25 Mar2015

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I have heard some ridiculous things, and I am well aware of the sorry state of our public education system, despite real attempts to improve it in recent years. And I have set up a private school and assisted in running the administrative side of things for a while, so I am not speaking completely out of turn. But this is graduation week (as was last week) for most schools in the Philippines and I just have to write something on some of the absurd things that have come to my attention in recent days.

First, why can’t schools FRIGGING SCHEDULE THEIR CEREMONIES MONTHS IN ADVANCE? It seems many public, and some dubious private schools, cannot or do not want to confirm a graduation date and time until the last possible moment. This is crazy. What if parents are traveling (and not just a leisure trip abroad, but say a business trip to Dagupan)? What if they have to file their leaves weeks in advance? Shouldn’t the school have a calendar at the start of the year and stick to it unless force majeure like a nearby volcano erupts and buries the school gymnasium or a massive flood sweeps away the whole teaching complement occurs?

Second, what are with all these last minute fees that you have to pay, or you can’t march? Is that even legal? And couldn’t they have foreseen that earlier in the year? And what of the folks I had dinner with last week whose daughter graduated from college and was asked to pay substantial fees for a graduation dinner for graduate and family members, but when they got to the venue, the teachers and administrators (who apparently didn’t pay) ate up most of the food, and there wasn’t any left for the guests or students? That’s just pathetic.

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But perhaps the most amusing/annoying thing to come across this morning driving through some back streets in Cebu was this vision of 100-200 high school students traipsing along a sidewalk, each with mono bloc or white plastic chair above their heads. When I asked what this vision of ridiculousness was, I was told, each student had to buy or borrow and BRING their own white chair from home or they couldn’t sit at the graduation ceremonies, held at a nearby public gymnasium. OMG. Seriously? Our public schools don’t have enough money for plastic chairs for assemblies throughout the year, and to honor their graduates at that final culmination of their academic studies? Good grief. Graduation is most certainly not more fun in the Philippines…

Both photos by JD.



  1. iskolarngbayan says:

    I agree with you MM. It is unfortunate that a lot of schools in the country milk the students dry up until graduation. A sibling of mine has recently been accepted in a private medical school. Only upon acceptance were we informed that we had to cough up a substantial reservation fee (RF), and that the RF had to be paid the following week (!) even though enrollment is in August. Worse, upon paying the RF, we were informed that we also had to pay for the sibling’s Application Fee, Interview Fee, and Processing Fee. This wouldn’t be an issue if the school had duly informed all interested applicants that they would be paying these miscellaneous fees beforehand. Kung kailan tapos na ang application at interview, doon lang binanggit na may bayad pala yun! Coming from a state university, frankly, I am shocked.

    Mar 25, 2015 | 3:51 pm


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  3. denise says:

    Reminds me of when my cousins in Bataan had to bring their own chairs for pre-school and grade school, luckily my grandfather had some hardwood left and had chairs made for them.

    And yes the dreaded graduation fees…our graduation rites in PICC were for the whole college we were under in UST, the stage design were REAL fruits and vegetables with smattering bits of real flowers, as in Fuji apples, pineapples and cauliflower and cabbages! While we and my fellow graduates were busy taking pictures with family and friends, the faculty and staff were busy plucking out the goodies from the stage!

    Mar 25, 2015 | 4:40 pm

  4. ami says:

    I hope some enterprising person in the neighborhood would start having a rent-a-chair business soon. :)

    Mar 25, 2015 | 5:14 pm

  5. Andres says:

    Is Dagupan bangus going to be served at Zubuchon soon?

    Mar 25, 2015 | 10:19 pm

  6. EbbaBlue says:

    Ohhh, this post is going to have lots of comments and rants, pretty sure many of us have stories to tell about graduation absurdities.
    My “domestic associate” in the province informed me that:

    — pre-school students have to wear “toga” for their graduation;
    — her daughter cannot ” graduate” from 5th grade because she owes payment for water bills used for their school bathroom;
    — guest attending graduation should bring their own chair;
    — parents contribute towards food/dishes (that another parent volunteered to cook) that will be served for special guest/speaker;
    — students and parents clean and decorate the school venue;
    — students pay for decorations;
    — students pay for excursion- outing and or dance even though one is not attending;
    — etc, etc

    Mar 26, 2015 | 12:45 am

  7. MP says:

    @iskolarngbayan Interview fee? WTH? So what happens to incoming students whose parents cannot cough up enough money to pay all those ridiculous fees? Grabe naman!

    Mar 26, 2015 | 1:15 am

  8. Mart says:

    Again, the issue here is accounting is not transparent. Since this is a public school, accounting should be transparent and accessible to the public.
    That way less shenanigans and more accountability.

    Mar 26, 2015 | 3:13 am

  9. Connie C says:

    What a sorry state of our educational system! And damn those rapacious politicians who use public funds like they came from their own coffers, bleeding funds for public services.

    And those faculty and staff, they ought to have their own course of “Good Manners and Right Conduct”. But perhaps it is also time the Dep Ed reviews their wage scale to insure that faculty and staff are given living wages so they do not act like mga “patay gutom”, shameful, disgraceful and unrespectable examples for our young.

    Too bad we have lost a lot of our good ones for overseas work where they are treasured and given better wages.

    Mar 26, 2015 | 4:33 am

  10. joyyy says:

    I graduated from public school. When I was 12 and graduating from elementary, we all have to bring our own chair…and during the week-long rehearsal, I’d be walking to and from school toting this monoblock chair because we were not allowed to leave it in our classrooms.

    And our teacher back then would occasionally shout at us –“god damn it”, “son of a bitch”. But this was 1996 in a small town and we were 12. We really didn’t understand those words.

    Mar 26, 2015 | 9:44 am

  11. Libay says:

    And you haven’t heard yet of the practice in some public schools that if your son/daughter is on the honor roll or is a recipient of any special awards, you have to pay/buy your own medal because the school has no fund for these.

    Mar 26, 2015 | 10:15 am

  12. EbbaBlue says:

    Mart, transparent? They are not hiding it. The principal knows about it as well as all the faculty members. The parents just accepted the reasons that the school didn’t have money for such and such expenses.
    And don’t start me with that Four Piece Program, which is very good, and such a blessing, but ran ridiculously by local officials. Grrrrrrrr…

    Mar 26, 2015 | 12:34 pm

  13. Toping says:

    Oho! And my mother was just telling me how they had to bring their own chairs to their graduation (’50s-’60s). “At least that’s a thing of the past,” she’d said. Wrong, obviously. Buti na lang monobloc bitbit ng mga bata ngayon. Ma and her classmates had to bring wooden chairs; hers was so heavy that she left it behind after the ceremony. Lolo was furious. :-p

    Mar 26, 2015 | 2:27 pm

  14. Faust says:

    the place looks familiar in cebu? is it in guadalupe?

    Mar 26, 2015 | 7:46 pm

  15. Marketman says:

    Faust, yes, Guadalupe, on the road towards the Guadalupe church from the Capitol. Sharp eye. :)

    Mar 26, 2015 | 8:22 pm

  16. Ley says:

    I finished grades 2 and 3 in a mountain barangay in Leyte, public school of course. It was the unwritten rule that students who bagged the first to fifth honors will have to donate either 1 live chicken or 1 kilo of pork for the recognition day lunch of the DedEd supervisor and the entourage. Those in the lower rank and those who get “most” recognition, i.e. most honest, most helpful, most punctual, etc. will have to donate 1 family-size Pepsi:)

    Mar 26, 2015 | 9:35 pm

  17. millet says:

    a crying shame.

    Mar 27, 2015 | 7:24 pm

  18. ricky gonzalez says:

    this is really sad, this means that the reforms (supposedly implemented) of Bro Armin Luistro (depEd secretary) are not reforms after all and just meant to pull wool over our eyes. In these happy times, of major changes in the lives of children, these issues put a dampener on the celebrations.

    Mar 28, 2015 | 7:33 am

  19. Thel from Florida says:

    “vision of ridiculousness” LOL You crack me up!

    Mar 28, 2015 | 11:41 pm

  20. norman pangilinan says:

    The schedule of the graduation is dependent on the frigging schedule of the “honorable” mayor or governor who is the guest of honor… thus the last minute scheduling of graduation. Only in the Philippines. Hehehe!!!

    Mar 29, 2015 | 12:54 pm

  21. ntgerald says:

    I attended a barrio elementary school. We brought our own chairs for the graduation ceremony because the armchairs in the classrooms were not quite appropriate for that function.

    I had to memorize and deliver a speech that I hardly understood then.

    Mar 29, 2015 | 4:05 pm

  22. B says:

    I’m from Dagupan. Whats up?

    Mar 30, 2015 | 12:44 am

  23. Marketman says:

    B, sorry, just picked a random town to use in the post… :)

    Mar 30, 2015 | 6:37 am

  24. ludel says:

    i graduated elementary in 1976 (in cebu city). we were required to bring our own chairs because the school did not have enough chairs for the graduates. even then, the educational system already failed to address even the most basic of needs.

    Apr 4, 2015 | 2:33 pm


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