1985-1991: YEARS OF CHALLENGE AND CHANGE

 

By Georgina R. Encanto, Ph.D.

 

What I am sharing with you this afternoon is not a history of my term as Dean, but a “herstory” for after all, as we so often forget,  history is not an objective account , but a “story” of the one who is reconstructing events and interpreting them. So I will try to share with you my experience as the second Dean of the then IMC from my point of view.

When I was appointed Dean of the then Institute of Mass Communication, this academic unit was twenty years old, having started out as a Journalism Program in the English Department. It was created on June 19, 1965 by Republic Act 4379 with a clear cut mandate:

          

REPUBLIC ACT NO. 4379
 
AN ACT ESTABLISHING AN INSTITUTE OF MASS COMMUNICATIONS IN THE UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES, PROVIDING FUNDS FOR A BUILDING, FACILITIES AND OPERATING EXPENSES THEREOF, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
 
Section 1. There is hereby established an Institute of Mass Communications in the University of the Philippines which shall provide professional and advanced training, research and extension services in the various media of communications, including the press, radio and television, and to inculcate and foster awareness of the ethical and social significance of, as well as responsibility in the use of these media.
 
Sec. 2. Any provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, appointments to the teaching and research positions in the Institute may be on a part-time basis and personnel already in the government service appointed to its training or research staff shall receive honoraria at rates to be fixed by the Board of Regents of the University.
 
Sec. 3. There is hereby authorized to the appropriated out of the funds in the National Treasury not otherwise appropriated, the sum of four hundred fifty thousand pesos for a building necessary for the training, research and public service activities of the Institute: provided, that the amount of two hundred thousand pesos shall be appropriated annually in the General Appropriations Act beginning with the fiscal year nineteen hundred sixty-six-nineteen hundred sixty-seven for the support of the Institute.
 
Sec. 4. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.
 
Approved: June 19, 1965
 

ThIs mandate of training communication professionals emphasized the need to review, update, and strengthen the academic, research and extension programs of the College so that its history as the training ground for highly skilled, ethical, and critical mass media practitioners would be reaffirmed and sustained particularly after fourteen years of the martial law dictatorship which was crumbling (?) particularly after the assassination of Ninoy Aquino in 1983.

The Institute’s reputation for being militant and nationalist  built on its pioneer faculty members especially in the Journalism program, which had by then built a tradition of militancy and criticalness that can be attributed to a great extent to its pioneer faculty in the Journalism Program which has on its roster Armando Malay, a veteran journalist who was a walking encyclopedia of press history, especially the revolutionary, guerilla, and later, the Martial Law “alternative or mosquito press,” and who  later became Dean of Students in the University of the Philippines, I.P. Soliongco,  and Hernando Abaya, author of The Untold Story etc. and Raul Ingles, a poet, chronicler who wrote Fifty Years with the Times. 

Mass Comm students were at the forefront of the when barricades were set up in 1971 when the military wanted to enter University grounds to arrest restive student activitists who were opposed to Marcos whom they regarded as a lapdog or tuta of the Americans, in violation of an agreement that the University should be respected as a sanctuary of democracy and free expression, and  so the military should not try to interfere with  the University’s academic atmosphere or to quell what they considered the disorder being created by the students.   Issues like the involvement of the Philippines in the Vietnam War, and the demand for more nationalistic values in governance, and Philippine laws were taken up as their causes  by the militant students. While the barricades were being set up at the entrance and other parts of the campus, Mass Comm students operated the DZUP to boost their morale by playing nationalistic songs and cassette tapes of Marcos and a bit actress named Dovie Beams engaging in intimate talk.  

During the martial law years, the College continued to impart journalistic skills which would make them competent practitioners, to invite media practitioners with a reputation for being progressive like Luis Mauricio, Pete Lacaba, Rico Jose, Ramon Isberto,  Conrado de Quiros, Manuel Almario,  Marra Lanot and later on Bobbie Malay etc joined and became Chair of the Journalism Department.  The faculty would issue statements on media issues like the closure of Malaya on Human Rights Day, December 10, and invited speakers like Isagani Yambot and Domini Torrevillas Suarez to give talks to the students which enabled them to know what was actually going on in the media and the excesses of the Marcos dictatorship.

 

Institution of Democratic Participation and Processes  

A series of consultation and planning workshops were held so we could review our directions and academic activities and move more deliberately to achieve those goals.

The review and updating of the academic curriculum to align or make them more attuned to the political and economic conditions of the country as well as to the continuing developments in communication technology. Subjects like Introduction to Computers, the merger of the different offerings of “Mass Media and Society” which had previously been offered independently  of each other by the different departments (Journalism, Broadcast Communication, Communication Research ) , Broadcast Journalism was instituted , the Social Sciences and Humanities electives were expanded and a track for Economics was adopted.

We aggressively recruited highly qualified media practitioners wirth academic degrees  to teach subjects as demanded by our expanding curriculum in  journalism, broadcast communication, communication research and film and audio-visual communication.

 

Equipment and Procurement Program

An equipment procurement program was adopted so that the Institute could acquire the much needed equipment like U matic editing machines, and computers. I can still remember how we had to contend with budgetary constraints and thanks to the generosity of faculty who would share their personal communication gadgets or equipment with the students, we were able to catch up with the latest communication technology.  By the end of my term, there was a Luis Beltran Newsroom with computers donated by his family. We were able to acquire computers and other facilities through projects like the UNESCO Bookpublishing Workshop, the UNEP Project on using Traditional Media for Communicating Environmental Messages etc.

 

 Creation of a Committee  to Improve the CMC Library”s Holdings and Facilities

A Library committee was also set up so that the College couid build its holdings and become the foremost repository of communication materials.  This Committee recommended a more systematic and aggressive way of acquiring books, journals, films and other communication-related materials.

 

Elevation of the Institute to a College

Structural changes were also demanded, to institute for the first time democratization and participation in decision-making and toward this end, the then four programs were elevated into departments, headed by Chairs in lieu of Coordinators, and in 1988, the then Institute of Mass Communication was elevated into a College.

It became the largest units of the University , with the sixth largest student enrollment in the University.

 

Transfer of the DZUP from the Department of Speech Communication and Theater Arts in the College of Arts and Letters to the CMC

In 1987, the DZUP was transferred from the College of Arts and Letters to IMC so it could become the laboratory radio station for Mass Comm students.

The Philippines Communication Journal was revived singlehandedly by Professor Raul Ingles and came out with several issues.

 

Institution of the Lopez Jaena Workshop

The Lopez jaena Workshop for Community Journalists became the major outreach program of the College and has trained over 400 community journalists all over the country. Many of its participants have gone on to become columnists, editors and publishers of community newspapers and through Facebook, the alumni organization of these participants known as Journalists for an Enlightened Nation (JAENA) has become a very articulate and militant group that, among others, has continued to keep alive the public outrage over the Ampatuan Massacre, and to show solidarity with other media organizations like the CMFR, PCIJ, PPI, SEAPA, and other communication schools and universities in demanding the passage of the FOI or being critical of the Cybercrime Law.

Active efforts to recognize and involve the alumni in supporting and generating resources for the college were made and the commemoration of the Silver Jubilee of the College in 1990 proved to be an auspicious occasion to recognize all the faculty who had served the College with dedication, among them Prof Malay ,  Gloria Feliciano, Hernando Abaya, Alice Coseteng, Paulina Bautista.

Outstanding graduates of the College were also recognized, among them, Loren Legarda, Maryo de los Reyes, Bobby Coloma, Malou Mangahas, Jessica Soho, Yoly Villanueva Ong,. There was a time when the majority of the media practitioners in the major media organizations like,  for example, The Manila Times . The Manila Chronicle, Malaya consisted of CMC graduates and  then National Press Club President Antonio Nieva once told me that CMC graduates become the choice of media organizations especially beginning in the mid-eighties.

 

Establishment of the CMC Foundation

The CMC Foundation was set up to support and provide tax-exemption benefits for the college , with the dean and chairs of the different departments as the officers of the foundation. The CMC Foundation allowed the College to enter into memos of agreement with other government agencies or private organizations for projects and joint undertakings.

 

Establishment of a Low Cost Radio Station in Batanes

In 1990, the College also participated in a UNESCO project establishing low cost community  radio stations. With then President Jose Abueva and Chancellor Roman, we set up and inaugurated the first radio station in Batanes.

 

Improved Physical Maintenance and Renovation of the CMC

Because I believe that the physical setting for education is also very important, I gave importance to improving and maintaining the cleanliness of the college. A Building Admiinistrator was appointed and every wing of the college was regularly monitored.  Sometimes I would go in to the Men’s Rooms to check on whether they were being maintained ( of course when there were no occupants). The staff through Pepe Macariola who was then the Administrative Officer would complain that I was making the college look like a corporate office in the private sector when we were a government institution and I would say ( “Bakit, pag gobierno ba kailangang marumi?)  and we gave the college a new look by replacing the dingy looking curtains with blinds and setting up a glass window in the adfministrative office so business could be transacted through windorws. Sometimes, I recall, Cheche Lazaro would approach Mang Emong to show him the proper way of using a mop and cleaning the floors of the college.  Cheche being a stickler for neatness, I would tease her that she just couldn’t help being herself. Bridget Zubiri, the daughter of an Anglican minister and a very dedicated faculty member who loved CMC, would go around the premises and she did not fancy seeing students playing card games or wearing body hugging tights and tell the studentrs,”trhis is an academic unitr and there is a dress code here!”

We did not neglect to pay attention to the administrative personnel and find ways of motivating them to serve the college with dedication, Among others, we allowed administrative personnel to go undertime so they could study and we also started the practice of having a Christmas Party for them and their families  where they could be given Christmas packages. They also had a summer outing to allow them to enjoy a respite from work.

We also learned through the grapevine that there were tiles that were discarded when some unit underwent a renovation so through the Office of the Vice-President for Administration Martin V. Gregorio, we were able to ask for the tiles which were used for the basement of the CMC Annex. I am happy to see that it was used as classrooms but have now given way to a modern looking CMC library.

I won’t claim that it was smooth sailing all the time. Sometimes, there would be a student demo or a complaints over some issue or issues over appointments, promotions, appointment to professorial chairs but I learned that these were part of the occupational hazard of being a dean especially in UP!

I look back on those six years as a very exhilarating and challenging time for myself in a personal capacity and for the college as well. I was busy raising children but also multi-tasking because there was so much to be done.  I was 39 when I was appointed Dean, I am now a certified senior citizen enjoying all the benefits of being one but also the aches and pains that everyone is heir to.

The CMC turns 50 this year. Fifty may seem “old” but with stem cells and other heretofore unimaginable developments in medical science technology, 50 could very well be considered “the new forty”.   But  CMC is still a very vigorous institution—the premiere center for training media professionals, the center for excellence in nurturing critical thought and expression via the traditional and new media and all of you who are here are called upon to sustain the tradition that has been painstakingly been built over the years.

What Shakespeare wrote about Cleopatra in his play “Anthony and Cleopatra” could well apply to CMC where, with due apologies to the males here present, the women are a living, sometimes dominant presence:

                             Age cannot wither her,
                             Nor custom stale her infinite variety.
 

Mabuhay ang CMC!