THE RIVALRY could have been as fierce as the Manny Pacquiao-Ricky Hatton match. After all, at stake was the honor of being this year’s top graduate in a well-esteemed university.
But for Kathleen L. Hortelano and Julius-Ver A. De Guzman, who were classmates in all of their four years at the Mariano Marcos State University, the competition was anything but cruel.
For one, while they may have excelled in accountancy, the course was not really their first love. Hortelano wanted to be a soldier like her father while De Guzman dreamt of becoming a doctor like his eldest brother. As it turned out, destiny had other designs for the two. They took up BS Accountancy and the rest is sweet history.
Dr. Ritha Reyes, their professor in English for three semesters, confesses that in their freshman year, she already saw in the pair some star quality “although their brilliance was not there yet.”
Mentors describe Hortelano as humble and unassuming. “She allows others to outshine her,” says Reyes of the president of the Junior Philippine Institute of Accountants.
True enough, Hortelano considers among her favorite teachers a philosophy instructor who was able to show “how flawed and incoherent” her way of thinking was. “I embarrassed myself in front of the class arguing with this instructor about profound philosophical concepts, but it was a memorable experience because it was then that I realized just how much, in a Socratic sense, I do not know,” explains the very expressive young lady from Brgy. Cabungaan, Laoag City.
On the other hand, De Guzman, who served as treasurer of their college student council, is described as silent. His moves are largely perceived to be as calculated as the entries in his ledger.
If at all, it was their classmates who were closely monitoring the race between them. Whenever exam results were released, for instance, members of the class would immediately find out who scored higher and who is ahead in the tabs.
Truth is, the two form part of each other’s success, often sharing resource materials and helping each other prepare for exams. Apparently, they worked hand in hand in the hope that one of them would end up continuing a tradition the BS Accountancy department has kept in the last five years—having one of their graduates clinch the number one spot in the honor roll.
And when the hesitant rivals are not so busy balancing dedits and credits, they share the fascination for magic, both of them being avid readers of the Harry Potter series.
Today, April 3, Hortelano and De Guzman reap the fruits of their labor as they graduate, both as magna cum laude, with the former slightly edging the latter with a margin of .02 to emerge as valedictorian of MMSU class 2009.
De Guzman, who had the highest average in his class from first year to third year, expressed his happiness for Hortelano. “She deserves it,” says the lad from Bangui town.
“Besides, Kathleen is a speaker way better than I am, so she is best fit to deliver the valediction. Being a very faithful person, I am happy to lead the graduates in the pledge of loyalty,” closes a smiling De Guzman, his voice teeming with sincerity.