By Veronica Pulumbarit, GMA News -
One of the most intriguing questions I encountered as a young student of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communications (UP CMC) many years ago was, “Are you a Broad Ass or Samaskom?”
I was neither. "Broad Ass" refers to the student organization UP Broadcasting Association, while Samaskom is short for the UP Samahan ng mga Mag-aaral sa Komunikasyon, two of the college's many organizations.
The college, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last week, is also home to the UP Journalism Club, the college's first organization; the CMC Wildcats, the official varsity team of the college; Union of Journalists of the Philippines; UP Aperture, a photojournalism club; and UP Cineastes Studio, an organization of film enthusiasts.
It has graduated some of the country’s most well-known media and entertainment personalities: Senator Loren Legarda, movie director Maryo J. Delos Reyes, actor and singer Ogie Alcasid, comedienne Giselle Sanchez, TV personality Ramon Bautista and GMA News anchors Mariz Umali and Jessica Soho. In 2000, Soho became the first Filipina to win the George Foster Peabody Award for Investigative Journalism.
Before its semicentennial event—which was lit up by performances by alumnus Alcasid as well as Kapuso actors Dennis Trillo and Tom Rodriguez—CMC Dean Dr. Rolando Tolentino told GMA News Online that they hope to drum up alumni support to help fund the construction of new university buildings. The total needed is P280 million, of which the college hopes the alumni can bring in P80 million.
He said the buildings are urgently needed because “nagisiksikan na kami.” UP now has 58,000 students in 17 campuses nationwide. About 40% of the students are based in Diliman, the flagship campus.
Ogie and Aling Suming
Alumni have fond memories of their days at CMC. GMA News anchor Tina Panganiban Perez remembers Aling Suming, the beloved admin employee who retired from service some years ago. She was the go-to person for almost everything: certified true copy of grades, leave of absence, etc.
Alcasid, during last year's reunion, also mentioned Aling Suming and how she was a big help to him during his student days when he was already one of the country's most popular actors and singers.
Alcasid said it took him a long time to finish his studies because he was busy with showbiz obligations. So before classes started every semester, Aling Suming would give him a list of subjects he needed to enrol in.
One time, when he wanted to know what subjects he still needed to take, Aling Suming told him, "Ano ka ba?! Graduate ka na!"
Staying on top
1991 was the year that Perez and I finished journalism at UP CMC. Our fellow graduates also included Inquirer news editor Artemio “Jun” Engracia Jr., who entered UP in 1968.
Engracia told GMA News Online that it took him 23 years to get his degree because “naabutan ako ng Diliman Commune,” referring to the time the campus became a bastion for militant students in the days before Martial Law.
Engracia said that when he thinks about his early days as a CMC student, the image of military tanks comes to mind. He did not resume his studies until much later, when he was already established in the media profession as an editor.
Decades after he first set foot in Plaridel Hall, Engracia still considers UP CMC the country’s premiere school of mass communication, adding that at Inquirer, when someone is looking for a job at the company, they still ask, “UP ba ‘yan?”
But the college needs to stay sharp in this new age of the Internet and 24-hour news. The Medical City corporate communications manager Anne Ruth Panes Dela Cruz, a former news reporter, said that for CMC to retain its edge, it “has to assess the programs that they are presently offering, especially with the onset of digital media. The college will have to introduce new courses that will help students cope with the changing times.”
Still, she is proud to be a product of “the old school of journalism because my stories were more objective and I had to work doubly hard to get a good story.” — BM, GMA News
- This article originally appeared at GMA News. Story and image by Veronica Pulumbarit.