The only child of a single mother living in their hometown of Surallah, South Cotabato, UP Diliman freshman Peter Lachica is aware of the risks of the viral disease that has brought the world to a standstill. The knowledge that there are more confirmed COVID-19 cases in Quezon City than in South Cotabato and the very real danger of bringing this virus home with him are the reasons he is having second thoughts about going home, even though he and his fellow UP students staying in the dormitories have longed to return to their families for months.
“Iyan din yung worry ko [That’s what I’m worried about],” he confessed, noting that the last few people who went home initially tested negative but then picked up the virus en route home.
Another reason he’s having second thoughts: the challenges of completing his academic requirements in all his subjects. As a Bachelor of Physical Education student at the UP College of Human Kinetics (UP CHK) and a member of the UP Track and Field Team, Peter has been hard at work completing the 18 academic units he took for the last semester, a job made more difficult given severe limitations involved.
He recalls what life was like before the pandemic and the lockdown. “Shempre po masaya. Napupuntahan namin lahat ng gusto namin. Nakakapag-training kami sa Acad Oval, and then nagte-training kami dyan sa [Athletic] Oval. Masaya po kasi kasama naming kumain yung teammate namin, nagkwekwentuhan, may regular class, minsan nagwo-worry ka kasi may assignment na gagawin, sasakay ng jeep, ganon. Normally ginagawa ng isang UP student [It was fun. We could go anywhere we wanted. We could train at the Academic Oval and Athletic Oval. We’d have fun eating out and chatting with our teammates. We had regular classes, and sometimes we’d worry about the assignments we had to do, about taking the jeep to get to class on time . . . things that a UP student would normally do,” he said.
Having no laptop or personal computer of his own had not been that big an issue, since Peter was able to use the computers at the UP CHK, at the library in Palma Hall or in the College of Arts and Letters. Other times, he managed with his cell phone and his access to free WIFI through UP DilNet.
Then with the escalation of the COVID-19 outbreak and the resulting quarantine, everything changed.
“Noong una po, akala namin hindi ganito kalala yung mangyayari. And then after a few months, ayun na, biglang lumala. Tapos nagulat kaming lahat na nasa dorm na bigla na lang hindi na kami lumalabas, bawal na kaming mag-jogging, tumakbo, and then bawal na rin kaming pumunta sa iba’t malalayong lugar na pinupuntahan namin usually. Tapos yung mas nakakalala pa doon is that na-stop yung class. So naisip namin, papaano yung learning namin nito? [At first we thought it wouldn’t be that bad. Then one day my fellow dormers [at the Ipil Residence Hall] and I were surprised to find that we were not allowed to go outside anymore. We weren’t allowed to go jogging or to train, and we couldn’t go to the places we used to go to. Worse, the regular classes stopped, and we were all worried about our learning],” he related.
Sinabing magiging online na daw yung class, so nag-worry po kaming mga students na wala masyadyong gadgets. Yung ginagamit ko lang po is phone, and then wala po akong laptop or computer. Kaya sabi ko, hala papaano ito, walang laptop? Papaano yung mga projects, ganon? Yung mga papers? – Peter Lachica, Iskolar ng Bayan
“Noong una hindi namin alam ang gagawin namin. Naghihintay kami ng email galing sa mga professor namin. Naghihintay din ng update galing sa UP mismo. And then, noong may natanggap kami ng email and then sinabing magiging online na daw yung class, so nag-worry po kaming mga students na wala masyadyong gadgets. Yung ginagamit ko lang po is phone, and then wala po akong laptop or computer. Kaya sabi ko, hala papaano ito, walang laptop? Papaano yung mga projects, ganon? Yung mga papers? [In the beginning, we didn’t know what to do. We kept waiting for email updates from our professors and from UP. Then we received an email informing us that classes would be online, which worried us students who didn’t have gadgets of our own. All I had was my phone, so I wondered how I’d be able to do my projects and papers without a laptop or computer].”
In order to work on his assignments, Peter had to borrow the laptop of his teammate and fellow dormer. However, he couldn’t do this all the time as his teammate also had to use his laptop to complete his own assignments. “May time na kailangan kong mag-submit ng paper namin sa Bio, parang na-delay ako dahil may ginagawa din sya and then na-late yung pag-submit ko. Eh, kinonsider naman po ng professor ko [One time I had to submit a paper for a biology class, but because my teammate also needed to use the laptop, I ended up submitting my own paper late. Our professor accepted it anyway].”
Malaki po yung mga challenges nakikita ko, yung gap between sa mga taong merong access sa gadgets, sa Internet and wifi. Masyadong malaki po yung gap. Malaking sagabal po kasi wala po kaming masyadong access. – Peter Lachica, Iskolar ng Bayan
Peter knows that with the implementation of remote learning, a lot of UP students are going through the same difficulties. “Malaki po yung mga challenges nakikita ko, yung gap between sa mga taong merong access sa gadgets, sa Internet and wifi. Masyadong malaki po yung gap [I see a lot of challenges, starting with the gap between the students who have access to gadgets and the Internet and the students who don’t. This gap is too wide],” he points out. “Kasi kagaya ko, nahihirapan ako kasi wala akong laptop, wala masyadong gadgets. Yun nga po sa pag-enlist ko, hindi nga po ako natanggap kasi wala po akong laptop at cellphone na magamit para makapag-enlist. Malaking sagabal po kasi wala po kaming masyadong access [Students like me have a much harder time than those who have gadgets and laptops. Even just enlisting online for subjects was hard. Having little or no access to the Internet is a very serious obstacle].”
Babalik po ako doon sa amin para tulungan pa yung mga kapwa ko atleta na makamit din ang pangarap nila kagaya ko, na makapag-aral sa mga ganitong mga unibersidad, sa pinakamagandang unibersidad dito sa Pilipinas, which is UP. Proud po ako doon dahil dito po ako nakapag-aral. Yun po ang gagawin ko, and yun po ang number one goal ko pag makapagtapos ako dito sa UP. – Peter Lachica, Iskolar ng Bayan
When asked what his plans are if and when he earns his degree in UP, Peter said that he would stay true to his commitment as an athlete. “Galing ako sa amin bilang atleta. Babalik po ako doon sa amin para tulungan pa yung mga kapwa ko atleta na makamit din ang pangarap nila kagaya ko, na makapag-aral sa mga ganitong mga unibersidad, sa pinakamagandang unibersidad dito sa Pilipinas, which is UP. Proud po ako doon dahil dito po ako nakapag-aral. Yun po ang gagawin ko, and yun po ang number one goal ko pag makapagtapos ako dito sa UP [I came from our hometown as an athlete, and I plan to go back home to help my fellow athletes achieve their dreams like I did, to be able to study in good universities—in the best university in the country, which is UP. I’m so proud that I am able to study here. That’s why my number one goal is to complete my studies at UP].”
He said that he would become an athletic coach. And more than that, he said, “If ever pong papalarin, ipro-proceed ko po ito sa pagiging lawyer. During quarantine, kasi meron akong books dyan about Law at Pre-Law, mga 20 plus na libro na binabasa-basa ko na rin po [If possible, I would like to go on to study law. I have over 20 law and pre-law books here, and I’ve been reading them during this quarantine].” As someone who knows how to make the best use of his time, he has also been learning to play the guitar during the lockdown. He considers the friendships he forged with his fellow dormers who all come from different provinces and different fields the silver lining in an otherwise dismal period.
Huwag po tayong mahiyang humingi ng tulong mula sa mga taong kayang tumulong sa atin kasi sa panahon natin ngayon, napakahirap po talaga dahil sa pandemyang ito. Hindi po natin alam kung anong mangyayari sa mga susunod na araw, kaya huwag po tayong sumuko, lalong-lalo na sa pag-aaral natin. – Peter Lachica, Iskolar ng Bayan
He exhorts his fellow students who are in the same situation not to give up on their studies. “Huwag po tayong mahiyang humingi ng tulong mula sa mga taong kayang tumulong sa atin kasi sa panahon natin ngayon, napakahirap po talaga dahil sa pandemyang ito. Hindi po natin alam kung anong mangyayari sa mga susunod na araw, kaya huwag po tayong sumuko, lalong-lalo na sa pag-aaral natin [Let’s not be afraid to ask for help from the people who can help, because life is so hard during this pandemic. We don’t know what will happen in the coming days, which is why we can’t give up, especially on our own education].”
And to the people who would be generous enough to support students like him, Peter stresses how much this help would mean to him and his fellow students. “Hindi po namin kaya na kami lang ang mag-suporta sa amin, napakahirap po talaga. Kaya sana po matulungan niyo po kami [We can’t do it on our own. That’s why we’re hoping you can help].”
To support the remote learning needs of Peter and other Iskolar ng Bayan, please visit http://kaagapay.up.edu.ph. #KaagapayUP
For assistance, contact the Kaagapay secretariat at 0916 723 1200 or email@example.com.