FILIPINOS love titles and stereotypes.

It’s funny and at the same time irritating how some people brag about their positions especially titles like Assistant to the Assistant to the Assistant of the President or Secretary of the Secretary of the Secretary of the President. As if nothing mattered in the world except their position. It seems that the longer these titles get, the more people brag about them.

But, what do titles give people? Honor even when one is feeling too small for the throne? Misplaced sophistication making an empty shell of a man? Or both?

* * *

This year, many colleges are up for accreditation. Where I come from, the Faculty of Arts and Letters, there have been many impressive changes done to earn a higher level from the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities Commission on Accreditation (PACUCOA).

Starting with the re-painting of classrooms and key places, the changing of the teacher’s records, to the Faculty’s prospectus (now in a small folder-type holder containing leaflets of the profiles of each department), and the updating of the faculty profile, my Faculty seems to be ready with all the icing neatly in place. But what about the cake?

In spite of all the impressive changes, there are still professors who, despite their considerable credentials, cannot even teach their subjects well and are unabashed in obliging their students to report and spare them from lecturing. There are also professors who are known to be poor in teaching skills but are being kept as members of the faculty simply because of their security of tenure. Added to that are the unsanitary comfort rooms with irregular water supply. I think other colleges also share the same problems. I know we cannot have a perfect world, but the worse thing here is that nobody seems to be doing something about it.

The art of faith

A change in the “image” or the façade of an institution is not the academic amelioration that students are asking for. We need proof that there is change. We need concrete actions, not lip service.

* * *

In the investigative reporting workshop facilitated by Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism fellow Chay Hofileña during the recently concluded Inkblots 2001, the delegates were divided into small groups according to their level. There were two groups of school paper moderators, several high school and college groups, and a small group of elementary students from St. Mary’s Academy-Bulacan, who incidentally, were our only elementary delegates.

Ma’am Chay asked the delegates to draft an investigative plan that would include the issue they wanted to investigate, their hypotheses, and needs like interviews and documents as well as the budget.

To Ma’am Chay’s surprise, the first group to finish the investigative plan was the elementary group who came up with a very simple and workable investigative plan. They intended to investigate the safety of their cafeteria food.

Something as simple as the safety of cafeteria food is often set aside because it is very ordinary. However, in these unsafe times, it is very important. Parents, for example, would want to know if the food their children are eating in school cafeterias is safe.

Though the investigative plan was still a bit crude, the issue presented by the elementary pupils was very significant. Maybe it was because of their innocence that they were able to come up with a very good work. Besides, they were not as obsessed with titles like grown ups.

Indirect contribution to graft

* * *

I would like to congratulate the Central Student Council (CSC) for the very successful Benavides Cup: The Third National Debater’s Meet. I was really impressed with their preparations because I never noticed they were busy with the activity until our Literary Editor told me that Arlene Maneja had already reserved all the free slots in the Central Seminary to house their delegates for the Nationals, which we had wanted to reserve for our delegates in the Inkblots. For the past few months, I had been criticizing the CSC’s numerous press releases and constant lip service to the Thomasian community. It just goes to show that when we focus on something and want to get somewhere, we shouldn’t use our mouths to move for us. We can come up with a big event or do something productive without projecting our stress and saying that something will be successful even without doing anything about it. With less talk, there is more work done. It was a humbling experience. Again, congratulations to the CSC for a job well done. I’m looking forward to more of your activities.

* * *

Sometimes, in our world, the world of instants, we forget the things that really matter. Power, authority, laurels, etc., these do not matter. These are just icing on the cake that would be consumed and decorations, which would be worn out.

Just like the “best” title. It won’t make an institution excellent, it’s what the institution does to make a better community that makes it exemplary.

The same thing goes when we leave this University, we only take with us what we have learned and not the popularity, the honors, and the titles that we have earned. A cum laude, a magna cum laude, a summa cum laude and other titles and laurels can get us employment, but they cannot guarantee us that we will excel. A well-rounded character and dependable work ethic are the only things that will ensure our success.

'Student' bag lifter arrested

We cannot rely entirely on our laurels. If we get these extras, we must prove that we are worthy to receive them. Indeed, living up to a good reputation is harder than making one.


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