My dear colleagues and fellow members of the UP Faculty:
Today, as our semester opens and we return to the vital task of educating our students, I wish first of all to greet every one of you a heartfelt welcome.
As all of us know, this will likely be the most difficult opening in our University’s history, except perhaps for January 2, 1942, when UP reopened its doors after the first bombs of the Pacific War had fallen, with no one knowing what to expect.
We seem once again to be at war, against an unseen and pernicious enemy that has already claimed too many lives among our people and in our ranks. There is hardly a Filipino family that has not been affected, directly or indirectly, by this terrible pandemic.
But we are resolved to fight back and not to let this enemy defeat us—not only our medical frontliners, who have heroically borne the brunt of this crisis, but all of us who have a sworn duty to serve the Filipino people even and especially in the direst of situations. We have decided to resume teaching—albeit remotely—because it is the least we can do to reclaim our future, our control over our lives. By teaching, we reassert our humanity, our faith in the ameliorative value of education.
I am aware of the many adjustments and sacrifices you have had to make just to be sure that you will be meeting your students online—today or next week—with some degree of confidence and enthusiasm.
The preparation and submission of course packs, the employment of remote learning, the adoption of new technology—all of these new and sudden impositions seem almost unfair given how difficult it has always been to teach properly and to teach well. In some cases, it will happen that our students will be more comfortable with computer screens than we are. Inevitably, there will be glitches, mistakes, and shortcomings in our networks, setups, and arrangements.
But let us also remember that our students are just as challenged and apprehensive as we are—and that, being younger and possibly far away from their campuses over the lockdown, they may lack the access to technology that many of us have. They expected to step onto the green lawns of their university, to enjoy the company of their friends, and to explore learning in our libraries and laboratories. Instead, like you, they will be facing many long hours in front of their computer or mobile screens, in what for some time will be the new definition of “college.”
To the least advantaged—student and teacher alike—we must extend our utmost patience, understanding, and spirit of cooperation so we can make good on our commitment to do our best to leave no one behind in this difficult hour. Wala po tayong pababayaan, walang maiiwanan.
Your University administration will do its best to generate the material resources we will need to do our work and to forge ahead. But all of us must draw on our deepest intellectual, emotional, and spiritual resources to cope with the challenges we face. As we care for our students, we care for our faculty and staff, and their well-being must be secured in all our policies and actions.
Let me end with words of my esteemed predecessor, President Rafael Palma:
“We should wish that our teachers in this University would be not mere hirelings pressed into service for the salaries that are given them and the lessons that they give, but faithful trustees or high priests of the science that they have pledged to espouse, of practicality, and of the spirit of self-effacement and devoted service to the nation and to the world. The University can do an infinite amount of good not only in molding the character of each citizen, but also in shaping the national character.”
As the national university, we have a special obligation to lead the nation by example. Let us lead with courage, conviction, and generosity of spirit, in the service of the Filipino people.
Mabuhay kayong lahat!
Danilo L. Concepcion