Friday, July 20, 2012

TWSC Launches Its 2012 Public Forum Series

The 2012 Third World Studies Center Public Forum Series
Ang Tama ba sa UP, Tama rin sa Bayan?


In a 28 May 2011 interview with the Manila Bulletin, University of the Philippines’ (UP) President Alfredo Pascual said that “whatever changes we’re seeing outside, we also see in UP.” Here we have UP with permeable boundaries, yet by logic, distinct from the whole—straddling the ivory tower of pedants and the activists’ redoubt. “UP is a microcosm of the larger society. It should be a great source of solutions.” That is how UP Diliman Chancellor Caesar Saloma, for his part, envisions the university in his 13 May 2011 address to the general assembly of the Small Enterprises Research and Development Foundation. Such exaltation depicts UP as the perfectible part of an imperfect whole. The 2010 draft of the UP Student Code tried to apotheosize “Tatak UP,” a brand bearing an enumeration of supposed principles and practices of what and how it is to be UP. Moreover, Tatak UP has been utilized as a marketing brand. UP, as a source of solutions, has become a factory of patents and copyrights. These images of UP compete and are all laden with ideology that seeks for perfection in the university. When preferred over the others, each has practical and policy consequences. Yet what cannot be denied in all these competing images and tropes is the claim that the university is a public good. But is it? Which image of UP then matters?

Forty years after UP has been declared the national university by then National Board of Education, and having been fortified by a new charter during its centennial, UP boasts of what former UP President Jose Abueva quoted from the UP Alumni Association: “a century of ‘excellence, leadership and service’.” This provides too easy an assurance of UP’s past and potential contribution to Philippine society. It may even attest to Scott Welsh’s critique of academic institutions as “fantastically blind,” i.e., “synthesizing the inherent antagonism between rhetorical reflection and political agency.” In this case, UP knows best, with its “reparative fantasies” for Philippine society through the symbol of the Oblation in service of the nation. This public forum series therefore posits that UP must have not only the acumen to grapple with intractable public issues; UP must, in equal measure, demonstrate the fortitude to open its campuses to scrutiny—its own and that of the public. 

This public forum series will put into question: (1) UP’s role in contentious environmental politics as public service university, (2) the new forms of surveillance and security measures in UP, (3) UP’s commitment to equity, if not for the poor and deserving students in need of stipend; (4) the stance of UP towards the LGBT community; and (5) UP's role in nationalism discourses in the country.

The public forum series aims to bring together public intellectuals from different sectors of society with critical consideration on UP’s role as the premiere state university. Each topic will be an interrogation of the assumption that UP is indeed a microcosm of Philippine society. In analyzing what may be referred to as the synecdochic relationship of UP with Philippine society, the public forum series hopes to outline the answers to what former President Abueva’s posited in his UP centennial lecture: 
If UP is [supposedly] great by virtue of her extraordinary status, role, and achievements as the National University, what is wrong with and lacking in UP?. . .Kung UP ang pag-asa ng bayan, ano naman ang kalagayan ngayon ng ating Lupang Hinirang?


May Tubo ba ang Pagtulong ng UP?
What Counts as Public Service in the National University

The present UP System has embodied its role as public service university through the UP Padayon Disaster Response Team, the Green UP program, and special grants for source of solutions, to name a few. The UP Padayon Disaster Response Team, a team of experts from the fields of medicine, public health and sanitation, forensics, and geohazards, was deployed in response to the devastation left by typhoon Sendong in 2011 and was hailed by the UP Newsletter as the university’s flagship program on volunteerism. Green UP, President Alfredo Pascual’s flagship program, has aimed to turn UP into a showcase of environmental projects through public-private partnerships. A special research grant for results-oriented projects and open innovation solutions has also been created to transform UP into a source of solutions to many of the country’s problems, churning out patents and copyrights. A closer look at these initiatives point to the glaring absence of institutionalized voluntarism, spanning educational assistance, community health and social welfare, advocacy, and research—where students get the opportunities to give flesh and blood to the term Iskolar ng Bayan, according to the UP Panghinungod website. Gone are the days when students, employees and faculty would go to far-flung areas to help in the skills enhancement or when they get to help preserve the Filipino culture through a Local History Program. Has UP been sidetracked in its commitment to the service of the nation when it got caught up in public-private partnerships geared towards instant return of investment and definite media exposure, i.e., greening the university and practical, immediate response to natural disasters? The internal logic and allocated resources for the university's engagement with the public must therefore be laid bare before an audience that without hesitation will test the soundness, efficacy, and relevance of said rationale. How much of UP's resources are actually devoted to these public service efforts? What counts as public service? When is it mere photo op and lip service? During the forum, the UP administration will have a chance to reflect on and refine its chosen architecture of intent and for the participants to offer alternative perspectives and directions on UP's role as a public institution, on how the university addresses the delicate interplay of private interest and public concern.

Gwardya, Kamera, Aksyon?
Surveillance and the University's Unsafe Spaces

The recent string of violence in several UP campuses paved the way for the entry of new forms of anti-crime measures. With the launch of a technology transformation initiative dubbed eUP, UP President Alfredo Pascual stated that UP is already preparing the deployment of various technology solutions to address security issues in the different campuses. Such preparations involve the installation of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in strategic areas within the campuses, aside from increasing the number of security guards and watchmen. Some have welcomed the impending installation of CCTV, calling it long overdue. Others have deplored it, crying violation of student rights and academic freedom. Some even believe that CCTV cameras will serve as “spy cameras.” Thus, this forum provides a platform for the increasing debates on CCTV as anti-crime measure, particularly in UP campuses. It seeks to examine UP’s delicate balancing act when it comes to the issue of security and the protection of the rights of UP constituents.

May Mahirap Pa Ba sa UP?

“Edukasyon! Edukasyon! Karapatan ng Mamamayan!” If only the zeal in shouting such tired slogans are made into money, then all the poor but deserving students would indeed end up in UP. But the reality in UP these days is this: only those who can pay their way are allowed to bring home a college degree. Let the so-called poor and deserving students fend for themselves—if only to prove that indeed they will survive out of sheer intelligence. But wait. There’s this pesky document called the UP Charter of 2008 that says UP “shall take affirmative steps which may take the form of an alternative and equitable admissions process to enhance the access of disadvantaged students, such as indigenous peoples, poor and deserving students including but not limited to valedictorians and salutatorians of public high schools, and students from depressed areas, to its programs and services.” How far is UP from addressing in full this mandate? This forum will be a survey of how committed UP is to this singular mandate.

Winner na ba ang LGBT sa UP?

In 6 March 2012, the Philippine Daily Inquirer editorial wrote that, UP, “true to its vaunted cutting edge . . . has produced another first,” with the triumph of Gabriel Paolo “Heart” Diño as the first transgender USC Chairperson. Diño’s victory in UP Diliman marked a significant milestone in the struggle of LGBTs towards gender equality. Furthermore, Alex Castro, a bisexual student was elected USC Vice Chair and Pat Bringas, another transgender student, has won a council seat. Diño stated that “serving the students through the council has been her way of thanking UP for embracing who she is,” in a Yahoo! Southeast Asia interview. But this landmark event transpired shortly after UP Babaylan, the first and largest LGBT student organization in the Philippines, claimed that discrimination is still prevalent in the Diliman campus. 

This forum thus looks at the stance of UP—and the various collectives within the UP System—towards the LGBT community in general, taking into account the recent victories of transgender and bisexual students in the 2011 USC elections.

Hanggang Diliman Commune na lang ba ang Nasyonalismo sa UP?

The UP community’s role in the nationalist and anti-fascist struggles during Ferdinand Marcos’s dictatorship has earned the university a reputation as a breeding ground of nationalist and militant student activists. The infamous 1971 Diliman Commune, a show of resistance by UP Diliman students against Marcos’ impending authoritarian rule, has informed the construction of an idealized activist past that younger generations of nationalist UP student-activists look up to. The Diliman Commune is one of the primary phenomena that immortalized UP in the eyes of the Filipino public not only as an academic institution par excellence, but also as a bastion of militant nationalistic fervor.

Related to UP’s nationalist-activist tradition is the expectation for UP students to “give back to the people,” an enjoinment of the many Isko and Iska to subsume their personal success to the welfare of Philippine society. Ironically, a common retort against UP is despite the fact that the university has been producing many of the country’s primary movers and shakers—persons supposedly imbued with a strong sense of public service—the country has yet to see progress. This forum thus examines how UP is faring in its production of leaders for national development, both in terms of skilled capacity and nationalist orientation. It aims to see how and what kind of nationalism is inculcated (or not) by the university—both via the education UP provides for its students and the research conducted by its faculty and research personnel.

Photos used in this poster are by Paolo D. Nacpil and gerry328 of

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Public Lecture on Collaborative Governance of Urbanizing Watersheds by Leonora Angeles, PhD

Collaborative Governance of Urbanizing Watersheds: 
International Comparative Cases and Lessons for Angat River Basin, Bulacan
Leonora Angeles, PhD
School of Community and Regional Planning and 
Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice
University of British Columbia

GT Toyota Asian Cultural Center Auditorium, Asian Center, University of the Philippines-Diliman

20 July 2012 (Friday), 3-5 PM

The public is cordially invited to attend the lecture "Collaborative Governance of Urbanizing Watersheds: International Comparative Cases and Lessons for Angat River Basin, Bulacan" by Dr. Leonora Angeles. Please read further for the abstract of her lecture.

This lecture is organized by the Asian Center and co-sponsored by the UP Third World Studies Center.

The state of Angat River Basin demonstrates a classic “tragedy of the commons” problem in a complex adaptive system that belongs to multiple jurisdictions in a context highly vulnerable to environmental collapse and climate risks.  To provide insights on potential responses to collaborative governance challenges in the Angat River system, this study compares three international cases– Tigum-Aganan in Iloilo, Philippines; Billings Water Reservoir in Sao Paolo Brazil; Ayquila-Armeria River system in Mexico–detailing their collaborative governance models, which has been shown to be an effective strategy to grapple with the challenges of fragmented and siloed agencies dealing with water management.  The research draws key lessons and recommendations for Angat River Basin region. A key lesson is the need to rescale governance at the sub-basin scale while connected to the larger basin-wide Pampanga River Basin in order to allow for the engagement and participation of local governments and village level leaders but also citizens, civil society, academe, informal settlers and indigenous peoples in watershed management and governance.

Leonora Angeles is Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia School of Community and Regional Planning and Institute of Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice. Please click here for Prof. Angeles' CV.