Skip to main content

Goodbye UP High. But really it is hello commercialization hello!

The University of the Philippines high school department (now known as the UP Integrated School) will be moved from its Katipunan Road site on the periphery of the Diliman campus to near the UP College of Education.

The move has been talked about for years. Katipunan Road over the decades has been turned into an extremely busy highway and students have been in real danger of being run over (and indeed some have and a few have been fatal). Just for this reason alone, moving the school nearer to the university academic core is most sensible.

However the site has sentimental reasons to generations of old UPIS grads. But a cursory look at the campus would suggest that time has done its work and a new building on a new site is best. But the University of the Philippines had not much the funds to rehabilitate the buildings (the "new" building is 35 years old!) and so any talk of relocation or renovation was just that talk.

And here comes Ayala Corporation, just fresh from putting up the Technohub (a.k.a. call center wonderland) on the Commonwealth north end of the campus. Ayala in early 2010 presented an unsolicited bid to develop the Katipunan site into a mixed use commercial, office and retail complex. The Board of Regents (BOR) thumbed it down saying a development plan must be submitted first. However the BOR had long accepted the principle of converting the site into what Ayala intended. After a bidding participated by two other well known developers and,Ayala Land, Ayala won the bid. It will spend 3 B PhP to develop the site while allocating 100 million for the new UPIS building.

However some quarters in the UP community have voiced concern about Ayala's alleged monopsonical relationship with UP. You can read all about this here and it is connected with UPIS. If Ayala is a monopsony vis a vis UP, then whatever UP academics and researchers produce as part of their academic entrepreneurship responsibilities, then Ayala is the first to buy and the only to buy, and so can discriminate prices.

R Kwan Laurel in "Philippine Cultural Disasters" notes that UP has "danced with the devil" with temptations of late capital and slams the academic entrepreneurship paradigm. It was the Marxist UP President Dodong Nemenzo  while following materialist logic that "technology is salvation", realized the technocratic dream of having UP tie up with capitalists while renting its real estate assets. However it must be noted that in the Philippines and that whoever is the capitalist, be it Ayala or someone else, the closing of business deals is always within the context of rent seeking. Surely Ayala's alleged monopsonical practices with UP falls smack into a rent seeking mango basket!

Kwan Laurel states that UP is enamored by Ayala since it is a technological leader, has the cleanest image among the big corporations and did not get involved with Marcos crony capitalism. Kwan Laurel adds that Ayala protected itself from Marcos' dismantling of old oligopolies (to be replaced by crony new ones) by partnering with multinational capital. This allowed it to be an industry leader in technology in the 1990s to the present. But Kwan Laurel adds, this technology cannot be apolitical.

This is where the transfer of UPIS has to be seen, despite the pangs of sentiment, nostalgia and pragmatism. The context of this move cannot be separated from contentious issues being discussed in the UP and the rest of the Philippine education sector. Almost 75% percent of education is provided by private entities and they in a hypercapitalist system can drive up tuition fee rates and they have. This is whilst keeping wages low hence the perennial complaints of education generators a.k.a. teachers, while the education providers a.k.a. schools, colleges and universities, pocket the profits. Now under an academic entrepreneurship paradigm, the capitalist technology provider will share in the profits and under the model that UP operates now, is about 40%, Much of the knowledge generators will be the students who are after that piece of paper. Since UP is now a research university, the graduate students and PhDs will be the major generators of this knowledge. A monopsonical relationship will not ensure that the benefits of this new knowledge will be directed to the mass of Filipinos in terms of job generation which is made possible by a level business playing field and encouraging small to mid sized enterpreneurship. In fact the new knowledge is likely to be exported and given the structural defects of the Philippine economy (largely we never had a real economic and opportunities redistribution) and an servile kowtow to neoliberal capitalism, the benefits won't trickle that much.

My thesis is that the paradigm of academic entrepreneurship has eaten into the nationalist identity and ethos of the UP. You can read it  all about it in my recent blog post on the RGEP. As I have pointed out, the UPIS and its educational tradition is not separate from that of the UP. It is nationalist while ensuring that graduates are able to enter university well equipped with the critical thinking skills. The UPIS is the most exclusive high school in the country and the alums know that. There is no high school in the Philippines that puts a premium on love for country and people and that is the main reason that alums sing the University hymn with defiant pride. Since the BOR and various UP academic reform committees have been considering turning UPIS over to DepEd (remember the  post EDSA 1986 joke that UPIS will be renamed as KRIS, Katipunan Road Integrated School?), this have come to naught leading one UP president to note that "it is amazing that the graduates could be so fiercely loyal to their high school". However the UP has succeeded in cutting down the allocation for UPIS. It is now more of a lab school than anything else.

Nonetheless, basic education (indeed all of education) in the Philippines is now determined by market forces and much of that is determined from overseas. This has resulted in the sprouting up of gadzillions (pardon the exaggeration, but Prof  Felipa Tintero taught us that it was a necessary literary device!) of "international schools" and for nursing grads, market forces have forced them to pay hospitals up to 100K for an internship! As education becomes dearer, a UPIS which can just provide a quality education to a few kids just because UP won't pay for it, is abhorrent to me.

UPIS wherever it may be on the site of Narra dorm or anywhere on the campus, must be able to provide more chances for the bright, qualified and less privileged kids to get a quality education that will prepare them for university. C'mon, our Blue Eagle friends led by Father Ben Nebres have come up with a "Pathways" program. UP High has been traditionally something like that! And come to think of it, as time passes, the kids of government employees become more and more less privileged.

The construction of the new UPIS (which I jokingly call as the UP-AYALA Technohigh!) on a new site will seal the future of the school. It is unlikely that an academically entrepreneurial UP system will invest more on a basic education unit. It is time to throw the question to the new UP President Mr Fred Pascual. What is your plan for UPIS? (and the rest of UP basic education at UPLB, UP Visayas and UP Cebu?) The whole issue cannot be separated with the Noynoy administration plan to put another 2 years to basic education. It can't be separated from the spineless neoliberalism of this presidential administration.

UP tuition fees are now 21 K a sem, to the shock of many alums. We can't separate this from the fate of UPIS. But given the animated discussion in the UPIS "Goodbye UP High" Facebook group, there is hope. The alums even if nostalgic have questioned the rationale of all of this. And this will pay tribute too to the former residents of Narra dorm, of whom many are nationalists and "pasaway"!

College of Science, University of the Philippines
UPIS Class of 1984


Popular posts from this blog

Kartilla of the Katipunan

In celebration of Andres Bonifacio Day on Nov 30, I am blogging my English translation of the Katipunan's Code of Ethics or Kartilla (Kartilya). Recruits to the revolutionary association had to learn these by heart. The code was first written by Emilio Jacinto. The Kartilya remains as relevant today as in 1896 .

My apologies for errors in translation. I know there are better translations than this one.

1) A life not spent for a holy and noble cause is like a tree without shade or a noxious weed.

2) Acts that stem from pride and selfishness do not come from a desire to help others..

3) True holiness comes from helping others, charity towards others and the measure of such is in each reasonable act or word.

4) Dark or white your skin may be, all men are equal though one may be greater in knowledge, material wealth, beauty these do not add to one’s humanity.

5) Those who are men of goodwill put honour before concern for self and those who do no good puts the self before honour.

6) For an ho…

President Manuel Luis Quezon's Code of Ethics

Being a denizen of Kyusi, in honour of the man who gave my city its name and for being the most colourful prez the Philippines ever had, I have the pleasure to post Manuel L Quezon's Code of Ethics on his birthday. Let us profit from the wisdom of the Kastila.

1. Have Faith in the Divine Providence that guides the destinies of men and nations.

2. Love your country for it is the home of your people, the seat of your affection and the source of your happiness and well-being. It's defense is your primary duty. Be ready to sacrifice and die for it if necessary.

3. Respect the Constitution which is the expression of your sovereign will. The government is your government. It has been established for your safety and welfare. Obey the laws and see that they are observed by all and that public officials comply with their duties.

4. Pay your taxes willingly and promptly. Citizenship implies not only rights but obligations.

5. Safeguard the purity of suffrage and abide by the decisions of the…

Simoun's lamp has been lit, finally.. not by one but by the many!

"So often have we been haunted by the spectre of subversion which, with some fostering, has come to be a positive and real being, whose very name steals our serenity and makes us commit the greatest blunders... If before the reality, instead of changing the fear of one is increased, and the confusion of the other is exacerbated, then they must be left in the hands of time..."
Dr Jose Rizal "To the Filipino People and their Government"
Jose Rizal dominates the Luneta, which is sacred to the Philippine nation as a place of martyrdom. And many perhaps all of those executed in the Luneta, with the exception of the three Filipino secular priests martyred in 1872, have read Rizal's El Filibusterismo. Dr Rizal's second novel is a darker and more sinister one that its prequel but has much significance across the century and more after it was published for it preaches the need for revolution with caveats,  which are when the time is right and who will instigate it.