MANILA -- Local artists recently gathered for a virtual forum to reiterate the importance of academic freedom not only in the state-run University of the Philippines (UP), but all other educational institutions in the country.
In a webinar titled "Usapang KP (Kalayaan sa Pamantasan)," alumni such as writer and director Bibeth Orteza recalled how UP gave her "the freedom to become the woman that I wanted to be."
She also pointed out that being given the freedom to express one's thoughts and feelings is important in the process of learning.
"Ang writer naman, you don't write your story on a piece of paper na mayroon nang isinulat, tapos dadagdagan mo na lang. Magsisimula ka sa wala. At sa UP, kapag nagsimula ka sa wala, ang dami mo nang matututunan," she said.
"UP made so many other people... successful within a community, a group, a region, and a country," she added.
Tanghalang Pilipino artistic director Nanding Josef, on the other hand, denied that UP is a recruitment ground for communist rebels, saying that this stereotype should be attached to "corrupt government officials."
"Ang best recruiter ng mga aktibista o ng mga komunista ay hindi naman talaga ang eskwelahan kung 'di ang mga corrupt government officials -- a dictatorial government and any oppressive government, a self-serving government," he said.
Chris Millado, artistic director of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, believes that "artistic and political choices shape one's worldview and expressive choices."
"And this was emboldened, empowered by our liberal education for freedom that we had in UP," he said.
Multimedia artist Toym Imao, for his part, saw UP as "an ecosystem" that welcomes different people and views as he mentioned the importance of protecting this safe space.
"Napakaimportante po talaga na meron tayong kalayaan sa pamamahayag at ekspresyon," he said.
Dr. Nicanor Tiongson, professor emeritus for film at UP's College of Mass Communication, meanwhile said UP and all other universities in the Philippines deserve to have academic freedom.
"Nakikita natin na kailangan talagang i-defend natin itong academic freedom na ito sapagkat ito ang root ng creative freedom... Hindi lang ito dapat i-defend sa UP, actually dapat lahat ng unibersidad sa Pilipinas ay may academic freedom sapagkat ito ang magiging kondisyon para magkaroon pa ng higit na maraming tinig ang mga artista sa sangkapuluan," he said.