Posts Tagged ‘university of the philippines’

a path not travelled

Last Tuesday, I dropped by the College of Arts and Letters at the University of the Philippines-Diliman. It seems that I had been admitted to the CAL’s PhD Creative Writing program for the second semester this academic year; inadvertently, I was not informed.  I thought I was rejected, and enrolled at the UP College of Mass Communication instead. My fault, really. I should have checked with the CAL staff when I hadn’t heard from them.

At CAL, I took a look at my acceptance letter from Dean Virgilio Almario, and noted that I was required to take only one remedial subject (Comparative Literature 121 or 122). It feels great to know that I have the option of enrolling in that program next semester.

Walking to CMC for class, I was struck speechless yet again by the beauty of the fading afternoon sunlight filtering through the leaves of the trees that line University Drive.

On the right, after AS (Palma Hall) and FC (Faculty Center) is the Vargas Museum and the long stretch to the corner, where I’d have to turn right, walking past Quezon Hall (Administration Building) on the right all the way to CMC, the first structure on the left along Ylanan Street. It was a bit of a ways.

The curb was paved in stone or concrete blocks that were mossy with age, and crooked, like the earth beneath them had taken a deep breath and pushed them out of place. Twenty years ago, as an undergrad, I walked these same curbstones and they were gray as a rainy day.

On the left, though, was an expanse of green. A park. A path cut through the grass. I took it.


There were electric lampposts in the middle of the park. Lantern Waste in the summer?

I decided to walk through, not knowing where I would end up, if I would be out of my way, lost, late for class. But the path beckoned.


Every where were trees, and shrubs, and plants whose names I did not know. Green surrounded me. In the midst of the city, I was enveloped by nature.

How come I have no memories of exploring this park two decades ago? I suppose I had never been here; my sneaker-shod feet had never trudged these verdant by-ways. Now I step carefully across a narrow stone bridge spanning a little creek, and pick my way gingerly past rocks and roots that threaten to trip me as I totter along in four-inch tall wedge sandals.


The path winds behind Quezon Hall.


It ends at the road parallel to University Drive, across the UP Theater and the Carillon. In other words, it’s a shortcut to CMC from FC.


I look back at the way I have come. I’m glad I found this path, taken late but better than never at all.


I emerge into the sunlight. I spy CMC in the distance, at the right.


In a few minutes, I reach CMC – Plaridel Hall. It is not journey’s end, but it is where I begin a new chapter of my life.


It’s an obvious parallelism, but I’m an obvious person anyway, so here it is – it’s like life. Taking paths not travelled before to see where they lead, braving the unknown, skirting obstacles, always with courage and with style. Who knows, one of those paths could be a shortcut to your destination, and worth taking, after all.

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back to school

Geek that I am (and proud of it), I trekked back to the University of the Philippines’ Diliman Campus last Tuesday to enroll in the PhD Communication program at my alma mater, the College of Mass Communication.

The tree-lined avenue leading to Palma Hall is as beautiful as ever. This was what struck me about UP-Diliman the first time I stepped on campus 24 years ago, to take the undergrad admission exam. Being a born-and-bred Manila girl, I had never seen anything like it before.


Also familiar from two decades ago is this enrollment scene – dozens of students waiting in line to pay. In fairness, it took much faster this time. Back then, you needed an entire day to enroll. With the system now partly, if not entirely, computerized, it took me only three hours this time.

At the Ateneo Graduate School of Business? Forty-five minutes, when I was taking my MBA three years ago. De La Salle University, where my eldest, Alex, is a freshman? An hour. But then again, AGSB and DLSU are private schools with top-class facilities; UP is a state-run university on a perpetually tight budget. It makes up for the long lines and bureaucratic procedures by possessing a keen intellectual edge that it imparts to its students.

Since my master’s degree was in a different field, I have to take two remedial masteral courses in communication theory and research.

Our class in Comm 240 (theory) started yesterday. Afterwards, a helpful classmate, Flor, showed me how to take the MRT home to Makati coming from UP. The trip would be faster, she said, than if I took a cab.

While waiting for the train at Quezon Avenue Station, she pointed out the ABS-CBN Network building. High-tech lighting effects on the facade cycled through the entire rainbow, with occasional white twinkles here and there, as if it were sparkling.


It looked radioactive.

Then the train came, in a whoosh of sound, color, and deep vibrations.


I’m back in school. I’m so happy.

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famous alumni to perform at up-mass comm homecoming

This year’s University of the Philippines (Diliman) College of Mass Communication homecoming reunion is looking to be one of the biggest and brighest ever, with a stellar cast of alumni coming home to Plaridel to perform at the event, which is significant as it occurs within the UP Centennial Year.

Kapuso, Kapamilya stars to grace UP Mass Comm alumni homecoming

Expect the grand alumni homecoming of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (UP-CMC) to be a gathering of some of the country’s biggest stars in journalism, entertainment, and even politics.

Dubbed “UP Mass Comm and You: Photographs and Memories atbp.,” it will be held on September 27 (Saturday), 1 p.m. at the CMC Plaridel Hall in Diliman, Quezon City.

Among the hosts for the program are reporter Ambet Nabus and artists Giselle Sanchez and Earl Ignacio, who are all products of UP-CMC.


Actors Giselle Sanchez and Earl Ignacio

Rep. Ed Zialcita (1st District, Parañaque), another UP-CMC graduate, will be performing with his band. Other  alumni like lawyer Rowena Daroy Morales, writer Raymond Narag, veteran actress Malou de Guzman, and actor RS Francisco will have their respective production numbers, details of which are being kept under wraps.

UP-CMC students from Himig ng Mass Comm, UP Broadcasting Association (BroadAss), and the Samahan ng Mga Mag-aaral sa Komunikasyon (SAMASKOM) will also have skits and musical numbers.

Actress Candy Pangilinan, a UP alumna, is expected to provide live entertainment. There will be surprise appearances from Kapuso (GMA 7) and Kapamilya (ABS-CBN) stars, some of whom used to be “housemates” in the reality show Pinoy Big Brother.

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Candy Pangilinan, Maryo J. de los Reyes

Different “extremes” in entertainment are on the menu, as saxophonist Michael Yu and Virga the Fire Thrower give performances. Selected live bands will play for the partying crowd until 11 p.m.

UP-CMC Alumni Association President Maryo J. de los Reyes, award-winning film director and UP-CMC professor, is in charge of the program for the grand alumni homecoming.

To confirm your attendance or for more details, please call Katkat Ramos at 920-6864 or 0927-2495820, or send email to

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butch dalisay launches latest novel

Anvil Publishing and Jose Y. Dalisay Jr., PhD, successfully launched Soledad’s Sister yesterday at the Claro M. Recto Hall of the Faculty Center, University of the Philippines, Diliman.

Dr. Dalisay’s second novel, after Killing Time in a Warm Place (1992), Soledad’s Sister has been widely acclaimed by both local and foreign critics and was shortlisted for the 2007 Man Asian Literary Prize.

The launching ceremony featured a short lecture delivered by Dr. Dalisay on “Writing the Filipino Novel”, followed by reactions from fellow academics.  A short question-and-answer forum ensued, then a short speech by Anvil Publishing owner Karina Bolasco. Dr. Dalisay then read a brief excerpt of his novel. A book signing was the final activity, with Dr. Dalisay wielding either a Faber-Castell or a Pelikan M800 Souveran fountain pen.

Dr. Dalisay’s soundbites from the Q&A:

On how many more novels he plans to write: “Before I croak, I expect to write five novels…this is the second…after that, I’ll clean my fountain pens. That’s all I really want to do.”

On whether one can make money from writing novels: “Ang nobela dito (Philippines), unless it’s picked up in school, doesn’t go to second printing…often, the first doesn’t sell out.”

On whether Filipinos are a good market for books: “Filipinos buy books. They just don’t buy us (Filipino writers in English).”

On creating popular works with literary value that sell well: “I”m really serious about this…it’s an aesthetic challenge, to bridge that gap, to write something that’s popular and at the same time really well done.”

On the inspiration for latest novel: “The story of our OFWs (Overseas Foreign Workers) is the definitive Filipino story of our time…it’s the most outstanding feature of our economic landscape. We have become so dependent on them for our sustenance – their being there and coming home here changed our political landscape… They come back knowing that some things work, and that the government shold be accountable to you…that will create political changes… Masasaya, malulungkot ang kuwento nila.”

Dr. Dalisay reads an excerpt from “Soledad’s Sister”


Signing books with a Pelikan M800 Souveran, B nib, blue ink


Fellow fountain pen collector George Mamonluk snapping photos of the event

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jose dalisay jr.: soledad’s sister

From the MacAir and bountiful imagination of novelist Jose Y. Dalisay Jr. come Soledad’s Sister, exploring the hardships that may be encountered by Filipino OCWs (overseas contract workers) and their relatives in the Philippines.

Shortlisted for the 2007 Man Asian Literary Prize, the novel, Dalisay’s second after Killing Time in a Warm Place, tells of the homecoming of “Aurora V. Cabahug” from Saudi Arabia – in a casket. It is the story of Soledad, who used her sister Aurora’s name to skirt legal issues and leave the Philippines to work as domestic helper. It is the story of her sister Aurora, who tries to solve the mystery of her sister’s death, while managing to lose the corpse along the way.

Written with sincere warmth and sensitivity, it is also a story that could have been a reality for any of the millions of OCW families who have sent fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers into the Filipino exodus to slave for foreigners to be able to keep their loved ones alive.

It reflects a facet of our society, that squandered its chance to be an Asian Tiger and is now relegated to being the world’s labor pool.


On a personal level, as the sister of an OFW in Dubai, I see this story as my worst nightmare. My sister Aileen has worked for 16 years as a secretary in a land where no plants grow except by force, where they have no soil but sand, where water is more precious than petroleum. I fear for her safety every day. I pray for her health and happiness as she lives a life far away from her family. I wish that things would get better so that she can come home, and spend her days with us.

But as long as reality is manifest and dreams remain figments of desire, Aileen will work in Dubai until she can no longer, and I, and others who read stories such as Soledad’s Sister, can only reflect on the choices people make and the outcomes that may attend these choices.

Soledad’s Sister will be formally launched on 31 July 2008, Thursday, 4pm, at the Faculty Center of the University of the Philippines-Diliman. Dr. Dalisay will deliver a short lecture, followed by book-signing.

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up masscomm homecoming in 2008

This just in, from the UP College of Mass Communication Alumni Association:

Front of Plaridel Hall, which houses the College of Mass Communication, University of the Philippines-  Diliman (July 2008 )

UP Mass Comm holds alumni homecoming on September 27

Are you a graduate of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (CMC)?

Do you want to make money from (or just simply share) your old memorabilia? Do you want to hook up with old friends? Do you intend to know the answer to bugging questions like who among your classmates still loves you after all these years?

The UP CMC will hold a grand alumni homecoming titled “UP Mass Comm and You: Photographs and Memories atbp.” on September 27 (Saturday), 1 p.m. at the CMC Plaridel Hall in Diliman, Quezon City.

Special prizes await those who will bring interesting CMC memorabilia like old class cards, papers and blue books of CMC courses taken, as well as Form 5s, graded papers, course syllabus, student ID and library borrower’s card, among others.

There will also be a variety program showcasing the talent of CMC students and alumni.

If you want to bring back memories of your academic pursuits in the college (as well as ensure that your secrets will remain hidden!), the CMC will be selling to you for P1,000 your “student record jacket” consisting of your form 5s (admin copy), dropping slips, requests for reconsideration, and other documents related to your stay of four years (or more) in the college. Please note that you can only buy your own student record jacket, not your classmates’.

The college will also have an exhibition area for any collection of objects you may want to share.

For details, please contact Dr. Arminda V. Santiago at (632) 920-6867 / (632) 920-6863 or Ms. Katkat Ramos / Ms. Chrissie Macaraig of UP CMC at (632) 920-6864 or email /


This carved pillar is still in the middle of the Plaridel Hall lobby (July 2008 )


The back of Plaridel Hall, where a lot of students used to hang out, just chatting (July 2008 )


The second floor of the building at the back where the CMC Library is (July 2008 )

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my manila: up diliman

Some weeks ago I visited my alma mater, the College of Mass Communication at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, for the first time since graduation twenty years ago.

Though I had been to UP last January, for Pops’ wake at UP’s Church of the Risen Lord, I hadn’t had a chance to roam the familiar streets until late last June.

UP is celebrating its 100th founding anniversary this year and doesn’t seem to have changed. Beneath my sneakers was the same crumbling pavement. The fields and trees were the familiar riot of varied shades of green. The buildings still stood, unchanging and unyielding.

The Football Field is verdant and peaceful; in the distance, the College of Education peeks through the foliage.


Malcolm Hall (College of Law, where I stayed for one sem before chucking dusty legal tomes for the wandering and ill-paid life of a sports journalist) is obscured from view by leaves. A flag waves bravely from the balcony, providing a glimpse of color.


Palma Hall (also known as “AS” from its former designation as the College of Arts and Sciences) is still the same serene and majestic pile.


Quezon Hall, which houses the University’s administrative offices, is famous as the backdrop of The Oblation and the scene of annual commencement exercises.


Plaridel Hall houses the College of Mass Communication. It looks exactly the same as I last saw it in 1988. Now that’s either comforting, deplorable…or both.

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ink in the blood

It was the first-ever, as far as we knew, meeting of fountain pen collectors in the Philippines – at least, of this batch of friends belonging to the online communities Fountain Pen Network and PhilMUG. For years, several of them had contact only by email or on online forums discussing their particular mania. On July 5, Saturday, in a peaceful home in UP Campus, they gathered with their pens and ink to meet and share.

Fountain pens are virtually unknown now in the Philippines – ask any person below the age of twenty and you’ll get a glazed stare – but before ballpoints came into being, in the 1940s to mid-1950s, FPs ruled.

I belong to this peculiar tribe for whom the process is as important as the end result. It is easier to write with a ballpoint, but nothing compares to the feel of a pointed steel or gold fountain pen nib sliding over the paper, laying down ink almost like a brush. The words seem painted on, elevating the mundane activity of scribbling notes into an art.

Older collectors remember using FPs in their youth, mostly Parkers and Sheaffers; for them, it’s often a matter of nostalgia and reliving the past. Younger enthusiasts are drawn to vintage artifacts redolent of a history they never experienced; for them, old is new and for that reason, desirable. Using FPs in this age of gel pens sets one apart. How many people do you know still use FPs everyday?

One of them is University of the Philippines professor Jose “Butch” Y. Dalisay Jr., PhD. Host of this penmeet, he is a multi-awarded writer of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama, and screenplays. He has won, at last count, 16 Palanca literary awards. Perhaps a hundred or more pens reside in his pen cases and “junk box” (a red felt-lined wooden chest).

“Welcome to the first Philippine Fountain Pen Collector’s meeting!” Seated: Beng Dalisay, Carlos Abad Santos. Standing: George, Robert, Butch Dalisay, Leigh Reyes, Eliza, Pep, Jay, Chito, Butch, and Iñigo.

Another enthusiast is Leigh Reyes, creative director of  a prominent advertising agency. Her collection is unrivaled, containing premier brands Nakaya, Oldwin, Visconti, and Omas, to mention just a few.

I had met Leigh several times before, to acquire ink and vintage pens from her stash. The last time I saw Butch was in 1985, when I was a student of his English 5 class at UP Diliman. (He was one of my three favorite professors – the others were Dr. Michael Tan, anthropologist and columnist; and the late Rene O. Villanueva, also a Palanca-award winning writer and literary icon.) I received my invitation to this gathering from Butch. It seems he had Googled “fountain pen Philippines” or something similar and was led to this blog.

It was my first time to meet the others. After the initial frost had thawed, they welcomed me with genuine warmth into their circle, pressing pens into my hand to try, passing bottles of ink for my inspection.


Pep says something to Caloy that makes him smile: Leigh examines a pen’s nib; others “test-drive” the pens lying around.

Beng Dalisay (Butch’s wife) is not an FP collector, but remembers using them as a young student. “We used Parkers and Sheaffers,” she recalls. An accomplished artist, she prefers watercolors as her medium. Beng also restores and maintains artworks in museums and private collections. “We will soon be working on the Botong Francisco mural in Manila City Hall,” she says. A collector too – of tins and bottles – she knows the fierce and often uncontrollable craving that can overcome a  true enthusiast, and nods indulgently as we debate stiff versus flexible nibs, bulletproof against water-based inks.


Leigh answers a question while Butch roots through his mahiwagang junk box.

There is a particular etiquette in this culture that we instinctively practice, or it could be a result of years of “good manners and right conduct” teaching about respect for another’s property. It is this – that pens are passed to another person almost reverently,as if they were religious objects. If the pen is heavy, like Jay’s silver and tan herringbone patterned Faber-Castell, two hands are used to present it to another. Infinite care is taken when removing the cap – it could be the kind that screws on, and fie on the one who tugs! Pens removed from a case are, after careful use, returned to their proper slot or passed back to the owner. They are not left lying around unless by the owner himself. Ink bottles, too, are painstakingly opened; ink has a tendency to pool in the cap, and no one wants to spill a difficult-to-obtain twenty-dollar bottle of French-made J. Herbin.


Iñigo watches Leigh write in her flowing calligraphy; Caloy surveys a feast of fountain pens.

At some point during the festivities, several of us pull out our Moleskines. Caloy asks Leigh to customize his with her elegant lettering. Elai and I clamor, “Mine too!” Leigh good-naturedly picks up a fountain pen loaded with light brown ink, and writes quickly, without hesitation. Our names, embellished with swirls and flourishes, float from the italic nib and lie like butterflies on the creamy yellow paper.


Leigh’s pens, notebook, and inks; Butch smiles as he uncovers more pens.

“Jenny.” I hear Butch’s voice and snap to attention. “Sir?” My response is reflexive; he will have my respect as my professor no matter how many years have elapsed since we were in a classroom. He hands me a pen. “For you, since you were my former student.” It is a black vintage Sheaffer Balance dating back to the 1940s, he says. I melt. My hands close around the pen and I stammer my thanks.

Butch does not realize, I think, how special the gift is, how his sudden impulse has profoundly stirred me. Not only because he is famous, and it will be a treasured souvenir from a literary lion; but because he was my teacher, the gift is significant as a reminder of a shared past and a mentoring that deeply influenced my writing.

One blue-book exercise he gave us was to describe a peso coin. “Be more specific and imaginative when you describe something! Look carefully at both sides and write down all you can discern.” His instructions forced me to use not just my eyes but also the vision of the mind to explore objects and concepts, employing uncommon words to provide the reader a fresh experience. “Resist cliches!” he said, so since then I have avoided them like the plague.


Part of Leigh’s carefully-selected collection includes fountain pens by Nakaya, Sailor, Platinum, Pelikan, Oldwin, Danitrio, Stipula, Visconti, Omas, and the ubiquitous Parker and Sheaffer. She also owns ink in a vast array of colors, with brands like Caran d’Ache, J. Herbin, Private Reserve, Noodler’s, and Diamine.

George talks about his other passion – collecting and restoring vintage typewriters. I lean forward to listen; anything that makes alphabet marks on paper is interesting. George speaks: “Royal, Blickensderfer, Underwood,” and Butch nods sagely.

I look around and see that everyone has ink marks – on their hands, forehead, temples. Leigh rubs my chin. “Ink?” I ask, and she smiles. Caloy has a streak of green on the right temple; George, on the forehead. Butch’s fingers are a riot of color, as are Jay’s and Iñigo’s. We are true FP fanatics, I think, the stains worn as an emblem of pride. No one tries very hard to remove the marks.


Front: Leigh, Butch, Jenny; Back: Iñigo, Jay, Eliza, George, Caloy.

One by one the penfriends depart. Chito is first to go. Butch from Baguio follows, saying, “I have a long drive. See you again soon.” “When is our next meeting?” George asks, almost plaintively. “Next month?” Butch says, “How about in six months, or when we have something new to show?”

I ride to Katipunan with Caloy. A well-traveled intellectual who is a PhD Economics candidate at UP, he offers to share shipping costs from PenGallery if I order. We have just met; but the ink in his veins calls to mine and thus we are no longer strangers.

We all look forward to the next meeting, the next sharing of custom-ground nibs and the latest colors of ink that are “not black!” as Leigh says. Anyone who is enamoured of the same is welcome to join. May the tribe increase!

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anna ishikawa: where your dreams come true

Fox Books has a winner in Where Your Dreams Come True, a novel written by Anna Ishikawa, illustrated by Kristian Teves.

I read this story when it was still being edited by Fox Books editor Sarah Grutas – photocopied onto used paper, a binder clip holding the pages together. I took it home, started reading it in bed – and could not put it down until I was finished. It’s that absorbing.

Anna’s depiction of her main character, Emily, is so true-to-life, it could almost have happened in reality. (Parts of it most probably did.) I actually have met people like Emily before. (Diba, Miss Jas?) The most refreshing thing about this novel is the humorous, tongue-in-cheek tone, peppered with current colloquialisms that elicit an immediate reaction of “Oo nga, ganito talaga!”

What else can I say? Buy it na. ‘Wag mong paabutin ng one hundred years bago mo bilhin!

About the author:

Si Anna Ishikawa ay naging bahagi ng tatlong national writing workshops at nanalo na rin sa ilang patimpalak. Kapag hindi nagsusulat, siya ay tumatambay sa mall, nagbabasa, gumuguhit, nanonood ng anime, at nagtuturo ng English at Creative Writing sa UP Diliman…Siya rin ang may-akda ng Odd Girl Out.

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bucoy, sto domingo, siy: tres amores

Another of Fox Books’ pioneer offerings, Tres Amores is a 3-in1 book of romance in the city, written from three different feminine points-of-view – that of a high school student, a college student, and a working girl.

Accurately reflecting the angst and emotion of young love in a Filipino setting, the stories will touch a chord of recognition in all those who have ridden the roller-coaster of heartbreak and happiness.

With interesting illustrations by Kristian Teves, “isang ordinaryong college student ng Far Eastern University…isang tunay na loverboy”, this book is a must-add to your collection of contemporary Filipino stories.

About the authors:

Si Layeta Bucoy ay nagtapos ng AB Communication Arts sa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas sa Los Baños noong 1996 at ang kanyang MFA in Creative Writing sa De La Salle University noong 2003. Nagkamit siya ng gantimpala mula sa Palanca noong 1998 at 2007. Ang kanyang mga dula ay naitanghal na ng PETA, ng Cultural Center of the Philippines, at ng Saison Theater Program sa Tokyo, Japan. Kasalukuyan siyang nagtuturo ng Humanidades sa UP Los Baños.

Si Ardee Sto Domingo ay nagtapos ng BS Electronics and Communications Engineering sa Technological University of the Philippines noong 2003. Mahilig magbasa at magsulat, kasalukuyan siyang head writer ng sikat na soap opera na mapapanood sa GMA.

Si Beverly Siy ay nagtapos ng BA Malikhaing Pagsulat sa Filipino (cum laude) sa UP Diliman. Naging fellow na si Bebang sa UP at UST National Writers’ Workshops at naging aktibong bahagi ng pamunuan ng UP Writers’ Club at LIRA…noong Hulyo 2006, inilabas ang kanyang maikling kuwento bilang bahagi ng Hilakbot I, Loyola High, at City Lights, mga aklat na pang-adolescent. Sa Setyembre, lalabas na ang kanyang nobelang Mingaw.

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