The University of the Philippines’ history of public service antedates the UP Charter of 2008, which declares UP as a “public service university.” The UP Charter of 2008 (RA 9500) mandates that UP as the national university shall “lead as a public service university by providing various forms of community, public and volunteer service, as well as scholarly and technical assistance to the government, the private sector, and civil society, while maintaining its standards of excellence.”
In postwar Philippines, the University of the Philippines was already engaged in community work by serving the poor and the needy, especially the victims of World War II. In 1966, then UP President Carlos P. Romulo (1962-68), in a speech before the University Council, called for the nationalization of knowledge and pushed for Filipino scholarship to benefit fellow Filipinos.
But it was during the creation of the UP Pahinungod in 1993 when the university took an active role in voluntarism. Pahinungod is a Visayan term which means “offering” or dedication to a noble purpose. The UP Pahinungod under President Emil Q. Javier (1993-1999) envisaged a generation of UP students and graduates who would offer their talents and dedicate themselves to voluntarism as responsible citizens of the nation. But the UP Pahinungod System Office did not last long and was devolved to the different Constituent Universities.
In 2012, the UP Padayon Public Service Office under the Office of the Vice President for Public Affairs was established by President Alfredo E. Pascual (2011-2017). Its first Director, Dr. Ferdinand Llanes, described the new office as having a “much broader parameter for public service [than Pahinungod], which includes initiatives of both volunteer and non-volunteer in nature (research extension, second- ment to state agencies, medical internships, training projects, and so forth, and so on).” Under the directorship of Llanes, Padayon’s central goal was to “generate and mobilize expertise in the service of the nation” which he considered part of what is otherwise known in the Asian region as a “scholarship of engagement.”
From “community engagement” in postwar Philippines to “a scholarship of engagement” in the new millennium, it is not surprising to find numerous and various forms of public service in the university. A significant number of public service initiatives across CUs however, are not documented, reported and tracked. The next UP Padayon Director, Nelson Cainghog, therefore embarked on a project to standardize and systematize public service reporting through the UP Handbook Online Project.
For the first time, there is now a unified mechanism for reporting public service across the different CUs. In collaboration with the Human Resources Information System (HRIS) Team of ITDC under the Office of the Vice President for Development, the UP Public Service Handbook (for individual input) can now be utilized starting March 2018, making the submission and approval of public service reports more convenient and efficient. Phase 2 (for institutional input) of the Handbook is underway and will become operational within the year.
Under the new administration of UP President Danilo L. Concepcion (2017), UP Padayon is taking on a more proactive role in public service. The task is to address problems within the university as well as to respond to national emergencies while at the same time coordinating and consolidating all efforts and initiatives from different sectors and stakeholders working on public service in the university.
UP Padayon has been coordinating initiatives to provide quality food service to the underprivileged Iskolar ng Bayan to ensure that their nutrition needs are met to complement the quality of education they receive from the university.
The annual Gawad Pangulo which UP Padayon organizes attests to the continuing tradition and practice of public service in the university. In this issue of the FORUM, we present the Gawad Pangulo awardees for public service and their projects. They include the contributions of Professor Emeritus Romulo Davide of UPLB in restoring the dignity of farmers through the Farmer-Scientists Training Program; UP Baguio’s Summer Arts Program providing workshops for cultural workers in the Cordillera region; UPOU’s Teacher Development Program through eLearning; UPD’s College of Home Economics Program of Transforming Interior Spaces of the Home and Upgrading Lives of the Aged; the Community-based Rehabilitation Wheelchair Service Program of the College of Allied Medical Professions; and the UP Cebu Business Incubator for Information Technology (UP Cebu InIT). A roadshow on genomic and informatics headed by the Philippine Genome Center is also included in this issue.
UP public service projects, programs and initiatives are numerous and cannot all be considered for the Gawad Pangulo. But these can be shared in the Colleges Universities Public Service Conference (CUPSCON) which UP Padayon also organizes. CUPSCON 2, held last 9-10 November at the UP BGC (for the Luzon leg) and 28-29 November at UP Cebu (for the VizMin leg), gathered more than a hundred extension specialists, public service workers, volunteers and advocates all over the country. CUPSCON is the best forum to share best practices, challenges and successes of public service endeavors as well as the best opportunity to link up with other institutions.
From the postwar years to the 21st century, UP has continued its mission to serve the needy, the marginalized and the vulnerable. Tracing its beginnings to UP Pahinungod in the 1990s, UP Padayon in 2012 affirms the public service function and role of the University of the Philippines.
Padayon, a Visayan word which means “to do promptly, hastily, unceasingly” as planned and as worked out (Abuyen Dictionary, 2005) describes aptly the new character of UP Padayon as an office that responds quickly and proactively to the problems and challenges of a university and a society caught in the midst of climatic and radical changes in the environment and everyday life.
In Bahasa Sug (Taosug), “dayong” refers to a big paddle for rowing big boats. As a noun infinitive, “pagdayong” means a collective effort of rowing, moving or propelling a big boat towards the same direction. Given the various volunteer groups, extension specialists, cultural workers and public servants of eight constituent universities, the UP Padayon System Office shall steer all efforts, initiatives and responses across CUs toward public service for the Filipino nation. Padayon!
All these initiatives, projects and programs on public service should not only be reported but featured and discussed in academic journals and other reputable publications. UP Padayon launched its 1st Fellowship & Writeshop Grant for faculty, REPS and staff last 24-25 October 2017 at the CCP Executive House in Mt. Makiling. The objective was to equip faculty, REPS and staff with writing skills to produce scholarly articles on public service.
Text by Prof. Ma. Crisanta Nelmida-Flores, former Director of the Padayon Public Service Office and photos by UP Media and Public Relations Office (UP MPRO)