“Honor and excellence” is the defining motto of the University of the Philippines. And based from a few of the state university’s outstanding alumni in various fields, these values far transcend academic life.
Though celebrities sometimes get the bad rap for choosing their career over education, these actors and actresses kept their noses to the grindstone—no matter how long, no matter how hard—just to earn their much-coveted and highly prized degrees.
In time with the unfolding graduation season, let’s have a look at a few famous celebrities who are also alumni of the country’s premier university.
Agot Isidro is a magna cum laude graduate at the Fashion Institute of New York, with an undergraduate degree in Interior Design from UP Diliman. She also has a master’s degree in communication from the Ateneo de Manila University.
Before embarking on her decades-long showbiz career, Agot started out as a back-up singer with her sisters at The Sharon Cuneta Show, which ran from 1986-1997.
The effortlessly beautiful actress Angel Aquino attended UP Baguio, and chose Math as her initial major, before shifting to major in Journalism.
In an interview with Bianca Gonzalez for the Philippine Star, Angel said she also became a member of the League of Filipino Students during her student days. Though she never spoke during rallies, Angel said she participated in rallies, where the burning issue was the removal of US bases, by holding placards and distributing statements.
Benjie Paras was a vital cog in the historic 1986 UP men’s basketball team that won the championship that year. Lito Tacujan, former sports editor of the Philippine Star who covered the University Athletic Association of the Philippines that time, once described Paras as the one “who made it all happen.” After his historic UAAP stint, Paras went on to have a successful career at the PBA and as a showbiz career as an actor-comedian.
Decades later, his son Kobe Paras suited up and carried the title hopes of UP during the Season 82, where the Fighting Maroons reached the second round of the playoffs before being eliminated.
Eugene Domingo took up Theatre Arts at the UP Diliman, where she also apprenticed under the theater company Dulaang UP as an actress and production staff. She cut her teeth in the business as an apprentice, working her way up from being a show usher, ticket seller, and even goading professors to have their students watch their shows.
Before being dubbed as the “comedy star for all seasons,” Eugene started her mainstream movie career doing bit parts in the early ’90s as well as some minor roles in a number of TV shows in the same decade.
Giselle Sanchez made a name as a fearless comedian, but she treated her college days at UP Diliman as no joke. In fact, she graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Mass Communications after clinching a general weighted average of 1.26, which was just a hairline short of summa cum laude. An honors student even during her student days at Poveda, Giselle was known to burn the midnight oil just to prepare for an upcoming exam.
Aside from hosting gigs today, she now runs a namesake foundation funding scholars and is also active in her local Catholic church ministry.
JOJ and JAI AGPANGAN
Pinoy Big Brother season 4 finalists, twins Joj and Jai Agpangan both graduated from UP Open University with a degree in Associate in Arts in 2018. The proud Iskas even posted a photo of them during graduation wearing their sablay, beaming from ear to ear.
“Sometimes miracles come in pairs,” Jai wrote in her caption.
The post drew praise from their fans who were surprised how they were able to juggle their fast-rising showbiz career and earning their college degree.
Maricel Laxa has a BS Social Sciences degree from UP Manila. Though she started her showbiz career early, right when she was still in college, she did not drop out unlike other young actors and actresses after she cut a deal with her parents that she could only enter showbiz if she finished school.
Now, the mother of five also impresses the value of education on her kids. Even amid her successful showbiz career, she also managed to earn her Master’s Degree in Family Life and Child Development at UP Diliman.
MARTIN DEL ROSARIO
Filipino model and television actor Martin Del Rosario graduated from UP Diliman with a degree in Broadcast Communication. To date, the 28-year-old actor has collected a number of awards for his TV and film roles. In 2015, he won the Gawad Urian Award for Best Supporting Actor for the film Dagitab.
Singer-Songwriter and actor Ogie Alcasid earned his degree in Broadcast Communication at UP Diliman. It took him eight years to earn his degree, and it is an achievement he has been proud to share as he still persevered even as he juggled time between his then growing showbiz career.
In 2017, the UP College of Mass Communication recognized Ogie as one of its most distinguished alumni “for bringing honor and prestige” to the College.
Model and actor Richard Juan was born in the Philippines but grew up in Hong Kong, where he completed his high school. When his family moved back to the Philippines, he continued his college education at UP Diliman, where he graduated cum laude with a degree in Broadcast Communication. Richard broke through the mainstream through Eat Bulaga’s segment “You’re My Foreignoy.” He was also cast in the Pinoy Big Brother: 737. Aside from Filipino and English, Richard can also speak his native Cantonese as well as Mandarin and Hokkien.