Sunday, February 25, 2024

Why Is HUMSS So Underrated?

By Czhan Leigh T. Calimlim | October 4, 2023

Hierarchy exists among senior high school strands—as contentious as it may sound—and the HUMSS strand ranks at the bottom of the academic tracks.

But what is HUMSS, exactly?

The Humanities and Social Sciences (HUMSS) strand is a specialized strand for disciplines about human existence and the world. In this context, this strand is significant. Unfortunately, not many recognize this perspective. People easily dismiss how the humanities integrate into our society, and instead take the intelligence of those passionate about them for granted. 

As someone passionate about HUMSS, I have experienced strand discrimination firsthand.

“HUMSS ka lang?” was one of the most classic remarks I have heard. The same remark did not stop haunting me for the rest of my senior high school days. 

So, is HUMSS really that trivial?

Admittedly, a part of me used to be in the same boat as those who looked down on this strand. It is somehow tragic that not all who are passionate about the liberal arts are able to defend their dream. Many feel obligated to stay grounded in hopes of financial security, only to have lingering what-ifs.

“How can you succeed in that path? It’s not going to put a roof over your head,” is another set of words familiar to us who decide to pursue HUMSS. “Perhaps you will study law.”

Behind the inherent distrust toward the practicality of the humanities field is the idea that any other career under it can rarely bear fruit. While this idea does apply in some unfortunate cases, it inevitably makes HUMSS a useless strand in the public eye. Students even assume that HUMSS is manageable compared to its counterparts, and those who go for this strand do not grind as intensively.

“Lucky for you, you don’t have to handle math,” we would often get told. “All you have to do is write essays.”

We, too, share our endeavors, just as those of other strands. Although HUMSS deals with fewer numerical aspects, we are not spared from heavy workload. We pull seemingly endless all-nighters, face impromptu recitations, and interact with various participants. We research historical events and how they shape civilization as we know it today. 

Over time, I have watched those in the same strand as me slowly become more socially aware and sympathetic. We don’t just tolerate prospects in life the way they are. Our knowledge goes beyond mere acknowledgment; we stand for what is right.

HUMSS has substance. It is equally profound and challenging. We are not only taught to “write essays.” We are also taught how to formulate ideas outside the box, exchange insightful views, and present them—skills that will eventually put us at an advantage in multiple fields.

HUMSS is more than just a strand or a future job; it comes with a mission. And to Humanistas, serving a mission rather than for practicality is an honor. It is an honor to have the voice to defend the marginalized and the understanding to advocate for human rights.

In HUMSS, I learned to appreciate this kind of privilege more. I truly began to understand humanity and yearn to improve the world.

John Keating once said, “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering—these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love—these are what we stay alive for.”

Yes, the Humanities and Social Sciences strand may not overrule the hierarchy among senior high school strands or even the real world, but it serves as a fortress for our culture and the human race. It is, as John Keating says, what we stay alive for.

Czhan Leigh T. Calimlim, born on November 12, 2005. She is a grade 12 student at Silliman University Senior High School, currently taking up the HUMSS strand, and will soon resume her studies in a creative field. In 2018, she was a member of the Journalism Club at her former school, Athenaeum International School in Cebu City. Now, she is a part of the Creatives Committee of the SUSG Committee on Student Organizations (COMSO).

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