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UPIS, red tape, Padayon

/ 12:30 AM January 29, 2016

I thought that for a change, it would be useful to pick up on some readers’ feedback to particular columns.

I’ll start with “A different public school” (1/22/16), which featured the UP Integrated School, which is celebrating its centennial this year. One reader wondered if it might not be a form of discrimination that one public school is favored over the other.

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That is a valid concern, certainly, but beyond the UPIS, we do have a public school system that does favor some schools over others. There is the network of science high schools, some nationally and some locally funded.  There is also the Makiling School of the Arts which, like the science high schools, has very competitive entrance exams.

Then there’s the University of the Philippines itself, which is the country’s national university and is therefore considered separately from the “SUC” (state universities and colleges) category.

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My take on this is that whenever possible, more funds and resources should be poured into the public schools.  The funds can come from donors—alumni in particular—but much more can be generated through local governments.  In recent years, we’ve seen the rise of large city universities and colleges, totally funded by the local government.  These units have great potential, providing low-cost if not free education for residents.  The Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila is an example, with its own medical school and graduates who do well in licensure exams.

Having said that, I do have reports that the city schools tend to get caught in local politics, a malaise that has also plagued SUCs.

The success of UP’s high schools also depends on its host constituent university—for example, the UPIS is under UP Diliman. Until I became UP Diliman chancellor, I did not even know that. I now try to meet with UPIS faculty whenever possible, to ask about their needs and to try to involve them in Diliman-wide activities.

In addition, within the network of public universities, I do feel that UP, as the national university, owes it to other SUCs, as well as city colleges, to learn from their own experiences, and to share our resources—for example, for faculty development.  This need has become even more urgent with the senior high school system coming up in the next school year.

‘Padayon’

Moving to another column, “Padayon” (1/6/16), I want to thank the readers who responded to my call for more information on “dayon,” a root word used in several Visayan languages. “Padayon,” used by UP president Alfredo Pascual as a clarion call similar to the Tagalog “Sulong” (Let’s move forward), is a powerful word that relates to the many other meanings of “dayon,” which several readers confirmed.  Francisco Yap provided several Hiligaynon terms from a dictionary compiled by his father, Jose Yap, which have to do with continuity.

Other readers emphasized the meanings of working together and of hospitality, “dayon” meaning both a place one goes to (“dayunan”) as well as an invitation to come into one’s home (“dayon!”).

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There seems to be other meanings as well in Hiligaynon, as in when you say “ara dayon,” which has a sense of immediacy (“as soon as you want”). It can also be said negatively, as in “don’t keep pushing it” (in Tagalog, “Atat ka masyado”).  Dodoy of Negros Oriental notes, too, that if someone talks nonstop, you can tell him or her: “Dayon, dayon,” also a way of saying “Shut up, please.”

Alex Sucro clarified that “pahuwag na dayon” should have read “pahuway nga dayon,” to refer to eternal rest.  Zen Quintilla, who first gave me the term, did text me after my column came out to correct the misspelling.  She had texted me earlier to say that while “dayon” could mean eternal, it only refers to eternal rest (“pahuway nga dayon”) and cannot be used to refer to eternal love.

Finally, Schubert  Austria and Mon V. note that in Pangasinense, “dayung” is a term of endearment which they heard their parents use for each other, and which elders use in calling their children. They wonder if there might be a connection to the Visayan terms.  I wouldn’t be surprised, and would celebrate the convergence of meanings of continuity, of getting things done together.

Red tape

Finally, my column “Bilis!” published last Monday and focusing on red tape, elicited a comment about UP’s being not just low-tech but in fact “walastech” (“walang” tech or no tech). The reader teased us about being so limited in tuition payment options in an era of Paypal and credit cards.  To rub more salt on the wound, another reader chimed in, pointing out that one of the payment options when ordering a transcript of grades from UP was a postal money order.

I did laugh and forwarded those blog exchanges to our president and to our registrar, but thought afterwards that a postal money order, although sounding Jurassic, should remain an option.

We in larger cities, with easy access to banks, forget that many parts of the country do not have that benefit.  One of my parents’ helpers asked me recently for a salary advance because she needed to send money to Samar through one of those private remittance companies.

I asked her why she couldn’t just use a direct bank deposit and have her relatives claim the money with the bank branch there. According to her, their barangay is so remote that there are no banks where you can withdraw the money. Going to the poblacion, the town center, means shelling out money for transportation.  So she is willing to pay P80 for every P1,000 remittance, which I thought was excessively high, but that’s the reality.

Which takes us to the postal money order. Post offices also tend to be limited to a town center, but I guess it still remains an alternative.

I do wonder, though, if the low use of banks comes, still, from a perception that bank transactions are difficult.  We complain about the red tape in government corporations, but I’ve also been exasperated with the red tape of private companies, especially banks.  Just the other day I wanted to close a joint account with my mother. I had to get her to sign seven times—an ordeal that took almost an hour. Her carer said we were lucky because with her previous ward, the bank insisted on actually witnessing the patient’s signing of the documents.

The alternative would have been to get a medical certificate attesting that she has Alzheimer’s disease, but that would have involved notarization, an even longer process.  I was almost afraid the bank would ask me for an NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) clearance!

For the poor, signatures—of old or young people—can be intimidating.  They joke that whenever a signature is required, they wonder: “Am I signing away my soul?” or “Am I being sold?”

So, government or private red tape, we go back again to user-friendliness. Can we help people get through life’s many required transactions with less effort, maybe even throw in an element of joy and satisfaction at getting things done, efficiently and quickly?

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