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Good Samaritans on scooters provide help for UPCAT takers

Although he does not possess any superpowers, Armand Hirao knows a student in distress when he sees one.

As he was riding his scooter around the University of the Philippines Diliman campus Sunday, Hirao noticed a high school student who appeared to be having difficulty finding her way around the campus. It was the last day of the University of the Philippines College Admission Test (UPCAT) and she needed to be at the College of Mass Communication (CMC) for the exam.

Wasting no time, Hirao, who also happens to be a CMC employee, offered the student a ride with to the building. “Hinatid ko sa Mass Comm. Ayun, umabot naman siya sa exam,” he said.

For the two days of the UPCAT, Hirao and 26 other employees of UP Diliman—both current and retired—were Good Samaritans on scooters, providing lifts to lost high school students about to take the test.

The men are all part of the UP Diliman Scooters Club (UPDSC) and they have been volunteering as UPCAT couriers since the group was established in 1997.

No compensation

Aside from bringing lost examinees to their exam locations, the UPDSC volunteers also deliver UPCAT-related documents to the proctors in emergency cases.

Requests for document delivery are coursed by UPCAT supervisors stationed at each building to the Office of Admissions, which in turn relays them to the riders.

“Kapag may batang nawalan ng test permit, dinadala namin ‘yung duplicate doon sa venue. Kapag naman magkaiba ‘yung nakalagay na information ng bata doon sa permit sa nakalagay sa ID, pinadadala rin sa amin ‘yung iba nyang application documents para ma-verify [ng proctor],” said UPDSC chair Dong Gayagoy.

Rain or shine, the volunteers are ready to deliver documents or transport lost students without seeking  any kind of compensation in return.

Save for the free food provided by the UP administration, the volunteers have to shell out money for gasoline and other expenses related to maintaining the scooters. In Hirao’s words, “gulong mo, gastos mo.”

But for these couriers, the cost of volunteering is trivial compared to the opportunity to render service.

“Tulong na namin ito sa UP bilang dito naman kami nagtatrabaho. Maganda rin ‘yung mga ganitong pagkakataon dahil dito kami nagkakasama-sama na mga riders,” said Rene Pabico, the group’s vice president.

50 to 70 examinees

Like Hirao, other riders found examinees, or else were alerted by the UP Admissions Office of examinees who needed help getting to their testing venues.

Based on the UPDSC’s logbook, around 50 examinees sought the riders’ assistance from Saturday to Sunday. But according to Pabico, the number of students they had helped probably reached 70 or even more since they no longer had time to log those they had transported while in the course of delivering documents.

“Kunwari may nakita kaming bata na naliligaw at kailangang pumunta sa Math building at doon rin naman ang daan namin, iaangkas na namin. ‘Yung mga ganoon, hindi na nala-log,” he said.

But even if the student’s testing venue is out of the couriers way, they will still transport anyone who needs their help. Each rider carries a spare helmet and raincoat for the passenger’s use.

Couriers for dormers

The UPCAT is not the only event when members of the UPDSC extend their assistance. During UP Diliman’s annual Lantern Parade in December, the riders are also often asked by the administration to act as marshals.

Also, Gayagoy said there had also been instances when they were contacted by school officials to become couriers for dormitory-residing students during a storm.

“May mga ilang beses na kapag hindi na pinalalabas ‘yung mga dormers dahil malakas ang bagyo, kami na ang tinatawagan para bumili ng pangangailangan nila. Kasama na roon ‘yung pagkain at personal na mga gamit,” he said.

Regardless of when they are called to render service, Gayagoy said the challenge for UPDSC volunteers is always the same: remain reliable.

“Kapag may iniutos na sa amin, dapat siguraduhin naming walang palya ang aming serbisyo,” he said. — DVM, GMA News