Sometime in 2010, as soon as I got the Latin diploma for Magistratum Artium (MA) mailed to me from ADMU, signifying my successful completion of the MA in Journalism fellowship programme at the Asian Center for Journalism (ACFJ) at ADMU, it was not my Ateneo grades that that got me very excited upon opening my transcript but something else.
I already knew how I fared in the journalism class, so, it was not the reason why I gasped, half-anxious, half-intoxicated, as I opened the transcript.
It was my excitement over the fact that I’d finally be seeing the part of the transcript I hadn’t seen before: the part which showed my performance in the MA in English major in Creative Writing programme I took at Silliman U several years earlier.
I never had the chance to come up with the Fiction Collection demanded by my thesis; and so, I have left that part of my transcript half-finished; and yet, I was wondering how I was faring among the subjects I had loved so much that I crammed myself to the brim with long readings during my brief stay at Silliman U: Literary Criticism and Creative Writing, Contemporary Novel, Asian Feminist Writings, etc.
Touting itself as an American university that pioneered the longest running creative writing tradition in the country, Silliman U kept a grading system that is quite different from other universities I’ve gone to. Instead of the usual 1.0, they kept the highest grade at 4.0, which is an equivalent to an A+. This must be why, getting a 3.5 from the American professor Dr. Law once flustered me, because in the previous universities I attended, 3.0 already carried with it the stigma of failure. And yet, looking closer at SU’s unique grading system, I checked and realized that a 3.5 actually meant an A-, which was not so bad after all. I was in the lowest point of my life at Silliman U that I decided to get back through my grades.So, that day I received my ADMU transcript, I went over my records for Contemporary Novel, Literary Criticisms, Contemporary Drama, and my heart leaped with delight. The lowest grade I got from the university, which I always look up to as the only university that really introduced me to Art and Letters, was an A-, and in some other really difficult subjects, I even managed to post an A+; not really that it mattered so much in life, but I remember standing side by side with journalists, who thought there was only one way to write a story, I can’t help recalling how, in one of those creative writing classes, we were allowed to write about one subject, and each of us came up with totally different stories. Remembering how I straddled the totally alien world of journalism and the world of writers, poets and artists, I realized it was not so bad at all; not really half so bad after all.