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National Artist F. Sionil José dies at 97

The poet was one of the most widely read Filipino authors in the English language, with works that have been translated into 28 different languages.

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Photo courtesy of People Asia

National Artist for Literature F. Sionil José passed away on Thursday night, Jan. 6, at the age of 97.

The poet died in his sleep at the Makati Medical Center where he was confined earlier for a scheduled angioplasty, according to his wife, Tessie Jovellanos José.

Hours before his death, José wrote a letter for his “brave heart.” A letter which now constitutes his final words. 

“Thank you brave heart. There are times when as an agnostic I doubt the presence of an almighty and loving God. But dear brave heart you are here to disprove this illusion, to do away with the conclusion that if you doubt Him, you kill Him. I cannot kill you dear heart; you have to do that yourself,” José wrote in a Facebook post

“For 97 years you have been constantly working patiently pumping much more efficiently and longer than most machines. Of course, I know that a book lasts long too, as the libraries have shown, books that have lived more than 300 years. Now, that I am here in waiting for an angioplasty, I hope that you will survive it and I with it, so that I will be able to continue what I have been doing with so much energy that only you have been able to give. Thank you dear brave heart and dear Lord for this most precious gift,” he added.

Before becoming a National Artist, José studied Litt. B. Journalism at the old Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of the University. 

He also became the editor-in-chief of The Varsitarian in 1948 and 1949.  

José earned five Carlos Palanca awards throughout his writing career.

The poet was one of the most widely read Filipino authors in the English language, with works that have been translated into 28 different languages.

He also received recognition from award-giving bodies, which include the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1980, Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Centennial Award in 1999, as well as the Pablo Neruda Centennial Award in Chile in 2004.

In his later years, José made headlines because of his support for President Rodrigo Duterte and the ABS-CBN shutdown.

He was also remembered to have criticized Maria Ressa for winning the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize saying that the Rappler chief did not deserve the award and there were no threats on press freedom because the “Philippine press is alive and well.” 

José was named National Artist for Literature in 2001 because of his great contribution to Philippine literature. 

The details of the National Artist’s wake is yet to be announced.

Justine Xyrah Rennzel Garcia
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UST crisis management committee green lights F2F bacc mass and graduation rites

The in-person graduation ceremonies shall be for the Classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022 from the tertiary, post-baccalaureate, and graduate levels.

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(Photo by Gillian Robles/TomasinoWeb)

The University’s Crisis Management Committee approved the conduct of in-person graduation ceremonies, including Baccalaureate mass, a memorandum from the Office of the Secretary-General (OSG) said on Saturday, May 7.

The in-person graduation ceremonies shall be for the Classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022 from the tertiary, post-baccalaureate, and graduate levels.

Only the Class of 2022 will have in-person rites for Senior High School graduates.

Two Baccalaureate masses for the said batches will be held in June. 

According to the OSG, this year’s mass will be “solemn and austere” to express solidarity with the “plight of many people who are still recovering from the ill effects of the pandemic, Thus the traditional fireworks display at the conclusion of the mass will be scrapped this year. 

The solemn investiture shall be conducted starting June 6 either on the Quadricentennial Pavilion or the Medicine Auditorium, schedules may vary per college or faculty. 

Only two companions are allowed to be with each graduating student.

Local graduation committees shall conduct respective orientations for the said batches.

The University, however, shall “strictly abide” by the regulations of the Inter-Agency Task Force, should there be changes in the alert level status in the National Capital Region. 

Ian Patrick Laqui
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UST among top universities in 2022 SDG impact rankings

Among the Philippine universities, the University placed second in Gender Equality (SDG 5), while ranking third in Good Health and Well-being (SDG 3) and fourth in Quality Education (SDG 4).

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(Photo courtesy of Aliah Danseco/TomasinoWeb)

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this article mentioned that the University “slipped from its third local standing last year.” We sincerely apologize for this mistake. 

The University ranked sixth among Philippine universities implementing the United Nations’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

According to the data published by the Times Higher Education’s (THE) Impact Rankings 2022 on April 29, UST placed 601-800 in the global rankings and maintained its third spot in the Philippines. 

The University also improved in its overall score. From 47.6-56.5 in 2021, it now received an overall score of 57.3-64.9 in 2022.

Among the Philippine universities, the University placed second in Gender Equality (SDG 5), while ranking third in Good Health and Well-being (SDG 3) and fourth in Quality Education (SDG 4).

Ateneo De Manila University remains the top implementer of SDGs in the country, placing 101-200 in the global rankings – the highest ranking received by any Philippine university, as per the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd).

Globally, Western Sydney University led the overall ranking this year, while Universiti Sains Malaysia led the Asian overall ranking.

The THE Impact Rankings measured 1,406 universities from 106 different countries and regions. THE carefully calibrated indicators to provide a comprehensive and balanced comparison across four broad areas: research, stewardship, outreach, and teaching. 

Justine Xyrah Rennzel Garcia
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Applicants call for transparency of USTAR results

The petition addressed to the concerns of the applicants regarding the screening, exception grades, program alignments, and grading process.

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(Photo by Rohm Bautista/TomasinoWeb)

More than a thousand applicants urged the Office for Admissions (OFAD) to disclose the procedure of the University of Santo Tomas Admission Rating (USTAR) through an online petition, as many applicants were “wondering” how they earned their scores.

The petition addressed the concerns of the applicants regarding the screening, exception grades, program alignments, and grading process. 

“The USTAR admission process is new and has many gaps; nevertheless, this should not prevent the university from disclosing the rigorous process to students, as it is their right to know,” the petition says. 

Petitioners appealed to the OFAD to address their concerns and called on the University to “integrate the values that have long been teaching to its students.” 

“If the institution is committed to its values, it should guarantee that our education serves the best interests of the students.” the petition says.

Conflicts on admission

Petitioners urged to preclude any presumed strand discrimination as a basis for getting accepted into the desired programs and display their alternative program scores for transparency.

There was also an allegation that no science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) students from UST Senior High School (UST-SHS) were qualified for any healthcare courses and Health Allied students were more prioritized.

Daniela Teñoso, a grade 12 STEM student and auditor of UST-SHS Student Council, explained that “no one” from her strand was accepted from any medical-related courses as she asked all of their blocks. 

“We were also informed that STEM students would qualify to these programs through exemption grades, that’s why we were all devastated when the results came out,” she said in an interview with TomasinoWeb.

Teñoso said that she was still glad that other STEM students from different schools were accepted but speculated why “none” from her batch was given a slot in these programs despite their achievements. 

“It was such a hard slap in the face to realize that our two years of hard work had all been for vain because our strands were deemed unfit for our desired programs,” she said.

Communication problems

Petitioners claimed that the office was “unresponsive” to emails, and only a “few” were able to make phone calls while other concerns were left unaddressed. 

Kyle Kevlar, a grade 12 student and also the external public relations officer of the UST-SHS, said that sending emails was the only way to communicate with the office since face-to-face transactions were still restricted.

“As the External Public Relations Officer of the UST-SHS Student Council, I firsthand witnessed the disappointment and stress of the students who wish to apply to the university,” in an interview with TomasinoWeb.

He added that there was a delay or that many applicants were unable to get the reference numbers that are used in their USTAR applications.

Lance Alo, a grade 12 UST-SHS STEM student who took part in initiating the petition, stated that other applications were not processed due to missing requirements that were only notified at the last minute or not at all. 

“This made us realize that the problem is systemic, and addressing it at the individual level will only exhaust all of us hence, why we launched the petition,” he said in an interview.

The petition suggested having an information system to notify students of deficiencies in requirements and also having a help desk for clarification and questions about the results and application of the USTAR.

Seek for resolutions

Alo affirmed the importance of resolving the gaps or concerns in the USTAR as he said that it could “help to ease the anxieties and disappointments faced by the students” and be an example to other institutions by being pro-student. 

“It can also serve as an inspiration to students all around the country since making their voices heard and acting collectively can go a long way,” Alo said.

He said that alongside other petitioners and student leaders, they also appeal for a dialogue with the office to clarify things further.

“We are ready to explain, organize, and fight for our fellow students,” Alo said

Teñoso said that the issues were not only a concern of their strand but also applicants that were denied being admitted to programs that were “clearly” aligned with their strands.

“Everything was so disheartening, and I’m looking forward to hearing what the administration has to say.”

The UST Entrance Exam (USTET) was waived for the second straight year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Hence, the score for USTAR is derived from a developed set of algorithms to assess the academic performance and records of the applicants. 

OFAD released the USTAR results via its portal on March 31.

TomasinoWeb reached out to OFAD through email about this matter but the office has yet to respond.

Marjorie Lumapas
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