Volume XIV Issue 2 Online Edition November 2010 – March 2011
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Something to swallow. It was not easy getting you back to read us, and a more difficult challenge awaits the team to maintain that reader interest.
We were up to something after $3X. We clipped our mouths and kept everything planned to ourselves until today. This issue is dedicated to our readers who are hungry for more. We offer you, with more teeth and balls, the thickest (by far) and most colorful Himati. We banged our heads in coming up with a good menu, tried to combine the light and the heavy, worked long nights at a makeshift cafeteria just to get the feel, and the result is a version of a six-course meal served in forty colored glossy pages. We carefully made the hors d’oeuvres to stimulate your curious appetites, chose some light course meals to help refresh your senses, picked a good meal for the main course, added a salad course to aid in digestion, a cheese plate to signal that the meal is about to end, and an indulgent dessert plate to finish sweetly.
Volume XIV, Issue 2 November 2010 – March 2011
To make this possible, we set foot in the excruciating task of hunting campus journalists who do not resurrect deadlines in exchange for hugs and occasional nail-cutter-nipple-pinches. Together, we cooked what we called the FOOD FRENZY issue. Let us feed you, make you swallow, and grow weightier with more stories to tell. Let us tell you more about UP Mindanao, eggplants, agricultural lands, different lifestyles, eating disorders, leftovers, and Himati. This is food and all its glory. Savor its freshness and taste. Eat.
Sergei C. Reyes Editor in Chief
Editorial Editor in Chief Sergei C. Reyes Associate Editors in Chief Beatriz A. Tulio, Jesse Ramon Pizarro Boga Managing Editor Doreen Mae Alolod Writers Kit Frias, Rosaleen Ramos, Klarissa Concepcion, Danielle Te Contributors Nassefh Macla, Krista Iris Melgarejo, Kapitan Sino, Syra Online Online Editor Sam Sanchez Associate Online Editor Iva Barbara Caballero Vloggers Ferina Santos, Kenneth Porio, Althea Astrid Gopo, Yna Martinez Art Art Director Fatima Marie Gaane Associate Art Director Stephanie Puyod Graphics Director Renz Bulseco Photojournalists Maureen Homez, Jamaica Bulacito
Menu. November 2010 – March 2011
5 She said, he said. Betsy Tulio and Ross Ramos witness the exit of Roman, and Pascual’s entrance to the UP presidency. 6 Mere Leftovers: On the 2011 SUC Budget. USC Chair Krista Iris Melgarejo shares table scraps from the UP Budget 8 At The Expense of Agriculture. Sergei C. Reyes zeroes in at the problem of target fixation in land use and reform. 8 Feed us, Yellow King. Sergei C. Reyes shares a story about hotdogs from New Amsterdam and rice soaked in soy sauce. 9 And along came Kalimudan Doreen Alolod shares the story behind this place-to-be for fresh meat. 10 Understanding Bt. Kit Frias introduces us (again) to the Bt. 11 Himati Icon: Dr. Eufemio T. Rasco, Jr. Jesse Ramon Boga talks to the doctor himself. 13 Losing the Arts? Doreen Alolod explains the state of art in UPMin. 17 Pinalangga kong Oblê 17 Feedback
07 12 14
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She said, he said. As Maam Emer leaves the Presidency, the challenge is up to Mr. Pascual by Betsy Tulio and Ross Ramos.
It’s been 6 years. Or five, if you start counting from 2006 – the year she raised the base tuition per unit from PhP300 to PhP1,000. How I wished I was born just a few semesters earlier than the 2009-xxxxx that marked my ID, it could have saved my mother a few of her wrinkles, and my father, a few of his grey hairs. In the 2006 Primer on Tuition and Other Fee Increases, the UP Administration (she) explained that the increase will be used to cover the “increasing cost of power and other utilities, procurement of equipment and upkeep of facilities, purchase of books and maintenance of journal and library subscriptions, and enhancement of teaching and research.” At present, only PhP210.1 million of the income from the tuition increase has been tapped for the enhancement of the 9 colleges across the UP system; PhP210 million of the average 355 million earnings we come up with yearly, according to the Department of Budget & Management. Anyhow, Emerlinda Roman still pointed out that the university’s assets grew in the last five years. “Between 2005 and 2010, the assets increased from PhP27 billion to PhP37.4 billion,” she said. Looking back, those six years weren’t that bad – UP celebrated its Centennial during her tenure, making her the Centennial President. Celebrations in all units, from Baguio to Mindanao, looked back at one hundred years of excellence and service to the nation through honor and excellence. Yet amidst the fanfare, people at school shaved their heads in indignation of TOFI. Iskolars ran around naked. Some must have even prayed on Jose Rizal’s grave for a miracle. Indeed, UP Campuses from across the archipelago staged every form of protest they could muster. Yes, the tuition hike still struggled to reach it peak – and it even stayed there for good. But we never failed to protest, not a minute, in all those six years. We never lost this battle because we struggled to the end. That’s what counts. Even as we say goodbye to the glorious Roman Empire with a testimonial ceremony at the SOM Anda Campus last February 4, we weren’t short of presentation and flair; not only did we let our spits fly, eggs too. Something she would remember UPMin with. Although we close that chapter of UP, we open yet another one.
Valentines Day brought us our new president, Alfredo E. Pascual. His visit to UPMin last February 14 gave us all a boost. Finally, the next chapter is beginning… A former alumni regent and president of the UP Alumni Association, he also plans to tap the university’s alumni, an untapped resource for funds and expertise. “Our goal is to promote among our alumni a culture of giving back to the university,” he said. When he walked in, he brought with him the promise “… to develop UP’s idle properties”, but he said the extra revenues from these will not replace the budget allocation that UP gets from the government. He said: “Under my administration, our plans and programs will be guided by the vision statement that accompanied my acceptance of nomination for the UP presidency. That vision will mark our path for the next six years.” What is that vision? We want to see the University of the Philippines as a GREAT university within Southeast Asia in the 21st century: • • • • • • • • A university that takes a leadership role in the development of the country, while anchored on academic excellence. A university that has a strong research capability, supported by an expanded graduate program, unshackled by sectarian constraints or commercial interests, and geared to addressing societal problems. A university that has excellent faculty and staff working in an environment which inspires outstanding performance and high productivity, and provides decent compensation and equitable benefits. A university that recruits students from among the best and brightest and provides them affordable tertiary education. A university that prepares its students for successful careers and responsible citizenship in a globalized world. A university that takes a quantum leap in the physical development of its campuses and their technological infrastructure for teaching, research, and administration A university that achieves financial sustainability by generating needed resources and managing costs efficiently, while preserving its public character. A university that is a model for good governance to the country it serves.
“Between 2005 and 2010, the assets increased from PhP27 billion to PhP37.4 billion”
Now that we all have our fingers crossed and breaths held, pray that this fellow would prove to be a better catch than the last one. It’s going to be 6 more years you know…
Mere Leftovers: On the 2011 SUC Budget. State abandonment or economic independence? USC Chair Krista Iris Melgarejo sums up the figures.
Last December 2010, President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III signed the budget for 2011. One of the items highlighted in this reform budget was the PhP 110 million addition for the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) of state universities and colleges (SUCs). Is there really an addition or deficit? Comparing the data from the Department of Budget and Management’s National Expenditure Program, there is an increase of PhP317.6 million for the SUC budget, from PhP21.7 billion to PhP22.03 billion. But a closer look at the details would reveal that PhP200 million will be allocated to UP’s Engineering Research Development Technology (ERDT) and PhP117.6 million will be allocated for the MOOE of 80 SUCs. The UP system will be receiving a total of PhP5.751 billion for 2011, up by PhP226 million from the PhP5.525 billion. Compared to the 2010 UP budget, UP will be suffering a colossal budget cut amounting to PhP1.165 billion for 2011. Instead of having additions to their budgets, 31 SUCs will be experiencing more decreases in their budgets for 2011. Top 10 SUCs with most added budget for 2011 (in Pesos)
University of the Philippines System Surigao State College of Technology Technological University of the Philippines Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology Batangas State University Polytechnic University of the Philippines Mariano Marcos State University Negros Oriental State University Don Mariano Marcos Memoral State University Pangasinan State University 226,124,000 6,996,000 6,960,000 6,297,000 5,468,000 4,930,000 4,809,000 3,830,000 3,775,000 3,712,000
Top 10 SUCs with most deducted budget for 2011 (in Pesos)
University of Northeastern Philippines Mindanao State University Bicol University Isabela State University Bulacan State University Western Mindanao State University Central Mindanao University Central Luzon State University Cebu Technological University Cavite State University 15,839,000 3,617,000 3,148,000 2,181,000 2,100,000 1,826,000 1,768,000 1,577,000 1,554,000 1,519,000
Top 10 SUCs with most deducted budget (in percent)
Philippine Normal University J.H. Cerilles State College Aurora State College of Technology Bicol University University of Southeastern Philippines University of the Philippines System Central Bicol State University of Agriculture Basilan State College Davao Oriental State College of S & T Iloilo State College of Fisheries
Data: UP Mindanao University Student Council
Top 10 SUCs with most deducted budget (in Pesos)
University of the Philippines System Bicol University Philippine Normal University University of Southeastern Philippines Central Bicol State University of Agriculture Iloilo State College of Fisheries J.H. Cerilles State College University of Northern Philippines Partido State University Southern Leyte State University 1,164,833,000 91,960,000 89,442,000 42,540,000 31,269,000 16,281,000 16,209,000 12,567,000 11,351,000 8,926,000
23.1 22.3 21.0 19.5 19.2 16.8 15.7 14.8 13.7 11.5
So, is there really an addition or deficit?
Krista is a guest writer for Himati.
UP will be suffering a colossal budget cut amounting to
At the Expense of Agriculture.
Sergei Reyes zeroes in on land in the Philippines.
© Fernando Cortés
In various regions in the Philippines, many find themselves doing agricultural activities such as farming as their main source of income. However, due to some reasons such as population increase, agricultural lands have been converted into residential and industrial, and this has brought change in land-use structure. Urban Growth and Housing According to the World Bank, between 1960 and 1995, the Philippines had one of the highest rates of urban growth in the developing world with an annual urban population increase of 5.1 percent. Sixty percent of the total population is currently urban, a tenth of which reside in four of the largest metropolitan regions in the country, and this includes Davao City, having more than a million residents. “About 84 percent of national GDP is accounted for by industry and services, most of which occurs in urban or periurban areas” (The World Bank Group, 2010). Businesses and industries in urban areas are said to be the drivers of national economic growth. Despite these reports on economic growth, poverty rates still remain high in urban areas. From 18 percent in 1997, it has since risen to 20 percent in 2000. Indication of poverty can be seen in the number of people living in substandard (slum or squatter) housing, which is about 40 percent; therefore housing is a serious issue confronting the lower middle class and poor groups. This is true in the National Capital Region, Cebu and Davao City (Urbanization Dynamics and Policy Frameworks…, The World Bank). And to reduce poverty in these areas, the government welcomes the idea of turning agricultural lands to housing development projects, in hopes of accommodating the poor. Land Use and Policies Land accessibility and productivity are major factors in reducing poverty in the Philippines because the poor use land for livelihood and
welfare. Their houses are considered the beacon for incomegenerating activities such as food vending, especially those in urban areas. Therefore, to sustain economic growth and alleviate poverty in the country, land market must be wellfunctioning. However, land in the Philippines is unequally distributed, evidenced by boundary disputes, fake titles, and illegal occupation. The government has crafted different policies concerning land use and poverty alleviation, and the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) is one of them. This was said to correct inequities in land distribution; however, this did not meet the expectations of many. In fact, a number of policies in the country concerning land use, administration and management are unclear and inconsistent. Moreover, they are highly politicized. For example, the Philippine land law through the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act recognizes, protects and promotes ancestral domain rights. This is pre-Spaniard conquest ownership of protected lands by tribal or cultural communities. However, this raises some property rights issues. In the case of mineral lands, the State owns all natural resources of such lands under Jura Regalia of the Philippine Constitution, but ancestral lands also cover mineral lands, therefore indigenous people or cultural communities also have claims of ownership of the lands. So who really owns them? The Philippines classifies its lands into categories. The 1987 Philippine Constitution classifies lands of public domain into Agricultural, Forest or timber, Mineral, and National parks; and these are owned by the state, except for agricultural lands that can be owned privately by Filipino citizens. These alienable lands are further classified according to their use and purpose: Agricultural; Residential, Commercial, Industrial or for similar productive purposes; Education, Charitable or other similar purposes; and
Reservations for town site and for public or quasi-public purposes. In addition, various laws have been enacted for the classification and reclassification of lands into different uses. These include RA 7279 that defines urban lands, and lands with potential urban use and these are reserved for urban development and social housing purposes; RA 6657 which provides restrictions on the classification of agricultural and agrarian lands including protected areas; RA 7357 and 7668 which reserves certain lands for tourism development; RA 8370 which gives priority rights to indigenous peoples over ancestral domains, and RA 7942 Mining Act which states that minerals are owned by the State. Land use and classification in the Philippines is tainted with ambiguity and there is a need to review certain laws to be able to have well-functioning land markets. Effects With lands slowly being converted into different classifications, what repercussions are expected? It is said that land and real estate activity is associated to economic performance, however, it sometimes becomes questionable how these lands are used and the quality of ‘developments’ from this activity. In addition, with the weakness of Philippine land laws as shown in changes in patterns in land use, e.g. from agricultural land to residential or industrial land, what happens when these lands are converted at the expense of agriculture? This could create a domino effect which would lead to food shortage. Saved food cannot hold for long, not even imported products. Ultimately, this may result to a food crisis where food will be very much scarce and expensive. Moreover, this may also turn out to be robbing cultural communities of their land. Unless urbanization is done responsibly, that is, planning sites well according to its purpose and use, then we can say that it is beneficial for society. However, if this were done irresponsibly, the society may be in peril. Aside from an inevitable food crisis, detrimental effects to the environment may lead to a decline in livability. It does not mean that just because a place is urbanized that it is growing economically. It may turn out to be different if it cannot sustain itself and those living in it. What the government must do is to review its laws and policies. They must also map out lands according to its crop suitability and susceptibility to natural calamities so food shortage can be answered. From there, they can make changes to make urbanization favorable for everyone. A halt in land conversion is not called for, only an awareness to be responsible in converting lands for the benefit of all and not for enriching oneself.
Feed us, Yellow King. Of succulent hotdogs and soy sauce-soaked rice.
Once there was a King who ruled over some 7,107 islands in the Southeast Asian region, the kingdom was then formerly known as the Pearl of the Orient for its splendor and rich resources. Now it is home to around 94 million Filipinos – the King’s subjects. These folks yearn nothing more than a proper meal after a day’s hard labor. At the high throne, the Yellow King sits and enjoys succulent hotdogs from another kingdom, New Amsterdam. The King inherited the throne, not the hotdog, from his mother who was made Queen when her beloved husband, the bold Knight, died upon stepping down from his winged vehicle. The King was told to continue the family’s legacy, and now, we eye him – almost bald and fidgety over the country’s malnourished state. A few decades ago, the kingdom was flowing in riches. Countries traded with us, countries helped us until these very countries subjugated us and took over what made us rich. And now, the nation is hungry. We grew 600,000 more since the Yellow King sat as leader, but we do not have enough food for everyone. We call this a state of poverty – from 400 years spent in a convent to about 50 years in Hollywood and then we have now. Hunger is the most critical manifestation of poverty. Because of scarcity, prices soar high and many Filipinos could not afford. Along with this are skyrocketing prices of other commodities such as fuel. The rise has triggered social unrest. And we cannot blame the Church for not using condoms, or the money that went to the juicy hotdogs of the Yellow King. Early this year, international food prices remained high and developing countries were the most vulnerable. “Devalued national currencies, reduced harvests due to bad weather, and civil conflicts contributed to these increase,” stated the International Economic Bulletin. Another reason why food price has swelled, it added, is the conversion of food into biofuels. Although food prices fell by 0.3% in September from August in the country, it still is expected to rise during the holidays where every family seems to panic buy and feast on food good for an entire barangay. It is the time for a Catholic nation to practice gluttony, making an increase inevitable, as if it were a constant for any holiday budget computation. In the Philippines, prices increased by twenty to twenty six percent from year 2008 to 2009. Moreover, we rank third among developing countries with the largest increases in domestic staple food prices. Although the price increase may help producers and net sellers of food, the poor cannot benefit from this as their power to purchase goods is curtailed. In Aling Belinda’s family of five, what used to be a thousand peso food budget per week is now only good enough for three to four days. Prices of meat have been gravely affected by the rise of fuel used for transport and the cost of cooking oil has shot up. Vegetables, spices, and everything we eat is now worth more than the usual. Aling Belinda instead resorted to halving, sometimes purchased in quarters, the kilos of pork, beef, chicken, and fish she bought and added more vegetables. She also cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner in one go, and used rice that was cheaper in price. Aling Belinda admits that it’s harder to feed the kids because they were not happy when fish was served, but they had no choice. She says they would soak their rice in soy sauce just to forget it was fish they were eating. We used to be a nation of happy people. We laughed at problems because we were assured that it can be solved at the end of the day. But now, we are not the “happiest” or is our country the “best place to live in”. Majority of us do not know if a solution is available so we wait idly for one and bear what is at hand. This is probably because majority of us are religious? Or because we have lost faith as a result of our country having no good health care benefits, education system, and a plan to alleviate the status quo? Maybe, just maybe, because we are too hungry. The Yellow King must be sad. The best place to live in value health, education, wealth, and the fight against poverty. And he is leading the complete opposite, and he had the balls to manage a modicum of change under his leadership. Feed us, Yellow King.
A story written by Sergei C. Reyes.
And along came Kalimudan. In a bid to become economically self-sufficient, UPMin has to thread the thin line of public service and commercialization by Doreen Alolod.
Monday mornings fill the Kalimudan Student Center with empty chairs and tables. Its start of operation in August last year has earned several criticisms from the students. With the current status of the university in terms of population, the students ask: Is UP Mindanao indeed ready for Kalimudan? When the area was turned over to UP Mindanao by the AFP 55th Engineer Brigade, Chancellor Rivero then submitted a proposal to rehabilitate the said land. And since the location is conveniently near the USC and Himati offices, the administration thought of using the land to build a complex for students in which they can loaf around and hold organization meetings and other student activities. Although the longer use of electricity will have to require the students to pay a fee. During the planning for the design of the center, Ms. Bambi Cabrera, the college Business Manager said that they wanted it to be similar to Diliman’s Shopping Center which aside from serving the students, is giving services to settlers and residents of the neighboring big time subdivisions. According to Cabrera, the student center was conceptualized based on the survey done by the Office of the Student Affairs which revealed the list of what services UP Mindanao students needed. The result indicated that they needed a bookstore, photocopying services, and more varied choices of food, among others. The public bidding for concessionaires last May 2010 had furnished the center with a canteen, school supply store, two copy centers and five stalls selling food, UP souvenir items and other merchandise. However, after the December-January break, two food stalls have not been operating up to this date. Commercialization Facilities built to give students better services are good, but the chairperson of the UP Mindanao University Student Council, Krista Iris Melgarejo, is not completely that supportive to the idea. “Hindi naman po talaga tama na binibigyan tayo ng ganitong mga pasilidad tapos tayo pa tuloy ang gumagasta para ito’y magpatuloy sa kaniyang operasyon.” Melgarejo said, expressing her stand in the construction of the student center. “Kahit sabihin ng administrasyon na wala nga silang kita dito, ito pa rin ho ay isang porma ng komersyalisasyon. Kung iisipin ho natin, mas mababa pa iyong babayaran ng mga estudyante sa mga bilihin kung hindi na proproblemahin ng concessionaires ang kanilang babayaran na renta every month.” Cabrera on the other hand stressed that Kalimudan is a university facility and not a tool of commercialization. “It’s not commercializing the university but it’s giving you the services you need to make your college life comfortable,” Cabrera contended. “How are we going to encourage more freshmen students to enroll in UP Mindanao kung even a canteen hindi natin ma-provide?”
She said that a number of potential freshmen backed out from enrolling in the campus because they have seen the university’s poor facilities. “Why do they prefer Diliman and Los Baños, aside from name and prestige? Because of the good facilities. Tayo, anong maipapakita natin dito?” Budget Cut and the Road to Self-sufficiency Based on the 2008 UP Charter, UP campuses are encouraged to venture into income generating programs, provided that “any plan to generate revenues and other sources from land grants and other real properties entrusted to the national university shall be consistent with the academic mission and orientation of the national university as well as protect it from undue influence and control of commercial interest” (Sec. 22. Land Grants and Other Real Properties of the University). Even before the talk about budget cut, the university has already been finding ways to generate additional income to keep UP alive. The construction of the center is “one of the ways” the administration of UPMin thought off to address the university’s lack of monetary funds. Cabrera explained: “Kasi [kung] may income ang concessionaires nakakasiguro kaming may ibabayad silang renta, pag may ibabayad silang renta, may income ang UP, kung may income ang UP, may ipangbibili kami ng mga kailangan niyo.” In his statement on the issue of budget cut, President Benigno S. Aquino III said: “We are gradually reducing the subsidy to SUCs to push them toward becoming self-sufficient and financially independent, given their ability to raise their income and to utilize it for their programs and projects.” The USC chair, however, remained firm to her stand. “It all boils down to the fact that the government does not prioritize education,” she said. Although she appreciates the construction of the new facility, she argued that the UPMin administrators would not have to worry about how to sustain the student center “...if the government only gives us the appropriate budget for that through Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE).”
Understanding Bt. Let all your opinions about Bt be informed. Kit Frias shares answers to your questions.
What is Bt? Bt stands for Bacillus thuringiensis. It is a bacterium that occurs naturally in the soil, in the gut of caterpillars and on the dark surface of leaves. It is a gram-positive bacteria, which means it belongs to a class of generally more harmless bacteria, in contrast to gram-negative bacteria which are harder to get rid of. What is the Bt Eggplant? The Bt Eggplant is a crop infused with a single gene* from the Bacillus thuringiensis. This gene makes the crops immune to its enemy pest, the fruit-and-shoot borers (FSBs).
* a gene is composed of three nucleotides: that’s three half-rungs of the DNA ladder.
How does the eggplant become immune to the FSBs? During sporulation, the Bt strain reacts with receptors on the insect’s gut surface, which causes the formation of crystal proteins called delta endotoxins. Endotoxins result in cell lysis or cell splitting. The insect experiences a feeling of satiation, or fullness, and stops eating, which results in its death. So if eating the Bt Eggplant is deadly to pests, how about for humans? The receptor enzymes that are necessary for the production of the delta endotoxins are not produced by humans. No endotoxins, no toxicity, and therefore no harm. Also, it cannot be harmful to non-target insects because of the same reason. What are the benefits of the Bt Eggplant? The market for eggplants is a PhP3.44 billion industry in the Philippines. That’s a lot of mouths fed. Losses due to FSB infestation can take away up to half of the total harvest. Using the Bt technology can help reduce costs, because the farmers don’t need to buy expensive synthetic pesticides, and increase yield, and of course increase income. If it’s that beneficial, why aren’t we using it right now? We ourselves ask the very same question.
It’s hard to imagine that, for someone who’s done so much in his field, Dr. Eufemio T. Rasco, Jr. never wanted to be a plant scientist. Read on as Jesse Ramon Boga reveals more about the doctor.
“I don’t think I really wanted to be a scientist. I wanted to be a medical doctor.” Things did not go quite as he planned when he chanced upon an essay writing contest back in high school. “I won a national essay [writing] contest (about rice sufficiency in the Philippines) and the prize was a scholarship in UP Los Baños,” he narrates. “And I had to take up agriculture!” He decided to drop his idea of becoming a medical doctor because of the offered scholarship. Writing turned his life around even if he was never fond of it. Back in high school, like most students who try to test their abilities in everything, Rasco tried writing. “It was only something I liked to do when I had nothing else to do. So I wrote an essay, [the judges] liked it, and I was doomed to be in UPLB.” He didn’t have high hopes for himself, considering he came from an ordinary barangay high school in Camarines Norte. College didn’t go easy on him. “When I entered UP, I was shocked! They were teaching chemistry, and wala man kaming chemistry sa high school,” he recalls. For two years, he narrated that he had a tough time getting in the groove. While he tried to fit in with the university’s standards and culture, he found himself catching only three hours of sleep a night. “I really had a rough time ... because i was trying to catch up with those bright boys from PhilSci, UP High, and Ateneo.” It was only during his third year that Rasco was able to adjust with the UP life. Like any college student, he enjoyed his youth by partying in bars, chasing girls, hanging out with his barkada and joining a fraternity. But more than that, he also did many things that were worthy of recognition. “I did quite a lot,” he says. Outside the classroom, he was the school paper’s editor, a student council chair, and even an activist. His secret to life is simple: don’t hold your punches because something will come out of it, sooner or later. He never wanted to become a plant scientist, but pursuing the path that has been laid upon him, Rasco found himself living a life far from what he could have imagined.
Tell us about your experience doing your first college science research. I regret doing that thesis because I had a fight with my adviser. I didn’t want to do what he wanted me to do. I wanted to do something else—something that I liked to do, and that was to criticize my adviser’s work. But I should not have done that. I would not advise you to do that because it’s really bad. It bore some fall outs for me after graduation because I couldn’t find a job. Back then employers would first call your college adviser, and I was jobless for several months. How did you go about the process of designing the MST 4 and 5 classes? MST 4 was an import from UP Diliman, complete with readings that are this thick. *he stretches both his arms* Talagang madami! And many of those readings were poorly written. The first thing that I did was to replace some of the readings with my own, and add current, updated ones. I also listened to the students. MST 4 used to take a historical approach, which was very boring. But one of my students suggested to incorporate current issues in the class. It was then that nuclear energy, aerial spraying, and organic farming saw action, and made the class more interesting. The course now runs with two threads: we look back at historical background and explore current events. MST 4 is a result of the blend of the people who initially designed the course and contributions from the students. It’s not mine alone. How do you feel about students who are afraid to enroll in your MST classes? Oh, they’re cowards! *laughs* I think they have several reasons. Perhaps they want to experience the other UP campuses, so ginagawa na lang nilang excuse na mahirap ang MST 4 or 5. I don’t think it’s difficult. A difficult course is something that you’re forced to study even if it’s not interesting. But I think these two are the most interesting courses in UP. What are the three things that you do before going to work? I wake up very early. By the time I get to work at 9 a.m., my day is almost half over *laughs* because I wake up before 4 a.m.
In this article, Himati talks with Rasco about his MST classes, Bt talong, his college life, and why he likes his pet cat so much.
I think people get disappointed [kasi] when they fail, they look back and see that they did not exert enough effort. That’s the reason why there are people who are unhappy.
I play tennis; it’s something I do everyday. I read the news, and if I have to catch up with my readings, I find a new book and read it. I also do some writing. I do all the serious work in early in the morning, including tennis, so by the time I get here [in my office], I’m ready for my coffee break. *laughs some more* And you feed your pet? We heard you keep a cat for company…Oh, yeah. And I closely guard my pet kasi itong mga biology students, dina-dissect nila ang mga pusa. I found him in the apartment I rented. May kasama palang pusa ang apartment. *laughs* He’s partly self-supporting because I’m usually out of town, that’s what I really like about him. He probably got bored with my company, so nag-invite sya ng another cat. Now I have two cats. *laughs* Some animals can be very sweet, even sweeter than some people I know. Once, my cat shared his mouse meal with me. How do you feel about people who are against your projects on biotechnology, like the Bt eggplant? Naawa ako sa kanila kasi obviously, they’re misinformed, and they’re not doing enough to inform themselves. They think that it’s [UPMin’s] responsibility to inform them, when in fact, getting information is a two way process: you ask for it, and then you can get it. I even offered the City Agriculturist’s Office (CAO) to visit UPMin, because everything that they’ll need to know about biotechnology and GMO is in my room full of books.
For someone who studies science, do you find it difficult to talk about religion? No. In fact, I read a lot about religion. If you look at my book shelf, you can easily find 10 or 20 books there about religion. To me religion is just one of the threads of human thought. Science is another. I don’t like to see them as conflicting. I was born and baptized as a Roman Catholic. I still go to church, because it’s a part of my “tribal responsibility.” But i don’t consider myself deeply religious, though. Having gone through two difficult years in UP and not being able to pursue your dream of becoming a medical doctor, what advise can you give to students who are going through a similar path? You see, some people think that you can plan your life—but you can’t. If you do something, put everything in it: your mind and your heart. Don’t hold your punches because something will come out of it, sooner or later. And that’s exactly what I did. I accidentally got into plant science, I was recruited into the Institute of Plant Breeding, I was sent to us for graduate studies, I got back as a plant breeder, and started to teach STS. I give everything I have, even when playing tennis. I think people get disappointed kasi when they fail, they look back and see that they did not exert enough effort. That’s the reason why there are people who are unhappy.
Losing the Arts? “Where are the arts? Asa namo? Makita pa ninyo sila?” asks Doreen Alolod.
© Laura Pattison
“Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.”
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
It is unbearable to admit that the University is giving Art an undeserved indifference when years before the tiled Atrium, paved CSM road, and 3-million-budgeted student center (slash beach resort), UP Mindanao was filled with fervent student artists performing around the campus, conducting exhibits and theatrical plays or simply strumming stringed-instruments on the corner. And it didn’t matter what colleges they came from.
So, where are the art groups of UP Mindanao?
It seems that the collapse of Kombuyahan, a performing arts company in UPMin, marked the decline of cultural and artistic activities in the university. Says its vision: “UPMin Kombuyahan envisions making the University of the Philippines in Mindanao the center of culture and the arts in the region by providing venues for the development of each individual’s artistry and by establishing linkages with other cultural groups, thereby, promoting the Mindanaon culture.” Sounds promising. But what we do not understand is that why, in one mournful day, the Kombuyahan’s seven divisions – dance (Bayla Vinta), music (Katingugan), literary (Kirim), film (Lantaw), speech and langugage (Litok), visual arts (Mitandi) and theatre (Teatro Lambigit) – were gone in the wind. There was an attempt to redeem its lost name and diverting vision. To fix whatever there was to fix, to save whatever was left. But whatever was the outcome of that attempt to rescue art, we don’t know until now. Art, in whatever forms, reflects the society where it exists. It reflects the society’s culture and people. It reflects the social and political issues of a certain time and how the people of that time respond to them. Even its absence tells much. Without art as a creative outlet, people become petulant, resentful, and closeminded robots. *cough, cough!* But art can also be driven by its society. A stagnant, apathetic, torpid culture creates hunger (starvation even) among people. When people are deprived of the artistic experience, it provokes intense craving, though the starved may not be aware of what they crave for. After all, we say that humans are innately unsatisfied. We are never contented of what we have; we ask for more. We’re curious. We easily get bored. We hate routines. We dig for possible ways to make sense of our existence. No, humans aren’t always unsatisfied. Sometimes, we fill our stomach with too much junk that we get sated, replete, and too lazy to still eat what we need to eat. What shallow minds we have to think that college is all about grades and graduation. When we leave the university and perhaps find a good job, start a family, and embrace the society norms, pray that our eyes remain closed. Live blind, die blind; that we may not regret our ignorance. Art is exploring life and taking our shoes off. We feel the ground for the first time. We discover the dirt, the mud, the sparkling dust. And we fear that. We avoid arts because we fear exposing ourselves to mockery. We fear we aren’t artist enough to enjoy arts, to talk about it. We fear baring our feet. But art doesn’t intimidate, some self-deluded artsy fartsies do. Whatever your definition for the word “art” is, believe it. People nowadays are having a hard time trusting their inner genius. We often box ourselves in our society’s judgments. Let us not try to
define what art is, it should never have a fixed definition. Instead, let us go to a more concerning matter: what do we need art for? Art, it gives life order. We need to make sense of our existence, so we write, we paint, we play music, we dance. Art illuminates life. Through arts, we remember how human we are. Through arts, we experience how one another uniquely see and live life. It broadens our understanding of humanity, our similarities and beautiful differences, our strengths and weaknesses, our victories and struggles. Art makes us realize the essence of human diversity and appreciate it. Art teaches us RESPECT. Sadly, we haven’t learned much. The out-of-the-blue and definitely unnecessary shouting of one’s college during university events is unbelievably heartbreaking. In UP Mindanao, when a crowd shouts the name of their college, it isn’t merely showing pride. Along with the name, you can hear the indirect insult, the assumed superiority, the mockery, the “fuck you we’re the best.” Curse the pointless competition among colleges! Seriously, for now we don’t need competitions. We don’t need more opportunities to amplify our false highness and our pathetic arrogance. What we need is an opportunity to understand and celebrate human diversity as well as the universality in what we feel, think and do as humans. So yes, UPMin needs art. Terribly. The day we lost our value for arts, we lost the old UP Mindanao. Yes, change is inevitable. But if we see that it is giving the next generation of students a bland mediocre culture, shouldn’t we realize that we need more of it? It pains me to look back at the days when every time I get bored listening to the teacher, I would look outside and listen to the Kwerdas group plucking and strumming and humming and even practicing their vocals at the atrium. A class was never a torment then; all you had to do was look outside and see how alive the campus was. And I will never get tired of saying that the old UPMin has taught me, even in that brief hello, that college life is indeed not just about going to classes and getting high grades. Students before had doors of opportunities to do what they want to do, to pursue their passions even outside their courses. And those opportunities we have lost. And if we keep on accepting that this is all we have – the culture of silence and mediocrity, the dying love for the arts – we can never do anything to get those opportunities back. But what is more important to know is this: we cannot find the courage and motivation to do something unless we first find the conviction to do it. Only with it can we radically repel whatever is holding us back. So here is your question: how do we find that conviction? Simple. All we have to do is to sit in our classes, look outside and see how dead UPMin is.
UP Mindanao Dance Ensemble
Looking back at the remains of Kombuyahan
Bayla Vinta Bayla is a Tausog term for dance and vinta is a traditional sea-going vessel for seafarers in Mindanao. Vinta, with its colorful sails, travels with the wind gracefully like a dancer. This provided impetus for the name of the division. Bayla Vinta marks its identity as a group which aims to explore modern dance and street dancing. Objectives The group shall promote modern dance and street dancing in the University. It aims to provide a venue for UP in Mindanao students to enhance their dancing skills. It aims to train its members in the discipline which the art of dancing requires. The group aims to collect the different experiences of Mindanao people and explore the possibilities on how to transform these experiences into different movements in dance. Katingugan The Music Division of UPMin Kombuyahan shall be officially known as Katingugan. Katingugan is a Visayan word for sounds and/or voices. The division has three sections: the Kulintang Ensemble, the Choral Ensemble, and the Instrumentalists’ Ensemble. The Kulintang Ensemble is composed of members coming from the two other performing arts groups of the company namely Bayla Vinta and Teatro Lambigit while the Choral Ensemble is the group called Koro Kantahanay. The Instrumentalists’ Ensemble is divided into three more sections namely: Kuwerdas (stringed instruments), Ihip (wind instruments) at Teklado (percussion instruments). Objectives The Katingugan aims to: (1) provide a venue for the enhancement of talents in music, vocal and instrumental; (2) promote music as an art; (3) contribute to the development of and promote Mindanaon music; (4) and contribute to make the University of the Philippines in Mindanao the center of culture and the arts in the region. Kirim Kirim is the Literary Arts Division of the UPMin Kombuyahan. This is a pioneering circle composed of literary enthusiasts and artists whose main goals are to bring out and enhance the diverse Mindanaon culture, and to instill awareness of this culture to the students of UP in Mindanao through literature. Kirim is open to students and faculty interested in writing and literature. It aims to encourage university constituents to produce literary works which will contribute to the body of Mindanao literature and culture. Kirim is a Maranao term for literature.
Name: UP Mindanao Dance Ensemble Nickname: Ensemble/also pronounced as En-sam. Wala naman atay ubang tawag sa amo? *laughs* Age: We were formally recognized last 2005 under the artistic direction of Prof. Alma Flor Brigole, but we’ve been around since 1999. That’s 11 years… Address: Human Kinetics Center, UP Mindanao Campus. Hobbies: Dancing? Ang hirap ng question ha… Likes: All forms of dance (Jazz, Contemporary, Ballroom [dance sport], Ethnic, Neo-ethnic, Lyrical, Tap) & art! Dislikes: Mediocre performances. Love is: Dancing. Dance is: a melting pot of the arts. It’s a form of self-expression or an opportunity to take on another character and be that character. It is where art meets science and where ideals meet reality. It is the convergence of creativity of technique, talent and skill. All the while, you shall find yourself through dance. Dance fuels the souls and feeds that passion. Dance shall be your way of releasing whatever you are holding inside you; as Martha Graham puts it, dance is the hidden language of the soul. Happiest Moments: UP Mindanao Dance Concert @ Mintal Gym last February 2010 and UP Night 2010. Most Embarrassing Moment: Best if kept a secret. *laughs* Ayaw na diha! :P Most Unforgettable Experience: The taxi ride on our way home from practice (November 26, 2010); it was quality bonding time with the members :) Motto: When everyone else is expecting you to fall, prove them wrong. Ambition in Life: To be able to educate people through dancing. *char* Message: There are two types of dancers: one who acquired the SKILL of dancing through classes and one who was born with the TALENT to be one. You can be taught how to stretch your legs, extend your arms, point or flex your feet – all that jazz – but without the passion that goes with it, you will never be the dancer that you dreamt of becoming. Dance not just with your body, dance with your soul…
For a fix of nostalgia, visit http://upminkombuyahan.wordpress.com or http://friendster.com/kombuyahan. 15
Objectives Kirim aims (1) to inculcate literary awareness in students and faculty alike; (2) to utilize this division as a medium to make the members appreciate the Mindanao literary arts and what all these entail; and (3) to be able to conduct related activities that would foster the mentioned objectives and propose plans regarding these. Lantaw Lantaw envisions a critical community of filmgoers in the University. Lantaw is a Cebuano word meaning to view. Objectives As an organization, Lantaw’s goal is to bring a new understanding of film and cinema to the UP community. Litok Litok envisions to develop speech and language among the UP in Mindanao community and the whole of Mindanao; and to promote, develop, and preserve the culture of Mindanaons through language and speech. Litok is a Cebuano term for pronounce. Objectives Litok was established to cater to the need for harnessing speech and language in the UP in Mindanao community. The group aims to be the body that will conduct various activities, which will promote and develop the fields of speech and language. Students may gain interest in the field and use it as a helpful tool not only in the University but also in their lives. Litok would like to help in the improvement of speech craft and language usage in the community, taking its part in the campaign for nourishing UP in Mindanao. Mitandi The word is a Maranao term for “stream of consciousness.” In the world of artists, every single thing has a meaning. Every single line symbolizes something. Every single color portrays a certain idea. Every single brushstroke means a lot of things. The artist sees the world in a different way. Though things would appear menace to some, still the artist recognizes the beauty that lies behind it. Objectives (1) Mitandi would want to help and make the University of the Philippines in Mindanao the center of culture and the arts in the region through the visual arts. (2) Mitandi aims to serve as the venue for the development of an artist’s ability and widen his/her knowledge of art. (3) Mitandi aims to establish linkages with different cultural groups in recovering, preserving, and promoting the Mindanaon art and culture. (4) Mitandi aims to awaken the sense of consciousness of the people, particularly in Mindanao, regarding the culture and the arts of the island. Teatro Lambigit The Theater Arts Division of UPMin Kombuyahan shall be officially known as Teatro Lambigit. Lambigit is a Visayan term, a verb, meaning to interact or to become part of. Objectives Teatro Lambigit aims (1) to develop each member’s talents and skills in theatrical production; (2) to study and promote Philippine theater, finding its roots in the indigenous communities; (3) to interact and work with these communities and other cultural groups; and (4) to promote Mindanaoan theater arts.
Name: Koro Katingugan Nickname: Korow, Katz, Skemadudes Age: 2 years old Address: Last table on the right wing of the atrium when you’re not facing Oble’s butt (kay naay outlet na pwede masaksakan sa keyboard), Administration Building, UP Mindanao, Sitio Basak, Mintal, Davao City. Hobbies: Jamming, playing instruments, laughing, playing spin-the-cellphone, eating at Jaokiks together after late night practices, group chat sa Facebook, SINGING (obviously!) Likes: We like people who audition for Katingugan. *laughs* that could mean you. Dislikes: Mga hilas (conceited snobs). LOL :P Love is: When people have contrasting personalities but are united by a single bond – MUSIC… Music is: Sa dami rin naman kase ng definition…music is this… (Anne, President of Katingugan, plays Maybe by Yiruma on the piano. I was speechless. Music was never meant to be written; only heard) Happiest Moment: Sa SM! Speak-up event, lingaw kaayo. Mura lang mi’g nagjamming sa stage. Impromptu to the max! Most Embarrassing Moment: Gitagaan mi ug dos sa barat nga taga-Uraya katong nangaroling mi. (Ay te, choir diay mi. duh. Maulaw unta siya.) Most Unforgettable Experience: After atong kanta sa MTS, nagdasok mi ug nangatulog sa sala sa boarding house ni Treeng (doll house), nag-iluganay sa sofa, hangtud ang uban sa balkunahe nalang dapit nanghigda. WINNER! Ambition in Life: A record label would be nice! *laughs* Kidding aside, we believe that the best thing we could do is to inspire others with our music. Message: Passion is the greatest driving force in life. If you’re really passionate about something, nothing is impossible. And never let anyone tell you that you haven’t got talent, if they do, prove them wrong. That person could kiss his sorryass while you went on and rocked the world… Viva La Vita Fare Musica. Live Life. Make Music.
Pinalangga kong Oblê,
Usa ka maanindot nga adlaw diha kanimo. Kumusta imong barog diha? Makasugakod pa gihapon ka? Sa akong tan-aw, murag nahimutang pa man gihapon ka. Bilib kaayo ko nimo ba kay maski man gud lisud kaayo imong kahimtang karon, gapabilin gihapon ka nga matinud-anon sa imong trabaho. Dili man gane ka matarog sa imong ginatindugan diha masking kaganiha pa gadagook imong tiyan. Gutom na kaayo no? Malahi pata, kakita naba ka sa mga bag-ong panghitabo sa TV o bisan man lang nakabati sa mga balita sa Facebook? Ang imoha tawong mga Iskolar, sikat na kaayo. Ang uban sa ilaha ilado na, ilabina pag-abot sa pulitika. Ang uban hasta na tawong datoa. Sa sobra kadato, pati tawo ila nang mapalit. Sakit sa buot mahibaw-an ning tanan. Nalahi na ang panahon. Ang imong mga Iskolar sauna mao na gayud ang mipuli sa mga tao nga ilang ginasaway. Gipadayon ra nila ang mga maling binuhatan sa mga tawong ilang gipulihan. Unta, ang mga umaabot nga mogradwar, dili mapareho sa mga nauna sa ilaha. Nakita man pud siguro nimo diha gikan sa imong gibarogan ang mga binuhatan sa katawhan nga nakapatanggal sa imong dignidad ug respeto. Wala man lang sila kagahin ug oras para makakuha ug saktong alamag mahitungod sa panghitabo. Kung nabuhat pa to nila, makatabang gayud unta sila sa ilahang katilingban ug ilabina sa ilahang mga kaugalingon. Apan kaning tanan magpabiling mga pangandoy na lamang. Unya, napasmo na ka? Nanaghan na mi dire Oble. Daghan nag mosabay nimo ug kaon. Lingaw gani kaayo huna-hunaon nga nanaghan na ang mga makapahimulos nga mga taga-Mindanao sa UP. Wala ka kabantay? Tua, naghilum-hilom ra sila pero nanaghan na na sila. Dile lang jud tanan imong makit-an nga gawelga sa kalsada, o nagapabatyag man lang nga aduna sila’y pagpakabana sa mga problema karon. Murag dile na man gud uso karon ang pagkamahigugmaon sa yutang natawhan. Hilas na man gud daw na paminawon karon. Pasayloa ko kung sa imo nako gipahungaw ang kasakit nga akong gikumkom. Gigutom ra pud diay ko. Ayaw kabalaka kay dile man pud tanang mahitungod sa UP angay ireklamo. Naa pa may mga Iskolar nga nagpabiling matinudanon, maabilidad, og may kaugmaon. Kini sila ang mga estudyanteng bisan pa sa paglabay sa panahon aduna gihapo’y pagpakabana nga motahod sa lugar nga ilang gigikanan. Sila ang mga taong dili magduha-duha nga motunol ug grasya sa ilang mga kaigsuonan ug buot nga mohatag ug alibyo sa mga balatian nga nasinati sa ilang katilingban. Sila ang mga taong masaligan nga magsilbing paglaom sa dakbyan. Hinaot nga sa umaabutay nga panahon, kining mga butanga makab-ot nato. Gahigugma kanimo,
Himati’s The $3X Issue is more daring, more outstanding, and more interesting. The theme strongly draws the readers to get in the paper. I found some news articles unappealing, though, but it may be just because I’m not interested in them. Himati managed to make the paper not too plain and boring. I think in future issues, the topics should be more of things that students could immediately relate to, without getting too serious about things. Sometimes, being too serious makes the publication uninteresting for the students. Perhaps serious topics could be delivered in creative ways that can still draw the attention. Neil Ramos President, BioS (Biological Society) Himati brought back it’s presence by making use of different forms of media, ranging from print to online. But I only found a few articles relevant to what UP Mindanao, the UP system and the society is facing. In my opinion, I think that it was OK that you have included the RH bill in your issue, but it would have been better if it was not the main headline for your issue because there are a lot more things that we should talk about other than sex, sexuality and the likes. The paper could have talked about the 1.39B budget cut in UP, the decreasing subsidy for state colleges and universities, K-12 and many more issues that affect us, not only as UP students, but as people who live in this current state of society. Our students need to know that these are happening around them and it›s now time to speak and act. Although students may seem uninterested in these issues, you can make it interesting and understandable to them. Krista Iris Melgarejo Chairperson, University Student Council
The Himati staff is overwhelmed by your responses. Keep them coming. Seeing you read the paper makes us feel, yes, orgasmic. All the hard work we put in working on The $3X Issue (in different positions) was all worth it. We are hoping to see more of you (in your pants, this time) in our online discussions in Facebook and Twitter, as much as we’re hoping that you’d continue to see us more often too.
The main topic of the issue was good: a shocker, re-entry with a bang. I’ve never seen Himati that interesting in a long while. I found the articles on the RH Bill very VERY relevant (you guys should make follow up articles on that). The center fold trivia was fun and helpful, though it took a lot of space. The Himati Index could have been put together with the center fold and/or at the back. The back was unnecessarily large and empty for just two poems, though. But together with the illustrations and photos, the overall layout was great; I couldn’t imagine it arranged in another way. Plagiarism would make a good theme for the next issue. My thanks and appreciation to the Himati staff for the great issue last semester. Keep up the game. Jeffrey Javier BA English Siguro ang main beef ko sa issue na yan is how bad poetry was published. I mean, [the publication has] a very competent writing pool in the form of the creative writing majors in the university, as well as students who are good writers from other departments, but why weren’t they tapped instead of asking for contributions? The $3X Issue itself was timely, so I guess 3.0 siya para sa akin, in light of the reproductive bill. I think though that the issue should have been at least more subtle. FHM and Uno are already doing the sex trivia thing, so Himati could have done something more, how do I say, relevant. So ye. I hope your editorial board shifts to an online paper, para mas current events ang approach. You have the tools, so I hope you guys will put it to good use. Yas Ocampo UPMin Alumni, former Himati EIC Maganda ang pagbabalik ng Himati last sem. First, kumpara sa mga past issues na akong nakita, mas “superior” ang design ngayon, lalo na ang front (page) kay captivating gyud siya sa mata nga makaingun gyud kag “Unsa ni?” Plus naa pa gyud tung lingaw na hand gestures nga witty gyud. Second, ganahan ko sa idea nga gibuhat, nga murag major topic (or issue) ang sex kay maka-curious man gyud siya sa reader kay hindi mo talaga mapigilang magbasa. Para sa akua, ang murag maka-turn off lang man kay gibuhat nga murag big deal kaayo ang sex, to think nga liberal pa naman sana ang UP, pero personally lang man pud. Actually, wala ko kabalo unsa ang maganda para sa next issue, pero gwapo gyud tung last sem. Marc Fortes BS Applied Math
serve on will be Print versi
The Fa ll of Ma richu ● gonna die! ● I’m so Giving r Maps ● Up Me ich, I’m Eat up! at ● Fo ● I’ll Pa of UP M od ss indana o ● Him ● The Future ati Inde x