblation whose openness could symbolize total offering, sacrifice, surrender and service. She said that while there are times when we need to be submissive or accepting like the Oblation, there are times, too, when we need to strategize and fight like David.

Guests were treated to a musical number by the UP Singing Ambassadors.

The UPCAT consists of four subtests: Language Proficiency (English and Filipino), Science, Math, and Reading Comprehension (English and Filipino). Standardized scores on these subtests are combined with the weighted average of final grades in the first three years of high school to determine qualification into UP.

Socio-economic and geographic considerations are factored in the selection of campus qualifiers.