A mature way to regard the inspiring achievement of UP top-notcher Tiffany Grace Uy

Most of us who’ve gone to college know one or another Tiffany Uy type. They get stratospheric grades in every exam and top the bar or board exams when they graduate. For most of the time they spend finishing their chosen course, they hang out with their like-minded ilk — exchanging intel on sources of the juiciest sample exams and go all abuzz photocopying them for one another. They routinely burn the midnight oil in study groups made up of members of their cliques, rote-drilling themselves on these sample exams and exchanging exam-acing tips. Then after finishing the exams, while the rest of us go off to party or watch a movie, they re-convene to do intensive post-exam evaluations, which involves mainly exchanging the answers they put in and assuring one another they did well.


Are they mostly of Chinese-descent? On the basis of my personal observation, yes. We called them the Chinese Mafia. They are driven to succeed, and they measure success with very specific quantifiable performance measures — grades. I’m not saying only Chinese people are like that. I’m saying that when you describe such a character profile, it is more likely for a Chinese person to fit the bill. Just facts and statistics — like the numbers these people live by, right? Tiffany Uy is that case in point. She’s Chinese, and a grades ace. No surprises there, really.

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So we’ve established that the average sample exam muncher and grades ace is Chinese and that there’s nothing personal or “racist” in stating those facts. That’s just the way things are. The question then is, why is Tiffany Uy who made history getting a near-perfect 1.004 general weighted average graduating BS Biology in UP so controversial?

Well, just finishing that course in the University of the Philippines, alone, is no easy feat. It is one of the most difficult and competitive subjects one could subject one’s self to in the State University. Furthermore, there is no point in taking that course unless you ace it. Why? Because most students use it as a “pre-med” course — a stepping stone towards a slot in the prestigious UP College of Medicine in Manila. To a UP BS Biology student, there are only two schools of medicine in the Philippines — UP Med and all the rest. UP students do not want to study medicine in the latter.

And so that is why it’s uno or bust when it comes to graduating with a bachelor of science degree in Biology in UP. Any lower than a 1.10 average and your chances of getting into UP Med drops to below 10 percent (and that’s for the lucky batches). When you’re competing with a hundred odd other Chinese students with rockets up their asses for a handful of UP Med slots, you’d stick a Saturn V booster up yours. By all accounts, Tiffany stuck two of those moonshot engines up hers — which is why she’s soaring over the moon today.

And that’s a good thing. Work hard, win hard. When you are a winner, you can then go on to credibly talk about putting in “a life of service” — like Bill Gates did after he spent his younger years raking in his billions and demolishing the competition.

It’s simple, really.

Perhaps those who deride Uy’s achievement by framing it narrowly have a point. A number — such as, say, a grade — by no means singularly defines intelligence, much more a person’s overall value to society. But you need to start somewhere. The health of a fetus while it is in its mother’s womb can only be judged using a handful of parameters — heartbeat, number of limbs, size, etc. Then, as a baby, it will be judged on the basis of how soon she learns how to walk and talk. As humans mature, the number of variables that describe them increase exponentially.

Similarly, people will be judged on the basis of their grades while they are in school. When they come out of school and face the “real world”, they will be judged based on other attributes. As they mature as professionals, more variables will be added to describe their characters. Bill Gates was once known only as the Microsoft founder and the world’s richest man. Today he is also known for his achievements in other fields of endeavour, like philanthropy.

So let’s give Tiffany Grace Uy a break. She made headline news because of her 1.004 general weighted average. It was on the back of that achievement that people started noticing other things about her — her “flawless skin” and “normal” lovelife, for example. People seemed to latch on to those latter aspects about Uy to assure themselves that she is human like the rest of us and not a member of an advanced party sent by an extraterrestrial invading force. What she does after this milestone is hers to explore and, perhaps, for us to continue to observe if she continues to hold our attention going forward.

27 Replies to “A mature way to regard the inspiring achievement of UP top-notcher Tiffany Grace Uy”

  1. Good article. When I look to other PH media outlets, countless commentators seem to only focus on her race. I’m not sure why Filipinos are consistently racist.

    Maybe they’re jelly of everyone else because their lives are so miserable?

  2. I’m so proud of Tiffany Grace Uy and hoping that more students will admire her and inspire as well. She’s a ‘Rock star’. Good article Benigno.

  3. That “rocket in the ass” though…when I applied the analogy to her it somehow creates a “different” picture in my mind.

    Damn corrupted brain

  4. Ms Uy is a living inspiration that diligence and perseverance pay off: her leadership and philanthropic sides will develop and mature and we’ll be hearing a lot more from this lady in future!

  5. Some negative reactions in Social Media just goes to show the typical Anti-Intellectualism prevailing on pinoy flips.

    Just look at how they come up with “opinions” on how she got those near perfect grades ranging for insinuation of corrupt acts or racism
    “Baka sipsip yan at teacher’s pet”
    “Kasi Chinese, mayaman madami panlagay”
    “Binayaran ang mga faculties para itip sa mga exams at projects”
    “Chinese kasi gusto itake over ang Pilipinas, palayasin dapat mga yan!” (WTF?)
    “Bakit di unahin mga pinoy na mahirap kesa , sa mga Chinese, inaagaw nila ang para sa Pilipino”

    Goes to show the level of thinking flips have in viewing success. For them, success is only possible if you “cut corners” and “make compromises”. She had to have done something behind the scenes to get those grades kundi di yan papaboran ng mga professors.

    Then there are those who scoff it off as “grades lang naman yan” and you will not succeed in life “kung di ka madiskarte sa buhay” nevermind if the girl may have been brought by a family who is likely to have imbued her with a competitive nature to succeed in life (She is part Chinese after all). They always think that “streetsmart” trumps intellectual competence coupled with hardwork.

    1. What really grinds my gears is this. When some actor, dancer, singer or some other entertainer or sports icon has a single drop of “Filipino” drop or spent a single millisecond on Philippine soil, their lionized as “Pinoy Pride”. When people like Uy, who willingly spend their time on this country developing their far more useful intelligience and skill set, are featured, people just set them aside, labelling them as “Chinese”, “sipsip” or weirdos. Those people willing went through all the hardship with the same passion as those entertainers, but no! Sorry doc, you’re just a lame, weird Chinese loser.

      1. +1 with Tonyong Muta and Lemnemonic.

        And alot of failipinos would ask why the country would not move forward. Wherein they fail (or maybe deny) to accept that the answer to their question is found when they face the mirror.

  6. A busy, vibrant, goal-oriented woman is so much more attractive than a woman who waits around for a man to validate her existence.

  7. Bill Gates was a College Dropout. He attended Harvard University; but dropped out of school.
    He was more interested in computers.

    He was a Computer Programmer, and founded the Microsoft Corporation…

  8. what a world we live in..here is a bright, vibrant girl who made good in school (didn’t we all wanted to make good in school at one time or another?) but yet people still put malice behind her achievements? Lemnemonic is right, if there was a single drop of Filipino blood in this girl, Filipinos will be thumping their chests, Pinoy ata yan…

  9. Back when I was studying I do not care about grades (as long as I understood what I am studying). But for those people who’s bashing her? Common sense would dictate that we have to give this lady a break. She studied hard and reaped her reward, so why the hell is wrong those who are talking crap against her?

    Lets just give credit where its due. And as what any civilized person would do. I am happy for her and would recommend her as a ROLE MODEL to others who are pursuing excellence.

  10. I call those bashers bitter ocampo. ‘Guess she resurrected a lot of frustrations on those Pinoys in that she represents everything they wanted to be in some point of their life (achiever, winner) but they’re nowhere near her accomplishments except in their dreams. Pinoys especially students should be inspired by her. What will really get them somewhere is grit and hard work that the Chinese are known for, actually most successful people are known for, since their pride is based on accomplishments.

  11. “Similarly, people will be judged on the basis of their grades while they are in school.” — Too specific, leading to some flaw points. People, while they are in school, shouldn’t ONLY be judged based on numbers or grades. They are also judged based on HOW MUCH do they want to learn, how and what they do at school to achieve their goals or grades, what their goals are, their willingness to learn, and more. If I am neither smart nor have the resources I need, I don’t want to be judged based on my grades as a “student”. I want more basis, other than grades (which is only a PART of so many factors), for me to be judged as what type of a student I am. Other than that argument flaw, props to the author’s other points. This is a good read.

  12. In the U.S.; students to be Excellent in their schools. Extra curricular activities are included. What you did for your fellow students/fellowmen; the community you live in; and to the world in general.

    Grades are only part in Excelling. Even, in the interview for a job. They ask for the Extra Curricular Activities; in addition to your good transcript of records. How you work with your fellow students; and with other people…are very important..

    What good innovations your brought up, to better things and everybody…

    I think this is lacking in the Philippine schools…we look only for grades…

    1. Being a working student, helped me also in my career in being hired for good position in a U.S. Corporation. In the graduate school. I worked and studied, at the same time. The Corporation, I worked with, paid for my tuition.

      You gain Work Experience and Knowledge, at the same time. Not just the text books alone…

      So, they call those newly graduated employees: “Entry Level Position” people…all they know is from the textbook.

  13. Well, look at this. Someone just got a high grade, probably among the highest in history, so people are either up in joy for her or up in arms against her. Too many people who want to exploit the situation and blow it up to something more than it should. People, really dumbasses.

    I wonder, will she be able to get a good job and get a good salary from it? Or will she get stuck in a call center with bosses saying, “that’s the right job for her?”

  14. Something in one of comedy writer David Wong’s articles (which in extension came from the Last Psychiatrist blog – thelastpsychiatrist.com) would probably sound right for a lot of the reactions to Ms. Uy and her success:

    “…the standard maneuver when narcissism is confronted with a greater power — quietly seethe and fantasize about finding information that will out him as a hypocrite. So satisfying.”

    Try replacing ‘him’ with ‘her’ and… well, there you go.

    I suggest that somebody try reading the whole article it’s in. It’s worked in N. America (so far…), but I wonder if ANYBODY in the Philippines can read this and manage NOT to destroy the computer somehow:


  15. The Philippine people are for the most part total racists. Filled with jealously and hatred for the more successful nations, especially Singapore. I get sick of hearing the word “Foreigner” as they typically say it with so much hatred. This is a country of limited education and therefore people with limited brain power, groomed only to be slaves for the the developed world. The fate of this country was decided many years ago and it will not be changed.

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