I know I have a dull sense of humor but I can tell when a joke is good or not.

I laughed my heart out when I read a column by Raul J. Palabrica in the Philippine Daily Inquirer a couple of months back. It’s about a letter sent to him by a college student (apparently for publication in the Youngblood section) containing unbelievable sentence construction and questionable subject-verb agreement. The letter has lines like “my professor required me to wrote an article” and “corruption is the most toxic phenomena nowadays which it cannot eliminate without working hand on hand to go against corruption – like Erap case.”

I would have sincerely bet then that it couldn’t possibly be a Thomasian. But now, I’m having second thoughts.

Last month, I was handed two survey questionnaires on different occasions. One was from a group of fourth year students and another by second year students. Take note, college students.

I tried to justify the glaring grammatical lapses that even a high school student would have known. Perhaps the questionnaire was written in haste, or the mistakes were just typographical errors. But, sentences like “When did you started using this product, Rank the attributes you want to best you hair gel’ and even the polite ending “We really appreciate the time you have taken to complete this survey” were beyond excuses. The questionnaire from the fourth year students was even noted by their adviser, a certain Dra. I-love-hearing-my-degree Ph.D.

This is not a matter of preferring the English language over Filipino (anyway, many can’t express themselves well in Filipino either). It’s a question of how much we learn in college or if the professors teach us anything at all.

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College education is supposed to make us a little more knowledgeable and not tolerate our mediocrity. We are not expected to speak or write flawless English or Filipino, but at least, we should learn how to use them decently enough to make us worthy of our college degree.

I hope these two survey questionnaires do not speak of the general status of language-use in the university. Nevertheless, it is still a point of concern. As my teacher says, the university cannot afford to produce another ignoramus in the society.

***

I was turning green with envy as I watched a theatrical performance by Dulaang UP last month. I could not help but compare it to our theater groups (or pseudo-theater groups at that) which stage plays with overused plots (drug-related story, shallow and melodramatic romance and failed postmodern and artistic attempts) and stereotypical and one-sided characters (prostitute, idealistic lovers, and rebellious persons).

Theater groups should always strive to improve its material and quality of performance with every presentation. It should not stop at mastering its mediocrity.

Aesthetics, quality and mastery should not be compromised. Audiences are entitled to every cent’s worth of their money. Fifty pesos is too much to pay for a two-hour sleep.

In my four-year stay in the university, I could only remember few performances that are really worthy of praise. The rest I would never watch had I not been compelled by my professor.

***

Most graduating students are probably drowning in their piles of research materials, requirements and to-do lists. Isn’t it disheartening that along with these thoughts of getting things over and done with, we feel that there are still so many things that we want to do before we leave the university? We barely have seven more months to go, and we can’t let it slip just like that.

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