Now, I don’t know why UP President Emerlina Roman wants to keep official celebration “devoid of politics” — whatever that means.
A gentle reminder comes from the progressive political alliance STAND-UP which says that UP must always follow the creed “serve the people” so the university won’t become irrelevant.
STAND-UP’s view makes sense. UP owes it to the people — not the government — to offer everything to the public. UP is run using public funds. UP is expected to produce the best and brighest — not for foreign corporations or corrupt governments, but so that UP graduates may participate in attaining good governance, genuine freedom and honest-to-goodness democracy. Such vision or mission is — sadly — not official.
Some say UP is a balwarte of activists. In reality, it is not. UP is a pillar of the status quo.
I thus hope the UP centennial celebrations won’t exactly and completely divorce itself from the complex and worsening national situation. Doing so will be tragic.
Tragic because not a few UP graduates have flocked abroad to “greener pastures” where foreign employers benefit from the excellent UP training that they got. Many work for multinationals. An army works for the government. The enormous potential of UP alumni to help encourage and even lead social change is being sapped by cynicism and apathy (the sense of hopelessness, the ideology of dog-eat-dog) — hallmarks of the bulok na sistema I honestly think they don’d sincerely share.
UP students, faculty, employees, administrators, alumni and other community members have a solemn mandate for being part of the premiere state university. They — we — must serve our people to the best of our ability, help the people make sense of the situation, inspire the people to fight for a better life, and to ultimately offer the university back to the people.
If after 100 years and after the graduation of tens of thousands of UP alumni, the Philippines remain in the doldrums, ano ang maipagmamalaki ng UP sa taumbayang nagbabayad ng buwis na pantustos sa pamantasan?
Besides, ain’t that the thought behind the Oblation: To offer ourselves fully and entirely in service of our people?
STAND-UP should persevere in its slogan and clarion call, because it is relevant now more than ever. Amid the gloom and doom of the present, its slogan gives hope:
Mga iskolar ng bayan, maglingkod tayo sa sambayanan.