Next year, the premier State University, the University of the People which is the University of the Philippines, will mark its 100th year, its cien ano, its maysa a siglo, its sangagasut. At the Hale Koa, that military hotel down on Waikiki, at least as far as we Hawai`i are concerned, served as the venue for that kick-off, with no less than Dr Francisco Nemenzo dishing out his usual wit and wisdom on the state of the venerable university where tolerating contradictions is a viritue. I should know: contradictions abounded during the days that I was there, first as a student of philosophy, and then as a faculty member where I had had the chance to mold young minds, some of them becoming political leaders and artistas and social liabilities.
But back to the celebration today, at the Hale Koa, this October 21.
I have a vague recollection of where this Hale Koa is so I did my homework: that usual mapquest that proved to be useless, at least for my purposes today. So I told myself: got to work on the old-fashioned tsamba-tsamba route to Ala Moana, which I did, with Dr Lilia Santiago navigating me which route should I take, she who has just come to Hawai`i and has stayed for just more than a month. But this is not the point of the story: the point is that the affair was well-attended by the intellectual resources of this State, at least from an arrogant UP perspective. Yes, there is arrogance in there, that abominable word that could become the cornerstone of UP identity when a UP alumnus is pushed against the wall. It is like name-dropping and no other. As they say in Waipahu where I live: 'Same ting, same ting!'
Being a new relocatee is a boon: you can have a surplus of excuses--and sometimes, you can get away with it with a spotlessly clean conscience. Nagganas ti agbalin a bagamundo: to be a vagabond is something--it gives you all the apriori alibis, ha!
But then this: to be a relocatee is also a bane: You look so stupid before the people who have taken roots in the islands, them who know all, from alibis to chismis to the latest insane deed of an animal-about-time. There you go, that word. The animal could have been a brute, following the order of the philosophical taxonomy of Aristotle's De Anima where people are believed to be have those hylemorphic components that are inseparable but also two: the hyle and the morphe, the body and the soul, the body and soul, the body-soul.
This is what the kick-off is all about, I thought--this going after the 'anima' of the UP alumni who ran away from the country for innumerable reasons, one of them, obviously, is their inability to become witness to the dark theatre in the homeland.
To be continued...