The March 21 decision of the University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD) University Council (UC) to cut the number of General Education (GE) units from 45 to 21 — or from 15 three-unit subjects to seven — means that undergraduate students will be required to take fewer humanities and social science subjects in UP’s flagship campus. Among those who will be affected are journalism and communication students, many of whom become professional journalists after graduation.
IN THE 1960s the University of the Philippines’ being supposedly “godless” and its students’ being agnostics if not atheists was common lore among middle-class families thinking of where to send their children to college.
Among the reasons could have been UP’s being a secular institution rather than a religious one, and the claim, made through the media by adherents of “godly” education, alleging the infestation of the philosophy department of its then College of Liberal Arts with atheists, who were also accused of being communists.
Only a few weeks are left of the University of the Philippines (UP) centennial year celebrations. UP was founded by the US colonial government in 1908, and after a century of wars, crises and political upheavals, one would have expected the 2008 celebrations to lead to an evaluation of where UP has been and has done, and where it’s going in a country where poverty and crises have been as perennial as grass.
A fundamental question suggests itself a hundred years after its founding: established as a colonial instrument and as part of the US arsenal of conquest, has UP become a Filipino university, or even a people’s university? Unfortunately, say critics, the question hasn’t been widely raised. The commemoration has been anything but an occasion for self criticism and examination and has mostly been a relentless saturnalia of self-praise — as reflected in the awful, self-congratulatory, uncritical centennial motto, “UP, ang galing mo!” (UP, you’re great!)
Despite funding constraints, the University of the Philippines (UP), which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, has grown from a small institution on Manila’s Padre Faura street into a national university system of 12 campuses (including the cyber or virtual campus of its Open University) and seven constituent universities.
UP has the most extensive undergraduate and graduate degree programs of any university in the country, and the largest, most competent corps of faculty from creative writing to law, communication to nuclear physics.