ASIDE FROM Dominic, Aquinas, and Martin de Porres, there is one more hound of God that I recently came to admire as my eyes raked through the texts of his life story one leisurely morning on All Saints Day.

Pardon me for getting hooked at Church history these days. The kind of pasttime that I have may appear trivial, if not antiquated, for a handful of intellectual posers roaming the University and declaring the secularism of their thoughts from all evils, imagined or otherwise. I could only mope in boundless consternation.

This could be the noble reason why, at the course of examining the chapter on the papal scandal brought about by Pope Alexander VI’s notoriously hedonistic lifestyle and grave abuse of authority and corruption, that I managed to acquaint myself with Fr. Girolamo Savonarola,O.P., the firebrand Dominican monk who bravely challenged the abuses of the Supreme Pontiff that time.

Unmindful of the consequences that entail his actions, Fr. Savonarola fervently condemned Alexander VI’s excesses which led to his excommunication, and later, execution by burning at the stake because of his alleged “heretical” views about the papacy.

Fr. Savonarola’s death at the expense of people atrophied by power sadism or deliberate negation of reason did not perish at the Bonfire of the Vanities. In fact, the present offers a rash of cases similar to the creative persecution of Fr. Savonarola, although not exactly tailored the way Alexander VI’s vindictive mind would like it.

Recently, the editor in chief of Hiraya¸ the College of Fine Arts and Design’s (CFAD) student publication, cried foul over the allegedly subtle yet equally torturous haranguing that he has been getting from people at the college dean’s office everyday. John Carlo Masajo and the entire Hiraya staff bewailed the everyday theatrics that some CFAD administrators resort to in order to keep them from publishing their long-delayed first issue, perhaps presuming that it will be barnacled by alleged image-warping grievances from the Atelier students.

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In the spirit of fairness, the Varsitarian sent a reporter to Dean Jaime de los Santos to confirm the veracity of Hiraya’s charges. Unfortunately the dean refused to make an official comment on the matter.

Backtracking, the Hiraya-CFAD administrators’ stand-off began with Masajo’s blog entry titled Ang Bagong Laban, which assailed the college’s student council for its inability to immediately address the month-old water crisis at the Beato Angelico building. The Buildings and Grounds office, for its part, then explained the situation as well as the pipe realigning project that the University is currently employing to remedy the problem.

But what has really stood out from the importunities that betide Masajo and his staff was the steadfast temerity of the CFAD administration in concealing the actual figures of Hiraya’s finances. Together with the combined allotment in the last two-and-a-half years, and including the first semester, the fund is supposed to have ballooned to Php 563,000. But Hiraya has been unable to touch even a single cent. This prompted Masajo to ask the Budget Office about Hiraya’s financial status which I happened to witness. To our surprise, we found out that the Dean’s Office has disbursed P1, 350 for the subscription of an advertising magazine, not to mention another P20, 000 whose purpose until now remains a mystery.

It is clearly stated in Sec. 6, Rule 5 of the implementing rules and regulations of the Campus Journalism Act of 1991, that “the money collected (for a student publication) shall only be for its exclusive use” and that “violation of this rule by the editorial board, any student-staff, faculty-adviser and/or school administration/official shall be cause for administrative and/or criminal action against the violator.” This led Masajo to file a formal complaint with the Rector’s Office. To counter Masajo’s move, De los Santos then began questioning the legitimacy of Masajo’s appointment as editor in chief. De los Santos contended that Masajo’s authority as editor is anomalous because his appointment was “informal” and that Hiraya’s publication adviser Victoria Mortel has not even confirmed him as successor to Jonathan Gamalinda, last year’s editor in chief. This is grossly disturbing.

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Masajo’s case is just a matter of common sense. That Masajo’s appointment paper was not confirmed by Mortel as publication adviser does not galvanize the dean’s contention. In fact, there was an appointment paper signed by Gamalinda himself, which bestows the editorship to Masajo as his legitimate successor in the absence of a selection committee. Moreover, how can Mortel confirm Masajo if the dean has yet to ink her appointment as per endorsement by the Hiraya editors when the academic year began?

Again, De los Santos insisted that Gamalinda’s appointment of Masajo is illegitimate because the latter has already graduated by the time he signed the current editor in chief’s papers. (Yet even if Gamalinda has already graduated by the time he has signed Masajo’s papers, his tenure as editor in chief for one academic year should supposedly last before A.Y. 2007-2008 begins, that is May 31. An academic year is composed of the first and second semesters, and the summer period.) In order for Masajo to formalize his editorship, he must relinquish his post and subject himself to a selection process led by a certain committee, the dean said.

However, these contentions deserve a little fine-tuning. First, to prove Masajo as a bogus editor, one should first prove Gamalinda’s illegitimacy. But how can the dean contest that fact, given that the latter has already graduated without being charged by the Budget Office for malversation of funds and material misrepresentation, not to mention his diploma being withheld, upon disbursing P20,000 for his staff’s journalism workshop during his term? The dean even affirmed Gamalinda’s request, therefore recognizing him as editor in chief.

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Second, how can the dean “request” Masajo to resign without considering that he was the one who suggested that a selection process be put up to determine Hiraya’s composition? It is like saying that J.K. Rowling should avoid the spotlight to accommodate Harry, his own creation. Besides, a semester has already lapsed. The dean has even reserved Masajo a work space in his own office. Wouldn’t that qualify for outright recognition of the person’s authority as editor? On second thought, why would the dean allot such space for a “mere” student if he is not holding any position in the college? In hindsight, wouldn’t it be better if ALL STUDENTS at CFAD hold a space at the Dean’s Office if only to stress the principle of equality?

Logic is a very nice subject indeed.


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