YR 47 Issue 1 2011
Arts and Letters through the years
Conservative set-up

The Artlets is an offshoot of the merger between the College of Liberal Arts and the Faculty of Philosphy and Letters (Philets). The Philets was then considered as one of the best colleges in the University for its exceptional and talented students who made waves in their respective fields even at a young age.

Established in 1896, Philets traces its roots to UST’s 19th century Philosophy program. As it gave a prime emphasis on the science of Philosophy, the Faculty’s curriculum imbibed wisdom among its students, eventually producing a great roster of alumni that include National Artist Francisco Sionil Jose, Philippine Daily Inquirer founder Eugenia Duran-Apostol, and former senator Francisco Tatad, among others.

As it offered Bachelor of Literature (Litt. B.) programs in Philosophy and Journalism, Philets produced the top writers, artists, and members of the academe in its time. According to Ramon Francisco, a 1967 Summa Cum Laude graduate of Literature and now Associate Editor of Manila Bulletin, the Philets era was a period characterized by extreme conservatism of the then administrators of the University.

He added that it had the culture of limited social relationship between boys and girls as they were barely allowed to talk to the person of the opposite gender. Corridors were then separated into two wings—one for males and the other for females.

A short glance was considered a form of admiration, while a nod was seen as a form of greeting between a man and a woman. “Because of this, students then were more concentrated and focused on their studies,” Francisco said.

“The discipline fostered by the professors and regents produced more prudent and watchful students, especially during classes,” Francisco added. “Also, the meager number of students enrolled to the college might have justified the case.”

Known by many as the “big little college,” Philets was known for its few but brilliant and talented students in the fields of philosophy, journalism, literature, and the humanities. Moreover, Francisco added that the skills of Philets students were further honed because of the diversity of student organizations present In the Faculty.“

There were many student organizations then,” Francisco recalled. “We had a Spanish organization, The Blue Quill (presently The
Flame), and Pax Romana.” He added that the lifestyle of Philets was marked by extreme simplicity for there were no computers, air-conditioners, and fast food chains yet. Students were taught to be independent and persevering in using the library to find their needed educational material. A small canteen was also present on the ground floor of the Main Building where students satisfy most of their food cravings.

The merger

As the Faculty administration merged the Philets with the College of Liberal Arts in 1964, the degree offered by the Faculty was changed from Litt. B. to Bachelor of Arts (A.B.).

The courses originally offered in a Litt B degree were also transformed into liberal arts courses, having a wider scope on reading, writing, and the humanities.

At present, the Artlets offers a wide variety of courses aside from Philosophy, Journalism, and Literature. These include Asian Studies, Behavioral Science, Communication Arts, Economics, Legal Management, Political Science, Sociology, and the recently offered English and History programs.

But just like a kingdom that lost its old grandeur, the present generation of Artlets is faced with criticism of being lowlier compared with the products of the Philets.

One facet that notably changed the make-up of the college is the upsurge of student population. At present, Artlets has an estimated population of 3,800 students. Dr. Clarence Batan, Ph. D., a Sociology professor and 1995 Artlets graduate, said that during his time, students have to shift from one building to another just to attend classes.

“Now, these cases are lessened because the administration have strategized and did renovations so that everybody can be accommodated,” Batan said.

However, Batan explained that the increase of student population affect the ethnic and cultural diversity present in the Faculty. He said that since the administration accepts Filipinos from all over the country, Artlets must open themselves to the different cultures that exist in the Faculty.

“The issue is that we lack the celebration of the diversity of culture,” he said. On the other hand, Batan recognized the way Artlets perceive gender equality. “We have become tolerant in letting the opposite gender express themselves and we have also become more open to gender discourse,” Batan said.

Debarment cases

One of the remarkable developments that characterize the Artlets community is the emergence of many student organizations, opening a wide range of opportunity for the students to explore.

However, Batan opposed the continuous springing of extra-curricular groups and affiliations, saying that it contributes to the rising debarment cases among freshmen students.

“Is that the reason why you are here in school? Emphasis should be given to the curricular activities,” he said. “Organizations should function in a way that it enhances the academic research of students.

They should also help them study more. But contrary to what is happening, these groups are just turning out as mere socializing agents.”

Present-day changes

With the continuous advancement of technology experienced by the present generation, a wide array of opportunities also opens to the beneficiaries of this development. Batan recognizes this advancement as a tool that will aid most students in learning more, than as a hindrance that poses negative effects to its users in general.

He said that this advancement may bear negative effects especially when abused and taken in the wrong context. However, he noted that once its full potential is maximized, technology can greatly improve the living standards of men.

Contrary to criticisms, Batan noted that the flame of student activism in the Faculty has not gone dim, but has just been translated into different forms. He added that Artlets students have not gone passive, for they show resistance in completely different avenues available such as networking sites, blogs, forums, and the likes.

With all the changes witnessed by the Artlets community, the old glory of the Philets community remains and continues to flourish, bringing the best in all of the students who proudly carry the Artlets identity they possess.

“Change is inevitable, but always choose to do it for the better,” Batan said.
Year 47 |  Issue 3 |  2011
Tracing the roots
Over the years, the Faculty of Arts and Letters has gone through a lot of changes. With rich history backing it up, its old glory continues to flourish and to emanate amid the trends of modernization that confront it.

ELDERS often say that those who forget the past will never progress to see the future for history molds and influences an individual’s growth through the years.

This premise rings true for the Faculty of Arts and Letters (Artlets) that continuously goes through many trying circumstances as it hones the talents of the younger generation through years of propagating the humanities. As manifested by its recognized roster of alumni, Artlets continues to go a long way in its pursuit of sharpening the knowledge of its students.

With all of the changes it has undergone, students, professors, and Faculty administrators alike have many stories to tell about the Faculty’s journey through the years.
Year 47 |  Issue 4 |  2012