96-43101. That was the student number issued to me when I was admitted to the University of the Philippines in 1996, as the first two digits of my student ID number declares. To most UP students, the student number means so many things. It could define one’s existence in the university, where a student will be reduced to a hyphenated 7-digit number and lose one’s self in the process. Quite literally. The student number can also be a clue of one’s age in the campus, as if it matters, when you are seated in between 86-72142 and 97-58464 in an auditorium listening to the same instructor who have handled and will handle the same class in the last/next 20 years. Let me just say that the point is, whether you are an aging dinosaur or a blossoming embryo, age does not matter in the realm of ideas.
Three years and one decade later, crossing both a millenia and a centenary celebration, I’d like to share with you my thoughts and observations of the many changes that has happened to UP since that innocent day of June 1996, when I first set foot to the welcoming embrace of the University of the Philippines.
13. Waiting Sheds
Gone are the wooden waiting sheds of yesteryears that served not only as queuing area for campus jeepney passengers but also, and I guess most importantly, as a mouthpiece to the various and varying voices of the people in the university. I refer to the bulletin boards in all of the sheds before where enterprising (Wanted Bedspacer), agitating (Ibagsak US-Ramos Rehimen) and inviting (Join UP Student Coop) messages are posted on top of each other creating a visual collage of voices that shouts the dominant political, social, educational and cultural activities of the day. The bulletin board connects the people of the university on those days. People were scrambling for its every free but limited space. To me, the bulletin boards were a visual feast; it was such a delight to see them change its face everyday as it tells the people of the university of the happenings in and out of the campus. Now these sheds with boards are replaced with steel and iron structures but without the boards. These are sheds without a mouth. Waiting in the shed would never be noisy again.
12. Carless Oval and Bike Lane
The erstwhile 2-way Academic Oval is now a single lane running counter clockwise. Its innermost lane is the designated Bike Lane. On weekends, motorized vehicles are prohibited in the oval. In its lieu, families and wellness enthusiasts abound in the oval.
Some sectors of the universty, notably the jeepney drivers and students, are complaining about this scheme, as it has taken them a longer time to complete a single trip. But to me, this is one big bold step in not only promoting walking and maintaining open spaces in the campus, but also in eliminating noise inside the campus.
For whatever it is worth, I’m sure they will soon find the most efficient route for the jeepneys. Meanwhile, let every one walk his way around the campus.
11. Blackhawks Down
This generation of male students must be thankful that the compulsory military training under the ROTC is now a thing of the past. UP ROTC was the only tolerated fascist organization in the university then. It is a good thing that it has already evolved into something more relevant to the times.
10. Enemy at the Gates
UP is the university of the people, that is why the campus should be open and accessible to all. But in my recent visit, I’ve noticed that some amount of taxpayers money was used to enclose the campus with security gates, making access impossible to passing motorists and visitors. Even the once welcoming University Avenue now looks like a crime scene with all the secuirty signs and police lines that they’ve put up in the checkpoint.
9. Instant Noodles
In the past, the Manininda in campus, the small cart-type ones at least, only sell fishballs, kikiam and squidballs. Before I left the university, quail eggs was added to their menu. A few years later, cheese sticks. Today, the fishball carts near Vinzons Hall sell all kinds of instant noodles. Like the rest of the impoverished people who thrive in instant noodles as complete meal, it seems that students of UP are also in to it. With the closure of Narra, my guess is that students are having a hard time finding inexpensive meals inside the campus. Where is Mang Bogs and his Aristo-cart?
8. New Buildings
College of Social Works and Community Development transferred to its new building while the School of Statistics now occupied the old CSWCD building. As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, the Office of the Registrar has a new building too. Although I haven’t been to its new home, the College of Architecture reportedly have a state-of-the-art edifice erected near College of Arts and Letters Building.
That’s three new buildings in thirteen years. Who’s complaining? As of last count, DepEd needs 10,000 new classrooms. In the rest of the country, grade school pupils are either cramped inside a small classroom or sundried under an acacia tree.
When I was in UP last year, I noticed that students have begun wearing IDs around their neck. I thought of visiting my college but unfortunately, I was not able to pass through the guard bacause I was not carrying a valid UP student ID. What’s next, a school uniform?
In my whole four years in UP, tuition fee was fixed at P300 per unit. That was the cost of tuition since UP witnessed a tuition fee increase (TFI) in 1989, the year when the bastardized Socialized Tuition Fee and Assistance Program (STFAP) was introduced. Before STFAP, tuition was I think (am not sure about this) P80 per unit.
On December 2006, TFI showed its ugly face again by raising tuition to P1,000 per unit.
(To be continued)
Part 2 here