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‘Dapat mas matakot ang mga dapat managot’

Sa umano’y pananakit ng ilang fraternity sa UP…

“Ang panawagan ng Engineering Student Council, kung tayo ay natatakot, dapat mas matakot ang mga dapat managot!” —Ralph Baguinon, Engineering Student Council, University of the Philippines-Diliman

No free tuition yet under Duterte, students say

Majority of University of the Philippines (UP) students will still be asked to pay matriculation fees despite the Rodrigo Duterte government’s announcement of an additional P8.3 billion funding to make tuition free in state universities and colleges (SUCs) next school year.

This is according to CHED and the Department of Budget and Management’s (DBM) April 20 Joint Memorandum setting implementing rules and regulations and prioritizing students who could benefit from the program, UP student leaders said in a dialogue with university officials Friday.

The government’s free tuition policy shall only benefit few SUC students based on their families’ socio-economic status and academic standing, they added.

Last Thursday, UP launched its online Student Financial Assistance (SFA) project to align its policies with the joint memorandum from its P367 allocation.

UP said the SFA shall accept student applications for the free tuition program which shall then match the students’ financial needs with multiple financial support and packages into a so-called comprehensive financial support for applicants.

Under the program, students may apply for the Free Tuition Policy (FTP) where recipients of Student Financial Assistance Programs (STFAP) and beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) are prioritized,

Students deemed unqualified under the FTP may apply for the Socialized Tuition System (STS), a bracket-based tuition system that measures a student’s capacity to pay based on socioeconomic factors.

Anti-student scheme

UP Student Regent Raoul Manuel slammed the scheme, saying it is “diametrically opposed to and contrary to the spirit of making tuition free for all.”

Manuel questioned the huge profit the university has collected from students from tuition and other school fees, saying the university under-declared its actual tuition collection of around P900-million, excluding income from other school charges.

He said the cash balance of the university has ballooned from P5.5-billion in 1999 to P12-billion by 2015 kept as part of the university’s revolving fund.

“With such a huge amount in the coffers of UP, we find no justification for the continued collection of fees except for the extraction of further profits from the students,” Manuel said.

Concepcion for his part said the university’s incomes are bound by legal processes.

“Ang pera na yan, earmarked, [at] naka-indicate kung paano gagastusin,” Concepcion explained.

Concepcion said the SFA aims to capture data in case President Rodrigo Duterte vetoes the Affordable Higher Education for All Act, which aims to provide full tuition subsidy for students in state universities and colleges (SUCs).

Gusto naming makita kung sino yung magqu-qualify para mai-budget na natin yung perang hawak natin,” Concepcion said.

SFA also includes various financial aid, including donor-funded grants and presidential scholarships, he said.

According to Concepcion, scholarships and grants automatically becomes stipend for recipients once Duterte signs the bill.

He added that the university will ask for a supplemental budget from the government to cover other school fees since the allotted budget for UP only covers tuition.

Pangako ko naman sa inyo na hahanap tayo ng paraan,” Concepcion said. “’Di niyo ako kalaban dito. I will do all my best to make education free,” he added.

The student-administration dialogue coincided with the National Day of Walkout, where students gathered outside Quezon Hall in UP Diliman to commemorate Duterte’s first year in office and call for the end of tuition collection.

Genuine free education

Despite the administration’s promises, however, the students vowed to stay critical and to strengthen their call for free education.

The students also denounced the real nature of the Rodrigo Duterte government’s so-called free tuition program in only select SUCs and courses around the country.

Ang malinaw ay hindi tiyak na magkakaroon ng libreng edukasyon sa kanya,” Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP (STAND UP) Chairperson Almira Abril said.

Ngayon kailangan nating pag-igtingin ang ating mga panawagan, dahil ang magbibigay sa atin ng libreng edukasyon ay yung social pressure na kayang i-create ng malalaking pagkilos na ikakasa ng kabataan,” she added. # (Denver del Rosario of UP-CMC for Kodao Productions / Featured photo by Gabby Endona)

UP CSWCD names Bai Bibyaon Ligkayan Bigkay 2017 Gawad Tandang Sora honoree

The College of Social Work and Community Development of UP Diliman named Manobo leader Bai Bibyaon Ligkayan Bigkay as its third Gawad Tandang Sora recipient as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations this year.

Bigkay was cited for her leadership in the Indigenous People’s struggles for human rights and dignity. Read more

Woman warrior of Talaingod is 2017 Gawad Tandang Sora awardee

BAI BIBYAON LIGKAYAN BIGKAY was early for the nine o’clock ceremony at the University of the Philippines-Diliman College of Social Work and Community Development (CSWCD) today. She sat at the front row of the hall, flanked by her two companions and interpreters, a Manobo Datu and a Catholic nun, patiently waiting for the people who are to present her the 2017 Gawad Tandang Sora.

There is little in her calm demeanor that showed she was aware the flurry of preparations in the entire hall was in her behalf, that the huge event was to hail her as the Melchora “Tandang Sora” Aquino of the current and troubled times.  Ligkayan Bigkay is just the third recipient of the award given by the CSWD only during momentous occasions. The first awardee, the brave academic Prof. Flora Lansang who fought against Martial Law, was honored during UP’s centennial celebrations in 2008.  The second awardee, Salve Basyang, tireless advocate of the rights and welfare of women and the elderly, was honored during the bicentenary celebrations of the birth of Tandang Sora in 2012.

There were fears the 92-year old third honoree (earlier reports of her age varied from 70 to more than a hundred) would not make it to the occasion because she had been ill.  Sr. Noemi Degala, SMSM, one of her companions on the trip and interpreter, explained the Bai is complaining of joint pains. “It is most probably brought about by her advanced age,” Sr. Noemi said. But Bai Ligkayan made it, garbed in the traditional red and black Manobo dress and resplendent with the ginibang bead necklace and bead wristband.  Unmarried, she still honors the Manobo tradition of wearing only two bead ornaments on her body, not even the tangkuro, exclusive to datus and chieftains like her. There were the inevitable requests for “selfies” with the guest of honor and she obliged, occasionally raising her clenched fist, like on the posters featuring her around the big venue and on the front cover of the ceremony programme.

When the program finally began, several short videos about the Lumad struggles were shown.  Bai Ligkayan remained quiet, even when the audience laughed and applauded the video of her berating North Cotabato Representative Nancy Catamco at their Haran, Davao City sanctuary.  The confrontation was the only time she was recorded livid, reducing the national government official to momentary and stunned submission as the Bibyaon threw the proffered water bottle at the congresswoman’s feet before stomping off.  But the usually reserved Bai grew animated when a music video was shown of Lumad children running, jumping and playing indigenous percussion instruments.  She slightly swayed her shoulders and nodded her head to the music, before returning to her calm demeanor.  She even declined an invitation to join the dance by invited artists from the College of Human Kinetics, gesturing to her aching right knee in refusal.

A cascade of tributes

When the time came to present the award, epithets echoed around the hall.  Gawad Tandang Sora Committee chairperson and Social Work and Community Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said Bai Ligkayan was chosen from among the nominees because she had the vision and courage to fight for her people.  “She is the mother of the Lumad,” Taguiwalo told the audience.  CSWD Dean Jocelyn Caragay said the awardee by her life and struggles enliven the college’s spirit for the underserved. UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan for his part explained his administration’s practice to host indigenous peoples in their annual “Lakbayan” to Metro Manila. “The indigenous peoples are the visiting professors of the university whenever they visit us. Bai Bibyaon is the Chancellor,” Tan said to laughter and applause by the audience.

Sr. Noemi’s introduction of the honoree was most accorded rapt attention by the audience. She said Bai Ligkayan is known by many names.

“By the Indigenous Peoples of Mindanao, she is called the ‘Woman Warrior of Talaingod’.  To women’s groups, she is the ‘Gabriela Silang of Mindanao’.  Today, she is to be honored as CSWCD’s ‘Tandang Sora’.  By the Philippine government she has been called a ‘rebel’.  By social workers of the previous (government) administrations, she was ‘a victim of a large-scale kidnapping disguised as internally-displaced’.  And by the paramilitary Alamara, ‘a coveted trophy for war’,” Sr. Noemi said.

The nun asked, “Who is this leader of the perennially-displaced Manobos of the Pantaron (mountain) Range to deserve this tribute? Who is this woman who dwells among the outcasts to come to Manila, the seat of political power and might?  Who is this literacy-challenged leader whose education is at ‘UP’–the University of Pantaron—to be feted by the University of the Philippines?”

Sr. Noemi revealed that Bigkay does not even have a birth certificate to reveal her true age and her parents’ names.  “The nameless is now being called names.  And what an honor indeed that she is named as today’s Tandang Sora, the revolutionary woman who embodied our recent centenary as a nation.  It was perhaps fortuitous that the moment Melchora Aquino died in 1919 was probably about the same decade that Bai Bibyaon was born,” she said.

The nun drew parallelisms why the elderly Manobo woman from the hinterlands of Davao del Norte traveled to the UP campus located just a few kilometers away from where Melchora Aquino succored the Katipunan wounded and within sight of the avenue named after the “grand old lady of the Philippine revolution.”

“Tandang Sora was the revolutionary woman of the national democratic revolution of the past. Bai Bibyaon is the revolutionary woman of today’s ongoing and raging national democratic revolution with a socialist perspective and socialist practice. This distinction given to Bai Bibyaon is only possible because she has stood as the leader for the nameless, the lowly, and the cast out. To students of history the award is an affirmation of the principle that the masses make history,” the Mindanaoan nun said.

Offers back her flower bouquet

The audience was on its feet by the time Sr. Noemi reverently pronounced Bai Bibyaon Ligkayan Bigkay’s name to signify the award was about to be formally bestowed next.  The honoree, who only speaks and understands the Talaingod Manobo language, was the last to stand up, seemingly unsure that the loud applause was for and about her.  When she finally made her way onto the bedecked stage, she was uncertain on where to stand, looking at her companions, Sr. Noemi and fellow Manobo chieftain Datu Aylo Buntolan, as if asking why aren’t they joining her onstage.  They later did. True to character, Bai Ligkayan did not smile even once, most unusual of any honoree in any awarding ceremony.  The Bibyaon only had her iconic determined look, showing the reason why she is being honored–her resistance against all forms of abuse and exploitation against her people–is more a reason for struggle and less of celebration.

The text on the certificate was equally glowing.  It said CSWCD’s 2017 Gawad Tandang Sora was being given Bai Ligkayan for her fight for the Lumad’s rights and dignity.  Indeed, no one carries the Lumad struggle for human rights and self-determination with more dignity that Bigkay, more so when she raised her clenched fist for the assembled academics, students, officials, former CSWCD deans, staff and alumni of UP.  Her iconic salute was borne by her people’s history of struggle at the other UP in the highlands of southern Mindanao.

The awardee only had a short speech as a response to the honor just bestowed her.  Datu Aylo’s translation from Manobo to Visayan and Sr. Noemi’s translation from Visayan to English took more time.  The awardee first remarked on her long name, which refers not only to her person but her people’s culture.  She explained that her first name is “Ligkayan” and her family name is “Bigkay”.  “Bai” is a dignified honorific to Mindanao women of stature while “Bibyaon” is her title by acclamation as her tribe’s chieftain, forced to lead when their Datus have died defending their land and people by government forces in the service of mining and logging interests decades ago. She is the Talaingod Manobo Bai and Bibyaon, who to this day leads her people against the same forces of injustice and death.

Ligkayan Bigkay thanked the CSWCD for the recognition of her contributions to her people’s struggles for self-determination.  In the second part of her speech, the oldest person in the hall addressed herself to the youth and students present.  She called on them to help the indigenous peoples defend the environment and the future as well as to contribute to the poor people’s struggles for social justice and liberation in the countryside.

Sr. Noemi struggled to capture and convey the depth of Bai’s words and admitted failure.  “Let my deep sigh represent the depth of what she said,” the missionary nun said.  She revealed that Bai Ligkayan is in fact being hunted by the military at the Pantaron Range exactly for the reasons that she is feted by the country’s premiere university.

After her speech, Ligkayan Bigkay went on showing the audience what her greatness was all about. When asked to pose for photos with her bouquet of flowers she did not want the moment to be all her own, just as she refused all the accolades given her in the past be about her alone.  She reached out and took the hands of a person who always welcomed them on campus, their ally, the surprised Chancellor Tan, who was seated nearby.

“I was touched by the gesture.  I believe she sees me either as a son or a fellow elderly.  But it also means we are very good friends,” Tan said.

Earlier, when she stepped away from the podium and was being escorted back to her seat, the bouquet of flowers earlier given her was put back on her arms.  She looked at them briefly and then offered it to Secretary Taguiwalo, a gesture that could only mean she is sharing the adulation being showered her with a kindred soul, a comrade, a fellow woman warrior. But Taguiwalo had to decline.

It was Taguiwalo who voiced how the audience felt.  “The truth is, by receiving the award, Bai Bibyaon is bestowing us honor as a college,” Taguiwalo said. # (Report and photos by Raymund B. Villanueva)

 

 

Resume talks, not all-out war – peace advocates

By Mikhaela Dimpas, UP College of Mass Communications

VARIOUS sectors and peace advocates mobilized in front of University of the Philippines’ Palma Hall to remind the Duterte Administration that an all-out war against the New People’s Army is an all-out war against the people.

“Hindi na sila natuto sa leksiyon ng kasaysayan mula pa kay Marcos, Aquino, at Erap,” Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Ysagani Zarate said.

“Ang all-out war ay napakalaking pagkabigo na pigilan ang rebelyon,” he said. Read more

Basic sectors, UP community, lawmakers urge resumption of peace talks

The University of the Philippines (U.P.) community led by Chancellor Michael Tan and Vice chancellor Nestor Castro welcomed representatives of basic sectors of workers, farmers, women and youth to call for the continuation of peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Rep. Carlos Zarate, joined by other members of the Makabayan bloc in Congress, announced that 103 lawmakers signed a House Resolution to continue the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. T

he gathering is one of simultaneous peace rallies of #peacetalksituloy held on February 10, 2017. Read more

NDFP consultants come home to UP

NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC FRONT OF THE pHILIPPINES (NDFP) peace consultants Benito Tiamzon, Wilma Austria Tiamzon, Jaime Soledad, Rey Claro Casambre, Rafael Baylosis, visited the University of the Philippines in Diliman Quezon City for the first time since their release from prison or going above-ground last September 15.

The group was welcomed by UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan and vice-chancellor Nestor Castro at the iconic Oblation and were given the sablay. Read more

UP students slam ‘repressive’ enrollment policies

YOUTH activist groups protested at the University of the Philippines (UP) yesterday to condemn its administration for imposing “repressive” policies that force students to undergo “very difficult” enrollment procedures.

Students of the national university slammed what they call an enrollment fiasco brought by the “failure” of the new online registration systems launched by UP’s Alfredo Pascual administeation.

Glitches marred the supposedly “easier” registration, forcing hundreds of students to camp out last Saturday night, July 30, at UP’s Los Baños campus to enlist in subjects.

UP’s “No Late Payment” policy, the failure of the eUP and the Student Academic Information System (SAIS) projects, and the Socialized Tuition System are brought by the increasing commercialization of education in the university, UP Student Regent Raoul Manuel said.

“Nakikita natin na itong pagpapabaya ng UP admin, ang kanilang pag-prioritize sa kita ay nag-ta-translate sa maraming problema para sa mga estudyante,” Manuel said.

SAIS is part of the P752-million eUP project, the flagship program of the university administration.

In partnership with the US-made database computer software Oracle, the Pascual administration said the project aims to integrate all the information and communication systems across all UP constituent units.

SAIS has been rolled out in the Los Baños, Manila and Baguio campuses, while its implementation in other units is still pending.

Manuel questioned the “dubious” cost of implementing such systems that may give rise to budget misappropriations.

“Paraan ito ng pag-privatize ng mga basic student services at isang paraan ng korapsyon sa administrasyon,” Manuel said.

“Parang wala nang pinagkaiba ang UP na dating nanawagan laban sa pork barrel ng national government dahil sa ganito ka-grande na proyekto na hindi naman para sa interes ng mga estudyante at mga sektor ng UP community,” he said.

No late payment

Enrolment in UP Diliman also saw long lines and frayed nerves as hallways near enrollment centers are choked with long lines of students clutching forms, hoping for slots in classes.

“Dalawang araw palang ang enrollment, pero ang dami nang problema ng mga estudyante,” USC Councilor and Basic Student Services Head Donn Bernal said.

Bernal said the revived “No Late Payment” policy imposed an August 5 deadline, the last day of registration, for students to pay matriculation fees.

Students who cannot pay are forced to avail of the university’s student loan program instead.

UP suspended the policy in 2013 following the death of UP Manila student Kristel Tejada who committed suicide after her failure to pay enrollment fees.

Bernal urged the administration to resolve the lack of class slots that forces students to camp out as early as 6 PM of the preceding night for class slots.

On August 2, a dialogue between UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan and representatives from the UP Diliman USC discussed the possibility of junking the policy.

The dialogue resolved that students may pay beyond the deadline as long as they submit a letter to the Chancellor signed by their respective college secretaries.

“STS: Socialized Tuition Scam”

UPD USC Chairperson Bryle Leaño reiterated their demand to junk the Socialized Tuition System (STS) being implemented in UP and various state universities.

“Nailatag na natin sa matagal na panahon na itong STS ay pagkamal ng kita mula sa mga iskolar ng bayan,” Leaño said.

He explained that the P400 million profit from the “Socialized Tuition Scam” is kept as part of UP’s so-called revolving fund instead of being used for better student services.

Josiah Hiponia, Chairperson of the Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP (STAND UP), said that the revolving fund is also used to fund more commercialization schemes of the university administration.

“Ang kinukuha nilang kita sa atin ay pinapagpagawa ng mga pasilidad na mas humu-huthot pa ng kita sa mga estudyante,” he said.

Hiponia cited the newly-built Acacia Dormitory that was constructed from the revolving fund.

Instead of providing inexpensive and sufficient student housing, UP charges P3,000 per month to students exclusive of electricity and other charges, she said.

Bigger picture

Anakbayan, for its part, said that the education commercialization and deregulation policies are reflections of the rampant commercialization of basic social services in the country.

“May dalawang layunin ang pag-privatize ng basic social services sa bansa. Una, ay abandunahin ang serbisyo para sa mamamayan gaya ng edukasyon ng mga kabataan at, pangalawa, ay ang pagkamal ng kita para sa mga sariling kapakinabangan,” Kenji Muramatsu of Anakbayan UPD said.

Leaño urged students to “stay strong” and join the upcoming series of protests.

“Huwag nating sukuan ang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas. Huwag nating sukuan ang Unibersidad ng Bayan. This is UP, this is our university, kaya naman sama-sama tayong kikilos at sama-sama tayong magtatagumpay,” Leaño said. (Report and photo by Mikhaela Dimpas of UP CMC for Kodao Productions)