Archive | January, 2011

Candidates for UPD Chancellor defend public-private partnerships

27 Jan

Public-private partnerships and the large-class system were among the issues discussed by the five nominees for University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman chancellor in a forum at the National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education Development (NISMED) Auditorium last Sunday.

Center for Women’s Studies Director Sylvia Claudio said that UP land could be maximized as an autonomous source of income, provided there was efficiency and equity between the administration and private companies.

Former College of Engineering (COE) Dean Rowena Guevara observed that private money was “much easier and faster to utilize,” citing the recent successful merger of the UP administration and COE alumni in constructing the P43-million UP Centennial Dormitory.

Asian Development Bank consultant Patrick Azanza, also a nominee for UP president last year, believed that interaction with the private sector would help academic units improve their curricula to reflect industry expectations and to produce more competent graduates.

College of Mass Communication (CMC) Dean Roland Tolentino said, “There should be no mad dash to bring in private institutions.” He stressed the need for environment-friendly development of the Academic Oval and preservation of green spaces on campus.

In addition to “necessary” public-private partnership, College of Science (CS) Dean Caesar Saloma called on the government to increase budget allocations for state universities and colleges (SUCs). He added that subsidies for SUCs should be embedded in the national expenditure program, and should not come in the form of oft-delayed congressional insertions.

Large classes, downsized learning

The candidates viewed the large-class system as a response to the lack of facilities and teachers in the university. Tolentino said that in colleges like CMC, where the maximum number of students for production classes is 15 to 20, larger class sizes comes at the expense of student learning. This contrasts with CS classes such as Science, Technology and Society (STS), which accommodates at least 100 students per section.

Guevara emphasized the importance of designing a productive overall learning environment for students of different disciplines. She said that in the COE, her Electrical and Electronics Engineering (EEE) students benefitted from a combination of large-class discussion and smaller lecture classes conducted by senior and junior faculty members, respectively.

Incoming UP president Alfredo Pascual attended the open forum and took down notes as candidates fielded questions from students in the audience. “They have to be candid with what they’re saying, so we will know exactly their capability and their plans for UP,” said Pascual.

Selection process

The term of incumbent UPD Chancellor Sergio Cao will end on February 28. In a memorandum dated December 6 last year, outgoing UP President Emerlinda Roman outlined the search process for Cao’s successor.

A Search Committee composed of two senior faculty members, one junior faculty member, a representative of Roman and one representative each for the Research, Extension and Professional Staff (REPS), administrative personnel and students was formed to facilitate nominations and evaluate each candidate.

A series of candidate forums was organized to involve the different sectors of the university in the selection process. Each forum will begin with the nominees’ presentation of their vision papers, and will proceed to an open forum. The next forums will be held on January 31 at the UP School of Economics Auditorium and at the Faculty Center’s Claro M. Recto Hall on February 7.

The committee is set to submit their final report to Roman on or before February 18. She will then select the incoming UP Diliman chancellor from this list and present her choice to the Board of Regents, the highest policy-making body in UP, on February 24.

 

 

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BJMP man nabbed for robbing student on campus, posts bail

22 Jan

An employee of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) was arrested after he held up at gunpoint a female dormitory resident at the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City.

Reports from the UP Diliman Police (UPDP) identified the perpetrator as Francis Lawrence Miranda, 30, staff member of the Office of General Services at the BJMP. The incident happened around 8:45 p.m. last January 7, in front of the Church of the Risen Lord along J.P. Laurel Street.

Gelli Anne Dasaban, a 17-year-old engineering sophomore from Laguna, was on her way to the Ilang-Ilang Residence Hall when Miranda approached from behind and ordered her to hand over her bag. He threatened to shoot with his 9-mm pistol if she refused.

Dasaban obeyed but screamed for help before Miranda could run farther than two blocks away. This caught the attention of nearby security guards and members of the Special Services Brigade (SSB).

SSB patrollers managed to retrieve the victim’s belongings: a black bag with two cellphones, a wallet with P1000 cash and two automated teller machine (ATM) cards.

The perpetrator sustained head injuries after being thwarted and mauled by residents of Pook Ricarte, where he had intended to escape. He was sent to the UP Health Service and East Avenue Medical Center before being turned over to the Quezon City Police District Anonas Police Station.

First robbery

Miranda was a first-time criminal, according to SP Gregorio Aquino Jr. who handled the investigation. “Kailangan niya daw talaga magpadala ng P20, 000 sa kanila sa Nueva Ecija, kaya siya napilitan mang-holdap (He said he really needed to send P20, 000 to his family in Nueva Ecija, that’s why he was forced to stage a holdup),” said Aquino.

A robbery case was already filed against Miranda at the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office. However, Aquino said that in recent text messages, Dasaban informed him of her family’s decision to drop the charge. Miranda was freed on January 14, after posting a bail of P100, 000.

The incident was the first robbery case recorded by the UPDP for 2011. This was followed by another holdup at Pook Aguinaldo last January 8, involving a UP history professor. Statistics from the UPDP indicate that robbery incidents saw a decline in the previous year, from 27 in 2009 to 17 in 2010.

Eek-oh-no!-mics

6 Jan

:U

Because it’s almost two in the morning and my two problem sets are getting nowhere but to my nerves.

Bloggin’ and Two Went Y Ah Lovin’

2 Jan

Got wind of the ongoing PostADay and PostAWeek challenge at WordPress. A worthwhile endeavor, methinks, but I’m sticking with PostAWeek ’cause blogging every single day might prove too cumbersome. I blog because I have a life, after all, not the other way around.

Cheers to a more meaningful and productive 2011, both in the real and cyber world! 🙂

1.1.11

1 Jan

Because somehow I can’t let the day end without a perfunctory, start-of-the-year entry.

Each year is special in its own way, and it would take more than a blog entry to remember everything and everyone that made each day of 2010 special.  I started this blog with the intention of documenting milestones and leaving records to look back on, something I didn’t get to do for most of last year. But there’s much to be said about what isn’t written, and much to be written about what isn’t said.

Specific New Year’s Resolutions never really worked for me. For two years now, it’s been my goal to learn to ride a bike. Nothing has become of it. But that doesn’t mean my 2009 and 2010 had gone kaput. The things and events and people that truly mattered were the ones that came almost by surprise — lingering as second thoughts or musings under the radar, only to be made more meaningful at a later time.

Life has a funny way of creeping up on us. We can plan all we want, but still find ourselves caught in a web of spontaneity. Because sometimes life gives you what you need even if it’s not at all what you wanted. In times like these, it’s the openness to embrace new experiences, and live and learn from them, that get us through.  So don’t let grand plans derail living. There is beauty in the mundane, and relevance beyond what we can see.  And more than any resolution, the choice to seize life and live for all it’s worth, day by day, year in and year out, sparks long after the fireworks have cleared.

Out and About: Reflecting on the 2010 LGBT Pride March

1 Jan

This semester, it is my privilege and pleasure to be taking up LGBT Psychology under the tutelage of Sir Eric Manalastas. The first of its kind in my university and country (le gasp), the course aims to situate LGBT issues and identities in the Philippine context and consciousness. Since the subject itself unabashedly (even proudly) deviates from the orthodox, our class activities are often anything else but. Take, for instance, our field trip to this year’s Pride March. Our task was to join the parade, mingle with other participants and write a reflection paper on our experiences. The latter is what you will find below.

_______________________

 

They said it loud, and said it proud. Gray skies with threats of rain did little to dampen the festive spirits at “One Love: the LGBT Pride March and World AIDS Day Celebration” in Tomas Morato last December 4. Now in its 11th year in the Philippines, the Pride March organized by Task Force Pride drew an estimated 1,000 participants at its peak. Besides good cheer and merriment, the event provided a venue for individuals and organizations belonging to or championing the causes of the LGBT community to take their concerns from the closet to the streets.

Among the participants was Jason Masaganda, a film student in UP Diliman and currently an active member of the Metropolitan Community Church. The latter is a congregation of, by and for LGBTs in Quezon City, Baguio, and soon Marikina as well. A Pride Parade regular, Jason and his churchmates believe that “God loves all people regardless of gender.”He also cited the importance of professional counsel (a service offered by the Metropolitan Community Church) and support from family and friends. Jason himself has been out since adolescence, and he maintains a positive outlook about the state of acceptance for gay men in the Philippines.

Anne Lim, president of Galang Philippines, an organization championing the rights of urban poor lesbians, shares Jason’s proactive optimism for equal treatment in society. She explained that in addition to sexuality, economic class is also a basis for bias that must be dealt with at the grassroots level.  Anne identified three key areas of difficulty faced by lesbians: employment, housing and insurance. According to her, government support is lacking not only in terms of the oft-delayed Anti-Discrimination Bill, but especially in the implementation of laws prohibiting the termination of employees on the basis of sexuality. In terms of subsidized housing and relocation, heterosexual couples, mainly those with children, are always given priority over same-sex couples. Lastly, SSS and PhilHealth do not recognize same-sex partners as beneficiaries of insurance holders. Through Galang Philippines, Anne works towards a just and progressive society as a model for other communities in the fight against all discrimination.

Meanwhile, parade participants Joseph David and Phil Tarinay are hard at work as employees of IBM and as LGBT rights advocates. Both are members of the Employee Alliance for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Empowerment (EAGLE), one of eight diversity groups in the call center company. Phil shared that despite the visibility of LGBTs in the work force, they are still subject to discrimination when their behavior is unaligned with heterosexist schema. One concrete example is the use of comfort rooms: transsexual women who used female restrooms and out gay men who used male restrooms were jeered in their office. To address this, EAGLE spearheaded gender sensitivity seminars at work starting last June. With the help of dialogues and open forums, the degrading taunts have since been minimized, if not eliminated. Such efforts and individuals prove that despite cases of spite and intolerance against them, LGBTs have the capacity and resolve to be productive members of society.

The Pride Parade was as much a feast for the consciousness as it was a feast for the senses. Tomas Morato turned into a catwalk that afternoon, as gowned and winged creatures strutted with gusto in various states of dress and undress. Leo of Boys’ Station Family was among the eye magnets of the parade. He sported black wings about 2 meters across, adorned with shards of mirrors. A streak of silver glitters added visual interest to his bare torso. When asked why he was wearing a costume, Leo beamed and cattily replied, “Because I can!”

Despite projecting the confidence and energy levels common among veteran marchers, it was actually Leo’s first time to join the parade. His organization is socio-civic in nature, regularly conducting outreach activities for children in charities and orphanages. Through his attendance, he intended to raise awareness not only for LGBTs but also for AIDS research. His ultimate vision is for the LGBT community to be recognized as a sect, a move that could bring about “legalization” to end public prejudice, and enhance networking among LGBTs. Leo admits that sexual discrimination may not be eradicated in his lifetime, but the impressive turnout of pride marchers proves that the LGBT community is a force to be reckoned with.

Last Sunday, LGBTs were not alone in their movement against unequal treatment and homophobia. The community found allies in heterosexual people, who came in groups or by themselves to express their solidarity. “Nandito kami para magbigay suporta para sa unti-unting pagtanggap ng lipunan sa mga LGBT,” said Jerry Matagsico, a member of Bayan Muna Partylist. He added that it is every person’s right to be himself or herself, and to be spared from discrimination. Jerry also called on the government not to accuse LGBTs of immorality, but instead to rally with them in their struggle for self- and social acceptance.

Irina and Rishita, foreigners affiliated with the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights, were also one with Filipinos in the celebration of sexual diversity, of “nature as it is, not [as] according to some people, [it] should be.” Both women affirmed the vigor of the parade attendees and organizers, but lamented how discrimination, racism and homophobia were still felt, and remained unchallenged even in the larger global community. They acknowledged that progress has been made in recognizing the rights of LGBTs (among them the right to marry same-sex partners and to raise children) worldwide. However, in a world where political will and open-mindedness is not as strong as it should be, these “glimmers of hope” should not be enough for LGBTs to rest on their laurels. Rishita enthuses:”One small victory is not when you rest. It means you have to push harder, because there is a whole world out there that needs a change.”