Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Someone Old, Something New

UPLB Renames Its Streets

If you’re coming over for a quick visit to UPLB any tine you’ll see something new on campus.  Street names have been changed.  They have been renamed after old alumni – those who have gone on to the next dimension.  This, however, isn’t really a new thing, though.  Still, I was pleasantly surprised when I began seeing those new street names during the last couple of weeks. 

Yesterday, I decided to pay a visit to the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Planning and Development to find out how the changes in street names came about.  On the steps going up the UPLB Admin Bldg, I ran into UPLB Chancellor Rex Victor Cruz.  Yes, there was no better person to ask than the Chancellor himself.  We had a quick exchange of information right on the steps.

Chancellor Cruz informed me that the naming of UPLB Streets was not a unilateral action on his part.  In fact, he said, this project started way back during the term of Chancellor Rey Velasco.  This effort was part of the System project of renaming buildings and streets under the System Centennial Program of former UP President Emer Roman.  The initial effort at UPLB began in 2008.  There was a Committee to study the renaming of UPLB Streets.  It was decided that the streets be renamed after old Alumni of UPCA, hence you’ll find names like Victoria M. Ella Street (from the Main Gate to the

east, formerly Silangan Street), Jose R. Velasco Street (from the Gate to the West and going up until the UPCO Housing Area, formerly Kanluran Street), Andres P. Aglibut Street (from engineering all the way to intersect with JR Velasco across from the Church Among the Palms),  Gen. Romeo Espino Street (from Baker Hall to YMCA Dorm),  Mariano Mondoñedo Street (from the Animal Science Compound to the UPLB Auditorium), Domingo M. Lantican Street (from JR Velasco near the Library moving all the way up to the College of Forestry and natural Resources), and so on and so forth.

I have no problem with renaming the streets after well known alumni.  For example, Professor Victoria M. Ella was the first Filipina plant pathologist, Professor Andres F. Aglibut was known as the “father” of Philippine agricultural engineering, Gen. Romeo Espenio, a member of the UP Vanguards, was the first and, so far, only ROTC graduate to become Chief of Staff of the AFP, and, of course, who doesn’t know Dr. Domingo M. Lantican, long-time Dean of the College of Forestry, and former UPLB Vice Chancellor for Administration and, for a time, Chancellor of UPLB.

Streets in the compound of the College of Veterinary Medicine were renamed after known pioneers of the UP College of Veterinary Medicine.   Streets in the College of Forestry, after known alumni of the College of Forestry.

In my conversation with UPLB Chancellor Cruz, I learned that the renaming of the UPLB Streets was approved by the UP Board of Regents sometime back.  Chancellor Cruz was telling me that when the signs began going up, there were people commenting “What’s this?  We’ve made many unilateral decisions in the past, are we still doing so?”  Chancellor Cruz explained that the project didn’t originate from him.  In fact, when he came in the BOR had already approved the proposal to rename streets and buildings at UPLB.

Chancellor Cruz said that they’re now preparing to rename major buildings on the UPLB campus.  I understand that the names also have been approved by the BOR.  One of the popular buildings on campus that now exhibit a new name is the Continuing Education Center, which is now called the Obdulia F. Sison Hall, a known extension expert and the first woman summa cum laude graduate of UPCA and UP itself.  Question is, what happens to some buildings already sporting names of known alumni and past UPLB administrators? 

I don’t know if those current building names will be retained, but one thing is sure, there’s an existing BOR-approved policy of renaming buildings after deceased individuals; that buildings or streets can’t be renamed after living individuals, except naming of a building after the individual who provided at least 50% of the funds to construct the building.  Now, if this is followed, does it mean that the building tentatively called the Rural Development and Environment Center under construction with funds provided from the PDF of former Senator Migz Zubiri be named Migz Zubiri Hall?  Well, Zubiri is UPLB alumnus (Bachelor of Agribusiness Management), and UPOU alumnus (Master in Environment and Natural Resources Management), and he’s still very much alive.  In fact, he’s running again for the Senate. 

The Chancellor mentioned to me that there seems to be a little problem changing the name of the Alumni Plaza to Manuel L. Roxas Plaza.  Apparently, there are many alumni asking why Roxas?  Well, Manuel L. Roxas is one of the first three graduates of UPCA, which is fine by me, although it doesn’t sound as if the name is representative of all UPLB alumni.  Besides, what happens with the names of the two other guys?  In past UPLB Loyalty Day celebrations, all names of the three first UPCA graduates have been normally announced to the public. 

Apparently, there’s a continuing dialogue on this one to determine what might be done to resolve the issue.  If renaming of buildings and streets is based on specific criteria that have been approved by the community, why should there be any problem at all?  Question is, what was the process that was followed? 

I was not invited to voice my personal opinion in the meetings of the Committee that discussed the renaming of UPLB streets and buildings (frankly, I don’t think I have the K to be invited in such discussion), but I certainly would be interested to know how the name of the current College of Development Communication building has been arrived at.  As far as  I know only one past professor has died (and he wasn’t an alumnus) and all alumni are still alive. 

Speaking of buildings on the UPLB Campus, there’s one rising in front of the YMCA dormitory.  Its’ the YMCA Centennial Condominium building.  It’s a big one.  People say, it’s also expensive.   By the way, the case of the YMCA Dormitory has never ceased amazing me.  As far as I know, the lot on which the YMCA Dorm stands has a titled to it, and it’s owned by the YMCA, a private organization.  Now, that intrigues me because we have here a private property right in the middle of a public land.  How about the right of way?  And I miss understanding the logic here.

In the past I have already commented on the current conditions of UPLB buildings – all in various stages of disrepair.  Most buildings are dilapidated.  I wonder if it’s possible to undertake a massive renovation project for UPLB.  To me, it’s not only buildings that need to be renovated; some curricular programs need to be reconstructed -- reconceptualized.  I leave that to the younger administrators, academics, and institutional planners of UPLB.

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