We, the members of Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy, express our highest congratulatory praise to all the iskolar ng bayan graduates of University of the Philippines Diliman 2014! In spite of the gloomy prospect painted by our politicians that the fresh 700,000 graduates will add to the current 2.96 million jobless workers, we, your teachers, still nourish the unflinching hope that you will become part of the historic movement to transform our nation. Some of you had been part of our classes. Some of you even stood side-by-side with us in countless rallies, demonstrations, and pickets. Together we joined hands to create a better future, not only for our beloved University but for our nation. In such a short time of four years, we and the University have tried to radicalize your consciousness to enable you to imagine an alternative future, a better University that you will bequeath to the next generation of iskolar ng bayan.
During your stay in this University, you have witnessed how the corporatization of education had crept into the veins of the University. You had been witnesses to the unrelenting annual excising of our budget by the Aquino government, the renaming of our buildings and programs to private donors with tarnished reputations, increase in laboratory and other miscellaneous fees, the commercialization of our idle assets, repressive policies that made the lives of poor iskolar ng bayan miserably unbearable, and you had been witnesses to the death of your own iskolar ng bayan from UP Manila, and the recent unwarranted policy of shifting our academic calendar in the name of neoliberal internationalization of education.
As you transfer your sablay, the symbol of Filipino nationalism, from the right to the left shoulder – symbolizing the official completion to the life of a UP student, we urge you not to forget those iskolar ng bayan who will be left behind, those who had given up and those who had been eliminated from the survival of the fittest competition, and those who had endured the grinding labor of surviving the life in the University. If there is a lesson that UP education is supposed to have imparted on you, it is the conviction that your salvation must also depend on other’s salvation. The University is the bastion of collective solidarity. While it taught you to cherish individual creativity, honor and excellence, it has also moulded you to value collective action to solve our nation’s problems. You have been trained not only to become leaders with integrity, but more importantly, to become “social critics and agents of social change”.
As iskolar ng bayan, you have a contract with the Filipino people to become leaders who will unhesitantly make sacrifices to advance the struggle of our people towards a better future. As future leaders, our beloved University had taught you to be fearless in denouncing corrupt politicians and institutions, to be sensitive to the sufferings of our people, to think beyond your career and personal comfort, to be intolerant of any injustice perpetrated here in our country and beyond, compassionate and always willing to make sacrifices to help our most needy fellow Filipinos in times of colossal disasters.
We urge you to continue the struggle against a kind of education that puts premium on capacity of students to pay and squeezes every ounce of profit from the students, an education that puts the interests of foreign corporations and investors before our fellow Filipinos, an education that sells our sovereignty to highest foreign bidders, an education that promotes brain drain and “easy success”, and an education that teaches students to betray their integrity in the name of comfortable and sumptuous life.
We, urge you not to take the easy road to success being offered by the “profit-first-before-people” culture,” but instead, persevere in journeying further into the difficult path of serving the people! We, your teachers, place our hope in a better future in your collective struggle.
Long live the iskolar ng bayan!
Serve the people!
Onwards to the struggle for a free education for all!