Before we go back to Holy Week…

…I have this particular bit of news to share. This was taken from an egroup to which I subscribe, and this was addressed mainly to philosophers. I have altered some of the information for clarity’s sake.

I found this very disturbing news.

dear fellow philosophy professors,

As you prepare for the annual Philosophical
Association of the Philippines (PAP)conference, allow
me to report to you about a “management decision” in
San Beda College-Mendiola that severely undermines our
common advocacy for the value and indispensability of
philosophy in Philippine higher education.

Dr. Rainier Ibana of AdeMU gave the most fitting
description of the situation: “Philosophy crucified.”

cadz malbarosa
—————————————————

Last week all tenured faculty of the philosophy
department of San Beda College-Mendiola received their
termination letter.

I was the last one to receive mine last Sunday via
LBC, while enjoying lunch with my family.

Dr. Demeterio (former PAP director)was handed his
termination letter at the post-graduation rites CAS
faculty dinner last Friday, 14 March.

Dr. Felicilda (current PAP director) and our Chair,
Raffy Dolor received theirs at home via LBC the next
day.

The reason stated for our termination is the CLOSURE
of our department, which is a result of “streamlining
of course offerings” for “national development. “

The real reason, however, is rooted in the years of
struggle we in the department have put up for the sake
of a particular idea of modern and competitive
education that has the humanities and the liberal arts
as important components.

Since 1993 (the beginning of my 5-year chairship of
the department)we have embarked on the progressive and
systematic development of a program that approximated
the Frankfurt School. We wanted San Beda College’s
Philosophy program to be known as country’s center for
critical theory. the late Ray Briones’ (former PAP
director)visionary leadership and commitment to a
competitive philosophy program made possible the
fusion of philosophy (as core competence) and human
resource development (as functional specialization).
the program experienced a surge in enrolment. At one
time it peaked up to 3 sections of really good
students.

The school year that just ended was particularly
acrimonious, conflict-ridden, and marked by
administrative arrogance, deception, and betrayal. the
first salvo was fired when, without consulting its
dean, dr felicilda, the incoming rector-president
closed down the graduate school of philosophy
(specializations: governance and cultural studies)

the governance track was the fruit of my years of
research in good governance and anti-corruption
advocacy. I thank our chair, raffy dolor, and former
rector fr anscar chupungco for making it happen. I
thank dr felicilda for shepherding it until its abrupt
closure. the ultimate goal was to put up a center for
good governance in san beda college-mendiola. fr
anscar was intent on pursuing this one in san beda
college-alabang until he too was relieved by the
abbot, tarciso ma. narciso, on the first day of the
benedictine monks’ annual holy week retreat.

so, SY 2007-2008 started off ominously. There was no
more room for doubt about this when the new CAS dean
and new rector-president implemented the uniform
policy on the freshies. Let us put aside the common
observation that the uniform reminds us of rural-based
millenarian cults. The real issue is that the policy
is paradigmatic of medieval authoritarianism. it was
imposed without any consultation whatsoever with the
Student Council. The student manual and the student
Magna Carta are clear about the need to consult the SC
on major policies. In reaction to student protests,
the rector and the dean and their admin lackeys made
attempts to invalidate the magna carta. They too
blamed the former rector-president anscar chupungco
for the passage of the magna carta under his term.

“There is no such thing as student stakeholdership.”

this infamous statement of an administrator
encapsulates what could be the real attitude of the
owners and some administrators of san beda
college-mendiola.

The administration later resorted to other repressive
measures such as ceasing to collect for the student
publication. That is just okay (as HEIs are not
obliged to collect for their student publication) but
the malice is obvious. Why stop collecting for The
Bedan after decades of collecting for it? Worse still,
they made it difficult for the editors to collect the
publication fund themselves.

I will no longer go into the details of how the
monk-dominated ExeCom almost made me forgo my research
grant for archival work in madrid, barcelona and
seville and the invitation to be guest scholar at the
graduate school of history of the universitat pompeu
fabra in barcelona.

That ends my 17 years of teaching and doing philosophy
in a school i considered my mission assignment. I am
proud of my students and of our program. it has
produced citizens whose contributions to “national
development” cannot be questioned.

last March 19, the philosophy majors started receiving
notice of the closure of the philosophy department
with the advice that they either shift course or
transfer school. Parents started getting organized
immediately after the Holy Week.

Yesterday (wednesday, 26 March)the rector-president
communicated through the CAS dean that he was allowing
the incoming juniors and seniors to graduate. it
appears that the incoming sophomores will have to
shift course or transfer school. We welcome this as a
positive development for the welfare of the students.
There were text messages, however, circulated by the
students themselves that social science professors
will handle the major courses. Let us not mind for now
the legitimate issue of the profile of SocSci
department faculty. Here’s my initial reaction to
that: Only trained and experience philosophy
professors should handle OUR major courses. I
sincerely hope this is not true.

One may attempt to explain or at least make sense of
what is happening in San Beda using, say, the most
appropriate cultural theory of institutions. So, it
can be said at least that the benedictine monks are
having problems learning (learning being central to
any study of institution) the modern rules, attitude,
and values of democracy.

If this is true, they really must have serious
learning problems. they had been struggling with it,
nay, resisting it, even before i joined san beda
college in 1991.

i am truly worried about the rise of the
anti-intellectuals in a higher education institution.

we ought to be.

YOU ought to be if there are clear signs of
intolerance and dogmatism in your own institution.
————————————-
As i further reflect on the incident, it becomes clear
to me that the flimsy and farcical attempt to cloak
our our termination with legality only heightens the
violation of decency, of kabutihan and kagandahang
loob. this hurts truly because it pierces in a cruel
way the heart of pakikipagkapwa.

————————————-
I thank my mentors (ab, ma and Ph.d) for inculcating
in me the love for philosophy, scholarship with
integrity, scholarly perseverance, research with grand
purpose….

I thank my SVD formators for instilling in me a deep
sense of mission and purpose in life, to fight for
justice and to search for the truth.

I thank my fellow social democrats for sharing with me
the principles and values i actively promote
and for nurturing my convictions about individual
rights and liberties.

I thank my jesuit professors at the universidad
pontificia comillas in madrid for showing me that the
price of advocating pluralism is tolerance and that
dialogue is an act of hope for humanity and trust in
kapwa-tao.

I thank my friends for being there, even if they don’t
agree with the way i say things, what i actually say,
what i do, and the way i think.

regards and cheers.

Jose Ma. Arcadio C. Malbarosa
Associate Professor
Philosophy Department
San Beda College
Mendiola St., San Miguel
Manila

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