Compassion, Our Common Ground: The Investiture Speech of Danilo L. Concepción

| Written by MPRO_admin

 

“UP must be that special place within which it should still be possible—despite all divisions and distractions—to work together with the University’s and the nation’s strategic interests in mind.” (Photo by Misael Bacani, UP MPRO)

 

Compassion, Our Common Ground

Investiture Speech of

Danilo L. Concepción

21st President, University of the Philippines

20 September 2017, 5:00 p.m., University Theater

 

I stand before you today as a student trained in two disciplines: that of science, which taught me the measure of Nature, and that of the law, which taught me the measure of Man. I cannot claim that I have learned enough because education is a lifelong process, and I expect to live a little longer. But this I have surely come to realize: that while Nature may be bewilderingly complex, Man is infinitely more so.

If I had remained an agricultural engineer, I might have been happy designing new tools for farming or more effective irrigation systems. But ultimately, I found law more challenging, that which is the calibration and codification of human and social behavior.

And as if that were not enough, and even before UP, I took on teaching and university administration—which, in a strange but logical way, draw on all these threads of thought and experience to form a coherent wholeness of purpose.

Indeed the university is probably the one institution in society—with the possible exception of Congress—where diversity and difference are its very nature and intrinsic to its success.

Today, with nearly 200 undergraduate and almost 350 graduate programs, UP can proudly claim to offer the broadest canopy under which Filipino students and scholars can learn. Nowhere else in this country can you take such diverse courses as Archeology, Geomatics Engineering, Tropical Landscape Architecture, and Women and Development.

That is what a national university is for, and that is why UP is one. We recognize that a national university exists not to profit the pocket, but to enrich the mind and to enlarge the soul of our people. We stand firm in the belief that all forms of knowledge benefit humanity, and that part of our mission is to employ that knowledge for social transformation.

At his investiture in 1911, our first President, Dr. Murray Bartlett, made it clear that the new University of the Philippines was not merely going to be a copy of its models in the West but would be a “University for Filipinos” devoted to providing “the intellectual and moral leadership essential to social salvation and progressive national development.”

It seems ironic today—given our much-vaunted nationalism and secularism—to remark that Dr. Bartlett was an American and a Protestant pastor. But that irony offers vivid proof that our founders understood that creating a great university would mean stepping out of one’s own moorings into a true community of minds.

And so, difference and diversity have been with us since the beginning—and of course, dissension and debate, especially since the University Council was first set up. But again, and notably, we have managed to harmonize our differences over more than a century of discourse to forge a way forward—whether it be in terms of crafting a curriculum for general education, or rewarding performance and productivity.

Therein lies our University’s vitality—not in the fact that we argue, because argue we must, but in the fact that we have always managed at some point to agree, because agree we also must.

Dissent has been coded into our DNA, the most familiar expression of the critical thinking we have sought to imbue every UP student with. But we also know that between academic inquiry and practical necessity lies much common ground to explore and to inhabit.

On June 8, 1933, students at the College of Education boycotted their classes in the first protest ever against a tuition fee increase, from P30 to P50 per semester. Among the leaders of the mass action was none other than Fe Palma, daughter of then UP President Rafael Palma. History does not record what President Palma said to his daughter afterwards, but I suppose he should have been proud, as she was a product of the liberal education that he himself espoused in his inaugural address.

Four years later in 1937, when President Quezon pushed for the transfer of UP from Padre Faura to Diliman, UP students led by a young editor named Armando Malay held a straw vote that resoundingly rejected the move by 84 percent.

The critics complained that Diliman was a dark and mountainous territory teeming with snakes, monkeys, and mosquitoes. Then UP President Bienvenido Gonzalez was crucified. But twelve years later, when the move had finally happened, Malay spoke again, but this time in Diliman, and acknowledged that it was time “for a closing of the ranks.”

These instances of dissent were classically and uniquely UP. We ourselves have made this possible, empowering and emboldening generations of students with reason, enabling them, as Palma put it, “to react properly to the promptings of truth and to the world.” We—and perhaps we alone—have justly and proudly held reason above all other considerations in our academic life: considerations such as creed, kinship, privilege, authority.

And it is this supremely valuable faculty to which I appeal today, as I grasp the helm of this great enterprise we call the University of the Philippines. Let reason guide us, but not reason alone; let it be reason tempered with respect, responsibility, and collegiality.

Both at the national and university levels, it is becoming difficult to push any agenda forward without being subjected to intense, sometimes malicious, but also often necessary scrutiny. In many instances, we have stopped talking to one another as a people sharing the same future.

Truth, reason, and respect have been the prime casualties in these exchanges, which I am sure you have witnessed—if not participated in—online. The phrase “social media” has almost become an oxymoron, as it has become the stalking ground of some of the most unsociable people you could come across.

Sad to say, some of that caustic and deeply divisive rhetoric has come to infect our University, not just our students but our faculty, staff, and administrators as well. This is perhaps to be expected, as a university remains, in many ways, merely a microcosm of a much larger society.

Our strength lies in our collegiality. If we allow our reason and our rhetoric to be clouded by intolerance, then we will be no more and no better than a gang, indeed than any other collection of ill-tempered individuals.

At his investiture in 1975, another of my predecessors, President Onofre D. Corpuz, openly took issue with the University’s characterization as “a battleground of ideas,” calling it a “romantic notion” that the people could ill afford to pay for with their taxes.

Rather than a battleground, I prefer to focus on finding, in this University, a common ground, a clearing—a safe, free, and congenial space within which its constituents can teach, study, and work productively to their full potential.

UP must be that special place within which it should still be possible—despite all divisions and distractions—to work together with the University’s and the nation’s strategic interests in mind.

For this we must promote consensus over conflict, civility over calumny, and collaboration over confrontation. We must foster strategic thinking over short-sightedness, honest labor over opportunism, and shared effort over self-promotion.

There should be no better place in this country than UP for the expression of ideas without fear, without fear of violent retribution from one’s colleagues or from the State itself. There should be no environment more welcoming than UP for cutting-edge research, timely policy studies, exciting new exhibits and productions, and provocative art and literature—in other words, the work we have always meant to do, and do best.

We will be guided by the overarching vision of UP as a leading regional and global university in an environment that sustains 21st century learning, knowledge creation, and public service for society and humanity.

Where our University is situated today would not have been possible without the foundations laid by my esteemed predecessors, whom I acknowledge and thank today, and to whom I make a personal pledge to do my best to live up to their example. President Edgardo Angara, who was not able to make it today, Presidents Emanuel Soriano, Emil Javier, Jose Abueva, Francisco Nemenzo, Emerlinda Roman, and Alfredo Pascual—sa inyo pong lahat, tanggapin ninyo ang aming taos pusong pasasalamat, paggalang, at pagpupugay!

Bunsod ng ating hangaring ituloy ang mga mahahalaga at makabuluhang pagbabago, at sa paniniwalang mayroon tayong maia-ambag sa hangaring ito, ini-alay po natin ang ating sarili upang maglingkod bilang Pangulo. Nagsama-sama po tayo sa ating pakay at galaw, at dahil dito, tayo po ay nanaig at nagtagumpay.

Ngayon, ang tagumpay na ito ang simula ng ating pagkilos upang patunayan sa lahat na ang mga pangarap at adhikain na sinampalatayaan at pinanghawakan ng ating mga kasama, kakampi man o katunggali, ay kaya nating maisakatuparan at makamtan. Lahat po ng ating balak at panukala ay matutupad at matatapos kung tayo po ay magsa-sama-samang muli sa pagpaplano, pagpapasya, at pagpapapatupad sa lahat ng ating gagawin para sa pagsusulong ng minimithing pagbabago.

Upang tayo ay magtagumpay, ang tatlong sangkap ng ating Unibersidad: ang mga mag-aaral, ang kaguruan, at ang mga kawani, ay dapat na magkabigkis-bigkis tungo sa isang layunin. Nasa pagkakaisa nating lahat lamang ang susi ng tagumpay. Totoo, ang pagkakaisa ay tunay na mailap at mahirap makamit sapagkat lubhang maraming pagkakaiba ang ating mga pangangailangan, paniniwala, at pamantayan. Subalit tayo ay nananalig na mayroong isang tagpuan kung saan lahat tayo ay maaring tumayong sama-sama na parang isang katawan. Bilang isang katawan, tiyak nating mapagtatanto at madarama na ang sakit ng kalingkingan ay sakit ng buong katawan. Ang sakit na iniinda ng sinuman sa atin, ay sakit na iindahin ng lahat natin. Hindi natin marahil napapansin subalit ang tagpuang ito ay nasa mga puso na natin. Kailangan lamang po nating itong mapagtanto at madama.

At upang tayo ay manatiling magkakayakap sa ating tagpuan, tayo po bilang Pangulo, ang magsisilbing isang pagkit na sa ating lahat ay hahatak at magdi-dikit upang wala ni-isa man sa atin ang mawalay o malisya.

Tayo po ay nakalaang makinig kanino man upang malaman ang inyong mga loobin, balak, at pangangailangan upang tayo po ay magabayan sa ating pag-ugit. Sa atin pong pamumuno, mas mahalaga ang kagalingan ng lahat kaysa sa ating personal na pananaw o kagustuhan.

Sa ating pagpapasya sa mga hakbang na ating tatahakin, ang ating gabay at panuntunan ay pagmamalasakit. Pagmamalasakit sa ating Unibersidad, pagmamalasakit sa ating mga propesyon, pagmamalasakit sa ating mga sarili, at pagmamalasakit sa isa’t isa. Kung tayo po ay nagmamalasakit, tayo ay lubos na nag-iingat; nag-iingat na ang ating bawat kilos at galaw ay hindi makasasakit o makasasama sa bawat isa sa atin.

Kung pagkakaisa ang susi sa tagumpay ng ating mga mithiin, pagmamalasakit naman ang susi tungo sa isang samahang wagas at pangmatagalan.

Sa susunod na anim na taon na ating hahawakan ang timon, ito po ay ating hahawakan nang mahigpit at maingat sapagkat maraming hamon at balakid ang ating haharapin, bubunuin, at gagapiin. Sa simula pa lamang ng ating pag-ugit, isang malaking hamon ang agad ay sumalubong sa atin: ang libreng matrikula sa kolehiyo.

Tunay po na ito ay isang malaking hamon sapagkat animnapung porsyento ng ating koleksyon mula sa matrikula ay nakalaan para sa ating mga faculty development programs. Kung hindi po ibibigay sa atin ng national government ang katumbas ng dapat ay ating koleksyon, wala po tayong malilikom na pondo na sadyang ilalaan sa mga programang magpapaunlad sa katayuan ng ating kaguruan.

Bukod dito, bagama’t totoong libre na nga ang tuition sa UP, makapasa naman kaya sa UPCAT ang mga kapus-palad na kabataan na sa UP ay nais makapag-aral?

Wala pong saysay at kabuluhan ang programang libreng matrikula kung sa UPCAT ang estudyante ay di naman papasa. Sa mga nakalipas na pagsasaliksik at pag-aaral, napag-alaman na maliit na bahagi lamang ng mga nagtatapos sa maraming public high schools sa labas ng Metro Manila ang pumapasa sa UPCAT. Ang sinisisi pong dahilan ay ang mababang kalidad ng pagtuturo sa mga public high schools na ito.

Dahil dito, panukala po natin na gawing kondisyon sa pagtanggap sa isang estudyante ang pagbibigay ng balik-serbisyo sa ating bayan; balik-serbisyong isang taon pagkaraang makatapos ang estudyante sa kanyang kurso. Sa loob nang isang taon, siya po ay ating pagtuturuin sa senior high school sa mga public schools na ito upang kahit-manawari ay tumaas ang kalidad ng kanilang edukasyon.

Ang kondisyong balik-serbisyo ay hindi naman po sapilitan. Malaya po ang estudyante na hindi magbalik-serbisyo, dangan siya po sa halip ay magbabayad ng matrikula kung siya po ay tatanggi bago makatapos, o ang buong halaga ng kanyang edukasyon kung siya ay tatanggi kapag siya ay nakapagtapos na. Hindi rin po libre ang pag-babalik-serbisyo. May bayad po sila habang sila ay nagtuturo.

Ganoon pa man, tayo po ay lubos na umaasa na magbabalik-serbisyo ang ating mga iskolar ng bayan. Ito na po ang kanilang pagkakataon na isabuhay ang kanilang isinisigaw na pagmamahal sa bayan. Ito na po ang pagkakataon na patunayan nila sa kanilang mga sarili ang panawagan nilang maglingkod sa kapus-palad nating mga kababayan.

Madalas pong magmartsa ang ating mga estudyante, sumisigaw ng pagbabago. Kung ating pong wawariin, parang wala nang katapusan ang kanilang mga reklamo at kahilingan; parang ibig nilang sila na ang magpalakad sa ating Unibersidad, at sila ay mag-aral nang sang-ayon tangi sa kanilang pasya at kagustuhan.

Subalit sinasabi natin ngayon sa kanila, na hinding-hindi natin sila pipigilan sa kanilang pagpapahayag ng kanilang mga kaisipan at paniniwala; hinding hindi natin sila bubusalan sa kanilang mga hinaing. Bagkus, sila ay ating pakikinggan, uunawain, at gagabayan. Hindi po natin hinuhubog ang ating mga estudyante sa isang hulmahan. Hinuhubog po natin sila upang magkaroon ng isang malaya, mapanuri, mapagtanong, at malikhaing pag-iisip; upang sila ay magtaglay ng diwang walang takot, ng tinig na hindi pasusupil; at upang sila ay manindigan para sa katwiran at katarungan.

Sa ating kaguruan, ang lakas natin ay nasa ating kakayahang mag-talo at magpasya bilang isang kalipunan. Ang kakayahang ito ay ating itataguyod at pag-iibayuhin nang marubdob.

Pagsisikapan nating malikom ang pondong kailangan ng ating faculty development programs upang hindi maputol ang mga programang nasimulan na, at upang madagdagan pa.

At upang manatili sa Unibersidad ang ating mahuhusay na kaguruan, pag-aaralan po natin na luwagan ang mga regulasyon sa tenure at promotion upang ang mga ito ay maging mas patas at mas makatarungan. Marapat din na sila ay bigyan natin ng magandang working condition, at masaya at masiglang buhay-akademiko sa ating mga campus.

Titiyakin po natin na maitayo muli ang nasunog na Facuty Center sa loob ng 3 taon. Ang bagong Faculty Center po na ito ay magiging mas malaki, mas moderno, at mas faculty-friendly.

Ang ating pong kaguruan ay binibigyan ng lipunan ng pinakamataas na pagkilala at paggalang habang sila ay nagtuturo sa ating Unibersidad. Hindi po natin papayagan na sila ay mawalan ng dignidad matapos na sila ay magretiro sa pagtuturo. Marahil, dapat tayong magtayo ng isang opisina na walang gagawin kung hindi ihanda ang ating kaguruan para sa kanilang pag-reretiro, at upang sila ay gabayan at tulungan sa kanilang mga pangangailangan, lalong-lalo na sa usapin ng pabahay.

Nakalista po sa ating priority projects ang pagpapaganda sa ating mga campuses. Nangangailangan na po ng rehabilitasyon ang ating mga gusali at mga dormitoryo. Dapat na po nating wakasan ang masakit na biro na walang malinis at mabangong CR dito sa UP.

Tayo po ay nananawagan sa ating mga alumni na sana tayo ay tulungan at damayan sa krusadang ito. Sa mga matagumpay nating alumni na tumira at nakinabang sa murang bayad sa ating mga dormitoryo, sana’y masumpungan nila sa kanilang mga puso ang magsukli at tumulong sa ating pagbabangong-anyo.

Pagsisikapan din po nating magtayo ng pangalawang Philippine General Hospital dito sa UP Diliman. Kasama po sa itatayo ang kakambal nitong College of Medicine at Genomic Cancer Research Institute. Ang medical complex po na ito ay magbibigay-serbisyo sa komunidad ng UP Diliman at ng hilagang Metro-Manila. Ang College of Medicine ay magdaragdag ng mga duktor sa ating bansa at ang Institute po naman ay tutuklas ng lunas sa cancer gamit ang makabagong siyensya ng genomics.

Pangarap po natin na ang PGH na ito ay maging pinaka moderno at pinaka magandang ospital sa buong bansa. Naniniwala po tayo na kaya nating isakatuparan ang pangarap na ito sa tulong ninyong lahat at ng lokal at pambansang pamahalaan.

Para naman po sa ating mga kawani, sinimulan na po natin ang proseso upang gawing regular ang mga kawaning matatagal na sa serbisyo. Sapagkat mangangailangan ito ng mga karagdang plantilla positions, ang proceso po ay inaasahan nating magtatagal. Subalit habang tayo po ay naghihintay,   itataas na po natin ang mga non-UP contractuals, yaong matatagal na po sa serbisyo, sa antas ng UP Contractuals upang sila ay tumanggap na ng lahat ng benepisyo ng isang regular na empleyado. Ganoon pa man, inaasahan natin na ang mga kawani ay magmamalasakit din para sa kapakanan ng ating Unibersidad. Huwag sana nilang igiit ang kanilang mga kahilingan kung ito ay hindi kayang pasanin ng ating kabang-yaman.

Kasabay nito, kailangan po nating suriing mabuti ang pangangailangan ng ating operasyon upang ang laki ng ating administrative workforce ay maging tugma rito, at hindi tuluyang lumobo. Ang salop na umaapaw ay di na po dapat dagdagan.

Sa ibabaw po ng lahat nang ito, i-aangkas natin ang ating mga reporma sa ating procurement system, sa automation ng ating mga operating systems, at sa paggamit ng ating mga pondo at resources.

Tayo po sa ngayon ang nag-iisang Pambansang Unibersidad. Subalit ang karangalan pong ito ay may kaakibat na tungkulin para sa mga unibersidad at kolehiyo sa buong bansa, pribado man o pambupliko. Sa ilalim po ng ating pagmamasid, itataguyod natin ang tambalan ng UP sa mga unibersidad at kolehiyo na ibig makipagtulungan sa ating mga gawaing akademiko at pananaliksik. Pag-aaralan po natin ang pagbalangkas sa isang facility-sharing scheme para sa ating mga SUCs.

Dumako naman po tayo sa usaping informal settlers. Lingid sa karamihan, ang pamilya po natin, minsan, ay naging informal settler din. Kung kaya po damang-dama rin natin ang nararamdaman ng ating mga kababayang nakikitirik sa ating mga lupain. Bibigyan po natin ng tamang pansin ang kanilang kapakanan. Ang kanilang kagalingan ay lagi po nating ilalahok sa lahat ng balak at pagpa-plano sa pagsasa-ayos ng ating mga campus. Hindi po tayo gigiba ng bahay kung ito ay gigiba ng buhay. Ang tanging dasal po natin, sana’y magmalasakit din naman sila sa ating Unibersidad at sa ating komunidad.

Hindi po natin ikinahiya kailanman na tayo ay galing din sa hirap. Dala po ng kahirapan sa buhay tayo po ay nangailangang tumulong sa ating mga magulang sa pagtataguyod sa pamilya. Tumulong po tayo na magpa-aral sa ating mga kapatid upang magbago ang kanilang mga kapalaran at ng ating mga mahal sa buhay. Sa ating pagtulong, nangailangan pong humingi tayo ng awa sa Panginoon. At upang patunayan na ang ating panalangin ay taimtim, tayo po ay nagbitaw ng isang panata. Panata na tayo po ay hindi hahanap ng kabiyak sa buhay hanggat hindi natatapos ng kolehiyo ang lahat ng ating mga kapatid. Dininig po ng Maykapal ang ating panalangin at malugod naman po nating tinupad ang ating panata. Hindi po tayo nakipag-isang dibdib kay Atty. Gaby hanggat hindi po tapos ng medisina ang bunso nating kapatid.

Ngayong hapon, saksi kayong lahat at ang Dakilang Lumikha, tayo po ay gumagawa muli ng isang panata. Panata na tayo po ay maglilingkod ng wagas, sa sukdulan ng ating kakayahan, nang patas at makatarungan, nang buong puso at pagmamahal, nang walang iwanan at laglagan, at higit sa lahat, na walang halong biro!

Maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat!

Mabuhay and Unibersidad ng Pilipinas!

 

 

(The English translation of the Filipino portion follows below.)

 

Driven by the sincerest and noblest desire to continue accomplishing meaningful and necessary changes in the University, and with the firm belief that I could contribute to achieve this dream, I humbly offered myself to serve our University as its President. And because we were brought and bound together by our common selfless intentions and pursuits, we prevailed, we succeeded.

This success signals the beginning of the more important task of proving to our colleagues—friends and detractors alike—and to those who rely on and believe in us that we will fulfill and deliver the reforms we have committed to achieve. This we will realize through a renewal of our collective and united efforts to plan, decide, and act toward the needed change we have envisioned together.

For us to triumph, the three vital components of our University—the students, the faculty, and the administrative staff—should aim as one to hit our targets. Our unity is the key to our success. True, unity is elusive because we fully acknowledge and accept the complexity and diversity of our respective needs, beliefs, and standards. However, we believe that there is a common ground where all of the three components can stand together as one body. We have to act as one body, so that pain endured by one of us will be pain felt by all of us. That common ground is right here in our hearts; we simply have to feel it to realize it.

To ensure that all of us will stay in that common ground together as one, I, as your President, shall act as the adhesive that will keep us fastened and bound together, so that no one will fall out, or be left out.

I am committed to listen to anyone who needs my attention, so I would know what he or she feels, plans, and needs in order to guide me in my work. Under my leadership, the common good is far more important than my personal views or desire.

The road to change is treacherous to say the least. But to guide us in every step of the way, compassion is what shall set our bearings. It is compassion when we feel genuine care for our University, genuine care for our professions, genuine care for ourselves, and genuine care for each other. When we genuinely feel compassion, we are truly careful with our words and deeds; very careful of our every move so as not to hurt or harm the things we value and care for.

If our unity is the key to our success, compassion is the key to our solidarity and lasting camaraderie.

In the next six years that I will steer the helm of this administration, rest assured that I will hold it firmly and with vigilance, for there will be great obstacles ahead to confront and overcome. Just at the start of my term as President, we already met a major challenge: tuition-free college education.

It is a major concern because we have been allocating sixty percent of our collection from tuition fees for faculty development programs. If the national government will not replace the tuition collection we will forego, there will be no funds to finance the programs that develop and uplift the conditions of our faculty.

Apart from this, we have to address another concern. While studying in UP may be free, can the students belonging to the less-privileged and marginalized families pass the UPCAT if they intend or wish to study in UP?

The free-tuition program will clearly be pointless, senseless, and useless if the students from poor families will not pass the UPCAT. Based on previous studies, only a small percentage of graduates from public high schools outside Metro Manila pass the UPCAT. This low turnout is being blamed on the low quality of instruction in those public high schools.

This reality has given rise to our proposal to impose return service as a condition for the admission of students to UP. This return service will be for one year after graduation. Our graduates will be required to teach senior high school students in public high schools that we will identify as UP feeder schools. This scheme, we hope, will uplift the quality of the graduates from these feeder schools.

The return-service condition, however, will be voluntary. Any student may opt out from this condition before graduation by paying his tuition, or the cost of his education if he will opt out after graduation. The return service to be rendered by our graduates will not be for free. Our students who will decide to teach will be compensated properly.

While it is voluntary, we are very optimistic that our students, the scholars of the nation, will choose to render return service. That is because it will be a perfect opportunity for them to live out their professed love for our country, and their advocacy to serve our poor countrymen.

Our students often march on the streets to demand change. Sometimes it seems that their clamors and complaints will never end; that they want to run the University themselves; and that they wish to study as they please or solely what they desire.

Nevertheless, we shall guarantee their right and freedom to express their ideas, beliefs, and principles. We will never even attempt to suppress what they want to say, or oppress them for what they fight for. Instead, we shall listen to them, understand them, and guide them. We do not mold them to think one way or another. On the contrary, we mold them to think freely; to develop inquisitive, discerning, and creative minds; to be fearless and assertive; and to uphold what is right and just.

For our faculty, our strength lies in our ability to discourse and resolve our differences collegially. We will value and nurture this ability intensely. We will vigorously pursue and secure the funding needed to continue and improve our faculty development programs.

In order to retain our valued faculty in our University, we will study how to ease the rules on tenure and promotion to make them fair and just. We will also upgrade their working conditions and provide them with a happy and vibrant academic life in our campuses. After it burned down last year, a bigger, more modern, and faculty-friendly Faculty Center will rise up again in three years.

The community bestows utmost recognition and respect to the members of our faculty while they are in the University. We will never allow the loss of that dignity after their retirement from teaching. To accomplish this, we will create an office specifically dedicated to prepare our faculty for a well-deserved retirement life and to assist them with their needs, especially in housing.

Included in the list of our priority projects is the rehabilitation of our campuses. It entails the repair, restoration and improvement of our buildings and dormitories. The time has come to put an end to the not-so-amusing joke that there is no clean or decent toilet in UP.

I appeal to our alumni for compassion by helping us in this crusade. I am reaching out to our successful alumni who stayed in the dormitories and enjoyed the benefits of living on campus, paying very cheap dormitory fees. I hope they find in their hearts the generosity to pay it forward and help us in the makeover of their dorms.

We shall strive to build a second Philippine General Hospital in UP Diliman. With it, we shall establish its complement: the College of Medicine and the Genomic Cancer Research Institute. This medical complex will serve the UP Diliman community and the north of Metro Manila. On the one hand, the College of Medicine will result in a substantial increase in the number of medical students we shall train to increase the number of doctors in our country. And on the other, the Genomic Cancer Research Institute will focus on finding cures for cancer, using the science of genomics as a major tool.

We conceive of PGH-Diliman to be the most modern, well-equipped, and excellent hospital in the country. We believe that we can make this dream happen with your support and the help of our national and local governments.

For our contractual personnel who have served the University for a long time, we have begun the process of making them regular employees. However, inasmuch as doing it will require the creation of new plantilla positions, the process will take some time. In the meantime, we shall move up our non-UP contractuals, those who have rendered many years of service, to the level of UP contractual so they can be entitled to all the benefits that a regular employee receives. With this, I hope that our staff would feel that we care. We believe that they, too, have compassion for the welfare of our University. I expect them to understand and not to insist on their demands if our coffers cannot afford these benefits.

Alongside this, we need to take stock of and examine our operations to ensure a match between the size of our administrative workforce and our operational requirements. We will ensure that its size no longer balloons unchecked.

In a larger perspective, we will institute reforms in our procurement system, in the automation of our operating systems, and in the allocation and use of our funds and resources.

As the national university, we have an obligation in our Charter towards other universities and colleges, private and public. Under our watch, we shall comply with that mandate. We shall foster cooperation and collaboration with schools that wish to partner with us in academic and research initiatives. We shall study and consider the establishment and operationalization of a facility-sharing scheme.

In addressing the concern on the informal settlers in the University, many do not know that my family was also once an informal settler. This is why I know how it feels to be one. We shall give proper attention to their needs and well-being. Their welfare will be included in all of our plans to put in order our campuses. We will not destroy houses if it will destroy lives. My sincere prayer and hope is for them to also have compassion for our University and our community.

I was never ashamed of my humble origins. We were so poor that I had to help my parents in supporting our family. I helped them by ensuring that my siblings could finish their schooling to change their lives and futures for the better. To accomplish this, I had to ask a big favor from God. To prove how fervent my prayer was, I made a vow that if God granted my request, I would not marry until all my siblings had finished college. God answered my prayer and I faithfully fulfilled my vow. I did not get married to Atty. Gaby until my youngest sibling had finished medicine.

Today, with all of you and God Almighty as my witnesses, I once again make a solemn pledge to serve you faithfully, to the best of my ability, with fairness and justice, with all my heart and soul, leaving no one behind, and with utmost seriousness of purpose.

Thank you all! Long live the University of the Philippines!

 

You may watch the video of his speech below: