Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Graduation Picture at the University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City Posted by Picasa

Teng's Corner

Posted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 8:30 am

UP in the 21st Century
Esnaen M. Catong
Ph.D. Student (CSSP), UP Diliman

At the outset, congratulations to President Emerlinda R. Roman and the other new leaders of the country's premier university!

Amidst crisis, the University of the Philippines has vibrantly proven herself in serving the nation and the people of Asia in the past several decades, and the rest is history. What role will the university play in 21st century and beyond will be more interesting to see.

The new university administration’s biggest challenge would be the upcoming centennial celebration considering the economic condition of the country. The university’s performance especially in the realm of research output, strength of faculty, state subsidy, et.al. will be gauged not only by the influential church-ruled academic institutions in the country but also by the fast-growing national universities in Asia.

In this light, let me emphasize that it is in the best interests of the Filipino people if the UP leadership will establish more linkages not only in the country's academic and research institutions but also in the Asia-Pacific Region, West Asia, and other parts of the world.

The leadership should be more pro-active in the promotion and advancement of engineering, science and technology research programs, and history and social sciences, as well as interdisciplinary studies using the inherent talents and human resource capabilities of the brilliant Filipinos here and abroad.

Let us seek the help and assistance of each and every Filipino scholar and of the U.P. alumni for many of them are eager to share. The concept of bayanihan and the spirit of belongingness should be promoted by the leadership for the members of the UP family and community to help the university in various ways.

In these difficult times, the OFW phenomenon should not be seen as a liability but a fair asset for national survival. The national leadership should support technical and health education so that our human resources will be equipped enough in facing the challenges brought about by the stiff competition in the labor market.

In this kind of situation, the university should push for a comprehensive yet affordable OFW re-integration program that includes health, education, and housing programs.

UP should spearhead in promoting peaceful co-existence between brothers and sisters regardless of beliefs, ethno-linguistic tribes, and political aspirations. Of course this can be attained if only our leaders in all institutions, government, non-government, and peoples' organizations, sectarian as well as non-sectarian, will lead by example.

UP as a prime institution of higher learning should lead the country in fostering a transparent mechanism for a corrupt-free society.

We should continue working hand in hand towards a highly educated society which does not sacrifice the socio-economic component of the nation. Let us maintain and enhance academic freedom, respect for human dignity, and religious tolerance in the UP academic community.

Finally, we should take care of the university's human resources. Our faculty and staff deserve reasonable salary, housing, and other benefits to uplift their morale. The retirees of the university should be accorded utmost honor and respect for they were instrumental in the being of the university. Above all, let us not forget the disadvantaged members of Philippine society… In so doing, the University of the Philippines will rise again.

Mabuhay ang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas!

The Arab-Filipinos in History and Philippine Society

Review of related literature reveals that the affluence of the Arab-Filipinos in the realm of history and their role in Philippine society remains slightly explored and studied. Although attempts were made by the Spanish writers as part of their colonial strategy and the early American scholars like Dr. Najeeb M. Saleeby, an Arab physician who worked for the US government, as part of their colonial effort for the American forces to assume sovereignty in Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan, there was no comprehensive study to understand the relations of the Filipinos and the Arab world. Since then, there were no succeeding studies on the particular subject under the administrations of Presidents Aguinaldo, Quezon to Macapagal. It was only during the Marcos presidency when the Philippine government opened the avenue of research towards understanding the Muslims in the Philippines and their relations with other members of the Muslim world in line with Philippine national interests. During this time, efforts by scholars like Dr. Cesar Adib Majul, a prolific Filipino academic of Syrian Arab descent from Cagayan Valley who in the process of his studies turned Muslim, wrote about the Islamic Influences in the Philippines and observed that one of the many things in common between the socio-culturally related peoples, the Filipinos and Arabs, that need to be explored was the strong sense of history and Islamic heritage.[1]

This research work, although limited, is designed to answer the following: How did the relations of the Arabs and Filipinos come into being? How did the Arabs influence the way of life of the Filipinos, Islamic institutions, and marriage alliances that flourished in the Philippines? How were the Arab-Filipinos integrated in the Philippine and Arab societies? And finally, what are the roles of the Arab-Filipino as a people in Philippine society?

This study shows that the Arab-Filipinos played a vibrant role not only in early history but also in the present-day Philippine society. The policies of integration of the Philippines shaped and influenced their lives as part of the Philippine society. The Arab-Filipinos who followed the Islamic way of life have a hard time in the integration process in the Philippines unlike those who are not identified with the Muslim world. This study also presents some of their experiences as a people.

[1] Esnaen M. Catong, "Philippines-Saudi Arabia Relations, 1968-1998: A Diplomatic History," (MA Thesis, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City, 2004), unless otherwise indicated is one of the main sources of this paper.
A research work presented during the National Conference of the U.P. Lipunang Pangkasaysayan held on August 18-19, 2004 at Balay Kalinaw, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City.