Calling a spade a spade, a lemon a lemon


The Sept. 30, 2012 editorial of the Varsitarian, “Of Lemons and Cowards,” has arguably become the most controversial editorial in Philippine campus press history. Some would say the most notorious, but the Varsitarian would like to look at things positively. But if critics and detractors still would contest those claims, then they should agree at least that the editorial—with nearly 50,000 “shares” as of this writing—has made the Varsitarian, which closed the first semester with nearly 300,000 online hits, the most-read campus paper in the country, even shaming the circulation figures and online hits of the metropolitan news media claiming, without much mathematical bases, to have a national reach.

Many of these news media piggybacked on the Varsitarian to increase their circulation, particularly online agencies that cashed in on the heavy Internet traffic when the editorial went viral. Along with netizens with psychotic tendencies at cyberbullying, these same outfits through their editorials and columns roundly condemned the Varsitarian editorial for its alleged ad hominem attack against Ateneo and La Salle professors and other backers of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill. It doesn’t matter that by their editorial practice, and by being less than candid about their funders, they have shown time and again their bias for the RH bill, for it to be passed at all costs, regardless of its questionable features. They have even carried out a vicious campaign against the Catholic Church, which, in this benighted country of political opportunists and media mercenaries, is the only authentic political opposition. Backed by financial heavyweights, the commercial news media assaulted a hapless campus paper and accused it of bad journalism and unfair commentary. It was a case of the sinner casting the first stone.

While the Varsitarian may be a bunch of political lilies, it is not a spray of shrinking violets. Like Saint Paul, it will not run away from the good fight. Like San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila, it will die a thousand deaths just to uphold the faith. And like Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr (he was stoned to death, remember?), it is possessed with the purity of searing idealism to expose sham and uphold the truth. As Christ quotes Psalm 8 in Matthew 21:16, “Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings comes perfected praise.” This gem of perfected praise the Varsitarian tries to share with others even at the risk of provoking opprobrium while bearing in mind the admonition of Christ, “Do not throw your pearls before swines.”

In the case of its editorial, the Varsitarian merely stated the obvious. Catholic professors and school administrators who openly oppose the bishops’ stand against the RH bill should resign their faculty membership if only to show the courage of their intellectual conviction. Falling short of that, they risk being called interlopers, pretenders, and mercenaries. The Varsitarian is not one to mince words. It calls a spade a spade, a lemon a lemon.

But what if one’s idealism is blind? That is why the Varsitarian seeks guidance from the Catholic Church. At the risk of being called “pro-UST administration” and clerico-fascist, the Varsitarian mines the wisdom of Catholic teaching in order to craft its positions on the burning issues of the day. The UST administration itself has stated that it does not meddle with the Varsitarian, which is editorially independent. Moreover, the paper has maintained in its declaration of principles that it views itself as a Catholic paper, which is the perfectly natural thing to declare since, after all, the Varsitarian is the official student paper of what Pope Pius XII had declared as “The Catholic University of the Philippines.”

The Varsitarian has been consistently opposed to the RH bill for going against the natural law that is enshrined in men’s hearts and, mind you, in the Philippine Constitution: The State “shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception.” The Varsitarian upholds the natural law even without recourse to Catholic teachings because the natural law covers everyone, including non-Christians. As St. Thomas Aquinas says, “The natural law is nothing else than the rational creature’s participation of the eternal law.” This participation is available to all humans independently of their reception of divine revelation.

Moreover, natural law is self-evident. Anything good, according to the Angelic Doctor, perfects human nature, and the opposite of this good, evil, is to be avoided in all human acts. It is perfectly obvious from this perspective that abortifacients are “not good” because they destroy life. And women should not take contraceptives since they have dangerous side effects to their health and well-being. As Aquinas says, “Bodily health is a good to be pursued and bodily harm avoided.”

Although Rep. Edcel Lagman had initially maintained that the RH bill is a health measure, he has more and more justified the proposed legislation as a population-control measure, especially since President Aquino has more espoused it to explain the persistence of Philippine poverty as a matter of the poor breeding like rabbits. (Consider again his remarks in his last state of the nation address in which he called for the passage of the “responsible parenthood” bill to check the backlog in education). The President, who has an economics degree from Ateneo, betrays the business management mindset. He shows his condescension toward, nay his utter contempt for, the poor.

It is not surprising therefore for business groups to press for the passage of the RH bill. Zealots for management and order, they would not mind demographic curbs such as mass vasectomy and ligation even at the cost of demographic meltdown or women’s health being compromised because of the negative side effects of contraceptives. These would be the same business groups that welcomed Ferdinand Marcos’ declaration of martial law in 1972 and the formalization of constitutional authoritarianism via the 1973 Constitution, which, incidentally, enshrined family planning as a state policy, perhaps the only charter in history to do so. By the time the conjugal kleptocracy fled to Hawaii in 1986 amid the popular revolution led by the Church, the dictator and the business monopolies he had fostered through cronyism and corruption were a shambles. Marcos and the charlatans of business and management showed the stupidity of population control. They showed that poverty is caused not by alleged overpopulation, but by corruption, mismanagement and misguided and essentially anti-poor policies like family planning.

Intellectual dishonesty, moral cowardice

So the Varsitarian has been consistent—and sound—in its opposition to the RH bill. In the case of its controversial editorial, the Varsitarian tried to point out the inherent contradiction of the position taken by some Ateneo and La Salle professors in signing statements in which they identified themselves as members of the Catholic academe but opposing the bishops’ position against RH and generally calling for the passage of the bill. It doesn’t take a magus to discern that a faculty member of a Catholic school who opposes officially and openly a position consistently held by the bishops, who constitute the Magisterium or teaching authority of the Church, puts himself in a position that makes untenable his continued membership in the Catholic institution. For him to invoke his academic freedom in keeping his Catholic faculty position would be the height of intellectual dishonesty and moral cowardice. It would be the height of selfishness.

In addition, for Catholic university authorities such as the Jesuits and Christian Brothers not to throw down the gauntlet on such professors would be tantamount to faintheartedness and even betrayal of the bishops and the Church.

Ultimately what the Varsitarian editorial was merely citing was the scandalous behavior of certain Catholic professors and school administrators who seemed oblivious to the dire consequences of their behavior to the community of faith. It was also directed as much to UST faculty members as to their counterparts in Ateneo and La Salle. Despite its brash, vehemently polemical, and perhaps, yes, unchristian language, the editorial sought out to remind educators and planners that they have certain duties and obligations to fulfill in the interest of the Christian communion. The editorial didn’t hold its punches because brutal candor was needed.

The scandal in the Church is often committed by its members. In this case, it is by faculty members and administrators whose behavior is a scandal to their pupils. It is the scandal that Christ warned against: “And whosoever shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me; it were better for him that a millstone were hanged around his neck, and he were cast into the sea. (Mark 9:42; Douay-Rheims Bible).


  1. Rappler people especially Marites Vitug and Maria Ressa should learn from the Varsitarian people how to write good editorial. Do not piggyback on the said campus paper to increase online traffic.

  2. For all the claims of health hazard and moral decadence, no actual data was presented, no pattern analyzed and treated in a scientific manner. Quotations from saints are nothing more than glorified opinions, arguments out of authorities without the proper data to back it up….

  3. We get it. You will not stop until everyone becomes closed-minded fundamentalists. Now please stop your journalistic masturbation.

  4. The RHbill is meant to kill our Catholic faith and belief. It is a weapon to destroy our moral values as Catholics. We keep professing our faith every Sunday but we are doing otherwise. It is a reminder to all our lawmakers and ProRHbill, the foreign groups and supporters of this bill are sowing division among us. Before, they were selling war weapons now contraceptive pills. They will use the legal means by corrupting our lawmakers in a low intensity conflict, the divide and rule tactics. The Catholic Church will always stand and protect the Filipino people, just like the Edsa Revolution. The struggle continues, they kill bodies but not spirits, nobody can take away our identity as a Filipino, loving God and country!

    • Whose God? The God of the Old Testament that Roman Catholic Christians in Fliplandia worshipped according to Richard Dawkins’s “The God Delusion”?!?!?!

    • The church was there during Edsa revolution ONLY because of Jaime Cardinal Sin and ONLY when people heeded his call to organize and gather at Edsa. One can say that without Cardinal Sin, the church would have done NOTHING. What happened to them during most of martial law? Where were they when atrocities were being made under the Marcos rule? Their silence (read: quiet cooperation) with the Marcos’s regime is virtually equivalent to the church’s actions during nazi occupations, when they remained silent on the various tortures and executions against jews, with some even justifying it as revenge “for killing jesus”, when in fact, it is the CORRUPT, the POWER-HUNGRY, the IGNORANT rulers of the religion jesus fought against, not the entire jewish religion or everyone who follows it.

      although i know a number of people in church who genuinely remembers what jesus stood for, their actions are merely a speck of a shadow of everything the church does in contradiction.

  5. Yeah right. We should bring back the good old days of Johannes Kepler, Nicolaus Copernicus, Giordano Bruno, and Galileo. Let’s burn some witches, too. That’d be fun.

  6. I join the burgeoning populace who throw support and heap kudos upon you, Varsitarian. There is hope for the youth of this land. Keep the flicker of that hope alive until it spreads the light to the confused faithful and burns out of political office in next year’s elections those who would feed us the victual of ideological lies cooked in the kitchen of foreign interests.
    God bless you, Varsitarian!!!


    P.S. The Iskolars ng Bayan, Atenistas, Lasalistas and every rational-thinking person on earth laugh at you guys. Your God-awful backwardness hinders any progress in the minds of the students that you so represent. Student paper student paper kayo diyan eh puro keme lang naman laman. Hay naku, mahiya naman kayo sa constituents niyong pinapakain niyo ng katangahan.

    P.S. II – GO TENG! Gwapo mo shet.


    P.S. The Iskolars ng Bayan, Atenistas, Lasalistas and every rational-thinking person on earth laugh at you guys. Your God-awful backwardness hinders any progress in the minds of the students that you so represent. Student paper student paper kayo diyan eh puro keme lang naman laman. Hay naku, mahiya naman kayo sa constituents niyong pinapakain niyo ng katangahan.

    P.S. II – GO TENG! Gwapo mo shet.

  9. “But what if one’s idealism is blind? That is why the Varsitarian seeks guidance from the Catholic Church.”
    Matthew 15: 14: ” If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

  10. To the editor, your position does not give you access to privilege speeches so please stop acting like the victim. It was clear from the first few paragraphs that it was not your intention to accept the fault for allowing an indiscriminately loaded opinion to be printed. Do not mistake my words. I am against the passage of the current RH bill. And I agree that the integrity of the faith must be held. I merely wish that your paper leaves venomous attacks in the rubbish bin where it belongs and turns back to quality writing as is expected of your publication.

  11. One, Laughing WITH someone is vastly different from laughing AT someone. (Un)fortunately, we, the are doing the latter.

    Two (words): TRUTH. HURTS. Anyone who opens themselves up to righteous insult deserves every bit of hurt

    Three, don’t confuse Idealism with Empiricism and scientific principles. Aka, FACT: a mother who needs a life-saving abortion WILL die if it isn’t in her right to receive the operation. That is natural law aka COMMON SENSE.

    Four, in the minds of businesses and corporations: people = customers. If you can’t get it, more people = more customers = more profit. So your point is moot.

    Five, you’re confusing moral perseverance with misguided faith.

    Six, and by the way, when will you start to pay taxes to the State?


    A spade and a lemon.

    • Dude, UST does not pay taxes to the state because first of all, it is a school, and second, it is not a stakeholder. Last point is, nakasaad sa constitution na kapag ginagamit siya ng isang religous institution, catholic man or hindi, eh hindi niya kailangan mag-bayad.

      Stop the hate, will you. Hindi na kayo natigil sa paninira sa Varsitarian. Di niyo ba naisip na mas binibigyan niyo lang sila ng publicity? Bad man yan, publicity pa rin yan. Isa pa, bakit ba kayo nagpapaapekto. Diba ang dapat maapektuhan rito eh yung mga administrador ng mga paaralan at hindi kayo? Di naman kayo dapat nakikielam. Natakot kayo kasi ma gumulo ng mundo niyo? May taong nagmatapang na sumulat ng ganito? Sweet Jesus.

  12. sourgrapes. atenean extraordinaire mvp back with blue eagle team. ust, prepare to lose more titles. and, i think you have more pressing problems to focus on, flooding, suicide, corona’s phd, etc. sourgrapes.

  13. You guys still don’t get it? Do you honestly expect people to act civilly to you even when you don’t do the same to them?

    It’s one thing to stand up for something you believe in, but it’s another thing to do so in an offensive, insulting, hostile and belligerent manner. Of course you got called out for it.

    It doesn’t matter that Rappler or any other big media outfit picked up on it; you attacked other schools PUBLICLY. That is, after all, the origin and meaning of the word “PUBLISH”.

    You have no right to complain. You have no right to pretend to be a victim. You are responsible for your own words as a newspaper. That is the nature of journalism, and it’s appalling for you to continue to say that other schools are full of “lemons and cowards” when you yourself don’t have the backbone to accept the consequences of your own actions.

    Shame on you, Varsitarian.

  14. Your statement of belies your ignorance.

    Read the bill and point out exactly where it goes against the Constitutional mandate of protecting the unborn from the point of conception.

    Oh, but you probably think that contraception is the same as murder.

  15. Eh pasikat ang Varsitarian. Kita na ngang hati na ang Pilipinas sa usaping RH, gagatungan pa ng insulto ang dapat naman ay mahinahong talakayan ng tamang pangangalaga sa buhay ng ina at ng sanggol.

    Tanggapin niyo nang nagbago na ang panahon. Hindi na tulad ng sa noon ang kapangyarihan ng Simbahang Katoliko. Baka panahon na para idagdag nila ang wika ng agham sa kanilang talasalitaan. May mga pari akong nakakausap na hindi lamang turo ng Simbahan ang ginagamit na pangangatwiran – pinagtitibay nila ang mga turong ito gamit ang agham. At pinakamahalaga sa lahat, may mga tunay silang mungkahi para lalong mapabuti ang RH Bill at hindi lamang puro no to RH.

    Mahalaga sa aking maipasa ang RH Bill. Para sa kadahilanan, tumingin ka sa bilang ng malalaking pamilya na namumuhay sa wala pang 50php kada araw. Kung hindi sila ganoong kaaga nagkaanak, palagay niyo paano kaya maiiba ang kalagayan nila?

  16. Why won’t you stand up on what you believe in? Have the integrity and take the responsibility on your article! show your name! aren’t you proud on how ‘GOOD’ this article is?!

  17. Stop wasting my time, your time, and everyone else’s time on these unnecessary articles that are obviously just cries for attention. You don’t see anyone bringing up the UST scandals do you?

  18. you claim to uphold your moral integrity as a publication of Catholic roots yet your means state otherwise. Your reasoning is flawed, your suggestions don’t even make sense, and the series of derogatory articles that you have written may have their senses at one point or another, but in general… *****

  19. I stand by the Varsitarian on the fact the they choose not to be silent on this issue. This is an editorial. Those who want the name of the writer to be shown, you should all know that this is an editorial that speaks for the entire board of editors of this publication. Further, they have the balls to speak up. Be it against or pro your stand, this is student journalism at its bravest and finest form. The University is indeed fortunate to have these kids who dare not to be swayed by popular reasoning but maintained the Christian reasoning untarnished by this world of intellectual interlopers and cowards. They face persecution, but they hold on to the truth. I salute you Thomasians, don’t ever stop propagating what you believe in.

  20. Varsi, always remember, you may face persecution. But there’s no greater freedom than knowing you speak of truth. May God be with you always! You have to be brave and should not mind what others say about being pro-UST or blinded by faith. You speak of the truth which tells me, there is still hope in our youth… Thank you….