Washington Sycip’s Message to UP

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QUESTIONS FOR THE FUTURE OF U.P. September 3, 2008
by Washington SyCip

PRESIDENT EMERLINDA ROMAN, MEMBERS OF THE FACULTY AND FRIENDS OF U.P.

NOT BEING A GRADUATE OF THE LEADING EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION OF THE COUNTRY, I AM DEEPLY HONORED THAT YOU HAVE INVITED ME TO BE ONE OF THE SPEAKERS IN YOUR CELEBRATION OF A HUNDRED YEARS OF SERVICE TO THE NATION

IN TODAY’S TALK I INTEND TO RAISE A NUMBER OF VERY FRANK QUESTIONS SINCE YOU RECEIVE MORE GOVERNMENT FUNDS THAN ANY OTHER EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION IN THE COUNTRY, I, AS A TAXPAYER, MAY CLAIM THE RIGHT TO DO SO.

I HOPE YOU WILL NOT CONSIDER THIS AS AN ABUSE OF THE GRACIOUS INVITATION EXTENDED ME BY PRESIDENT ROMAN.

1. GOING OVER THE BOOK “THE UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILPPINES – A UNIVERSITY FOR FILIPINOS* WHICH WAS PUBLISHED AS UP. CELEBRATED ITS DIAMOND JUBILEE TWENTY FIVE YEARS AGO, ONE CANNOT MISS THE INTRODUCTION THAT SAYS “…A U.P. DEGREE HOLDER IS GENERALLY BELIEVED TO BE MORE CAPABLE THAN MOST COLLEGE GRADUATES, AS WELL AS IMBUED WITH A SENSE OF PURPOSE…WITH MINDS CAPABLE OF NEW IDEAS AND PERCEPTIONS AND PASSIONATE COMMITMENT TO THE SOCIAL GOOD”. IF U.P. HAS ACCURATELY CLAIMED THAT DURING THE PAST 62 YEARS, AFTER WE LEFT THE U.S. UMBRELLA, U.P. GRADUATES HAVE OCCUPIED THE PRESIDENTIAL CHAIR FOR 46 YEARS, THEN I MAY ASK YOU “WHY ARE WE IN SUCH A MESS?”

OVER FIFTY YEARS AGO, WE WERE TOLD THAT WITH OUR ADVANTAGES OF BEING A CHRISTIAN NATION AND A DEMOCRACY, WE WILL BE, NEXT TO JAPAN, THE LEADING NATION IN EAST ASIA. TODAY WE FIND OURSELVES IN A STEADILY DECLINING POSITION REGARDLESS OF WHAT MEASURE WE GO BY: POVERTY INDEX, PER CAPITA
SPENDING ON EDUCATION, CRIME RATE, CORRUPTION RANKING, PEACE AND ORDER, RURAL HEALTH, THE LIST GOES ON.

UNFORTUNATELY, WE HAVE EVEN FOUND OURSELVES, INSPITE OF OUR LARGE POPULATION, WITH THE LAMENTABLE DISTINCTION OF BEING THE ONLY MAJOR SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATION THAT DID NOT WIN ANY MEDAL AT THE RECENTLY CONCLUDED OLYMPIC GAMES.

CAN WE BLAME THE RELIGION SPAIN BROUGHT TO OUR SHORES FIVE CENTURIES AGO FOR OUR LIMITATIONS OR THE U.S. FOR THE FAILURE OF OUR DEMOCRACY? SHOULDN’T OUR DECADES OF FREEDOM BE LONG ENOUGH FOR US TO CORRECT ANY INHERITED DISADVANTAGES?

WITH ALL THE TALENTED PEOPLE WE HAVE, WHY HAVE WE NOT BEEN ABLE TO PRODUCE A LEE KWAN YEW, WHO IN ONE GENERATION BROUGHT HIS PEOPLE IN SINGAPORE TO INCOME LEVELS OF THE U.S. OR GERMANY?

OR A K. T. LI OF TAIWAN, A PHYSICS GRADUATE OF CAMBRIDGE, WHO INTRODUCED THE COMPUTER TO EVERY AGE GROUP IN TAIWAN SO THAT THIS SMALL COUNTRY HAS BECOME THE LARGEST EXPORTER OF COMPUTERS AND COMPONENTS?

OR A MAHATHIR OF MALAYSIA WHO GREATLY IMPROVED INFRASTRUCTURE AND INCREASED INCOME LEVELS OF ALL CITIZENS IN A MIXED SOCIETY OF MALAYS, CHINESE AND INDIANS?

OR A GENERAL PARK OF SOUTH KOREA WHOSE TOUGH AND DISCIPLINED ADMINISTRATION INDUSTRIALIZED A COUNTRY WHERE THE LARGE FIRMS SUCCESSFULLY COMPETED WITH THE COMPANIES OF ITS FORMER COLONIAL MASTER?

OR A DENG HSIAO PING WHO RELEASED THE ENERGY OF HIS PEOPLE TO ACHIEVE IN 25 YEARS THE GREATEST REDUCTION OF POVERTY IN WORLD HISTORY?

WE DID HAVE THE PROMISE OF A RAMON MAGSAYSAY WHO AS SECRETARY OF DEFENSE GREATLY IMPROVED PEACE AND ORDER BUT WHOSE UNFORTUNATE EARLY DEATH 50 YEARS AGO PREVENTED HIM FROM CARRYING OUT A PROGRAM TO IMPROVE THE LIVES OF THE BOTTOM GROUP OF OUR PEOPLE.

THEN WE HAD RAFAEL SALAS, A BRILLIANT GRADUATE OF U.P. IN 1969, FRESH FROM MANAGING THE TRANSFORMATION OF CHRONIC SHORTAGE INTO AN ASTOUNDING PHILIPPINE RICE SUFFICIENCY BREAKTHROUGH, SALAS ACCEPTED A UNITED NATIONS OFFER TO HEAD A FLEDGLING FUND. HE BELIEVED AT THE U.N. THERE WOULD BE A POSSIBLITY OF MAKING A CONTRIBUTION TO SOLVING WHAT HE THOUGHT WAS
BECOMING ONE OF THE WORLD’S MAJOR PROBLEMS – POPULATION. HE THOUGHT THAT THE SAME STRATEGIES EMPLOYED IN THE RICE SUFFICIENCY PROGRAM, WOULD WORK IN A SOPHISTICATED INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT AS THEY DID IN TRADITION BOUND PHILIPPINE RURAL COMMUNITIES. IN FACT HE WAS PROVEN RIGHT. ALEX MARSHALL OF THE UNITED NATIONS POPULATION FUND WRITES:

“THE CONSENSUS WHICH SALAS BUILT IS MORE THAN AN ACT OF DIPLOMACY. IT IS THE SOLID EVIDENCE OF THE RECOGNITION WORLDWIDE OF THE IMPORTANCE OF POPULATION IN DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES. IT HAS HELPED TO CHANGE THE POLICIES OF GOVERNMENTS; IT HAS HELPED TO CHANGE THE LIVES OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE. IT HAS SET MEN AND WOMEN FREE TO MAKE CHOICES FOR THEMSELVES, AND HELPED SECURE
THE FUTURE OF CHILDREN YET UNBORN. THEY AND ALL OF US STAND IN HIS DEBT.”

BUT FILIPINOS HAVE SURMISED THAT RAFAEL LEFT THE PHILIPPINES BECAUSE HIS INTEGRITY AND COMPETENCE COULD NOT SURVIVE IN A CLIMATE OF GOVERNMENT CORRUPTION.

WILL U.P. BE ABLE TO PRODUCE OTHER LEADERS LIKE SALAS AND CAN THEY SUCCEED IN THE PHILIPPINE POLITICAL SOIL?

IN 1983, THIRTY YEARS AFTER HE HAD GRADUATED FROM THIS UNIVERSITY, AND AT THAT TIME AN UNDER SECRETARY GENERAL AT THE UNITED NATIONS, HE RETURNED HERE TO RECEIVE AN HONORARY DOCTOR OF LAWS DEGREE FROM HIS ALMA MATER. AS SALAS THANKED THE UNIVERSITY FOR THE HONOR CONFERRED ON HIM, HE ALSO TOOK LEAVE BY ASKING THE QUESTION:

WHAT CAN THE SCHOLARS OF THIS UNIVERSITY DO TO SOLVE THE PROBLEMS OF THE PHILIPPINES WHEN IT WILL BE A COUNTRY OF 70 MILLION PEOPLE”?

HIS WIDOW, CARMELITA R. SALAS, THE HIGHLY RESPECTED PHILIPPINE AMBASSADOR TO THE CZECH REPUBLIC, SPEAKING AT THE WORLD POPULATION DAY FORUM IN MANILA THIS LAST JULY, POINTED TO THIS VERY SAME CONCERN. TODAY, SHE SAID, THE PHILIPPINES IS A COUNTRY OF 89 MILLION, AND IN 2030 WILL BE CLOSE TO 140 MILLION. AGAIN, RAFAEL WOULD HAVE ASKED THE SCHOLARS OF THIS UNIVERSITY THE SAME QUESTION TODAY.

I ASK: WHAT WOULD BE THEIR ANSWER?

POST EDSA I, IN FEBRUARY OF 1987, WHEN FREEDOM IN THE PHILIPPINES HAD BEEN WON WITH WHAT THE WORLD WOULD KNOW AS “PEOPLE POWER”, SALAS WAS KEYNOTE SPEAKER AT THE DISTRICT MEETING OF ROTARY CLUBS IN MANILA. IN A SPEECH THAT ONE ROTARIAN REFERRED TO AS THE BEST SONA HE HAD EVER HEARD, RAFAEL SPOKE ON “MANAGING THE AFTERMATH”. LET ME READ TO YOU PART OF WHAT HE SAID:

BUT THIS FREEDOM CANNOT BE FULLY EXERCISED UNLESS THERE IS ORDER. GOVERNMENTS ARE INSTITUTED TO INSURE PEACE, STABILITY AND CONTINUITY; TO ENABLE THE CITIZENS TO PLAN THEIR FUTURE AND INSURE THE SURVIVAL AND GROWTH OF THEIR CHILDREN. THE RESUMPTION OF HOSTILITIES WITH THE NPA AND THE CONSTANT THREAT OF REBELLION IN MINDANAO AND A VERY HIGH INCIDENCE OF CRIME ARE POINTERS OF THE LACK OF ORDER I SPEAK OF. INSECURITY STIFLES PRODUCTIVITY. NO LONG-TERM INVESTMENT AND HIGH PRODUCTIVITY CAN BE ENCOURAGED WHEN BUSINESSMEN FEEL UNCERTAIN AND INSECURE. THE ADMINISTRATION HAS EXERTED A SINCERE EFFORT TO RESOLVE THESE PROBLEMS. BUT TIME PRESSES. ORDER MUST PREVAIL. A FREE SOCIETY CANNOT BE MOBILIZED FOR DEVELOPMENT UNLESS THERE IS A FEELING OF SAFETY AND CONFIDENCE IN THE FUTURE.”

THE SAME SPEECH WOULD HAVE BEEN RELEVANT POST EDSA II.

HOW PROPHETIC AND UNFORTUNATE THAT THINGS HAVE NOT CHANGED THE PAST 20 YEARS!

BUT “WHY” WE MUST ASK OURSELVES.

LET US BEGIN BY FOCUSING ON EDUCATION.

WE TEND TO UNFAIRLY BLAME EVERY CURRENT ADMINISTRATION FOR OUR PROBLEMS. BUT CAN’T WE SEE THAT THE STEADY DECLINE OF EDUCATIONAL STANDARDS IS THE CUMULATIVE EFFECT OF THE NEGLECT OF MANY ADMINISTRATIONS AND THE UNWILLINGNESS TO ADOPT LONG TERM SOLUTIONS TO PROBLEMS THAT CANNOT BE SOLVED BY A RIBBON CUTTING EVENT!

THE SUCCESS OR FAILURE OF ANY ORGANIZATION DEPENDS UPON ITS POLICIES AND EFFORTS ON DEVELOPING ITS HUMAN RESOURCES. FOR A NATION TO ADOPT SHORT TERM POLICIES ON EDUCATION IS NATIONAL SUICIDE! DOESN’T THE SOLUTION OF PEACE AND ORDER PROBLEMS DEPEND UPON RELATIVELY EQUAL EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE RICH AND POOR, FOR THE CHRISTIANS AND MOSLEMS?

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2. WE AS A NATION ARE PROUD TO HAVE A UNIVERSITY OLDER THAN HARVARD. PROUD THAT U.P. CELEBRATES THE SUCCESS OF A HUNDRED YEARS. WE ARE PROUD OF ATENEO, LA SALLE AND MANY OTHER CATHOLIC UNIVERSITIES WHERE MEN AND WOMEN OF UPPER INCOME GROUPS ARE EDUCATED.

WE PRAISE THESE INSTITUTIONS OF LEARNING BUT AS A NATION WE SEEM TO ACCEPT THE SCANDALOUSLY HIGH NATIONAL DROPOUT RATES OF STUDENTS IN BASIC EDUCATION. THE FIGURES ARE WORSE IN MOSLEM AREAS AND IN POOR COMMUNITIES.

IN MANY TOWNS AND VILLAGES, SYNERGEIA, LED BY NENE GUEVARA, AND WORKING WITH MAYORS AND COMMUNITY LEADERS WHO WANT CHANGE, HAS IMPROVED LITERACY RATES. BUT MUCH, MUCH GREATER NATIONAL EFFORTS ARE NEEDED.

AS THE RECIPIENT OF THE LARGEST OF GOVERNMENT EDUCATION FUNDS, SHOULDN’T U.P. ENDEAVOR TO ENLIST ITS MANY SUCCESSFUL AND WEALTHY ALUMNI IN A CAMPAIGN TO RETURN TO THEIR ALMA MATER THE BENEFITS THEY HAVE RECEIVED FROM THE SCHOOL AND THUS ENABLE MORE FUNDS TO BE DIVERTED FROM U.P. AND ALLOCATED TO BASIC EDUCATION?

SHOULD THE STUDENTS FROM UPPER INCOME GROUPS NOT BE ASKED TO PAY FOR THE FULL COST OF EDUCATION? WHEN UPPER INCOME FAMILIES SEND THEIR CHILDREN ABROAD, THEY DO PAY “FULL TUITION”. SHOULD THEY NOT BE ASKED TO DO THE SAME IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY?

HAS U.P. STUDIED HOW NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES HAVE DROPPED POVERTY LEVELS?

THE ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK JUST RELEASED A REPORT POINTING OUT THAT THE PHILIPPINES AND INDIA, WHO CLAIM TO BE DEMOCRACIES, LAG BEHIND EAST ASIAN COUNTRIES IN REDUCING POVERTY. CHINA AND VIETNAM, BOTH AUTHORITARIAN STATES, ARE THE TWO COUNTRIES THAT HAVE RAPIDLY REDUCED POVERTY. ARE THERE LESSONS TO BE LEARNED HERE?

WHY HAVE SINGAPORE AND THAILAND DEVELOPED HOSPITALS FOR “MEDICAL TOURISM” WHILE WE SEND OUR EXCELLENT DOCTORS AND NURSES TO DEVELOPED COUNTRIES? SHOULD WE NOT ADVOCATE SOME SYSTEM WHERE DESTINATION COUNTRIES COMPENSATE US FOR TRAINING THESE PROFESSIONALS?

ARE INWARD REMITTANCES OF POOR OVERSEAS WORKERS WITH DIVIDED FAMILIES OFFSETTING OUTWARD REMITTANCES OF UPPER INCOME FILIPINOS, EDUCATED IN SUBSIDIZED SCHOOLS LIKE U.P., AND SETTING UP HOUSEHOLDS ABROAD?

YOU CAN, OF COURSE, TELL ME THAT THE WORLD IS FLAT AND YOUNG PEOPLE SHOULD BE FREE TO MOVE ANYWHERE. YES – OUR YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN SHOULD GO ABROAD – IT WIDENS THEIR HORIZON AND GIVES THEM THE SKILLS TO BETTER SERVE THEIR COUNTRY. BUT WE SHOULD STRIVE TO KEEP THEIR HEARTS FILIPINO AND WITH A RESOLVE THAT THEY WILL RETURN TO SERVE IN THEIR COUNTRY’S DEVELOPMENT. AND GOVERNMENT POLICY SHOULD WORK WITH THEM TO USE ITS LIMITED RESOURCES TO REDUCE POVERTY AND IMPROVE THE LIVES OF ALL CITIZENS.

IS U.P. DOING ITS PART TO HELP GOVERNMENT ADOPT LONG TERM EDUCATIONAL MEASURES TO ENSURE THIS?

3. WE ALL AGREE ON THE NEED OF NATIONAL UNITY. CAN WE POINT TO THE POLITICS OF FRATERNITIES AS THE ROOT OF THE EXCESSIVE TIME SPENT ON NATIONAL POLITICS? OR IS THE LACK OF UNITY A BASIC
DISADVANTAGE OF AN ISLAND NATION?

IS THE SLUGGISH PACE OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT THE RESULT OF BLIND ACCEPTANCE OF WESTERN THINKING THAT POLITICAL FREEDOM OR DEMOCRACY COMES AHEAD OF ECONOMIC FREEDOM? DOESN’T DEMOCRACY ASSUME THAT THERE MUST BE THE “RULE OF LAW” WHICH IMPLIES AN INDEPENDENT JUDICIARY WITH WELL TRAINED AND WELL PAID HONEST LAWYERS? WHERE JUDGES MAY BE POORLY PAID AND SUBJECT TO POLITICAL PRESSURES IS IT POSSIBLE TO HAVE AN INDEPENDENT JUDICIARY LET ALONE A WORKING DEMOCRACY?

U.P. HAS PRODUCED EXCELLENT LAWYERS AND MANY OF THE BAR TOPNOTCHERS THAT ARE MANAGING THE LARGE LAW FIRMS – BUT ARE THEY LEADERS IN REFORMING THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM?

4. U.P. AND ASIA

HOW CLOSE IS U.P. TO RECOGNIZING THAT THE PHILIPPINES IS PART OF ASIA AND THAT CHINA, INDIA AND JAPAN WILL BE EXERTING MORE INFLUENCE ON OUR FUTURE THAN THE U.S. AND EUROPE?

IS THE FACULTY OF U.P.’S SCHOOL OF ASIAN STUDIES DEEPLY KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT THE CULTURE AND THE POLITICAL THINKING OF OUR NEIGHBORS AND ARE THEY PROFICIENT IN OTHER ASIAN LANGUAGES?

EVEN JAPAN, VERY CLOSELY ALLIED TO THE US., DOES NOT HAVE THE GOVERNMENT OR ECONOMIC STRUCTURE OF THE WESTERN WORLD. THE PARTY IN POWER HAS NOT CHANGED FOR OVER 50 YEARS AND ITS CORPORATE STRUCTURE AND BEHAVIOR ARE VERY DIFFERENT FROM WESTERN FIRMS.

WITH THE TOYOTA DONATION, YOU WILL AT LEAST HAVE THE PHYSICAL STRUCTURE FOR THE SCHOOL OF ASIAN STUDIES. BUT THE FACULTY IS EVEN MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE BUILDING.

DOES OUR BEING THE ONLY CATHOLIC COUNTRY IN ASIA, WITH AN EXTREMELY CONSERVATIVE CHURCH LEADERSHIP, SEEN ONLY IN POLAND AND MALTA, HAMPER OUR CAPACITY TO UNDERSTAND OUR ASIAN NEIGHBORS? WHAT IS THE ROLE OF U.P. AS THE ONLY WELL KNOWN PHILIPPINE UNIVERSITY THAT IS NOT CATHOLIC?

WITH A 6% MOSLEM MINORITY AND OUR DEPENDENCE ON IMPORTED ENERGY, DOES U.P. HAVE A FACULTY THAT IS KNOWLEDGEABLE IN THE HISTORY AND CULTURE OF THE MIDDLE EAST AND FLUENT IN ARABIC LANGUAGES?

TO FOLLOW U.S. POLICY, WHICH WILL HAVE TO FAVOR ISRAEL, CAN ONLY SPELL DISASTER FOR THE PHILIPPINES.

HAS U.P. STUDIED WHAT MEASURES SHOULD BE TAKEN TO NARROW THE EDUCATION GAP BETWEEN CHRISTIANS AND MOSLEMS?


5. U.P. CAMPUS

ABOUT 10 DAYS AGO I WAS PRESENT AT THE CEREMONIES WHEN TOYOTA, RESPONDING TO THE EFFORTS OF GEORGE TY, AGREED TO DONATE THE VERY ATTRACTIVE P100 MILLION BUILDING TO U.P. ITS ARCHITECT, JOSE DANILO SILVESTRE, DEAN OF THE COLLEGE OF ARCHITECTURE, ASSURED ME THAT HE AND OTHER ALUMNI LIKE MR. PALAFOX, NOTED URBAN DESIGNER, WOULD BE WILLING TO DONATE THEIR TIME AND EXPERTISE TO
LANDSCAPE THE PRESENT CAMPUS.

MAINTENANCE OF A “NEW” CAMPUS CAN BE ASSIGNED TO BUILDING OCCUPANTS OR FRATERNITIES, OR STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS. MAYBE YOU CAN COLLECT PARKING FEES FROM CARS PARKED IN THE CAMPUS. TALENTED FILIPINO ARTISTS AND SCULPTORS CAN THEN BE ENCOURAGED TO DISPLAY THEIR WORK IN THE CAMPUS!

DOES U.P. HAVE A DEVELOPMENT PLAN FOR ITS LARGE CAMPUS?

6. U.P. AND TOURISM

OUR 3,000,000 ARRIVALS A YEAR ARE WAY BEHIND OUR NEIGHBORS’ 10 TO 12 MILLION VISITORS. TOURISM BENEFITS ALL THE PEOPLE IN THE COUNTRYSIDE. OUR PEOPLE ARE KNOWN TO BE THE MOST HOSPITABLE AND FRIENDLY. WE ARE AHEAD OF OUR NEIGHBORS IN ENGLISH, THE FIRST LANGUAGE OF TOURISM.

WHEN I VISITED BOHOL LAST YEAR I WAS TOLD THE INFLUX OF GERMAN TOURISTS TO THE ATTRACTIVE ISLAND IS DUE TO THE 200 GERMANS WHO HAVE HAPPILY SETTLED THERE WITH THEIR FILIPINA WIVES.

THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY WILL BE THE GROWTH AREA OF THE COUNTRY. WILL YOUR DIFFERENT SCHOOLS PLAY A MAJOR ROLE IN ASSISTING SECRETARY DURANO ACHIEVE HIS TARGETS?

7. U.P. AND AGRICULTURE

I HAVE MET MANY THAIS WHO ARE GRADUATES OF THE PRESTIGIOUS LOS BAÑOS AGRICULTURAL SCHOOL. BUT I WONDER WHY THE THAIS, WHO USUALLY BRING BACK A FILIPINA WIFE, HAVE MADE THAI AGRICULTURE MUCH MORE PRODUCTIVE AND EFFICIENT THAN WHAT WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DO HERE.

LET US TAKE NOTICE OF THE DOLE SUCCESS STORY. AS DEAN OF THE BUSINESS SCHOOL, CESAR VIRATA HAD STRONGLY ADVOCATED COOPERATION WITH LOS BAÑOS. THROUGH HIS EFFORTS, DOLE ESTABLISHED THEIR VERY SUCCESSFUL AND PRODUCTIVE AGRI-BUSINESS OPERATIONS IN MINDANAO.

WITH THE CATHOLIC CHURCH’S CAMPAIGN AGAINST A SOUND GOVERNMENT POPULATION POLICY, WHICH IN TURN HAMPERS THE COUNTRY’S CAPACITY FOR ADDRESSING ITS POPULATION GROWTH RATE, PERHAPS U.P.’S CONTRIBUTION TO INCREASING RICE PRODUCTION, CAN PREVENT A RECURRENCE OF THE PROBLEM THAT WE HAD THIS YEAR!

I WAS ON THE BOARD OF A MALAYSIAN PALM OIL COMPANY THAT WAS DIVERSIFYING INTO BAMBOO, THEY TOLD ME THE BAMBOO EXPERTS WERE IN LOS BAÑOS. YET WE IMPORT BAMBOO SHOOTS FROM CHINA!

SINCE AGRICULTURE IS STILL THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF OUR ECONOMY, SHOULDN’T U.P. THEN, IN COOPERATION WITH SUCCESSFUL FARMERS, PUT PARTICULAR FOCUS ON THE STUDY AND IMPLEMENTATION OF EFFICIENT FOOD PRODUCTION TO BRING FOOD COSTS DOWN?

8. ALUMNI RELATIONS

A NEW UNIVERSITY HAS THE DISADVANTAGE OF NOT HAVING A SUCCESSFUL ALUMNI GROUP THAT YOU CAN TAP FOR FUNDS.

U.P. HAS THE ADVANTAGE OF CELEBRATING A CENTENNIAL WITH VERY DISTINGUISHED AND WEALTHY GRADUATES IN PRACTICALLY EVERY FIELD OF ACTIVITY. BUT HAS YOUR DEPENDENCE ON GOVERNMENT FUNDS RESULTED IN A NEGLECT OF YOUR ALUMNI? HOW MANY BUILDINGS, LABORATORIES, AUDITORIUMS, PROFESSORIAL CHAIRS HAVE BEEN DONATED BY YOUR MANY PROSPEROUS ALUMNI?

MANY OF THE FACILITIES AT THE PHILIPPINE GENERAL HOSPITAL NEEDS IMPROVEMENT. YET THIS WAS THE TRAINING GROUND OF MANY DOCTORS FROM U.P. ONE VERY SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE U.P. MEDICAL SCHOOL GRADUATE IN THE U.S., WHO IS PLANNING TO RETIRE HERE, TOLD ME HE WAS SHOCKED WHEN SOME OF HIS CLASSMATES HERE WERE BRAGGING ABOUT HOW LITTLE TAXES THEY WERE PAYING INSPITE OF THEIR LUXURIOUS HOUSES, CARS AND TRIPS ABROAD!

ARE YOUR ALUMNI AWARE THAT THEY CAN LEGALLY REDUCE TAXES BY DONATING TO U.P.? MAYBE YEARLY SEMINARS TO UPDATE YOUR GRADUATES ON THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS IN THEIR PROFESSION CAN ENCOURAGE THEM TO GIVE AN ANNUAL AMOUNT TO U.P.

I HAVE NO DOUBT THAT A WELL ORGANIZED AND AGGRESSIVE ALUMNI RELATIONS OFFICE WILL YIELD LARGE DIVIDENDS FOR U.P. AND THE NATION.

9. FACULTY

THE GREATNESS OF A UNIVERSITY IS ALWAYS MEASURED BY ITS FACULTY. FACULTY THAT WILL INSPIRE NOT MERELY INSTRUCT. MENTORS THAT WILL ENCOURAGE LEARNING AND THE USE OF THIS KNOWLEDGE TOWARDS NATION BUILDING.

A NATION’S PROGRESS IS ALSO DETERMINED BY WHAT IT DOES TO DEVELOP ITS HUMAN RESOURCES.

I READ THE REPORT OF YOUR NATIONAL COLLEGE OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION AND GOVERNANCE AND WAS VERY IMPRESSED WITH THE QUALIFICATIONS OF THE FACULTY AND LECTURERS. ASIDE FROM SEMINARS, PUBLICATIONS AND WORKSHOPS, WON’T IT BE WONDERFUL IF THEY CAN IMPLEMENT THE MANY CHANGES THEY ARE ADVOCATING, IN BASIC EDUCATION, IN THE CIVIL SERVICE, IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION?

MY CONTACTS WITH YOUR FACULTY ARE MAINLY FROM YOUR EXCELLENT SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS AND THE BUSINESS SCHOOL AND, OF COURSE, WITH CYNTHIA BAUTISTA WHO HAS GIVEN INVALUABLE HELP TO THE MAGSAYSAY FOUNDATION IN FOCUSING ON ITS PLANS FOR THE NEXT 50 YEARS.

IS THIS STANDARD OF EXCELLENCE I SEE ALSO FOUND IN THE OTHER DEPARTMENTS?

CAN U.P. ENCOURAGE ITS BRIGHT FACULTY TO PUBLISH OBJECTIVE POSITION PAPERS ON NATIONAL ISSUES THAT WILL STOP THE ENDLESS AND CONFUSING DEBATES THAT ARE IN FULL PAGE ADS IN THE DAILY NEWSPAPERS?

CONSIDERING THE CONTRIBUTION U.P CAN MAKE IN OUR NATION’S FUTURE, SHOULD THIS UNIVERSITY NOT HAVE A “THINK TANK” WITH EXPERTS FROM ITS DIFFERENT SCHOOLS, POSSIBLY ALSO WORKING WITH NON U.P. GRADUATES, TO STUDY WHERE THE NATION IS TODAY, ITS NEGATIVES AND POSITIVES, AND HOW IT COULD
MOVE FORWARD IN THE NEXT 25 AND 50 YEARS?

HOPEFULLY, OUR MANY BRIGHT PEOPLE WILL UNITE BEHIND THIS PROGRAM TO REDUCE POVERTY AND PUT THE PHILIPPINES AGAIN IN A RESPECTABLE POSITION IN ASIA.

MAYBE SOME OF THE QUESTIONS I HAVE RAISED MAY BE EXPECTING TOO MUCH FROM AN EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION, WITH LIMITED FUNDS, TO SOLVE ALL OF OUR NATIONAL
PROBLEMS.

BUT IT IS THE PRICE OF LEADERSHIP. THE BRIGHTEST YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN COME TO YOUR CAMPUS AND FOR THESE YOUNG MINDS, YOU MUST ENDEAVOR TO ATTRACT AND RETAIN THE BEST FACULTY IN EVERY SCHOOL.

IT IS MY PROFOUND HOPE THAT AGAINST ALL CHALLENGES, THIS GREAT UNIVERSITY, WITH AN INSPIRED ADMINISTRATION, A STRONG FACULTY AND AN ALUMNI CONSCIOUS OF ITS RESPONSIBILITY TO THE NATION, CAN, TOGETHER WITH THE SECRETARY OF EDUCATION, TAKE THE LEAD IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF MAJOR REFORMS IN OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS, WITHOUT WHICH POVERTY REDUCTION WILL BE DIFFICULT. AND WITHOUT WHICH, EQUAL OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL ITS CITIZENS TO BENEFIT FROM ECONOMIC GROWTH WILL NOT BE ATTAINABLE.


WITH THE PRESENT FINANCIAL DIFFICULTIES FACING THE DEVELOPED WORLD, OPTIMISTS ARE IN SHORT SUPPLY. BUT CAN WE HOPE THAT WE COULD FOLLOW THE PATH OF IRELAND, ALSO A VERY STRONG CATHOLIC COUNTRY, THAT WAS ABLE TO CONVINCE THE POLITICAL PARTIES TO ADOPT A COMMON ECONOMIC PROGRAM WHICH RESULTED IN THE RETURN OF THE YOUNG TALENTED PEOPLE THAT HAD MIGRATED TO THE UNITED
STATES AND UNITED KINGDOM? CAN THE VERY COMPETENT AND DISCIPLINED ECONOMISTS OF U.P. LEAD IN SUCH AN EFFORT?

ONLY THEN CAN A UNITED, PEACEFUL AND PROSPEROUS NATION BECOME A REALITY!

U.P. ALUMNI CLOSELY IDENTIFY THE OBLATION WITH THEIR ALMA MATER. BUT HOW MANY OF THEM REALLY KNOW THAT WHEN THE SCULPTOR TOLENTINO CREATED THIS FIGURE OF A YOUNG MAN WHOSE ARMS ARE OUTSTRETCHED IN A GESTURE OF SACRIFICE TO HIS COUNTRY AND HUMANITY, THE ARTIST ALSO PLACED AT ITS FEET A CLUSTER OF “KATAKALANTA” LEAVES, A PLANT THAT RAPIDLY MULTIPLIES TO SYMBOLIZE, AS TOLENTINO TELLS US THE “UNDYING STREAM OF HEROISM IN THE FILIPINO RACE.

AS THIS UNIVERSITY CELEBRATES ITS HUNDREDTH ANNIVERSARY I ASK A FINAL QUESTION: CAN WE EXPECT FROM U.P.’S LEADERSHIP THIS HEROISM THE COUNTRY BEGS FOR?=0=

N.B. Ma. Rhodora T. Gonzales, M.D., a psychiatrist in Lincoln Hospital Medical Center in New York City and fellow UPian and classmate sends this well-thought message of Washington Sycip in a speech he delivered during a UP Centennial Celebration convocation. Sycip’s queries as a non-UP graduate are invaluable in the search for relevance of our school today. AFM (September 16, 2008)

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