The University of the Philippines Amidst a Nation in Crisis: Its History, Role and Directions
(Note: This assessment paper on U.P.’s history, role and directions was originally prepared in 1984 by a study group of the Department of Social Science, College of Arts and Sciences on the occasion of the University’s Diamond Jubilee. Originally published by the Philippine Development Forum no. 2 (1984), it is now being printed online for the first time.)
The Diamond Jubilee year of the University of the Philippines (UP) last year (1983), the celebration of which coincided not only with the inauguration of its 14th President but also with the most acute crisis of the US-Marcos dictatorship in 18 years, has thrown into sharp relief the imperative of correctly assessing the role of the University in Philippine society.
The Angara administration’s emphasis on the financial difficulties of the University as a major theme of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations focused attention on government neglect not only of the University but also of the entire educational system. The deterioration of its physical plant, the low salaries of its faculty and employees, and its lack of adequate laboratory equipment – all these actually constitute an indictment of the current regime, emphasizing the low priority it places on education because of its emphasis on the creation and maintenance of a military machine for popular repression.
Angara’s standing as an arch-technocrat and spokesman for multinational interests at the same time led to the focusing of attention on the role of the World Bank not only in the University but in Philippine education as a whole. It was widely held that Angara’s appointment was logical in the context of imperialist, feudal and bureaucrat-capitalist interests, marking the beginning of an all out effort on the part of the dictatorship to re-orient the University from its traditional commitment to liberal education towards technical education to meet the manpower needs of the multinational corporations.
The assessments of the University that these range of issues during the last two years have impelled has in the main consisted of either total affirmation of its supposed ‘nation-building’ role – the official line of the Angara administration and the US-Marcos regime – or of total denial of any positive contribution to the realization of the Filipino people’s aspirations, the latter being the general tendency of most progressive analysis.
This paper categorically rejects the regime’s definition of ‘nation-building’ in terms of UP’s ‘contributions to the nation’ through the number of Philippine Presidents, Justices of the Supreme Court, Congressmen, Senators or Assemblymen who were UP graduates. If anything, the number of UP graduates in the upper levels of the bureaucracy, both past and present, should suggest only that UP has had – and still has – a crucial role in the formulation and implementation of policies advantageous to imperialist, landlord – comprador and bureaucrat-capitalist interests detrimental to the interests of the broad majority of the people.
We hold, however, that the University has not been totally unable to contribute to ‘nation-building’ – which we define in terms of its role in the transformation of the consciousness of those individuals, groups and segments of the middle classes from a dominantly neo-colonial to a progressive level; in short, in terms of its role in the Philippine cultural revolution, a revolution that has immeasurably helped create the advanced levels of political consciousness among certain sectors of the population and which thus indirectly helped develop not only favorable conditions for the Filipino people’s struggle but which developed as well many of its leaders.
We cannot deny that the University, during the last seventy-six years, has in the main functioned to establish and consolidate the rule of US imperialism and its domestic minions, the landlord-comprador class and the bureaucrat-capitalist. Neither, however, can we deny that the University has also produced nationalists and progressives who have assumed leading roles in the Filipino people’s struggle for national and social liberation.
The dual character of the University is well indicated by the co-existence within it of the contradictory, dialectical aspects suggested by the above realities. It is essential that this duality be understood, and its sources in the University’s history – a history inseparable from that of Philippine society from the 1900’s to the present – identified.
This paper therefore consists of four parts. The first deals with the historical evolution and the colonial context of the establishment of U.P. The discussion emphasizes the continued Americanization of the University up to the Romulo administration. The second portion takes up the effects academic repression at the onset of martial rule, detailing the mechanisms for U.P.’s direct support of the efforts of the dictatorship in instituting a ‘new society’ during the presidency of O.D. Corpuz. The third part deals with the Angara administration. It contains an analysis of the academic and administrative changes and policies Angara instituted, particularly his ‘managerial approach’ to the U.P. crisis.
The progressive movement in the educational sector is entering a more vigorous and militant stage. This paper hopes to contribute to the preliminary explorations of the direction that the Filipino people’s struggle has to take with regard to U.P. education in particular and Philippine education in general, while in the process being conscious of the material basis of that struggle.
As henchmen of international monopoly capital strive to maintain imperialist dominance over Philippine society, there will be new efforts and tactics to smother the liberative potentials of U.P. education. The question at the moment thus takes the form of how best to strengthen the progressive and liberative aspects of U.P. education against its reactionary and obscurantist aspects.
The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip in May 26th 2005