Response: U.P. is so iba na

Read the article first for context!

There’s a difference between criticizing a system and actively disparaging a new culture. The point of the article is clear and convincing: the educational system in the Philippines is rotten to the point of disenfranchising the masses, who are supposed to be the ones given greater access to the opportunities they have the right to. Even the smartest student in the country could struggle to get in simply because they were misclassified into Bracket B (or 33% discount). The Filipino poor are now an endangered species in a university that has the mandate to protect them. The argument that the privileged classes are to blame is also true to an extent; by participating in the corrupt system, we are complicit in this injustice.

What is unfair about this article, however, is (aside from making PUP out as a lesser institution) the isolated and extremely biased way of portraying this truth. By satirizing the behavior and cultivated language of “the rich”, it vilifies their identities. It makes fun of the fact that these students sing and are inspired by Les Miz, that they don premium backpacks, and that they use developments in colloquial language; the overall tone of the article attacks their personhood. It also cannot excuse itself for the sake of humor or ‘good writing’. The article already heavily implies that UP is for the poor, and not for the rich. The rich is an unnatural predator in the system; they should just go away and run back to their private universities.

But here’s the thing: the University of the Philippines was never founded on a principle of exclusion. Its mandate was to serve the country and all of its sectors as a leading educational and research institution, premised on democratic values of meritocracy, fairness and academic freedom.

Let me repeat that: the University of the Philippines was never founded on a principle of exclusion.

This means that this university is incredibly wrong for enforcing a system that actively excludes thousands of students from realising their potential simply because they don’t have enough money to pay for tuition and exorbitant miscellaneous fees. But it also means that –and this is the point of my whole response– it cannot correct itself by (a) blaming it on richer students [with majority of them, we can presume, entering on their own academic merits] and by (b) making a system that is also skewed to actively exclude the more privileged sector.

The University of the Philippines also has a responsibility to the privileged, as long as they prove themselves to be Filipinos striving for “honor and excellence” (an RSA is a bonus).

And while at this point in time the University of the Philippines should be first and foremost criticized for its failure to meet this responsibility to the masses, the criticism should be both constructive and directed to the system, not to collateral. For a similar reason, advocates for body positivity in plus size women don’t (or shouldn’t) shame and criticize thin and anorexic/bulimic-looking women; they criticize the systematic enforcement of body shame in media and culture. They recognize that the media has harmed the collective, not just parts of it; and more than that thin women didn’t create the problem, though they may have reaped its benefits. Advocates against the patriarchy similarly don’t (or shouldn’t) shame and antagonize men, because access to equal opportunities doesn’t mean saying you’re more deserving than others.

More deserving in the financial sense, yes. But every Filipino has the right to apply for and attend a public university.


Or maybe I felt too offended, since I am (by some people’s definition) very conyo.

I’ve been reading through the other comments and there were some voices of support — along the lines of “they’re just joking, don’t take it so seriously!” or “they’re writing through the lens of a graduate! it was really a different time”. These ceased to be valid the moment the blog post took an online public character (emphasis on online, as in, in this day and age). People share this post and are influenced by the article. It reinforces the dichotomy between the rich and the poor and reaffirms biases of the poor against the rich, when in fact all of us students are in this together against the unfair system.

When it comes to the possibility of mobilizing action, humor and intent might just be less important than clarity and effect.

Sankage Steno

Like I was in the University of the Philippines kanina in Diliman, and I noticed that my Alma Mater is so iba na. It has changed talaga, like a total makeover! Gosh.

And I’m not talking about the bagong structures ha or the monorail that was made paandar here and there by DOST or the sunflowers that are starting to make tubo from the lupa like a stubble. No. I was referring to the tao there, the isko and iska, the UPam, the iskolar ng bayan, so to speak.

I was so gulat a while ago when I went there to get some stuffs (Yes, I like it with the letter ‘s’ sa end. It’s so sosyal to the ears.) from my former professors. It went well naman, and I was so saya to see them again. But  I was flabbergasted to the extreme level of levels when I make…

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