How a UP student's near-perfect grade got people talking

MANILA, Philippines – There's nothing like graduation stories to inspire students to do better in school, which is why it's not surprising that the story of University of the Philippines (UP) student Tiffany Uy and her near-perfect grade quickly went viral.

Rappler's story alone has more than 48,000 shares, and stories from other media outlets also go by the tens of thousands. After all, Filipinos always welcome a success story like hers: 

Most of the sentiments online were positive, with people wishing they were as hardworking and smart as the 22-year-old Biology student:

Penge namang utak at sipag, Tiffany Uy — Via (@vmrllsrngn) June 27, 2015

Ang pretty pretty nung tiffany Uy. Beauty and brains si ate! — Aya Nicole Dris (@Dris_Ayaa) June 27, 2015

i dont understand bakit walang eybags nor pimples si tiffany uy yet 1.004 GWA nya?????? ? tell me your secrets — ang cathy (@phanderstorm) June 27, 2015

Negative reactions

But many people were caught off-guard by negative comments on her Chinese descent:

Why is Tiffany Uy getting hate on social media? I mean, so what the hell if she's Chinese? #equality people EQUALITY — Emily (@emememinems) June 27, 2015

It's so shallow how people are giving negative comments on Tiffany Uy. So what if she's Chinese? She has the heart and blood of a Filipino. — LADY EAGLES (@_ladyeaglesawvt) June 27, 2015

 

Even a UP professor ranted online about students like Uy who get "uno" (1.0) in almost all of their classes. In his public Facebook post on Friday, June 26, Gerardo Lanuza wrote:

"Hindi dahil naka uno (1.0) ka sa lahat halos ng klase mo sa UP Diliman ay 'matalino' ka na! Ang ibig sabihin lang nyan ay: masipag kang gumawa ng reaction papers kahit di required, mabait ka sa klase, di mo inaway ang teachers mo, di ka sumama sa walkouts laban sa TOFI kaya wala kang absences, pati diarrhea mo ng isang araw ginawan mo pa ng medical certificate para ma-excuse ka, nabili mo lahat ng requirements at books at matyaga kang nagpaxerox."

(Getting the highest grade in almost all your classes in UP Diliman doesn't mean you're 'intelligent'! It only means that: you're very diligent in making reaction papers even if not required, you're well-behaved in class, you don't argue with your teachers, you don't join walkouts against tuition and other fee increases so you have no absences, you even get a medical certificate for your diarrhea that lasted for a day so that you'll be excused, you were able to buy all the requirements and books, and you were patient in photocopying.)

Hindi dahil naka uno (1.0) ka sa lahat halos ng klase mo sa UP Diliman ay "matalino" ka na! Ang ibig sabihin lang nyan... Posted by Gerardo Lanuza on Thursday, 25 June 2015

 

As of this posting, the status already has 1,951 likes, 1,441 shares and 1,073 comments. While the post did not mention Uy, many of those who commented felt the need to defend the summa cum laude:

Terry Velasco: "You could've crafted a better definition for "intelligence." and it's not "intelligent" to be so judgmental of people like Tiffany." 

Grace Eclavea: "Even Tiffany said grade is just a number. What's more impressive is when she said what matters most is your tangible service once you graduate."

'A life of service'

Another UP professor and Rappler columnist Sylvia Claudio voiced her "irritation" because of a professor's "idea" to "hold our students to only one form of social engagement in order to assess whether they are truly scholars for our people."

"Tiffany may serve in many other ways if she wishes. This form of ideological bias is unhealthy in the academe and unhealthy for any teacher who must encourage all students to excellence not just on narrow terms, not just on the teacher's terms, but more importanty, on the students' terms too," Claudio wrote.

"This is rank anti-intellectualism. Those high grades, extra papers, long days with books prove Tiffany has the humility and discipline to do the grunge work so necessary to true scholarship and true activism."

On the same day of Lanuza's post, Uy gave a funny and heartfelt graduation speech where she urged her college batchmates to choose a life of service that will tackle societal problems bravely, all for love of country.

Uy is one of the 29 summa cum laude from UP Diliman's graduating class of 2016.

A total of 4,431 students are expected to attend the university graduation on Sunday, June 28, with Education Secretary Armin Luistro as the keynote speaker. – Rappler.com

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