The 2007 University of the Philippines Alumni Association in America (UPAAA) San Francisco Convention held last Labor Day week-end Sept. 1 – 3 (Saturday-Monday) at the San Francisco Hilton Hotel was a rousing success based on the amount of money it raised, camaraderie it fostered and networking it promoted among UP alumni. With the theme, “Celebrating The Legacy…. Forging The Next Century,” the UPAA San Francisco chapter led by its hardworking President Manny Gaspay hosted UPians from all over the United States as well as the Philippines. Philippine Senator and former UP President Eduardo Angara and current UP President Emerlinda Roman delivered the keynote speeches at the plenary session held Sunday morning. The two keynote speakers spoke at length on the state of Philippine education in general as well as the University of the Philippines in particular. Six simultaneous workshop sessions were held after the plenary session and featured noted personalities such as Gawad Kalinga proponent Dylan Wilks, Philippine Trade Commissioner Nini Alvero and Philippine Tourism Attaché Rene de los Santos.
(Editor’s note: Click on the above thumbnails for getter viewing! Photos courtesy of Faith Cabanilla.)
While UP alumni touted their credentials and accomplishments, it was a Mapua alumnus, Diosdado “Dado” Banatao, who stole the show at the Sunday dinner-dance gala by announcing a $500,000 donation to the university. Dado Banatao, one of Silicon Valley’s visionaries and most successful entrepreneurs, is a member of the UP Centennial Commission and a strong supporter of public education (he has previously given a multi-million donation to University of California @ Berkeley). Event organizers also announced to the congregation matching grants previously offered by two UP alumni, Dr. Mag Albarracin and Sid Consunji. The two alumni had each pledged last June a $400,000 matching grant for a raffle drive being done by alumni for the College of Engineering.
One of the pleasant surprises of the convention was College of Music Dean Ramon Acoymo, who provided entertaining song numbers for the convention delegates at the Saturday welcome reception as well as the Sunday gala night. Our very own music committee chair Henry Torres and his Sincerity Girls Ensemble likewise provided a wonderful performance during the Sunday gala dinner. Chapter president Alexis Zulueta led a strong delegation from our chapter that included Joe Aliling, Frank Batara, Romi Beza, Henrie Boyd, Andet Las Pinas, Caloy Rabuy, Rose Ramos, Daisy Rodriquez, the spouses Cherry and Lito Utleg and Edna Victorino.
The UPAAA also held its elections for the 2007-2009 officers during the convention. 2005-2007 UPAAA President Ted Aquino from the San Francisco chapter formally turned over the leadership of the association to Francisco Sy of the Maryland chapter in simple ceremonies on Monday Sept. 3. The next UPAAA convention is slated for Labor Day weekend of 2009 in Washington, D.C.
The UPAANC Berkeley chapter extends its warmest congratulations to the San Francisco chapter for hosting the successful 2007 UPAAA convention!
Speech for the General Convention and Alumni Reunion
UP Alumni Association in America
September 1- 3, 2007
San Francisco, California
by Emerlinda R. Roman
President, University of the Philippines
Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen
Thank you for this opportunity to address you, our dear alumni, and thank you for going out of your way to come here to San Francisco to join other alumni in showing support for the institution that has made a difference in your lives. I refer to the University of the Philippines, our University of the Philippines! I also wish to express my thanks, admiration and esteem for the organizers of this event. Organizing a reunion and convention is not easy but I know that people behind this affair believe in the saying: Nothing is impossible!
Ladies and gentlemen: the University of the Philippines is alive and well. It is 99 years old today, and next year, it will celebrate its centenary. UP’s first century has produced hundreds of thousands of graduates many of whom have stayed to serve the country, and some of whom have set their hearts and minds into motion in different parts of the world such as you have.
Your Alma Mater has not been spared the changes time has brought political and social transformations that have rendered it different from the one you left as a young graduate. I wish to assure you, however, that the spirit of UP as a dynamic, responsive and democratic institution of learning has not diminished through the years. UP continues to be a standard and model for public higher education in the country and will continue to break new paths on the frontiers of knowledge and education.
While we have reason to be proud, we must confront the reality that we have a long way to go. In recent years, the University has faced formidable challenges: globalization, unprecedented scientific and technological achievements, new imperatives for national development, and the worldwide trend to reduce government spending for higher education. My predecessors have done their part, guiding the University toward social transformation, toward recapturing a sense of national purpose, toward modernization. It is time to take the next step.
I. UP as the National University
If UP is to continue to fulfill its mandate, it must do so as the national
university of the Philippines. I use the term “national” to mean four
First, there is the geographic meaning of the word. We now have seven campuses in twelve different locations. UP is literally present all over the archipelago.
The second meaning has to do with the depth and breadth of the UP education. No other university in the country can boast of the scope and range of our course offerings. We now have 644 degree programs in all disciplines, therefore, embracing all interests and inclinations.
Third, like the National University of Singapore, the University of Indonesia, Chulalongkorn University of Thailand, Tokyo University or Seoul National University of South Korea, UP is the leading university in the country, spearheading the country’s quest for knowledge and keeping abreast of advances in different fields of knowledge worldwide.
Fourth, UP’s orientation remains firmly nationalist: everything we do in UP we do in the service of the nation.
II. UP as a Center of Excellence and as a Center of Culture and Languages
UP will face the next century by securing its place as a distinguished Filipino university in a highly complex, technologically advanced and globally competitive world. Our resources will be devoted to building UP into a Center of Excellence and Center of Culture and Languages. As a Center of Excellence, UP shall concentrate on particular fields for which it has the advantage of trained manpower and a proven track record. The constituent universities will be encouraged to concentrate and further develop their expertise in particular fields: UP Diliman in the liberal arts, the social sciences, the sciences and the professions; UP Manila in the health sciences; UP Los Banos in agriculture and forestry; UP Visayas in fisheries and ocean sciences; the UP Open University in distance education, and UP Baguio and UP Mindanao will take the lead in understanding the culture, language and people of their respective regions. Our wish is for all campuses to be recognized nationally and internationally, that they must only be unequal in terms of size, age and experience but equal to one another in the quality of their faculty, students and program offerings. At the same time, our campuses are uniquely placed to serve as Centers of Culture and Languages in their respective regions, thus part of UP’s resources will be devoted to enriching our understanding of our national heritage, culture and identity.
III. UP as the Leading Research and Development University in the Country and the Region
We shall strengthen UP’s position as the leading research and development university in the country and the region. As the national university, UP shall use its research, not only for breaking new scientific ground but also for finding practical ways to help solve the country’s problems.
We have put in place our agenda for the Emerging Fields in Science and Technology Program, to develop cutting-edge fields that need to be advanced at the highest possible level of inquiry in order to generate new knowledge, building on our existing resources. We are determined to provide the necessary working environment and financial support needed for the implementation of this agenda.
However, given our limited financial resources, we have decided to focus our research thrusts and directions on some priority projects, selected on the basis of the following criteria: emerging fields that have high scientific/technological and social impact; the possibility of inter-/multidisciplinary involvement of different departments/colleges/or constituent universities; the presence of existing and potential expertise and facilities; financial sustainability; competitive advantage in human resources and raw materials; and potential economic value.
Thus the program is focusing on the development of emerging technologies on (1) materials (like biomaterials, bio-fuels, nano materials, pharmaceuticals and molecular medicines); (2)biotechnology (like nano technology, food sufficiency, bio-informatics, and biodiversity); (3) pervasive computing (advanced microelectronics and computational algorithmics, “systems on a chip,” and environmental monitoring); and (4) measurement and instrumentation in support of the first three.
We shall also strengthen our science and technology programs in all UP campuses. Our student enrollment profile is quite unlike the national enrollment profile wherein 41% of the country’s college students are enrolled in business, commerce, and education courses. At present 48% of our students are enrolled in science and engineering courses, a profile we would like to maintain if not improve, because we want to help the country build up its scientific manpower base, an ingredient so very crucial for a country’s progress and development. Many countries have achieved economic prosperity because they have invested heavily in the sciences and their applications. UP will follow the same path.
And here I have some good news: Last year, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo allocated P500 Million on top of the regular UP budget for the establishment of the National Science Complex. This, with the support of Congressman Luis Villafuerte and Senator Franklin Drilon, Senator Edgardo Angara and our science and engineering alumni from the Philippines and abroad. This year, the Senate, with the aggressive support of Senators Angara and Drilon, inserted in the UP budget another P412 Million to further support our engineering program and other programs. This was approved by President Arroyo. Next year, in 2008 and I heard this from the Budget Secretary himself, in the presence of President Arroyo, Senator Angara and Dr. Magdaleno Albarracin, Jr. that another P1.3 billion will be given to UP — P500 Million for the National Science Complex and P800 Million for the Engineering Research and Development for Technology project. As you will note, government has come to realize two things: First, that science and technology development is crucial and therefore needs support, and second, that UP is in the best position to help build up the country’s scientific knowledge and know-how. The challenge is before us and we will stand up to that challenge!
IV. UP as a Community of Scholars with Academic Credentials Comparable to their Counterparts in the Best Universities in the World
To maintain our position and leadership in the national and international academic community, we shall develop a community of scholars with academic credentials comparable to their counterparts in the best universities in the world. We are targeting an all PhD faculty in UP. In his time President Nemenzo allocated P100 Million to support the doctoral studies of our faculty. To this amount we have added another P108 Million to fast-track faculty development. But there is a serious deterrent to our goal of upgrading our faculty profile and that is the sad fact that UP cannot offer a compensation package that encourages our faculty members to stay in UP. We regularly bemoan the exodus of some of our most gifted faculty to the corporate world, to other universities, not to mention other lands. And the most affected are our science and engineering colleges. This is why we have embarked on an aggressive fundraising campaign.
V. Fundraising for UP
For our centennial fundraising campaign we hope to raise P5 Billion. Half of
this amount we hope to raise from the national government. Based on what I have already mentioned, we are almost sure of getting that amount from government. The other half we hope to raise ourselves and the breakdown is this: P1.8 Billion from development projects of UP and other sources and P.7 Billion or P700 Million from the alumni.
On the P1.8 Billion from development projects of UP, we have recently signed a contract with Ayala Land. It is a contract of lease where we have made available to Ayala Land 38.6 hectares of UP land along Commonwealth Avenue for Ayala Land to develop the place not into a commercial area but into a Science and Technology Park. Ayala is investing P6 Billion into the project and we are hoping to earn more over the 25 years that the contract is in effect as the contract provides that we get a share of the rent that Ayala will charge its office tenants and locators.
UP is probably one of the biggest landowners in the country. We own about 24,000 hectares, 4000 hectares of which are campus sites. Our goal is to transform these landholdings which at present are idle and are therefore expense items, into revenue generating assets.
We have also increased tuition and here we hope to generate revenues that will be used for scholarships as well as for modernizing our facilities and libraries. Thus we believe that raising the P1.8 billion is doable.
From the alumni, we are targeting to get P700 Million. The response has been encouraging. This amount has been allocated by campus as follows:
Diliman P250 M
Manila 200 M
Los Banos 150 M
Visayas 70 M
Baguio, Open 30 M
From the alumni abroad, we are targeting a minimum of $ 2.0 Million.
VI. The UP Charter
We almost got our UP Charter amended. Indeed we thought we were finally going to get it during the 13th Congress but it was not meant to be. It looks like 13 is not UP’s lucky number. UP never got so close to getting it. For the first time in all the 14 years that we were working on the Charter amendment, the bill went through the first, second and third readings. It successfully went through the bicameral assembly. Immediately after, the Senate ratified it. All that was needed before President Arroyo signs it into law was the ratification by the House. That we did not get. While there were attempts to have it ratified by the House during the last three days of the Congress, these attempts were unsuccessful. There was no quorum.
Now the senators and congressmen have assured us that we will have the amendment before UP’s 100th birthday. That remains to be seen. We have hosted dinner for alumni in Congress. Forty of the congressmen and 14 of the senators of the 14th Congress are UP alumni. From those who attended the dinner we got the assurance that we will get it this time. Speaker Jose de Venecia, in a forum organized by the Manila Overseas Press Club announced that UP will get its Charter amendment in 75 days! I certainly hope so! Senate President Villar also assured us that UP will get it this time under his leadership.
The amendment will free UP from the Salary Standardization Law which has pegged the UP faculty’s salary to about a fifth of the salaries of our counterparts in private universities. It will exempt us from taxes on imports. It will officially declare UP as the national university.
Ladies and gentlemen: the University needs your support and help. UP’s future is our collective responsibility. This is an exciting time in the life of UP and an extraordinary time for all of us because we have the rare opportunity of witnessing the turn of the century of the University. I believe UP is uniquely poised to be a university of the 21st century. We are counting on that one unique element that has remained constant — a quality difficult to define but is recognized by all who have spent either a season or an entire lifetime in the university. For lack of a better term, we might call it the UP spirit, the force that serves as bond across generations and even across continents. We can build on this UP spirit and we will. Ladies and gentlemen: Come and join us as we imagine UP’s next century.