March 17, 2009, Fort Lauderdale, FL – Today is my birthday! I’ve decided to dedicate my posting today to the community advocates who are fighting to keep the high school in the University of the Philippines, Visayas – High School Cebu (or UP High School Cebu) from being streamlined to one class or closed down. I truly believe that if there are more people who make the time to spread the word, lobby to all stakeholders and decision makers, then somehow, somewhere, there could be a budget that will be provided for this high school to “live long and prosper.”
In Facebook, the name of the cause is DEFEND UP.
On the internet, it’s UP Naming Mahal.
Here’s some snippets that I found from the Facebook group.
1. U.P. Cebu High School is threatened for closure.
2. The threat is more palpable and pressing as ever, as the Executive Committee recently voted for the downsizing of the high school.
3. The Dean has even proposed closure.
4. Please pledge your support for this cause by filling up the form at the website indicated below:
FROM SUNSTAR Cebu
UP high school students, alumni protest closure
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
“We stand firm and united against the persistent threats to close UP Cebu High School as this is an apparent violation of the mandate of the University of the Philippines to provide service to the Filipino people. It is likewise a disservice to the Cebu community as the UP Cebu High School stands as the only school in Central Visayas to provide a democratized admission policy giving preferential admission to underprivileged but intellectually deserving students.â€
My comments: I would imagine that the administration, faculty, students, and alumni can find common ground by working together AND not antagonizing each other. (If President Emer Roman reads this, she would know that I’m here to help out and that I am writing this from my personal perspective and professional assessment as a public relations practitioner.)
Maybe it would be a good idea to share with you why I feel so strongly about defending the continued existence of UP Cebu High School.
I may not have been a UP Cebu High School student but I had many friends there. Many of the students, after the high school opened its doors in 1972, were like my “kids” because I was their “den mother.” I was also the older sister of Noemi, Oscar, Myrna, Reuben, Belen, and David (the Lardizabal kids) — who all went to UP Cebu. Trivia: I was one of the first UP College Cebu freshmen who re-opened the College department in 1973.
If someone can visit Thelma Gallardo at Cebu Medical Supply, please convince her to find the movie (yes, an actual movie, not a video) of our first UP Cebu college intramural games. A copy should really be made for the archives.
The spirit of UP lived within us.
Our batch of students lobbied to pay for a quonset hut in the grounds so it could be used as our outdoor classroom but we were denied the rustic environment but praised for our initiative and enthusiasm. Wilson Gaw had the blueprints, I recall.
The acclaimed Freddie Santos and I were classmates in the first semester. Freddie had just arrived from the United States. He tried to teach me tennis but I kept getting a Love Set. After two weeks, I lost 10 lbs. A benefit of Freddie’s tennis lesson was that I was able to sashay in between the columns of the main building’s entrance during a Christmas Play that I wrote and Freddie directed. I’m sure he was not happy with my script — but hey, at least he did teach me how to do a Va-Va-Va-Voom prostitute’s dance toward the pearly gates of heaven (Freddie played the role of St. Peter).
Some of the boys in my class used the main building’s classroom walls as their pelota court, yes we did. We were the first CRAZY DAY people. Alex Arnado and I made a parody of Dolphy and Nida Blanca’s roles in the popular TV sitcom, “John and Marsha.” Philip Rodriguez was Sluggo. Wilson Gaw came as a transvestite with a long-haired wig. If I can find my photos, I’ll post them, not to make fun of my classmates, but to show people that UP Cebu was vibrant as a “well-rounded place of learning” even if we had to work with limited resources.
We knew how to study hard and play hard.
Then came “Up the Down Staircase” musical, the mastermind of Allan Jayme Rabaya, which was based on the book and movie of the same title BUT with original compositions by Allan. Danny Alfonso played the “bad boy” student, Ester Ceniza Isberto was the teacher. Jocelyn Lim Borromeo (a Masters degree student) and I alternated in the secondary lead role of Bea, a fellow teacher. I seem to remember Nelson Fuentes, Allan Dolores, and Alvin Alazas being a dance trio in this production. Mind you, at that time, we didn’t have those fancy microphones attached to one of our ears so we could sing. We had to be good singers and dancers — and make sure our voices could carry to the last row of the Sacred Heart Girls High School auditorium. After all, this showed everyone that all of the UP Cebu’s departments could work together.
UP Cebu even became a movie set. There was this Visayan movie that Gloria Sevilla produced about a Filipino “Tarzan and Jane” filmed at the back of the old main building. We were fascinated by Chanda Romero who played “Jane.”
To this day, I will always remember that it was Helen Banez who made sure we could communicate well in the English language. “Keep it short, concise, and effective!” Mrs. Banez would say to us when we wrote our essays and short stories. “Always revise, revise, and revise!” was another piece of advice she would intone.
Former UP President Dodong Nemenzo and my managing editor at Filipinas Magazine, Gemma Nemenzo, had “a class act” for a father. He taught Biology without any books. Professor Nemenzo also walked from his home to the college campus, wearing a loose, tunic-style, long-sleeved white shirt, black pants, and his almost-Fedora hat. “Epiglottis” and “corpus luteum” were some of the words I remember from his classes.
The late Mr. Perez taught us Spanish while Mr. Manuel made sure we understood our Chemistry. Agnes Brigoli flunked me in Math 11 (Basic Math). Yet it was the late Migs Enriquez who delighted us with the history of the Philippines, according to him. Mig’s words (and a vision of him smoking a cigarette) would later on reverberate in my head when many students from UP Diliman attended a peaceful IMF rally outside St. Theresa’s College-Manila sometime in 1976, watching nuns and priests fly into the air from the force of the water cannons (not colored pink at that time). It was my first real taste of terror as many of us hid inside a nearby public parking garage. There was Mrs. Yap, always wanting us to mind our manners and get our share of Physical Education. And it was the artistic Lucille Aguas who taught our Humanities class the best way she knew how. She made us paint and she made us analyze the themes of the music scores that we chose. I loved Wagner so it was easy determining what the main theme of the composition was. Lucille also taught us to appreciate the various artistic genres. So, yes, I know the difference between an Impressionist and a Cubist (Picasso) painting. I understood what “chiaroscurro” was all about.
Sharing these intimate details about some of my experiences at UP Cebu is really meant to ask all of the students and alumni, as well as its supporters, to share their own stories. People will not help in a fundraising campaign if they cannot find an EMOTIONAL CONNECTION to the cause. So, start sharing your stories. There’s a blog just for you. For Facebook users, there’s this discussion board that’s available.
Last year was UP’s Centennial Celebration. I think it is timely, once again, for us to review where UP has been and where it’s going.
And if any of you happen to be in the US this early September, do join us at the UP Alumni Association in America biennial Convention and Grand Reunion. GIVE VOICE TO YOUR CAUSE!