The 21st UA&P University Day held last August 15 was a most unique celebration, with the conferment of the rank of Full Professor on Dr. Paul Arvisu Dumol and his lecture on “The Role of the University in a Time of Change.” These two events highlighted how liberal education can help level the playing field and bring out the best in every person.
The conferment ceremony began with the citation of Dr. Dumol’s achievements by UA&P Co-founder Dr. Bernardo Villegas, UA&P President Dr. Winston Padojinog, past ADMU School of Humanities Dean Dr. Leovino Ma. Garcia, and Ateneo High School Dulaang Sibol founder Dr. Onofre R. Pagsanghan. These include receiving the Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas for drama in 2002; Dr. Dumol’s work The Metaphysics of Reading Underlying Dante’s Commedia; and his translation of The Manila Synod of 1582: The Draft of Its Handbook for Confessors, which won a National Book Award in 2015, among many others.
While his accomplishments have placed Dr. Dumol almost beyond mere mortals, Dr. Onofre Pagsanghan, Dr. Dumol’s high school teacher who has taught at the Ateneo for 65 years, reminisced that it all began in 1967 when the Ateneo High School held a playwriting competition to encourage students to write. This eventually led to Dr. Dumol’s classic Ang Paglilitis ni Mang Serapio, “the most frequently performed one-act play in Filipino.” In his response, Dr. Dumol shared how he was deeply touched by National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera and his work on Tagalog poetry, as well as how his fascination with the books of his aunt, Professor Lourdes Arvisu, introduced him to T.S. Eliot, John Donne, and a love for literature.
The importance of educators and mentors was highlighted in Dr. Dumol’s lecture “The Role of the University in a Time of Change”, where he reasoned that the Philippine university provides an objective vantage point for observing, discerning, and responding to the change from small-town to national thinking, and the change from a “datu-alipin” mentality to a democratic mentality. Using data from Fr. Rene Javellana’s work La Casa de Dios, which listed the towns founded in the Spanish Period, Dr. Dumol conducted his own analysis of town foundation dates and found that roughly 70% of Luzon towns were established before 1800 (for the Visayas region, the equivalent percentage was established after 1800). He suggested that this longer history of civic tradition in Luzon could have been one reason why most of the leaders and supporters of the 1896 Revolution came from Tagalog provinces; and he connected this key point to the present, positing that, while overall the country is transitioning from a regional to a national mode of thinking, it is still an uneven process, ranging from well-developed in Manila and Cebu to nascent in parts of Mindanao.
The second part of Dr. Dumol’s lecture focused on the change from a “datu-alipin” to a democratic mentality. The two-tier social division of pre-Hispanic barangays (datu and maginoo on one hand; timawa, aliping namamahay and aliping sagigilid on the other) has not gone away but instead morphed over time (e.g. local elected officials and business elite on one hand; security guards, tenant farmers, and household help on the other). Also, the datu and alipin aspects are but two sides of the same situational mentality (e.g. the cook or driver acts like a datu among household help; businessmen and officials act deferentially to their more powerful peers). The shift to a mentality of equal human dignity was first proposed by heroes such as Emilio Jacinto and Jose Rizal, who encountered this idea in their humanistic texts in secondary and higher education. Dr. Dumol ended by stating that this change is still in its early stages—for example, universal free secondary education was only mandated in the 1987 Constitution—and called for multidisciplinary researchers, particularly in History, Sociology and Philosophy, to study the past details, present courses, and ethical implications of the future directions of these changes.
Other special guests at the conferment ceremony and University Day Lecture include Engr. Mark Dumol, Dr. Paul Dumol’s brother; National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera; Dr. Bernardita Churchill, National Historical Society President; and Dr. Jesus Estanislao, UA&P Co-founder.
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