Category Archives: commentary
When I first heard that UP has been overtaken by Ateneo for the first time in the THES-QS top university rankings (and on our centennial year too!) and that there was some justification given about something in the methodology, I just shrugged and thought, well, of course. When you have problems with a survey’s results, you can always question the methodology. And oftentimes, you really would be able to find something to question, from the sampling procedure to the way the questions were phrased or even the appropriateness of using the survey method to tackle the issue at hand in the first place. Also, methodology aside, surely the better-funded Ateneo can find ways to overtake UP in the areas used as criteria in the THES-QS rankings (If you’re curious, you can check out the methodology here).
Thing is, when you do question the methodology, you sometimes end up sounding like a sourgrape, and, whether accurate or not, the survey would at the end of the day probably still enjoy a measure of recognition or credibility. So I just shrugged and thought, well, it doesn’t matter, not worth getting worked up about. UP pa rin!
Still, former UP Vice President for Public Affairs (and a favorite writer) Butch Dalisay’s remarks about the new rankings reminded me again about the subject, and put quite a damper to my morning. He talked briefly about the methodology – how UP did not even participate this year, the inherent bias of the criteria used, that there’s apparently a marketing angle to the THES-QS rankings – but what struck me was how he discussed the treatment of the criteria:
Just to make things clear, we need more of those plus points, too, and if we’re lacking in them, then that’s clearly a problem that’s keeping us from achieving truly world-class status. But what about resourcefulness? How do you recognize a physics department whose people can put a laser machine together all by themselves? What about service to the nation? What points can you give something like the Pahinungod program, which sends fresh graduates to teach poor children in the hinterlands?
We don’t want to sound like sore losers, but at least you expect the game to be held on a level playing field.
Definitely a very valid point (and, seriously, a laser machine all by themselves? Kudos to you, guys). Read his entire remarks here. It’s the third of a three-section blog entry.
In any case, its rankings in surveys should be the least of UP’s worries. The pursuit of excellence is not driven by the need for recognition, and service to the nation is not something that can easily be measured. On that vein, another worthy read is this speech given by Dr. Washington Sycip for the UP Centennial Lecture Series.
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?
At close to midnight yesterday, June 10 – that is, a couple of hours ago as I type this, the House of Representatives approved the Renewable Energy Bill on second reading. They’re targeting third reading approval by today, June 11. Yey, yey, yey! (Forgive me for not being more articulate. It’s half-past-one in the morning and I’ve just spent most of the day hanging out at Congress).
It was certainly the most action-packed Congress session I’ve ever witnessed. And no, it was not because of the RE Bill, but because of the bill on the extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). It’s also a very frustrating time for the agrarian reform campaign, because the CARP expires June 10 and Congress hasn’t passed an extension yet, let alone a replacement/improved program. At some point, bedlam ensued at one side of the gallery, with the farmers’ groups suddenly erupting in protest, some jumping the gallery barriers in an attempt to penetrate the session floor. Session was hastily suspended while the gallery was cleared, but the farmers were clearly very emotional at that point and there was a lot of shouting and arguing for a few minutes. I watched the proceedings with mixed feelings; one part of me fearing that this would delay the RE Bill, another part realizing that the plight of the farmers is also a very valid and urgent concern. I’ve been feeling frustrated at the erratic progress of the RE Bill, but I cannot even begin to imagine the level of the farmers’ frustration.
Scenes from yesterday’s opening of the three-day World Environment Day Exhibit at Greenbelt 3 Concierge Area, where the Renewable Energy Coalition is one of the exhibitors. I just have to say that our booth was the most fun, because of the give-away “Renewables Now!” toy pinwheels and and baller bands. The freedom board asking people to sign to show their support for renewables was also filled up in no time.
Trivia: Throughout the day I was idly hoping for a celebrity or two to walk by so we can snap their photo with a pinwheel or baller band or while signing the freedom board. No such thing happened, but apparently, when we left the booth later in the afternoon to go to the cocktails/opening ceremonies at the other end of the hall, Bianca Araneta-Elizalde passed by and spent a good five or so minutes reading the posters and the freedom board while holding her baby. After a while her husband came, and she handed the kid to him and proceeded to write a big “Pass the bill – Bianca Elizalde” on the poster. All this time, the guy at the next booth kept fretting and looking around and wondering where we were because it was such a Kodak moment. He went to the cocktails and told me all about it, and while he was talking I saw Bianca herself making beso-beso with someone at the cocktails before going off to her car. She was wearing this pretty flowing green dress too, match pa sa booth colors namin. Sayang.
This afternoon the team will split up and go off to the House of Representatives and the Senate to monitor developments, because the Renewable Energy Bill is on the agenda for plenary discussions in both congresses. Today’s news reports quote Sen. Angara and House Speaker Prospero Nograles saying that the RE Bill is one of two bills likely to be passed before Congress breaks for recess (the other one is the Personal Equity Retirement Account or PERA Bill). They have until tomorrow, the last day of session, to do it. I hope it happens today.
During Earth Day last year, I and some friends at the Renewable Energy Coalition joined the celebrations at the EarthDay Jam street party in T. Morato, Quezon City giving out these babies:
The “Renewables Now!” baller ID calls for a more aggressive development of the country’s renewable energy resources in order to promote energy security and a cleaner environment. Specifically, it symbolizes the call for Congress to pass the Renewable Energy Bill, which would provide incentives and mechanisms needed to speed up renewable energy development.
One year later, we’re still waiting.
A couple of decades later, actually. The earliest form of the Renewable Energy Bill, then called the bill on “non-conventional” energy, was filed around 19 years ago. So this thing has been nineteen years in the making now. Seriously.
I’ve never been too crazy about Boracay to begin with; while the white sand beach is admittedly beautiful, I find the place too congested. As it turns out, there’s another possible reason for not being too crazy about the place. This story, posted by Dondon Marquez of Hands On Manila, is a real eye-opener about what goes on on the other side of the island, about what the real cost has been of the fast-track tourism development that is Boracay.
I urge you to read the article. Think about it the next you go to Boracay, tell the story to your friends who are going to Boracay. Responsible tourism does not necessarily have to be confined to the maxim “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time.”
Boracay, An Island Paradise?
by Dondon Marquez
Just got back from Boracay! My second time in 3 months. The first one was a pleasure trip but because I need to get familiarized with the so called “island paradise” for a future project called Hands On Volunteer Vacations of Hands On manila, I managed to touch base with the locals and the chamber of commerce. I spent most of the time interviewing people in the area, from bangkero to a policeman, from a waiter to resort manager…I did some bonding with the bookers ( eto yung mga naka ID na nag o-offer o namimilit ng bangka ride at iba pang raket), firedancers, entertainers…I needed to do all these things to know the reality of life among the workers in the island and to establish contacts for future deployment of volunteers. This time, I was there for four days to explore possibilities of partnership with some of the non-government orgs and community-based organizations...
Bago ako pumunta sa island, I only have one thing in mind…to close and finalize a partnership with organizations where volunteers can help and do community service while vacationing… Nagawa ko yun! Dapat masaya ako, mission accomplished, BUT I was so depressed after I visited the tiny ATI community in the island.
Ati tribe, were the original settlers in Boracay, they were nomads. Boracay was a real paradise for these black people because living there was so easy for them with its natural wonders and resources such as the white sand beach, vast varieties of fruits, veggies, fishes and a lot of animals… they were living harmoniously with mother nature. Until people started to develop it…and everything went on very quickly, DOT and the province of Aklan made the place so famous that all investors, tourists and businesses were erected in the area…and..they were successful… very successful that all of them were overwhelmed of the money that the “island paradise” is generating.
Sa likod ng pagunlad na ito ng Boracay, may naiwan, may nakalimutan at yun ay ang mga Ati na na ngayon nakakubli sa isang maliit na pamayanan sa likod ng isla, sa Bolabog, Mayroong 36 households (220 individuals) na nakatira dito. Sinadya ng mga tao, na ngayon ang nag mamayari ng mga lupa doon, na sila ay ilagay sa isang tagong lugar, naka-pader, sa gitna ng bahayan, dahil makakasira daw sa Turismo ang pamamalagi (existence) nila doon.
So after several hours of self-righteous indignation, and waiting for the people’s support which never came, Sen. Trillanes and Gen. Lim’s group agreed to stand down. Before that I was all tense and worried, thinking that this could not possibly end well, that people would die, that the only way Trillanes can hope to gain sympathy at this point to actually die fighting. But no, at the end of the day, it looks like another grandstanding, pointless stunt, with Trillanes raving about how his 11 million votes were disrespected and practically performing before the media, saying, See, see what they’d do? Look, tear gas! Tanks! (Or, in rebel-speak, “You have been witnesses and victims to the kind of ruthlessness of this administration.”) Well what did he expect??
In the end they, they decided to peacefully leave Manila Pen, but not before holding a press conference. During the press con, Trillanes’ statements were defiant as always, but he looked sad, deflated, speaking haltingly and even answering a question with “Whatever” (we all burst out laughing when we heard that one). Not quite your old gung-ho adventurist. He’s probably shaken by the fact that once again, he’s left spearheading a hopeless coup attempt, with nobody bothering to show up to support his cause. He’s probably going, where are my 11 million votes now?
Sen. Trillanes, your 11 million voters were telling you to work within the proper channels. Your ascendancy to the Senate was an expression of trust from people hoping that you’d work for real change, that you’d continue to stand for idealism. It was not a license to stage another publicity stunt of a coup attempt just because you can’t hold office in Pasay.
I’m not crazy about this administration as well, but I can’t support such methods as his, because I think it’s pointless and counterproductive. On the other hand, I also can’t help asking myself, “So how are you doing your part?” I’m working hard, I don’t give bribes, I don’t litter, I campaign for the environment – is that enough? Shouldn’t we all step up, even just a little bit?
I was mad as hell when some congressman justified the Malacañang cash gifts by saying they’re not bribes but “allowances.” I was like, potah, sobrang ginagawa naman nila tayong tanga. But even so, that was all I did, wala na. So the question now is, if the Trillaneses don’t do what they are doing, if nobody really speaks out, and corruption continue to be a way of life, where does that leave us? Gen. Lim did have a point when he said “Dissent without action is consent,” even if I have issues on the actions he chose to take. As it has previously been pointed out, we really do get the leaders we deserve.