‘DSS@40: Pananagutan sa Sambayanan’: Some Reflections

Poster for the DSS Week Launching

When 40 years are not enough to prove an institution’s worth, what are?

The University of the Philippines Manila Department of Social Sciences (DSS, for brevity) just turned 40 last week. With the theme “Muling Pagtibayin ang Ating Saligang Paninindigan sa Malaya at Makataong Lipunan” (Reaffirming our Fundamental Resolve for a Just and Humane Society), the DSS Week began last Monday, 4 February, and culminated Friday, 8 February. Activities were launched all throughout the week to commemorate the 40th year of the department’s existence.

To commence the weeklong celebration, a talk show entitled DSS@40: Pananagutan sa Sambayanan (DSS@40: Accountability to the People) was held at the CAS Little Theater (CAS LT). The hosts of the program were Prof Carl Marc Ramota, Chairperson of the DSS, and Prof Teresa Lorena Jopson, Chairperson of the Political Science Committee. Students from various degree programs attended the event.

The event was graced by the guests of the show. They were none other than the professors who have seen the growth of the department as year after year unfolds. Since the department’s humble beginnings, these professors already became a part and parcel of the DSS faculty. Namely, they are Professors Fatima Alvarez Castillo, Josefina Tayag, Lourdes Abadingo, Roland Simbulan, Reynaldo Imperial and Edberto Villegas. Each of them told their stories, piled one after the other, as shaped by the history of their stay in the university.

When Educating Becomes an Act of Devotion

Memories were fondly recalled and olden times were transformed anew. It would be best if one will prepare their hearts and minds as each of them narrates their experiences as a faculty, researcher and social scientist. Their words were inspiring; their passion, commendable. For having stayed in the university for so many years, laurels of glory are not enough to pay them back for a job well done. As Professors Abadingo and Tayag tried to recount their experiences with some former students, I could not say more but praises for this women. They are more than educators as their devotion to their craft is far-reaching. Though they were deeply encumbered by administrative tasks (for this women have served as university officials), they did not leave their first love which is educating minds. Teaching, as Professor Tayag affirms, is the noblest profession for which I concur. Honing minds is more than a hobby and an income-generating job. For me, it is a gift, a skill, a talent.

When Research Equates to Critical Analysis

The University of the Philippines (UP) is known to many as a melting pot of intellectuals, not to mention brilliant students and exceptional educators. Not only does it boast of its quality of education, but also UP takes pride as being a center of excellence when it comes to social science research. Professors Castillo and Imperial shared to the audience their memoirs of being a researcher. Being a former Head of the Philippine Health Social Science Association, a recipient of numerous research awards and grants, and an internationally-acclaimed researcher, Professor Castillo is beyond doubt one of the most prolific social scientists of our time. Her research interests include women empowerment, gender studies, indigenous peoples and health social science, among others. It was good to hear Professor Castillo’s words of advice as regards conducting a research. As a researcher, she has spent lots of her time in the field interviewing respondents and informants while critically analyzing the current situation of the community where she is immersed to. For those DSS students who are writing their thesis and seminar paper this semester, her pieces of advice were valuable analects which could embolden bewildered minds. Conducting researches outside the university is a tedious if not laborious task but as an expert herself, Ma’am Tim (as she is fondly called) made this sound as if one were just solving a simple arithmetic problem. Dean Imperial, on the other hand, confessed to the audience his experiences of being an NIH researcher. His research interests include HIV-AIDS vulnerability of Filipinos and health social science, among others. As his research involves sensitivities, Dean Imperial sees to it that ethical guidelines would be followed to guarantee protection to the respondents. His wit and hilarity tip the scale of his life as a social science researcher.

When Fighting is Done for a Cause

Social awareness and attachment to the issues of the time make UP students a cut above the rest. That might explain one stereotypical view being attributed to UP students: radicals. Professors Simbulan and Villegas recounted to the students their experiences as being an advocate of change and social justice. Professor Villegas was then a staunch Marcos critic during the heyday of Martial Law regime in the country. As an activist, Doc Ed (as he is called by colleagues in the department) fought against the repressive dictatorial rule of then President Marcos. Even today, Doc Ed remains to be a defender of the marginalized and a human rights advocate. On the other note, Professor Simbulan is one of the foremost academicians in the country who is strongly for a nationalist foreign policy. He gravely shuns the country’s foreign policy heavily framed under American dictates and whims. Without further probing, these two professors are truly gems of advocating social change.

Their valuable contributions as faculty, researcher and advocates left an indelible mark not only to the college and the university but also to the society. With fervor burning so bright, their blaze of excellence as exemplary citizens of our time would remain even they had already left the university. From them, I have learned lots of things and lessons which are worth cherishing and applying for a lifetime.


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