UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES IS NO. 34 IN WORLD’S BEST UNIVERSITIES IN ENGLISH
Erle Frayne D. Argonza
Good day from the Pearl of the Orient!
The University of the Philippines or UP, my country’s national university and among the esteemed world universities in ASEAN, recently landed at No. 34 rank among the world’s top universities in terms of English instruction, besting many world universities in the West and Asia. This is a gladdening news not only for my country and ASEAN, the news likewise glows my heart to euphoria as I am a sanguine alumnus of the noble UP.
Please note that UP’s English instruction goes further than instruction, as many of its professors and alumni dominate the prestigious literary and scientific writing awards in the country, such as the Palanca award. The UP is also home to professors who are holders of the very prestigious National Artist, National Scientist, and Ramon Magsaysay Awards.
UP’s professors, in other words, are active creators of ideas and ‘best practices’, a legacy that they have passed on to their students. Since the late 1990s, 1/7 of all the country’s patents and copyrights in any given year are those registered by professors, researchers and experts of the University of the Philippines.
Such a high level of instruction, creation, and practices by UP’s professors, who stand out in articulation and philosophic discourse, is a legacy of the American professors of colonial-era history. UP’s first professors were largely Ivy League alumni, seconded by alumni of top state universities in the USA. They were among the first professional volunteers to render immense service of enabling Filipino minds to meet the challenges of the modern world.
UP was envisioned, since the time of the Filipino revolutionary government of Aguinaldo yet, as the premier university that will train tomorrow’s leaders for the country. The American educators took off from that vision, as they were the ones mandated to chart the destiny of the university and provide it with the foundational professors.
The same professors brought along with them AngloSaxon philosophy, culture, and language. The AngloSaxon tradition had stayed with UP ever since, which begins with the perfection of English articulation (oral & writ), mastery of AngloSaxon philosophy (empiricism, positivism, pragmatism, analytic philosophy), critical thinking, debating method & style, and conversational savvy for high culture (legacy of Victorian culture).
UP’s language articulation belongs to the ‘school of Elegance’. The same American professors ensured that discursive elegance will endure, and they succeeded in their noble tasks. Till these days, amid the greater stress for social responsibility in UP, a trend that began in the ‘60s yet with the rise of campus radicalism, which could have shifted articulation to the ‘schoof of Simplicity’, elegance had persisted.
Having been in UP for a long time as student (bachelor’s to graduate school) and faculty (social sciences), I can share endless testimonials to the discursive rigor that one has to pass through in my alma mater. One has to learn elegance first of all and employ the same elegance in practice, with preponderance for your profession’s argot while in the company of professional peers.
Simplicity in articulation comes as you face a broader audience among social clientele, such as the marginal sectors and layman. Sure, learn to talk and write with simplicity as you’d face broader audiences and readers after leaving the UP’s august halls. But first of all, learn to be elegant.
And don’t forget, discourse with depth, be as recondite as the philosophical thinkers that shaped your mental bank and professors that mentored you. Perfect your English, be elegant, be philosophically recondite, and you’ll end up being well cultured and highly-bred.
Passing through UP’s language training is akin to entering an eye of a needle. It is truly tough, yet very psychically rewarding. At least the former dictator Marcos, whose English and philosophical sophistication are as polished as Berkeley’s or Hume’s, won’t scoff at your simpleton-sounding language if you happen to be an activist who wished imperialism and tyranny away, thus earning you astronomical insults from UP’s alumni stalwarts.
By the way, the Ateneo De Manila University, another world university and the country’s best private university, landed at No. 35. De La Salle University, an international-class institution, landed at No. 51. UP, Ateneo and De La Salle form a consortium, and they comprise a triune of universities whose alumni are a class in their own, class sui generis.
Big kudos to the UP, Ateneo, and La Salle for the triumph in the AngloSaxon language!
[Philippines, 12 July 2011]