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QUESTIONS FOR THE FUTURE OF UP
9/26/2008 8:23:08 AM

QUESTIONS FOR THE FUTURE OF U.P.
September 3, 2008
By W. SyCip

PRESIDENT EMERLINDA ROMAN, MEMBERS OF THE FACULTY AND FRIENDS OF U.P.

NOT BEING A GRADUATE OF THE LEADING EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION OF THE COUNTRY, I AM DEEPLY HONORED THAT YOU HAVE INVITED ME TO BE ONE OF THE SPEAKERS IN YOUR CELEBRATION OF A HUNDRED YEARS OF SERVICE TO THE NATION.

IN TODAY'S TALK I INTEND TO RAISE A NUMBER OF VERY FRANK QUESTIONS. SINCE YOU RECEIVE MORE GOVERNMENT FUNDS THAN ANY OTHER EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION IN THE COUNTRY, I, AS A TAXPAYER, MAY CLAIM THE RIGHT TO DO SO.

I HOPE YOU WILL NOT CONSIDER THIS AS AN ABUSE OF THE GRACIOUS INVITATION EXTENDED ME BY PRESIDENT ROMAN.

1. GOING OVER THE BOOK *THE UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILPPINES - A UNIVERSITY FOR FILIPINOS* WHICH WAS PUBLISHED AS U.P. CELEBRATED ITS DIAMOND JUBILEE TWENTY FIVE YEARS AGO, ONE CANNOT MISS THE INTRODUCTION THAT SAYS "...A U.P. DEGREE HOLDER IS GENERALLY BELIEVED TO BE MORE CAPABLE THAN MOST COLLEGE GRADUATES, AS WELL AS IMBUED WITH A SENSE OF PURPOSE...WITH MINDS CAPABLE OF NEW IDEAS AND PERCEPTIONS AND PASSIONATE COMMITMENT TO THE SOCIAL GOOD".

IF U.P. HAS ACCURATELY CLAIMED THAT DURING THE PAST 62 YEARS, AFTER WE LEFT THE U.S. UMBRELLA, U.P. GRADUATES HAVE OCCUPIED THE PRESIDENTIAL CHAIR FOR 46 YEARS, THEN I MAY ASK YOU "WHY ARE WE IN SUCH A MESS?"

OVER FIFTY YEARS AGO, WE WERE TOLD THAT WITH OUR ADVANTAGES OF BEING A CHRISTIAN NATION AND A DEMOCRACY, WE WILL BE, NEXT TO JAPAN, THE LEADING NATION IN EAST ASIA. TODAY WE FIND OURSELVES IN A STEADILY DECLINING POSITION REGARDLESS OF WHAT MEASURE WE GO BY: POVERTY INDEX, PER CAPITA SPENDING ON EDUCATION, CRIME RATE, CORRUPTION RANKING, PEACE AND ORDER, RURAL HEALTH, THE LIST GOES ON.

UNFORTUNATELY, WE HAVE EVEN FOUND OURSELVES, INSPITE OF OUR LARGE POPULATION, WITH THE LAMENTABLE DISTINCTION OF BEING THE ONLY MAJOR SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATION THAT DID NOT WIN ANY MEDAL AT THE RECENTLY CONCLUDED OLYMPIC GAMES.

CAN WE BLAME THE RELIGION SPAIN BROUGHT TO OUR SHORES FIVE CENTURIES AGO FOR OUR LIMITATIONS OR THE U.S. FOR THE FAILURE OF OUR DEMOCRACY?

SHOULDN'T OUR DECADES OF FREEDOM BE LONG ENOUGH FOR US TO CORRECT ANY INHERITED DISADVANTAGES?

WITH ALL THE TALENTED PEOPLE WE HAVE, WHY HAVE WE NOT BEEN ABLE TO PRODUCE A LEE KWAN YEW, WHO IN ONE GENERATION BROUGHT HIS PEOPLE IN SINGAPORE TO INCOME LEVELS OF THE U.S. OR GERMANY?

OR A K. T. LI OF TAIWAN, A PHYSICS GRADUATE OF CAMBRIDGE, WHO INTRODUCED THE COMPUTER TO EVERY AGE GROUP IN TAIWAN SO THAT THIS SMALL COUNTRY HAS BECOME THE LARGEST EXPORTER OF COMPUTERS AND COMPONENTS?

OR A MAHATHIR OF MALAYSIA WHO GREATLY IMPROVED INFRASTRUCTURE AND INCREASED INCOME LEVELS OF ALL CITIZENS IN A MIXED SOCIETY OF MALAYS, CHINESE AND INDIANS?

OR A GENERAL PARK OF SOUTH KOREA WHOSE TOUGH AND DISCIPLINED ADMINISTRATION INDUSTRIALIZED A COUNTRY WHERE THE LARGE FIRMS SUCCESSFULLY COMPETED WITH THE COMPANIES OF ITS FORMER COLONIAL MASTER?
OR A DENG HSIAO PING WHO RELEASED THE ENERGY OF HIS PEOPLE TO ACHIEVE IN 25 YEARS THE GREATEST REDUCTION OF POVERTY IN WORLD HISTORY?

WE DID HAVE THE PROMISE OF A RAMON MAGSAYSAY WHO AS SECRETARY OF DEFENSE GREATLY IMPROVED PEACE AND ORDER BUT WHOSE UNFORTUNATE EARLY DEATH 50 YEARS AGO PREVENTED HIM FROM CARRYING OUT A PROGRAM TO IMPROVE THE LIVES OF THE BOTTOM GROUP OF OUR PEOPLE.

THEN WE HAD RAFAEL SALAS, A BRILLIANT GRADUATE OF U.P. IN 1969, FRESH FROM MANAGING THE TRANSFORMATION OF CHRONIC SHORTAGE INTO AN ASTOUNDING PHILIPPINE RICE SUFFICIENCY BREAKTHROUGH, SALAS ACCEPTED A UNITED NATIONS OFFER TO HEAD A FLEDGLING FUND. HE BELIEVED AT THE U.N. THERE WOULD BE A POSSIBLITY OF MAKING A CONTRIBUTION TO SOLVING WHAT HE THOUGHT WAS BECOMING ONE OF THE WORLD'S MAJOR PROBLEMS - POPULATION. HE THOUGHT THAT THE SAME STRATEGIES EMPLOYED IN THE RICE SUFFICIENCY PROGRAM, WOULD WORK IN A SOPHISTICATED INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT AS THEY DID IN TRADITION BOUND PHILIPPINE RURAL COMMUNITIES. IN FACT HE WAS PROVEN RIGHT.

ALEX MARSHALL OF THE UNITED NATIONS POPULATION FUND WRITES:

"THE CONSENSUS WHICH SALAS BUILT IS MORE THAN AN ACT OF DIPLOMACY. IT IS THE SOLID EVIDENCE OF THE RECOGNITION WORLDWIDE OF THE IMPORTANCE OF POPULATION IN DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES. IT HAS HELPED TO CHANGE THE POLICIES OF GOVERNMENTS; IT HAS HELPED TO CHANGE THE LIVES OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE. IT HAS SET MEN AND WOMEN FREE TO MAKE CHOICES FOR THEMSELVES, AND HELPED SECURE THE FUTURE OF CHILDREN YET UNBORN. THEY AND ALL OF US STAND IN HIS DEBT."

BUT FILIPINOS HAVE SURMISED THAT RAFAEL LEFT THE PHILIPPINES BECAUSE HIS INTEGRITY AND COMPETENCE COULD NOT SURVIVE IN A CLIMATE OF GOVERNMENT CORRUPTION.

WILL U.P. BE ABLE TO PRODUCE OTHER LEADERS LIKE SALAS AND CAN THEY SUCCEED IN THE PHILIPPINE POLITICAL SOIL?

IN 1983, THIRTY YEARS AFTER HE HAD GRADUATED FROM THIS UNIVERSITY, AND AT THAT TIME AN UNDER SECRETARY GENERAL AT THE UNITED NATIONS, HE RETURNED HERE TO RECEIVE AN HONORARY DOCTOR OF LAWS DEGREE FROM HIS ALMA MATER. A



Comments



Leo Beligan
9/26/2008 8:24:48 AM

AS SALAS THANKED THE UNIVERSITY FOR THE HONOR CONFERRED ON HIM, HE ALSO TOOK LEAVE BY ASKING THE QUESTION:

"WHAT CAN THE SCHOLARS OF THIS UNIVERSITY DO TO SOLVE THE PROBLEMS OF THE PHILIPPINES WHEN IT WILL BE A COUNTRY OF 70 MILLION PEOPLE"?

HIS WIDOW, CARMELITA R. SALAS, THE HIGHLY RESPECTED PHILIPPINE AMBASSADOR TO THE CZECH REPUBLIC, SPEAKING AT THE WORLD POPULATION DAY FORUM IN MANILA THIS LAST JULY, POINTED TO THIS VERY SAME CONCERN.

TODAY, SHE SAID, THE PHILIPPINES IS A COUNTRY OF 89 MILLION, AND IN 2030 WILL BE CLOSE TO 140 MILLION.
AGAIN, RAFAEL WOULD HAVE ASKED THE SCHOLARS OF THIS UNIVERSITY THE SAME QUESTION TODAY.

I ASK: WHAT WOULD BE THEIR ANSWER?

POST EDSA I, IN FEBRUARY OF 1987, WHEN FREEDOM IN THE PHILIPPINES HAD BEEN WON WITH WHAT THE WORLD WOULD KNOW AS "PEOPLE POWER", SALAS WAS KEYNOTE SPEAKER AT THE DISTRICT MEETING OF ROTARY CLUBS IN MANILA. IN A SPEECH THAT ONE ROTARIAN REFERRED TO AS THE BEST SONA HE HAD EVER HEARD, RAFAEL SPOKE ON "MANAGING THE AFTERMATH". LET ME READ TO YOU PART OF WHAT HE SAID:

"BUT THIS FREEDOM CANNOT BE FULLY EXERCISED UNLESS THERE IS ORDER. GOVERNMENTS ARE INSTITUTED TO INSURE PEACE, STABILITY AND CONTINUITY; TO ENABLE THE CITIZENS TO PLAN THEIR FUTURE AND INSURE THE SURVIVAL AND GROWTH OF THEIR CHILDREN. THE RESUMPTION OF HOSTILITIES WITH THE NPA AND THE CONSTANT THREAT OF REBELLION IN MINDANAO AND A VERY HIGH INCIDENCE OF CRIME ARE POINTERS OF THE LACK OF ORDER I SPEAK OF.






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