Opinion

Where the grass is greener

[Trigger warning: Mention of suicide]

It shouldn’t be that hard; trying to thrive in academics all the while working to stabilize your family’s financial situation, rebuilding hard-earned homes devastated by the past typhoons, coping with everyday problems stifling your mental health condition, and the like – but the thing is, it is hard. I learned and relearned this as schools nationwide transitioned towards remote learning as a safety measure against COVID-19, and with it came the loss of friends and acquaintances.

On the onset of a new semester, students are yet again made to prepare for another battle of learning in the online set-up. Undeniably, the semester has become very challenging for most of us, if not all, as we were forced to adjust to a new scheme of learning and not all of us had the resources and the resolve to attend classes conducting synchronous sessions to genuinely learn.

Our national government has proven time and time again its incompetence – making rushed, uncalculated decisions, all the while sacrificing Filipinos for it. None of these would have happened if our government officials were focused on doing measures on more pressing matters, such as allocating amounts for the pandemic response, the improvement of our healthcare and educational systems, as well as narrowing down the digital divide. 

It is true that technology is becoming more and more pervasive and indispensable in everyday life, especially today where most classes are being conducted online. In response to this, gadgets are increasing in numbers to meet the surge of demand, however this does not consider the needs of the underprivileged. Families that go a day with barely any sustenance is still a painful reality, especially in the rural areas. The situation is so severe, that when the new academic year began, there was even a reported 9% decline in enrollment – around 2.3 million students. The government must address the said issue and other big problems at hand, including the stagnation of our rural communities in terms of technology use and more and more efforts should be put into making the internet accessible for everyone.

Even as someone from the greener side of the field, it was still very hard for me to buckle down and finish all the modules of my courses in the previous semester. Without a doubt, it was a very tedious and eye-straining experience, for I have spent the past five months in front of my personal desktop computer, burning the candle at both ends, while being unsure if I have learned anything at all. 

The previous semester became a poor estimation of our academic performances. In the midst of conducting remote mode of classes while battling the COVID-19 pandemic, typhoons have ravaged homes of some students and university constituents. Hence, forcing most of the professors to resolve to end the semester and give minimal requirements to the students. 

However, the requirements given to us in our classes, whether minimal or not, would not suffice as a proper basis of the students’ academic performance. Many, of course, have thrived and almost gained flat uno general averages, but there is still the other side of the spectrum we need to consider: learners living below or within the poverty line, ailed with unstable mental health conditions, and have little to no access to technology. They would surely do a great job too, if only they are supported with sufficient resources and means to learn while being in a conducive learning environment.

A friend would be a testament to this. Ever since high school, He was known for being proactive in academics and he made sure he exerted full efforts to everything he did. I would see him in our residence hall with stacked books almost covering up his face — he studied really hard and smart in hopes of becoming an engineer. However, life can’t just go the way we want it to go. Perhaps due to the burden of his personal problems, he chose to make a turn no one could’ve predicted he’d choose – suicide, leaving friends and family heartbroken.

Months after his passing, another Isko was reported to have chosen the same route while the semester is drawing near its end. Two Iskos’ lives have been lost during a semester of conducting remote mode of learning, and they are only a part of the proportion of students choosing to end their lives, some may have even been juggling work and academics, stifled with mental health, and equipped with little to no means for learning and burdened with academic workload. 

It shouldn’t be that hard, and that’s the point, it shouldn’t be. And unless we address this, we will painstakingly continue learning and relearning losses, among which are the loss of friends and acquaintances in a literal sense. 

To students in more straitened circumstances, when problems arise during times of trial, don’t lose hope, learn to seek help, and bear in mind that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. If you happen to come this far, I would like to commend you for surviving, and you deserve a pat on the back.

Saying this a guy from where the grass is greener. [P]

Photo by Sophia Isabel Pangilinan / Edited by Michael Ian Bartido


It’s okay not to be okay. If you are in need of mental support and assistance, you can reach the following contacts:

National Center for Mental Health
09178998727 (mobile)
02-7-989-8727  (landline)
155 (toll free, landline to landline)

Suicide hotline:
804 4673(HOPE)

Office of Counseling and Guidance, OVCSA, UPLB
Tel. No.:(049) 536-7255
Facebook: facebook.com/ocgovcsa
Messenger: @ocgovcsa
E-mail: ocg.uplb@up.edu.ph

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