Maroon and green
NOTES FROM THE EDITOR - Singkit (The Philippine Star) - August 5, 2018 - 12:00am

That was quite a crowd that showed up at the Registrar’s Office of the University of the Philippines, also known as the Diliman Republic, last Monday to file applications to take the entrance exams for next school year. And these hopefuls were just from private schools. The deadline for applicants from public schools was last Friday, and those from the provinces and other countries have until this Friday to apply. University officials said this year they are expecting over 167,000 applicants to take the test, known as the UPCAT (UP College Admission Test), reputed to be a difficult one that will test students’ mettle to see if they’re good enough to study at UP. OK, OK…that smacks of arrogance I admit, but if you’re privileged enough to be from UP, you’ll understand.

I also have to admit that I did not take the UPCAT; I transferred in to the university in my sophomore year, after spending a year in a convent school that closed down. I can now say that was the best move ever. So I totally understand why so many high school students are trying to get admitted to UP, which is, by the way, not confined to the Diliman Republic; there are UP campuses all over the country, from Luzon to the Visayas to Mindanao, and even online (the Open University).

UP is one of over a hundred state colleges and universities covered by the free higher education law, so those lucky enough to get in are even luckier now. I shouldn’t really complain, because during my time many, many moons ago I paid the grand sum of P254 per semester. In my junior year I got a scholarship that paid me P500 a semester, giving me enough change to buy all those blue books (which we used for exams) and some junk food besides.

* * *

We’re talking trees this issue, as a most worthy project marks a decade of implementation. Now that I live in a building and my only greenery are in pots (thankfully I have quite a few of them, and very lush too, thanks to manang who has a really fantastic green thumb), I appreciate trees even more as I look out on tall buildings and down on rusty roofs.

We’ve actually been mandated by decree and law to plant trees; we just haven’t been obeying. PD (presidential decree) 953 issued in 1976 said land owners must plant trees on their properties; PD 1153 issued a year later said every able-bodied citizen at least 10 years old must plant a tree every month for five years. Republic Act 10176 signed into law in 2012 mandated each city and municipality to celebrate Arbor Day every year with community tree planting activities, and every citizen 12 years and older must plant a tree a year.

Imagine, if we only followed these decrees and law we’d be a really green country, and floods and landslides and droughts would not be so devastating.

UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES
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