The road blocks on Freedom Park and the appearance of the tent and the chairs marked the beginning of the end of another academic year in UPLB (and in the other UP campuses): the senior class of the university was going to march and to receive their diplomas in front of friends and family. A joyous occasion, definitely; but what made this year's commencement exercises remarkable for me is the presence of an Aeta, the first Aeta to finish college in UP (UP Manila), being part of this year's graduating class.
His name is Norman King. Norman received his BSc Behavioural Sciences degree. As he walked up the stage, I am sure that he knew that he was making history. By no means is he the first Aeta who graduates from college; there are many Aetas finishing their degrees in Pampanga. But Norman made UP history be being the first of the Aetas to graduate from the top-ranked university in the Philippines. His story is inspiring because he has not allowed his culture to limit his potential. I was also happy to read that he did not experience discrimination for being different; in fact, he felt that UP embraced students from cultural minorities.
I look forward to see how his accomplishment will encourage other Aetas to compete for posts in UP and get the best education that they can get there.