by Eloisa Fe Lusotan
What makes 2008 special for UP is the centenary, and what’s so special with the centenary is its pick pocketing power. Celebrations are best anticipated when it is known that the celebrant’s whims are indulged. And what do you expect with an elite’s 100th year of “excellence”?
2008 has been proclaimed the “UP Centennial Year,” with all the grandiose to match the prestige of the University. Shirts imprinted with 100 (how you wish, as imprinted, it costs only that much); circulation of commemorative hundred peso bills with the oblation image as approved by the Central Bank; kwentong peyups, centennial lectures; fund raisings; UP Centennial Gawad Likhaan; UP centennial song to replace the overused “happy birthday;” and publicity among the 101 ways to celebrate the centenary—a mix of the significant and the plain posh.
Tracing back to the establishment of the University in 1908, with all the transitions and struggles tantamount to a decade of upholding excellence alongside institutional autonomy, UP deserves more than fancy salutations. Dare say, UP symbolisms’ decay is concealed with hollow merrymakings.
I am an Iskolar ng Bayan, as justified in the Wikipedia, I am called such due to the minimal cost of my well founded education, minimal that is that it will take an outsider to provide that justification. The University is a subsidized institution but its students are still to share the insufficiency, never mind the implications.
I recall, when I first got here I sought help from a guidance counsellor regarding my first loan application, as I was relating my problem she asked, “If your parents are jobless, why did they send you here?” I answered silence. Sheer candour, they should have posted it outside: squeeze out money from your desiccated pockets, the University needs it. I should have known.
The Oblation, the naked man his arms outstretched and face pointing upwards, as a Centennial Trivia would say, is inspired by the second stanza of Rizal’s MI Ultimo Adios showing reference to selfless dedication and service to the nation. But who among us knows what the second stanza of the Mi Ultimo reads? If you do, I bet you only know.
For a hundred years now, the University of the Philippines has served a deep well of avant-garde. Honing brilliant minds, UP is a brand that is becoming more expensive through time, keeping a century-old legacy of high standards, who would not buy UP? UP is a status quo, a UP insignia simply spells leverage. However, rather than being cloaked in the trappings of its prestige are we really living the so-called tradition of excellence?
Nothing is watertight, UP upon reaching its 100th year, apparently needs refurbishments. And this should not be overlooked, UP is not a supernatural entity, it is a world constantly evolving with its pitfalls and triumphs. UP is not merely an institution, it is a major player outside its walls if ever it has walls to limit its scope. UP has relentless dynamism as brilliant minds bring UP tradition. UP is everywhere and we would not want to witness the truth of its excellence deteriorating to a nostalgic myth.
Much for a centennial tribute, all I have in my pocket is a hundred-peso bill minus the UP Oblation symbol, my dinner for tonight, my breakfast for tomorrow, and all other things a cien can afford.