I REGRET turning down the chance to be part of the first Ateneo-Harvard Project for Asian and Intercultural Relations (HPAIR) National Conference for Sustainable Development last January 17 to 19 at the Ateneo de Manila University campus. For one, I could have carried the University’s name in such a noteworthy international cause. It was a good opportunity to design the blueprint for Philippine sustainable development. I was hoping Thomasian student leaders would participate since UST has a large student population. Surprisingly, I found out that there was only one Thomasian out of the top 100 students nationwide who qualified. She was a co-staffer in the Varsitarian.

It seems that Thomasians have this appallingly apathetic culture. How many times have our so-called Royal University been left out of the elite circles of scholarly dominance? I suppose we only venture into the outside world when we know we surely have an edge over others. Take, for example, the UST Singers, Salinggawi Dance Troupe and the Thomasian Debate Society, dominant in their own fields.

The problem is not the negative notion of UST created by such indifference. Because of the UST present administration’s efforts, UST’s public relations has become less problematic, but the real hitch is the lack of student effort to create a lively and interactive academic community by forging ties with the world outside. Other than the V’s Inkblots (bias aside), I could not recall any remarkable organizational projects worthy of emulation. What student bodies are very fond of holding are pathetic concerts, fashion shows, dance contests, and beauty pageants. Dump all of these naïve projects. We are supposed to be in an environment for higher learning (read: academic and scholastic enrichment). We have become accustomed to the festive atmosphere of our Dominican heritage that we tend to neglect our intellectual and pro-fessional growth as future leaders.

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Which brings me to one question – is it apathy for or plain ignorance of the society at large? I know we have the strength. Our fathers (I mean our generous OP-masters) are always ready to support any endeavor. It is just up to us to do something that can earn acclaim from the community beyond. Prestige and honor have been part of our tradition, but for the past years, I could only shake my head when non-uniformed others take the spotlight.

Enough of this ranting. I am not trying to put down the blazing Thomasian spirit thriving in ecstasy (from a happy and carefree student life, that is!). I am only hoping that maybe we can be more profound as Thomasians. After all, we represent the University and not the other way around. We have a lot to be proud of this institution and if we cannot make ourselves part of this pride, at least protecting its image should be our duty.

* * *

In one of our regular story conferences, I cannot help but agree with our adviser that Philippine media have become the epitome of cheap taste and crass commercialism.

During the Fourth World Meeting of Families, instead of putting emphasis on the essence of the meet, media focused on homosexual “marriages” and “families.” Rather than tackle the issues on the family, the media promoted the issue of homosexuals and their so-called right to be accepted by the Church, which in fact accepts them in the spirit of Christian charity while rejecting their demands that homosexual unions be blessed by the Church. The media sensationalized a peripheral issue and even suggested that the Church’s position is hypocritical. The issue is peripheral because no active homosexual had asked to be invited to the World Meeting. In fact, homosexuals had been conveniently ignoring the meeting until the media raised the peripheral issue whether the meeting was open to homosexuals.

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If not sensationalizing the death of a young star, sparking political conflicts, and promoting cheap taste through crass TV programming, the media do nothing to promote the truth. Rather, they merely romance the odd, the absurd and the sensational.

Talk about responsible journalism.

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