Friday, September 7, 2007

Jennie Hoy

Two-Month Calvary
by Jennie Hoy
Honestly, I could not think of any single word that would describe my experience as an applicant of the University of the Philippines Debate Society. “Hard” would be an underestimation the application process. “Hell”, on the other hand, would be a complete lie, since I did have fun in the whole experience to some extent. When I really think about the whole thing, I am bombarded by an amalgam of emotions: excitement, happiness, exhaustion, hopelessness, frustration, panic, laziness, fulfillment, and a bunch of other feelings that are just too hard to describe.

The truth is, the UPDS application is an experience I would never forget. It is the most stressful and yet most fulfilling activity I’ve ever done in my whole sixteen years of existence. You see, it never occurred to me how “demanding” the organization is until after the second week of the application period, when things really started getting serious.

The first part was still light. We were given modules, wherein we were taught the basics of the British Parliamentary System, and the fundamental rules we needed to follow when adjudicating.

My favorite part was the Apps Olympics. It was the perfect way to start the whole application process (although it would’ve been better if it was held at an earlier date). Since I knew practically nothing about my co-apps (other than their faces), the Olympics served as a great opportunity for me to socialize. I think that this was one of the most important parts of the application. It’s like taking a single, very deep breath before plunging into the challenge of holding your breath for as long as you can.

That time, I had very little idea of how tough the process was going to be. When we were oriented about the minimum requirements of the application, I had the impression that it must be very easy. Ten tambay debates, three graded debates, five adjudications and thirty hours of tambay all seemed to be so manageable, especially since we were given two months to fulfill these things. I was all like, “Hmmkayang kaya. Two months pa naman eh…” But, alas, I was absolutely wrong.

The hardest part was debating (duh). I just had to face it. I sucked most of the time. What made it extra painful, though, was the fact every dumb thing I said did not go unnoticed. All my mistakes were constantly shoved at my face, with no sugarcoats or what. Obviously, it’s not really a very pleasant experience. I’m not used to being criticized and corrected. In debating, on the other hand, every little thing you say can make or break your case.

It was only later on, though, that I fully realized the significance of those criticisms. I hate using clich├ęs, but let’s face it: the truth really does hurt. But then, as I realized later on, learning the painful truth actually does a lot more good than bad. Those training sessions or tambay debates really did help me realize my many flaws that I wasn’t even aware of in the beginning. There is a Greek adage that says, “Know thyself.” Before everything else, I have to know myself, because when it all comes down to it, I am my greatest enemy.

This proved true in the DebSoc application process. There was no real competition between all debaters, because somehow, whether we were conscious of it or not, we knew that the only person that could possibly pull us down was our individual selves.

The signature sheet was another burden, although I understand that it’s a necessary part of the application. It wasn’t easy to fulfill the tasks we were asked to do in return for the members’ priceless signatures, but I can say that it was an effective way of breaking the ice between the members and the applicants. Besides, most of the things we were asked to do weren’t really absurd. They were, in some way, linked to knowing more about UPDS, its members and its history, so it was not such a waste of time and energy, when you think of it.

I must admit that during the middle of the application, it came to the point that I got really frustrated, and I felt tempted to quit. It felt awful to miss out in after-class gimmicks with my friends, just so that I could spend the rest of the afternoon debating. A sense of helplessness also pervaded me. I felt that it was impossible to finish the quota, since I couldn’t hang out and debate much, given the sudden increase in holidays (fuck holiday economics). I was also lagging behind in most of the updates because I rarely checked my e-mail and the UPDS bulletin board (Thankfully, I learned my lesson and am now an avid checker of the bulleting board. Haha.).

Right now, I am thankful that I did not give up on my application. I realized during those times that if I quit in exchange for leisurely (and undeniably wasteful) afternoons, I would be wasting an excellent opportunity for improvement. After all, it’s not so bad. Like they say, what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.
The wonderful Bernard Joseph Esposo Guerrero (or BJ) is the head of MAC, and I think that he and all the MAC members really did a good job in handling us. What’s more amazing is that MAC members rarely got mad, no matter how irritating the situation might have been. When I think of it, I realize now that the application process is as stressful for applicants as it is for MAC members (maybe even more for them, in fact). It remains to me a great mystery how MAC members were able to keep their cool even in the most annoying situations.

If I don’t get accepted in the society, I will commit suicide (joke! haha). Even if I don’t get in, I can still say that the app process was well worth all the sacrifices. It is a rare privilege to be trained so rigorously by and among such skilled individuals. I was also able to learn a lot of important things about myself, which I owe to DebSoc.

On the other hand, if I do get in (which, hopefully, is the case), I guess a lot of it I owe to MAC. Although it is the duty of MAC members to hand out materials to the applicants and all that stuff, they all went the extra mile by being warm, encouraging and understanding to me and my co-apps. They constantly guided us throughout the whole process, reminding us of all the things we needed to do and all.
All in all, my whole two months of Calvary can be summed up in two words: WORTH IT!

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