This is the first in a three-part series showcasing the stories of some of the graduates of May 2018.
Chitrayuth Chutchaipholrat, or Leo, is from Thailand. He was among those who marched on May 26, 2018 during the graduation rites.
“I look a lot like a Pinoy, I know. I get that everyday. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been mistaken for a Filipino. It’s pretty amusing that Thais and Filipinos share some similar features.”
“I came here as an exchange student under the UB – College of Asian Scholars [Thailand] Consortium. I have always liked to travel and meet people. Filipinos are friendly and welcoming. You guys are happy people. You find humor in even the most difficult situation. I admire you for that.”
“I’ve been here for three years, and it’s the longest I’ve been away from home. I would get homesick at times. But it kind of prompts your coping skills, and I think that’s a good thing.”
“Also, being away means you have to learn to really have fun. Laughing it off helps get you through tough times, believe me.”
“I came here to learn English, primarily, but I learned more than that. I learned about life. I learned to be independent. On the whole, it’s been a learning experience.”
You won as Mr. United Nations 2016. What was your question and what was your answer?
“It was about social media. My answer gravitated towards the responsible and proper use of social media. Social media is supposed to keep us connected and bring us closer, not isolate us and pull us far from each other.”
Can you talk about Thailand? What part of the Thai culture are you most proud of?
“Thais are generally even-tempered people. They ease up easily, always finding a way to cool things down.”
Thailand is for foodies.
“We love to cook. You’ll see a restaurant in almost every corner in Thailand.”
What similarities do you find striking in both Thai and Filipino cultures?
“One thing that I find common among Filipinos and Thais is that we have this immense respect for older people, which is really amazing.”
What kind of movies are you into?
“Forrest Gump, Pursuit of Happyness – those kind. They taught me that in life, it’s not always a happy ending, but you have to keep going because that’s just how it is – you carry on, no matter what.”
Photo by DONALD RENTIQUIANO
Interview & Text by RONA LIN