Friday, January 17, 2014


      Several issues were raised during the event— from income generation to the “changing” character of UP. This intellectual discussion brought awareness to me as a student and as part of the UP system, which I often forget.

      It is no longer just a question of whether to allow private sectors to participate inside the UP community, which in itself is controversial. Apparently, there is no transparency on the actual figures of how much UP is earning from leasing its lands to the Ayala Company, as suggested by the statement of USC Chairperson Alex Castro. This supposed earning generation tactic seems bogus to me, especially when Professor Judy Taguiwalo told us that students who loaned their tuition fee are supposed to return the money with interest! If UP is actually earning from Ayala, why couldn’t they spare my fellow students this interest, in fact, I didn’t believe this up until I visited the site of the Office of Scholarship and Student Services (OSSS) [1]. From my economics class, I am aware that there is a cost for lending money; but asking more from people who have less – I simply cannot accept this. This issue does not only concern the administration but all the more the students – the poor but deserving students.

The Role of “UP” Technohub and “UP” Town Center
      In the figure below [2], it can be seen that the commercial development was “replaced” with “science and technology parks” that are intended to further the “knowledge economy” by connecting UP to business. Such is the UP Technohub that houses a call center, large technology/business companies and restaurants?

    A more recent development was the UP Town Center, which is occupied by several “high-end” restaurants and a clothing company. I checked out the place to eat but everything is expensive— definitely not for students— students with financial status that’s similar to mine. Indeed, this establishment is part of the “resource generation zone” though I highly doubt that students also benefit from the supposed “income” that UP is getting.
Figure1: UP Land Use Plan [2]

      Last year, UP plead for the P19-M tax exemption but lost. Although UP argued that the land shouldn’t be taxed since it’s for educational purposes, the Land Registration Authority said that “… the exemption is only from the payment of taxes assessed on all lands, buildings, and improvements used exclusively for such purposes, as property taxes…” [3] and that “… what the collector assessed was a donee’s gift tax, the assessment was not on the properties themselves[3].

      These arguments create confusion to people wondering whether or not UP has enough funds. Actually, Prof. Taguiwalo even quoted Senator Franklin Drilon as saying that UP has a lot of money— or at least he thought that was the case. However, the confusion is not limited to the money matters since it also brought about questions on the character of the university as an educational entity— the validity of the act of making UP an income-generating or self-sufficient establishment. The institution, being portrayed as self-sufficient and able to generate its own income, seemed to mislead some solons into thinking that SUC budget cuts are justifiable.

      Prof. Ruperto Alonzo claimed that Private Sector Participation (PSP) is nothing new to UP. In fact he named several developments in the food service (i.e. before, there is monopoly of university food service but now, there are private concessionaires), other service for students such as photocopying and printing and other projects outside Diliman (UP Basilan land grant, Laguna-Quezon land grant and Laurel-Langley properties such as Pandacan Shell depot).

      Also, he justified PSP by arguing that this allows UP to “focus on its core mission, viz., pursuit of academic objectives and academic excellence.” He also pointed out “examples of inefficiencies in UP-run activities” such as in the food service, printing office and security.

      Although it seemed practical to lease idle lands of UP to generate income, the very intention of turning the academe into becoming self-sufficient (that might lead to “cost-sharing” or increase in tuition fee) lead people back to the new University Charter Sections 22 and 23 that “the state should support UP… through land grants and donations and use of other real properties …” and that “… the preservation of the value of the assets of the national university shall be of primordial consideration …”, respectively. This suggests that in any case, the state should not neglect the university.
      In conclusion, Professor Taguiwalo quoted from the Hebdon report that “… We found privatization to be, at best, a disruptive, socially destabilizing, and ultimately harmful method of cost saving. At its worst, privatization can actually increase costs, lower the quality of services, reduce public accountability, and marginalize citizen involvement in the democratic process …[4]
      This forum only proved that the issues on privatization and the idea of UP as a self-sufficient and income-generating institution are yet to be solved and validated. Everyone, especially the students, is encouraged to participate and know more about what actually happens— both inside and outside of the university.

[1] Office of Scholarship and Student Services website
[2] UP Economics Towards Consciousness Infographic Teaser
            Accessed online:
[3] “UP plea for P19-M tax exemption thrown out” by Jomar Canlas
[4] “White Paper on Privatization” by Ellen J. Dannin, Professor of Law
            Accessed online:

Thursday, January 16, 2014

What is UP's should be for UP.

“KAPEKONOMIYA: PROBING THE UP LAND USE” is the title of the first ever public forum that I have attended in the University of the Philippines. Before attending it, I had already high expectations from the public forum since it will be held inside the UP campus. Fortunately all my expectations were really met by the event especially the discussions and interactions between the UP professors who talked and the UP students who asked questions regarding the topic. The two UP professors who talked during the forum are Professor Roberto Alonzo and Professor Taguiwalo.
Professor Roberto Alonzo was the first one to talk and the title of his talk was “Harnessing UP’s Assets to Serve UP Objectives.” He emphasized more on how the UP system benefit from private participation in the UP land. Yes it is true that the UP system acquired many land grants such as UP Basila Land Grant, Laguna-Quezon Land Grant, Laurel-Langley Properties and other more which are supposed to used wherein the UP community will be the one who will benefit the most especially  its academic institutions. Most of the audience interpret that the talk of Professor Alonzo favouring the private participation in the lands of UP and I also thinks he favours it. He even really emphasized that the UP has been gaining income from the TechnoHub saying it is some percentage of the total income of the Technohub. Cause of this the UP students during the open forum asked many questions criticizing Professors Alonzo’s stand about the matter but even though it is like that he was able to answer it properly. It is true that we can’t deny that the UP system is benefiting from such non-academic infrastructure.
Professor Taguiwalo was the second one to talk about the matter and the title of her talk was “UP Diliman Land Use Plan: A Blueprint for the Further Erosion of The Public Character of UP”. In her talk and presentation she emphasized on the main mission of UP as a public state university which is to promote accessible quality education. She also said that it is the policy of the state to strengthen UP since it is the state university. I find the way she presents her idea interesting because even the topic is a very serious one she was still able to put some humour in her talk to catch more attention from the audience. I agree to her that UP should be consistent to its academic mission with freedom from commercialization. Also the higher education that UP provides should be for public good and not for private good.

In general, the entire public forum was great. The place was convenient to learn and discuss things and ideals. The students of the School of Economics were really hospitable to the students and guests. The talks were meaningful and were very much related to the topic. I learned from the forum that what is UP’s should be for UP, the one who should benefit the most from the UP land is its academic community.  

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Easter Island: An Example of Ecocide

            Deforestation, pollution, global warming and other environmental problems used to be “science fiction” before the 20th century. Its effects are very gradual henceforth we only experience its poisonous effects nowadays. The Easter Island (Rapa Nui) is a concrete example of what would happen if our consumption of natural resources would exceed the rate in which the earth could replenish itself. This island is located at around 2,500 miles away from Chile in the vast pacific island. Of course, the trademark of the Rapa Nui is its gigantic anthropomorphic sculptures called the Moai. The Moai are solid rock statues that can be as tall as 65 feet and weigh around 270 tons. According to archeologists and European explorer’s accounts, the Rapa Nui people have primitive tools. It is a mystery how these gigantic features were erected and put into place.
            Trailing from the Out of Taiwan Hypothesis, the Polynesians first settled in Easter Island around 1200 C. E., and was a sub-tropical island filled with palm trees. Five hundred years later, the Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen who landed on the island saw that there where no trees more than ten feet tall. Upon the arrival of its first settlers, the island is full nesting seabirds and land birds. Even though its soil is low in nutrients, it is conducive for growing yams, sweet potatoes and other crops the Polynesian had brought with them. The trees were the most valuable natural resource for the people of Rapa Nui. It supplies food and raw material for houses, canoes, and of course in constructing the Moai.
            They thrived for centuries until their consumption of trees exceeded the rate in which they consume. According to an article in, the loss of the forest was a near deathblow to the islanders. Soon they were unable to grow enough crops to fill the void in their diets. Streams dried up, the topsoil eroded, and fires became a luxury. The society collapsed into civil wars, and the rival factions had begun to topple the Moai heads by the time the European setters arrived. The European caused further damage by bringing rats and diseases. Also, they kidnapped locals for the slave trade. The Rapa Nui people’s population ultimately decreased from 20,000 to 3,000.

            Erecting Moai hastened by extinction of trees by using its tree trunks as rollers and pegs in order to put the sculptures in place. Many would wonder why these Easter Islanders did not stop creating Moai when they notice the decrease in trees. Well, it’s because the Moai are believed to be gods and ancestors. Those sculptures are such important relics in their culture. Also, there is some sort of competition between its factions. The better and bigger Moai, the bigger their pride is. (Stanford, 2012)

            Easter Island and the story of its people is a classic example of how abuse to environment can cause our demise. So, we better go save the trees!


Hossler, L. (2012). How deforestration easter island’s society to collapse. Retrieved from

Stanford, A. (2012, June 25). Easter island: Moving moai and deforestation.  Retrieved from

Juice Cleansing: The Fad Answer To Health Problems

            Another trendy way of losing weight has landed the country and it’s called juice cleansing! Just check instagram and you’ll see a lot of “sexy” celebrities posting this very promising product. Aside from its promised weight loss, it also claims a lot of benefits like boosting one’s immune system and detoxifying the body. Juice cleansing or juice fasting is a fasting method which a person would only consume fruits and vegetables juices to obtain nutrition while abstaining from food. It is claimed that resting the digestive system, through a liquid diet, is healthy. It could last for about three days to a week or sometimes longer. Here in the Philippines, these juice cleanses cost around 3,000 pesos good for three days. Wow, that is one pricy diet and surely this juice cleansing has become big business.

            Before splurging money into this trend, we should take a minute to take a look at the science behind this “miracle” method. Eating fruits and vegetables has been proven multiple times to be healthy hence, juice cleansing through affiliation is presumed to be healthy. However, the benefits claimed by juice cleansing are not scientifically proven. Meaning, the benefits claimed commercially is from eating fruits and vegetables and nothing is proven from the juice form itself. Therefore, it is not usually prescribed by doctors.  

            Cleansing is not necessary since the idea that your body needs to get rid of toxins is false. The bowel is a self-cleaning mechanism. While digesting food, it produces toxins and the body is made to eliminate them. Of course, those are what we call, excrements.  Some cleanses rely on laxatives and even the herbal ones has the potential to damage nerve cells. The safest way to help clean the body is through eating fiber – which what is juice cleansing removing (Rubin, 2013).

            Weight loss nevertheless is an indirect side effect of this fasting method. Less food intake means less calories entering the body hence would result to weight loss. Its slimming effect just rides with the cardinal rule of losing weight.

            Lastly, it puts the body in a vulnerable state through lack of nutrition. Making it prone to feeling irritable and fatigued. Fasting and a deficiency in protein, two hallmarks of cleanses, also deplete your liver's store of the antioxidant glutathione, which is crucial fuel for the immune system and key in the detoxification of blood. The resulting decrease in liver function causes waste products to accumulate in your body, which is pretty much the opposite of what the cleanses claim (Chan, 2011).

            This fad is big business. We, its audience, should think twice, and of course do some research, about the health regimens were about to take. Not all claimed “healthy” are of purest intentions.

Chan, A. (2011, March 23). 5 experts answers: Is there such thing as a healthy juice cleanse?. Retrieved from

Rubin, C. (2013). The truth about juice. Retrieved from