Friday, 18 May 2007

A Bad Move

Last March, the Electronics and Communications Engineering Department of the Technological Institute of the Philippines-Manila (TIP) distributed an agreement letter to the graduating ECE students. If signed, a student agrees not to have his Transcript of Records (TOR) – a requirement for the board examinations – released lest he passes the department’s competitive examinations. This only goes to show the lengths the department would go to in order to reach or surpass the licensure examination’s national passing percentage.

Misleading agreement

The first paragraph of the agreement states, “The Electronics and Communications Engineering Department of the Technological Institute of the Philippines – Manila commits itself to produce high caliber graduates… the department also strives to be CHED’s center for excellence… most importantly, the department is committed to prepare its graduates for the profession they are entitled to belong.”

It is evident in the first paragraph that the department is presenting itself as wanting nothing but the best for its graduates, even borrowing a line from TIP’s Vision to ensure that the student signs the agreement.

The second paragraph states that in order to be included in the roster of professionals in his specialized field, a graduate must first pass a licensure examination prepared by the Professional Regulations Commission. The paragraph also stresses that competence is needed in order to pass the examination and that the ECE Department is “doing everything it could to help its students to receive their most deserved license.”

Yet it is a fact that over the past few years, the department had never surpassed the national passing percentage (I’ve yet to confirm if it did surpass the national passing percentage at all) for the ECE licensure examination which is marked at 36%. The November 2006 licensure exam produced a 14% passing rate while the April 2007 exam produced only five passers (reportedly a 10% performance), a dismal decrease from the April 2006 exams in which the department posted a 24% passing rate.

The third paragraph states that a competitive examination would be given by the department on August 18 and 25 and that the graduate would have to average at least 60% in order to pass the test. If not, his TOR will not be released for the mean time.

Furthermore, the fourth paragraph gives the graduate another chance: he will be given another set of exam on September 29. He should at least get a 70% average for his TOR to be released. If he still fails to pass the test, then he will be advised to take the April 2008 licensure exam.

Faulty logic

The agreement borders along the logic that if the graduate cannot pass the department’s competitive exams, what more the PRC licensure exams?

Such a short-term move does not directly answer the problems that are plaguing the department which, aside from poor licensure exam performance, include lack of competitive faculty, inadequate laboratory equipments and apathetic students.

What the department should do is to start screening students worthy of advancing to higher year levels early on. They should coordinate with the Humanities and Social Sciences and Math and Physics Departments regarding it, seeing as the two handles most of the lower year subjects. They could formulate the ways and means to properly screen the first and second-year ECE students.

Come third and fourth year, the task now falls on the department (as well as instructors of other departments teaching ECE students) to instill the necessary skills and knowledge for its students to not only pass the licensure exam, but to land a decent-paying job as well.

All throughout, the ECE Department Student Government and the Institute of Electronics Engineers of the Philippines-TIP Manila Student Chapter should hold seminars on technical and non-technical topics, as well as tutorials and hands-on classes. In addition, they should instill critical thinking to their fellow students through discussions regarding timely and relevant issues. They should also be in the forefront of issues concerning the department, fighting for the interest of the students.

See you again next year!

There are students who have already signed the agreement, seemingly naive to its consequences. As long as the department – and the school – remain unable to answer the real problems concerning students, incidents such as this would continue for years to come. The ECE Department seems hell-bent in attaining a commendable licensure exam performance – through whatever means necessary – as the graduates start gearing up for it.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007


This year, the municipality of Morong, Rizal began and finished the construction of a new building. The building – located at the center of town – sports a lively paint job, a breath of fresh air into the otherwise dull gallery of Morong’s public structures (except for the municipal hall).

The building would house the new SSS, GSIS, PhilHealth offices, as well a drugstore run by Morong Retailers and Community Multi-Purpose Cooperative (MORECO-MPC). The post office would also be transferred in the arcade from its old office at the other end of the block. Aside from that, there are also a couple of commercial spaces. The arcade also serves as a terminal to public AUVs bound for Crossing, Megamall and Robinson’s Galleria.

It could’ve been perfect, if not for one glaring feature: it’s named after Rizal’s incumbent governor, Casimiro M. Ynares, Jr.

Aside from the screaming “Ynares Arcade” inscribed on the building’s semicircular section (pardon my pathetic architectural terms), it also sports the governor’s crest of sorts: a red stick figure resembling the letter “Y”; green vertical rectangles on each side of the stick figure, forming the letter “M”; and a red letter “C” around the previous two figures. Arrange them and you get the governor’s initials. Aside from that, there are also green boxes with the letter “Y” emblazoned on it, located at the top of the building’s walls.

The arcade was not the only public structure that suffered the same fate. In fact, in the Ynares family’s 15 year rule over the province (Casimiro served from 1992-2001; his spouse Rebecca from 2001-2004; Casimiro sat again from 2004-present; and now his son is running for the gubernatorial seat), various public structures have been branded with their family name. Waiting sheds, multi-purpose gyms, public school buildings built during their term all sport the Ynares name – a recurring sight around Rizal. Even Antipolo’s Ynares Sports Complex was named after the incumbent governor.

During the Voters’ Awareness Forum spearheaded by Morong Parish Pastoral Council and Rotaract Club of Morong, a candidate running for the municipal council was asked as to why the arcade was named after the governor instead of a hometown hero. Unfortunately, the candidate was not an incumbent councilor, and so he was not able to answer the question.

Similarly, the city of Antipolo fell prey to the same situation. Many public structures (including sidewalks) were branded with the acronym “ACG.” It was purportedly meant to stand for “Antipolo City Government.” Incidentally, the city mayor’s name is Angelito C. Gatlabayan. So which one is true?

These politicians seem to always have to remind the people that such projects were made possible through their efforts. It’s as if public structures are the only legacy they could leave behind and imprint in the minds of their constituents, and so they brandish their name whenever a new project comes up. One might conclude that such actions are reminiscent of a mammal marking its territory: this province is mine, can’t you see my insignia?

Yet they also seem to have forgotten that such projects wouldn’t even be possible in the first place without taxes from the people. It is this reality that should be kept in check always. The people pay taxes so that the government can live on and serve them, not to bug them with structures bearing some trapo’s name.

For now, the Ynares Arcade stands as a fitting reminder of how much Rizal’s politics have degraded over the past years – if only for the crests.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

(No) Whispers of the Muse

I can't think.
It's gone. And I don't know where it went.
Just when I thought I finally got my blog going after a one-year hiatus.
I'm afraid there's no more - for now.