The USEP Brouhaha, a year onPosted: June 14, 2014
Around this time a year ago, I caused a stir online when I reacted to the University of Southeastern Philippines’ inclusion in the QS Ranking of the best universities in Asia for that year. It began with a Facebook status (back when I still had an FB account), but circumstances not wholly independent but not entirely motivated either by the expected backlash compelled me to deactivate my Facebook account. I then proceeded to clarifying myself on this blog.
So much has happened in that year, as all years go.
For one thing, I have since changed my way of public commentary. I have mostly renounced polemics, the stuff of my long gone student days, and now try to be gentle and constructive when I need to point out areas for improvement. The result of a combination of jadedness (‘ugh, nobody is scandalized anymore!’) and experience as a teacher, really.
For another, I have by now completely relocated to the state of liminality between not belonging in Davao anymore and not quite in Dumaguete yet. What do I feel about all it now? Apathy. The reaction was said by me the involved Dabawenyo. I have ceased to be an involved Dabawenyo.
So there’s your reply to the news that Ateneo de Davao has replaced USEP in this year’s QS Ranking. I have also ceased to be an Atenista.
Congratulations to AdDU, I guess, and here’s to hoping they can still improve what they need to (I don’t want to bother listing those down). And best of luck to USEP too in their attempt to get in again in the future, and all that.
One thing though that still gets me (and it just goes to show how vain I am) is how articulate I was during that debacle. Reading the feedback to my post here, I still feel the dread of reading a new comment. And mind you the comments were painful – my grammar was nitpicked, I was dismissed as insecure (as if anybody needed to tell me that), and I was accused of being attention hungry (as if anybody needed to tell me that). But that the comments were there and that they were by people I didn’t know made them impotent: it is when friends are quiet in times of need that it hurts most. I thus responded to them with removed eloquence, in a way that I am satisfied with as I read them today: civil, sometimes mockingly polite, but always to the point.
Do I regret anything in that whole experience? The loss of a few friends maybe, but friends have always been disposable anyway. Have I changed my mind about USEP now? No, not really. But then again I haven’t updated myself much on it so I guess that opinion is obsolete (if you want you can update me so I can give the withdrawal so many USEPians are still probably praying for).
One important thing though that I learned from that debacle was who was petty and who was worth believing, that it doesn’t mean someone is a quote-and-quote serious writer, he/she/it is infallible, or even sensible. Exposure to culture, it seems, no matter how high, will not change bangaws to phoenixes (sorry Matthew Arnold). The experience also served as a valuable means by which to smoke out people I should purge from my life. I haven’t enemied them of course, just unfriended them, which is different, and worse.
Would I make the same reaction now if USEP still got in the list and I was still involved and updated? No, probably not either. I’m busy writing a novel!