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Bing Pimentel’s liberating experience

Model-actress completes her university degree after a 30-year break

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BING Pimentel wants to make short films, but behind the camera. Photo courtesy of Bing Pimentel

On April 20, the actress-model will graduate with a degree in Visual Communication from the College of Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines Diliman.

She started the course three decades ago, also in UP.  Laughing, she recalled her reason for dropping out at the time: “I was young and stupid and got married!”

Bing and ex-husband Mark Gil (Sid’s father) had been separated for 25 years when she decided to go back to school in 2005.

She explained that she had several reasons for returning to UP, both professional and personal—foremost of which was “to inspire my children to pursue their own education, no matter how late in life.”

Alien on campus

On her first day on campus, Bing was on pins and needles. “I felt like an alien,” she recounted. “I was no longer familiar with the grounds. There were new buildings everywhere and I didn’t have anyone to hang out with.”

She felt out of touch. “My biggest fear was looking embarrassingly dumb in class,” she admitted. “Memorizing data was challenging—especially dates and places in Asian and World History classes, which were conducted in Filipino!”

She was then doing an ABS-CBN teleserye (“Maging Sino Ka Man”) but she persevered, researching on subjects and teachers that were “student-friendly.”

Bing, who turned 50 this year, recalled that every time she entered a classroom, she was mistaken for a teacher. “The advantage was that my opinion was always respected. I pushed my classmates to work hard and didn’t allow anyone to goof off.”

She imposed the same high standards on herself. “I couldn’t play around because my classmates expected so much from me.”

Bing believes her “maturity” was an advantage in dealing with teachers. “I got along well with them, but I listened carefully and followed their instructions. One teacher was younger than my eldest son Timothy (Sid’s real name) and started to call me Tita toward the middle of the semester.”

Her family fully supported her decision: “Timothy is familiar with drawing and photography techniques. He would give me tips every now and then. He also shared his thoughts on my thesis.”

For her thesis, Bing wrote, directed, and produced a short film on environmental awareness entitled “Aki Ning Maisog (Maisog Child),” shot in Mampurog River, Camarines Norte.

Going back to school was an eye-opener. “I realized that as one gets older and becomes more responsible, learning becomes easier,” she said. “The old adage ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ is a fallacy.”

Her stay in UP exposed her further to social realities. “Some students skip meals to buy school materials. Others walk under the heat of the sun or in the rain because they don’t have transportation money. More kids from affluent families should be sent to UP.”

Advice to women

She has a simple piece of advice for other women who may want to embark on the same journey: “Go for it, because those who did, wished they had done so much earlier. Education is truly liberating.”

Her mother, coloratura soprano Carmelita Custodio, was her inspiration. “My dad said that women didn’t need to graduate from university because their husbands would take care of them. But my mom, who was busy with her masters in Music then, pushed me to finish school.”

On graduation day, when she marches up the stage with her batchmates, her father, the late politician Marcial R. Pimentel, will be on her mind.

“I dedicate my diploma to my father who passed away on March 7,” she remarked. “On my last semester, he asked what I was going to do with my degree. I replied that I didn’t have any plans . . . That I did it for personal gratification.”

In hindsight, she wished she had answered her late dad’s question by telling him, “I’ve done well in different fields—modeling, acting, garments, the flower business, events planning and consultancy. I intend to continue what I’ve been doing all along and perhaps do more personality development seminars and events. But now I will make short films as well—and this time I shall be behind the camera!”


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  • rocky92

    I cannot understand the thought of sending more kids from affluent families to UP. You mean, UP should be for rich families? Enlighten me.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/SC3U3NCYHA2BKKZPULNWTME7OU Sehr

    In the statement of Ms. Pimentel and I quote, “Her stay in UP exposed her further to social realities. Some students skip meals to buy school materials. Others walk under the heat of the sun or in the rain because they don’t have transportation money. More kids from affluent families should be sent to UP.” The last statement is to me, uncalled for, as it is anti-poor and an elitist statement. Just because “students skip meals to buy school materials. Others walk under the heat of the sun or in the rain…..” mean that these deserving, hardworking, intelligent, poor students have no right in the University as it is being implied by Ms. Pimentel. UP, being subsidized by the gov’t is not for the elite but more for the  poor, deserving students who excel and have the talent in spite of their status in life as proven by the valedictorian last year who is a son of a laundry woman. Instead of suggesting that, “more kids from affluent families should be sent to UP” she should have called for more assistance or if she has the means, set up a foundation to help these poor kids. She probably was not aware, but it “subconsciously suggested” that they be kicked out and flood UP instead with  ”more kids from affluent families” so that these “eyesores” will be gone?. 

  • rnoldrmada

    what a douche bag comment….affluent kids should be attending UP to learn from its poor and impoverished students.

  • Rinn Kant

    Since it was preceded by her saying that “her stay in UP exposed her…to social realities”, I think Ms. Pimentel’s statement, “more kids from affluent families should be sent to UP”, meant that she thinks that these affluent students should be sent to expose them to the reality that life is not a walk in the clouds and that one must work hard to earn their keep, and to remind them that whatever wealth they may be enjoying came about from someone else’s hard work. 

  • jesslink

    Mga dailogue ng mga burgis na tao…Eto dapat ang mga dinadala sa China at North Korea…

  • Protect_Cheap_Dog

    Better “More kids from affluent families should be sent to UP for them to see and realize the hardships of many underprivileged students just to finish their studies”.

  • http://twitter.com/Sowsyalite Sowsyalite

    Probably she meant that more kids from affluent families are being sent to UP. I think this is the harsh reality especially when you see that parking lots in UP are usually fully occupied. Even UP education is not that affordable anymore. But you also have the struggling students from poor families as well. The writer should better check his article again. That statement seems way off even in paragraph construction.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/SC3U3NCYHA2BKKZPULNWTME7OU Sehr

      I think Protect_Cheap_Dog ad some others along this line, were right in what Ms. Pimentel meant. But because of the ambiguity of the sentence (in the context of, “we send our children to school”, “send” implies, sending them to “study” and I suppose its not to gawk or snoop), then it became open to a lot of interpretations, negative or otherwise. Writers should be responsible to their readers because they are not dumb.They should be clear and precise with the message they want to impart.  If it was only elucidated like, “more kids from affluent families should be sent to UP to witness these harsh realities in life and how these kids sacrifice and struggle to finish their education, then they would be more appreciative of what they have and be inspired to finish their own education”. Then what the writer meant was clear and crisp and not open to debate. 



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