This is an article I contributed to our fraternity‘s magazine regarding the issue of socialized tuition in the University of the Philippines.
Socialized tuition is far from socializing access to UP education. It has instead made access to the national university largely inaccessible to a wide number of the brightest college-age youth of the country. The present socialized tuition scheme is nothing more than a mechanism for systematic state neglect of higher education. It has always been part and parcel of any attempt to increase matriculation in UP, so a discussion of socialized tuition cannot be had without discussing the context of state neglect of the national university and other institutions of social and public service. One cannot be divorced from the other, and any attempt to do so, is merely parroting national government scapegoats.
Socialized tuition was introduced in 1988 and was used to justify the increase in tuition the year after. The 300% increase in tuition in 2006 also came with a ‘restructuring’ of the socialized tuition scheme. More recently, another ‘restructuring’ of the socialized tuition scheme required prospective and present students to answer an absurd set of questions pertaining to their family’s lifestyle and submit sets of documents to prove they deserve to be in a tuition bracket aside from Bracket A – which means that the University assumes that a scholar is capable of paying P1,500 per unit until proven otherwise.
The result is very telling. From 20% of students who were afforded free tuition (full subsidy) in 1991, it has significantly dropped to a mere 3% in 2014. For 2014, 54% of students are, correctly or not, made to pay P1,500 unit. This lends truth to an observation by many that the University has been overrun by ‘rich students’ who are, correctly or not, assumed to be financially capable to pay full tuition.
At the beginning of 2007 I had a mental checklist of things that I would do and a checklist of predictions on how my life would turn out for the year.
However, 2007, turned out to be so much different from how I imagined it when it started. So, so much different, I’m telling you. Fate (or destiny?) had something in store for me, and it really caught me unprepared in the beginning.
By the end of January, I suddenly found myself being invited to join a greek-letter fraternity. You gotta be kidding me, I thought to myself then. List some stereotypes of fratmen and I probably am the opposite to a number of those. But what the hell, weeks later, I eventually became an Upsilonian. It was a life-changing decision and such a difficult process that I’ll never forget nor regret.
So, from the most utterly painful to the most stressful to the most euphoric, ecstatic and fulfilling of experiences of my life this year (and probably of its 19-year entirety to date) belong to this, my junior year in the fraternity. Tangina na lang. Hehe. It’s quite difficult trying to word it out and explain the countless individual experiences adequately without using too many superlatives or revealing things. I guess you just have to take my word for it. If I’m compelled to sum up 2007 in one sentence, I would easily and confidently say, “It was the year I became an Upsilonian.” ‘Yun lang.
(On an interesting note, this blog played a big role in how and why I was recruited into the frat. Oh boy, the things my blog get me into, right? At the beginning of the year, I was hoping it would be TV guestings or something. Hehe, just kidding. Guess the blogger who invited me.)
Anyway, the next big thing for me this year came shortly after I joined. It was late February and early March–campus elections season in the University of the Philippines. It’s not easy explaining to non-UP people how serious elections in this university can get. It’s probably one of the most fiercely contested campus elections in the Philippines, with ideological and historical bitterness and baggage.
Anyway, I was running for college chairperson under STAND-UP. And it was a challenge because students were bitterly divided on some key issues, there was an apparent strong anti-radical sentiment, and we were being contested full-slate for the first time. As everyone in my college knows, despite my “pre-election popularity,” I was defeated. And honestly, for a while then, I was depressed. But as the adage goes, when one window closes, another one opens. It definitely didn’t end with the loss. I eventually got absorbed into the university-wide committees of STAND-UP and from there I worked with the various social and political campaigns throughout the year.
This year-end recap can’t be complete without mentioning that it was the year I first visited the United States. It was a family vacation. We were there for three weeks. Atlanta, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas. There. I think I’ve chronicled it enough already, so I won’t talk much about this. It wasn’t particularly life-changing, but yea, since it’s a major first, it’s worth the mention in this entry.
I’m sorry, I tried to keep this as short as possible. There were a lot of other things that happened this year, of course. I’m sorry if you’re expecting some things I missed out in this entry. Basta, 2007 will forever be etched in my consciousness for many various reasons. These three simply make the top spots.