Hanging on in the meantime

Last Saturday, I still took my midterm exams in Insurance. The previous night, I struggled to muster enough enthusiasm to review. At the back of my mind played the thought that staying up that late and re-reading piles of cases was worthless, because at the end of the day, it wouldn’t matter if I pass or if I get a high score in that particular exam because I won’t be able to enroll next semester anyway.

However, I’ve decided to just go on. I will try to attend classes in the coming days while I await the final advice form the UP Law administration, in the rare and slim chance that I get through by some miracle–without being too hopeful, of course.

Sure, it may be a waste of time and energy if what’s supposed to happen is inevitable. I just try to think of it as a way for me to take advantage of my last days in Malcolm Hall, and perhaps, for the pure desire to learn, regardless of the fact that I won’t earn any academic credit for it.

In between reviewing for the exam at a coffee shop, I was also hopping over next-door for my undergraduate college organization‘s anniversary night, being held at the restaurant beside the coffee shop.

It was great seeing my contemporaries again, and catching up on their careers. Most of them are in media companies, for obvious reasons. As for myself, I told them I’m still in law school, though I left out the part where I was supposed to say I’m struggling to stay in law. It wasn’t a time to dampen the mood of people.

Last night I also went to another party, it was Inter-B, the inter-batch party of UP Law’s block B’s. The sophomores, that’s our batch, organized the event. Since I’m about to be out of the college soon anyway, I might as well attend the last inter-batch party I can attend as a student. I will miss my blockmates. They’ve been so supportive all along, ever since we all started out last year.

Assessing victories, seizing prospects

We have proven, time and again, that our democratic rights are not and will never be offered generously on silver platters; rather they are products of our assertions through collective and militant struggle. We have also proven that victories do not happen overnight; they are fought for intensely and tirelessly through sustained campaigns and actions.

In the midst of the heightening clamor for genuine economic reforms amidst the worsening economic crisis felt by the Filipino people, we have been steadfast in pursuing policy changes to ensure that every Filipino student is given the chance to enjoy the quality education of UP and that every UP student is given the opportunity to flourish as a true iskolar ng bayan.

Since the beginning of this semester, the campaign to reclaim students’ democratic rights, spearheaded by the UMAKSYON (Ugnayan ng Mag-aaral Laban sa Komersiyalisasyon) alliance of student councils, organizations, and individuals, has resounded increasingly in the classrooms, corridors and tambayans of our university.

As a product of the series of meetings and other consultations, UMAKSYON came up with a list of 18 student demands, which was then submitted to UP President Emerlinda Roman, through Student Regent Shahana Abdulwahid, in the July 31 Board of Regents (BOR) meeting in UP Manila. The demands included, among others:

  • Respect the autonomy of student institutions by holding the long-delayed student council elections of UPLB;
  • Uphold students’ right to self-organize by scrapping Article 444 in the revised UP Code ““ a provision that bans religious and regional organizations on the basis of recognizing UP’s non-sectarian nature and promoting national unity, respectively;
  • Defend student orgs’ right to tambayans as the physical structure that allows them to hold meetings and activities on their own;
  • Review rental rates of facilities and equipment and install student org discounts, if not free use for particular activities;
  • Comprehensively review existing and proposed laboratory fees with maximum transparency and accountability; and
  • Roll back the increased tuition fees, especially in light of the worsening economic crisis currently plaguing the country.

After the meeting, Pres. Roman herself faced the students who gathered on the steps of Alvior Hall and declared that she could only ask the Chancellors of the different UP units to look into the demands students forwarded, and that she herself would not directly intervene. She further stated that a tuition fee roll back was no longer part of any discussion by the BOR.

Since then, however, through the tireless collective efforts of the students, UPLB succeeded in ratifying their USC constitution with an unprecedented 70.54% voters’ turnout, of which 95.50% were in favor of the constitution. Consequently, the elected officers of the UPLB USC were recognized and are awaiting induction.

Meanwhile, at the BOR meeting last August 26 in UP Baguio, even more students gathered to protest Pres. Roman’s categorical stand against the tuition fee rollback and demand due recognition of their democratic rights. They were again faced by the President, but still to no further avail than vague statements with no outright commitment.

Last September 23, through the Office of the Student Regent and KASAMA sa UP, the broadest alliance of student councils in the UP system, student leaders from Diliman, Manila, Baguio and Los Banos met with Pres. Roman in UP Diliman to discuss the state of students’ democratic rights and to ask updates regarding the student demands submitted to the Board last July. With hundreds of students holding a parallel protest action on the steps of Quezon Hall, the dialogue proceeded in the presence of different student councils and student organizations (UP Ibalon, UP Zambalenos, UP Asterisk, UP Grail, and League of Filipino Students-UP Diliman).

  1. On the matter of the Article 444 of the Revised UP Code, Pres. Roman herself was surprised to find out that such a policy exists. She expressed support in scrapping the said Article and allowing students from the same region or practicing the same religion to self-organize without sanctions from the UP administration, thereby reaffirming our assertion that all types and classes of organizations shall be allowed in the university.
  2. In discussing the proposed guidelines on student rental rates of facilities and equipment, as forwarded by UMAKSYON, Pres. Roman will compel the different Chancellors to submit a report on this in the upcoming Presidential Advisory Committee meeting on October 15. This will press the Chancellors to finally hold discussions with the students, who have been clamoring for the same since the opening of the semester.
  3. Included in the discussions with Chancellors is the issue of student representation in policy-making bodies of different colleges and units. Following the practice in UP Baguio and UP Manila’s College of Arts and Sciences, student reps should be notified of and allowed to vote in meetings pertaining to policies that will directly affect their constituents, such as rules on org tambayans, fee increases, student activities, and other related issues.
  4. In light of the great disparity in org recognition guidelines among units, students urged Pres. Roman to look into the possibility of establishing a unified org recognition procedure that will ensure students’ democratic participation through the USC instead of solely on the Office of Student Affairs (OSA), as practiced in UP Manila.
  5. Recognizing the historical nature of the CSSP lobby in UP Diliman in terms of hosting students’ protest rallies and other mass demonstrations, Pres. Roman supported the proposal to advise the CSSP administration to reconsider their guidelines on the use of the lobby for student assemblies (only allowing protest actions without a permit from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm). As in other campuses, the right to peaceable assembly must be upheld, regardless of time of the day or venue, for students to freely and actively participate in issues of local or national concern.
  6. Lastly, Pres. Roman stated that students have every right to demand to know where laboratory fees are going. In the interest of accountability on the part of the administration, the committee tasked with overseeing laboratory fee proposals will require proponents to include a clear definition of what the lab fee/s will cover, where it will go and why it is needed. Furthermore, a clear definition of “student consultation” should be set by the UP administration to guarantee transparency and make certain that all students will be able to air their concerns. The Office of the Student Regent will also come up with a comprehensive review of existing and proposed lab fees to formulate recommendations on what should constitute lab fees and what should constitute a valid consultation with the students.

If there is anything this dialogue with Pres. Roman shows us, it is that none of our collective efforts go to waste, from endless meetings, campaigning, organizing to mobilizing students. That we all chose to stand up and defend our rights to self-organize, to a tambayan, to peaceable assembly and free speech, and to be represented, is to have chosen to carry on the tradition of vigilant and militant Iskolars ng Bayan who never bowed down to those who violated our rights — rights as they are constitutionally enshrined, as they have been historically fought for. Yet while we deem this dialogue a great success, there is an even greater recognition that the fight to reclaim our democratic rights is not something that can be won through mere policy changes and recommendations. It is a fight that must continue and intensify in the classrooms, corridors and tambayans of our beloved university.

Defend Students’ Rights to Organize, Assemble & Democratic Participation!
Uphold the Right to Tambayans! No to Commercialization of Education!

Students’ Rights & Welfare Committee
UNIVERSITY STUDENT COUNCIL

together with Office of the Student Regent, UMAKSYON, KASAMA sa UP, SOLIDARIDAD, UP Diliman CAL-SC, UP Diliman CMC-SC, UP Baguio USC, UP Los Banos USC, UP Manila CAS-SC, UP Manila Freshman Assembly, STAND-UP

Nightmares and child-acting

September 14, 2008. A few days ago, some of my orgmates in UP Cinema Arts Society asked me if Tisay could act for one of our orgmate’s thesis short film production. I was hesitant at first, since Tisay was just two years old, and I was doubting if she could deliver lines or any acting of that sort. Plus, she could be a brat. And I sort of have an idea how coaching a child to act can be a headache. Despite that, I said yes, and for that they even gave me the role of his father, too. Anyhow, it was a largely cameo role.

True enough, however, Tisay was such a brat during the shoot. She was okay at first, but since shoots are always vulnerable to delays, and delayed the shoot was, Tisay got pretty bored and tired before we got to shoot the sequence she was in. By the time it was our turn, she was on tantrums. Indeed, directing or coaching a child to act can prove to be one of the most difficult aspects of directing. She couldn’t quite grasp what acting was and how pretending is different from what is real and apparent. She got pretty confused when I kept telling her that for a while I would pretend to be Papa. Kunwari ako si papa, ganyan. She couldn’t get it. Ha ha. Oh well, dinaan na lang sa impromptu script-revisions to allow her tantrums and crying to be part of the sequence.

Anyhow, I’ve been having bad dreams every night the past week. Apocalypse, death of loved ones, and even myself, tragedies, etcetera. It has become regular, it’s scary. It has come to a point that I don’t want to sleep anymore. Gabi-gabi bangungot na lang palagi. Well, it’s not as if I can avoid sleep altogether. I think I should re-learn to pray before sleeping at night. So there goes some random blurbs.

UP Pres. Roman: No Rollback; Hands off UPD and UPLB student demands

July 31 UP Board of Regents Meeting

UP President Emerlinda Roman was forced to respond to the students’ demands after student leaders submitted petitions through mass lobbying and demonstration last July 31 during the Board of Regents (BOR) meeting.

The meeting held at UP Manila was greeted by student protesters from UP Diliman, UP Manila, and UP Los Banos, carrying their demands for tuition rollback, immediate UPLB student elections, and the reclaim of student institutions and organizations’ democratic rights. Determined that these demands need to be answered directly by the UP Administration, the students insisted that the BOR face the students and hold a dialogue outside the halls.

After minutes of negotiations, President Roman agreed to meet the protesters and gave her responses on the different issues raised by the students. Her initial responses were: there will definitely be no rollback of tuition; the UP Administration refuses to intervene in the UPLB student-elections issue; and that the student organizations’ demands will be studied and be left to the discretion of the Chancellors of different UP units.

Student leaders believe that it was a collective victory that students were able to urge President Roman to give immediate responses to student demands. However, it was also clear to them that she was merely washing her hands off the issue, a clear refusal to take responsibility over the dismal state of students’ democratic rights in the university, according to Jaqueline Eroles, Chairperson of Students Rights and Welfare (STRAW) Committee of the UP Diliman – University Student Council (USC).

Student institutions and organizations who led the action pledged that all BOR meetings will be greeted with mobilizations until the demands were properly addressed.

No Rollbacks
Early this month, the USC released a statement calling for the rollback of tuition and the junking of the UP’s newest tuition policy. In the statement, the USC declared that in light of worsening economic crises plaguing the Filipino people, the UP Administration must provide economic relief to iskolars ng bayan and their families through a rollback in tuition. It also demanded for “the junking of the UP’s most recent tuition policy without prejudice to further investigation of the STFAP and the increase of state subsidy for education.”

President Roman, acknowledging the present economic condition, was however firm that there will be no rollback of tuition for this academic year since UP has not increased tuition for the past two years in spite of inflation. She added that the issue of tuition increase is already over, thus she encourages students to “move on” and leave calls for rollback and support the review and revision of the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP).

Some students claim, however, that the issue of tuition increase is far from being over. They said that the increasing no-show rates, the increasing number of student loans, the decreasing number of enrollees in non-marketable courses, and the continuous commercialization of education, among others, are proof that the tuition increase has not addressed the problem of quality of education. Rather, such has only apparently caused other issues that are inconsistent and contradictory to the aims of a state institution such as UP.

They also believe that UP’s recent tuition policy proves to be anti-student and anti-people, having provisions that allow automatic increase of tuition based on inflation. The danger of uncontrolled, escalating tuition in the future continues to confront iskolars ng bayan.

Hands-off the UPLB student elections
Admitting knowledge of the four-month delay of student council elections in UPLB, Pres. Roman said that the UP Administration will not act on the said issue, on the fear that it may be interpreted as a form of administration intervention on student institutions. However, the protesters were able to assert for a dialogue on August 4 between the incumbent UPLB University Student Council, UPLB Chancellor Luis Rey Velasco, and Vice-President for Legal Affairs Atty. Theodore Te which shall be mediated by the President herself.

On the August 4 dialogue, student leaders from UPLB challenged President Roman, having the highest administrative position, to take responsibility and uphold her statements that the administration should not intervene with the autonomy of student institutions such as student councils and publications. They challenged her to direct Chancellor Velasco to cease its intrusion on the UPLB SC constitution and should hold elections within the month. The dialogue ended with the students successfully urging the UPLB Administration to concede into allowing for an immediate conduct of student council elections in Los Banos.

Calls for reclaim of democratic rights, to be acted upon by Chancellors
President Roman will not act on the demands of more than 111 student formations in UPD since she believes that these are within the jurisdiction and discretion of Chancellors. However, student leaders insisted that the dismal conditions of student organizations’ democratic rights are alarming, since they are evident in almost all UP units, thus, the need and the demand for a system-wide policy that will safeguard the rights of all organizations in all UP units. Pres. Roman later assured the protesters that she will direct Chancellors to study the said demands.

Continued support and collective action
For the contingents from UPD, UPM, and UPLB, the July 31 BOR protest action and mass lobbying proved that gains can be achieved through collective action. The signature campaign, the petition, and the mobilization were not simply disregarded by the UP administration because it showed the broad support and the commitment of students for the address of their demands. Thus, they were resolved to go back to their campuses to gather more support from students, faculty, and likewise, administrators, to gather them in a collective force to push the BOR to concur and act upon these demands.

Reclaiming the rights of student organizations in UP

At the height of the Marcos dictatorship, the Iskolars ng Bayan were able to force, through collective yet militant struggle, the re-establishment of student councils, publications, and organizations in UP. Among the rights won in the aftermath of the students’ successful campaign included the beneficial use and possession of fully-functional tambayans and offices, the free use of university facilities and equipment, and the relaxation of the procedural restraints in org recognition. The university, then, encouraged all types of student organizations to re-eastablish their presence and engaging all the others to form their organizations based on their own interests and advocacies. This is in the presumption that student activities play a vital role in the learning process and training of UP students as future leaders of our nation.

However, the centennial year of UP is marked by the dismal state of student formations, despite the token pronouncements by the UP Administration of its the importance. In UPLB, there had been no student council elections due to the forcible insistence of UPLB Chancellor Velasco to impose a UPLB USC constitution which betrays the principle of autonomy of student institutions. Publications also experienced administrative interventions in the past, from handling of funds to the appointment of its editor-in-chief. Equally disadvantaged are student organizations in the university.

In UP Diliman, only about sixty tambayans are currently occupied by university-based organizations, leaving a larger number of organization without tambayans. Those fortunate enough to acquire tambayans do not have lighting, have leaking roofs, poor ventilation, and continue to face threats of eviction. Aside from these, they also face the issue of exorbitant rental fees in the use of university facilities and equipment that hampers their different activities. Another is the issue of rigorous and taxing recognition process of student organizations due to requirement of member quota per department of college, stringent application process, and the unreasonable banning on the basis of their political nature.

We assert that tambayans are integral in the operations of student organizations, in the same manner that student councils and publications need their offices for their various activities. It is therefore imperative for the UP administration provide all student organizations fully-functional tambayans. We believe that university policy on the extra-curricular student use of facilities and equipment is misplaced, as it unnecessarily precludes student organizations from fulfilling their organizational goals and objectives. We assert that while student organizations essentially engage in extra-curricular activities, these activities are fully subsumed in the holistic learning process that the university seeks to impart on its students, especially its student leaders. While we concede that these definitely constitute a cost to the university, this must be viewed as beneficial costs in pursuit of the holistic academic development of its students. We therefore demand that the University administration remove rental rates for the use of all its facilities and equipment not only to student councils and publications, but to student organizations as well.

Recent happenings show that the organization recognition process by the University administration in its different UP units are being used to curtail the students constitutional right to self-organization by fully controlling the process itself and even determining unilaterally which organizations deserve recognition by the university. We assert for the right to self-organization, where anyone cannot dictate the classes of student organizations that may be recognized by the University, in the presumption that organizations all engage in lawful and noble activities with lofty goals and objectives for the university and the country as well.

As with the systemwide campaign for the rollback of tuition, the fight to reclaim the rights of student organization shall also have a systemwide character, as the problems confronted by the organizations are practically the same in all UP units. It is clear that amongst the most tacit yet insidious effects of these student orgs policies would be the pacification of critical and collective dissent of students in the University, not only on UP issues such as the tuition and laboratory fee increases, but also in national affairs such as the present economic crisis felt by Filipinos today. By precluding student organizations from using facilities that shall strengthen their existence and from being recognized, their existence as trailblazers of change and reforms are ultimately stunted by an interventionist administration.

In the ultimate analysis, the only way for students to decisively win this struggle is by uniting with each other in principle and in action. We refer back to the story of UP students in the late 70s and early 80s, when the darkest days of the dictatorship, they stood up and struggled united in re-establishing the student councils, publications, and organizations and afforded all these institutions indispensible rights and privileges that are now being systematically reversed by the UP administration. It is time to stand up today. In the UP’s centennial year, there is no better time to act that today.

Students Rights & Welfare Committee
University Student Council

UMAKSYON Ugnayan ng Mag-aaral Laban sa Komersyalisasyon

The demands herein declared were supported through a manifesto signed by the heads and representatives of 111 student organizations, fraternities and sororities, and was given to the Board of Regents (BOR) on their July 31, 2008 meeting in UP Manila. UP President Emerlinda Roman, in immediate response to the demands, remanded the petition’s fate to the Chancellors’ jurisdiction and discretion.

Thesis season

January 19, 2008. This time of the year, graduating film students are busy working on their theses, including me, of course. At the beginning of the semester, even during thesis proposal phase, I wasn’t too hyped up about it. I think I was even more excited when I helped out on a handful of thesis short films when I was a freshman, than when I’m actually doing it myself now that I’m a senior. I’ve shared something about this already, in this entry, where I said I sort of lost a passion in creating moving pictures.

UP Film friends

Needless to say, right now, almost all of my film friends are busy with their own theses. You know, there’s something uniquely engaging in film students’ theses. I’m not sure how theses are exactly done in other courses, but I assume it’s largely an individual or a pair effort. In film, however, unless you’re doing an animation, an experimental of some sort or a written thesis, you will barely survive if you work alone or by pair, even. A graduating film student actually works on a number of theses, in varying degrees, for his fellow film friends. Well, unless you’re an absolute altruist, there’s this slight expectation that your film friends and other friends will help you out in your own thesis, as your production manager, your director of photography, your casting director, assistant director, production assistant, even as talent. Most of the time, all the work is pro bono, but it’s not the material return that’s important. Shooting film students’ thesis can be quite rewarding.

That’s just the shooting part. There’s still, also, the pre-production, post-production and the research and written thesis phase. Anyway, good luck, fellow film friends!

fellow UP film students fellow UP film students fellow UP film students fellow UP film students fellow UP film students fellow UP film students
These pictures were taken last Wednesday. I was also trying out a relatively cheap / bottom-of-the-line zoom lens I acquired a few days beforehand. The pictures below are from an UP MCO members-applicants’ acquaintance gathering in Mass Comm last January 14. I wasn’t expecting myself to be able to attend because I was on an ocular trip in Manila, but turns out it was still going on when I got back to UP so I decided to drop by.

UP MCO App's Acquaintance Party 07-B UP MCO App's Acquaintance Party 07-B UP MCO App's Acquaintance Party 07-B UP MCO App's Acquaintance Party 07-B UP MCO App's Acquaintance Party 07-B UP MCO App's Acquaintance Party 07-B

I shall drag my feet to the end

November 9, 2007. I got all my subjects in our online enlistment, so I didn’t have to go through the batch runs. It’s just sort of weird for me, since I’m used to seeing long lines everywhere in UP during enrollment season, and now that everything’s online, the crowds are gone at any given time the past days in campus.

I was giving out tickets for our free screening of Tulad ng Dati a day or so ago, and I could barely finish disposing of the free tickets because the crowds of students are missing.

Anyhow, classes haven’t even started and I’m already stressing myself out because of this event, among other things. What, it’s also my last undergraduate semester in UP, and oddly I don’t feel that hyped or excited about it. I’m not even in a mood to finish my thesis. It feels like I’m going to have to drag myself to the finish line.

On another note, it’s nice that people see me as a dependable person. It just sucks how too many people and/or affiliations depend on me all at the same time. And that they don’t realize how I have to juggle my tasks with them with other duties I have to perform, too. Sometimes I want to vanish, or be mean enough to say I shall be Mr. Dependable no more.

UP CAST semender 2007

There were only a dozen of us who came to the semender. It was fun, nonetheless. I miss having fun with my CAST friends. There were those times that UP CAST (and UP MCO) were my only affiliations and I got to hang out with my org friends a lot. I met my CAST friends in Philcoa and I drove half of us to Calamba, Laguna in the morning of October 26. It was my first long drive south of Manila. We stayed at the rest-house of the family of one of our new members, Kim A. A large and cozy house, I must say. There was a large swimming pool which we had all to ourselves too.

[Yea, incidentally, all film representatives of our college’s student council for the past three years are from UP CAST]. Most of us who came were blockmates. It’s probably our last semender together. Here’s to thesis mode our last semester in UP!

MCO Night ’07

UP Mass Communicators Organization

I attended our UP MCO anniversary dinner last Friday. I wasn’t supposed to be able to attend but thanks to Con and Patty, I was able to come. And I’m really grateful I did. Ang saya.

As I’ve shared before, when I’m with my MCO orgmates, there’s barely a moment I’m not laughing my heart out. Busog na ko sa pagkain, busog din pati sa tawa. Sigh. Last year, we also had an MCO Night, a first since I became a member in 2004. Everybody had fun last year too, much to the expense of some MCO boys including me when, um… we were forcibly made to dress in drag and compete in a beauty contest ala-Miss Eng’g. Fortunately, I can account for the handful of people who have pictures from the event, including me. In case any of those embarrassing and humiliating pictures come out, I have tick list.

Oh, since there wasn’t a “Binibining MCO” pageant this year, I guess the title stays with me. Haha! Oh boy. [You may view the pictures from this year’s (not last year’s) MCO Night here.]