Written by 3:09 am Opinion

If AdZU was Tita Connie, then it surely has its Teddie

Who isn’t familiar with 4 Sisters and a Wedding? It portrayed the typical Filipino family with patched sibling relationships and a famous imprint of favoritism mostly found in Filipino households in the Philippine cinema last 2013. Now from the big screen, Tita Connie made her way to the virtual screens of Ateneo. 

A year into the online setup, the institution has made significant adjustments to cope with the new normal. With overbearing problems such as the country’s internet connection, dropping enrollment rate, and challenged teaching quality due to the setup, teacher-associated factors seem to stand out in the pool of online learning problems. They never aged well, don’t they? Throughout my entire years in the academe, I have witnessed the withstanding fact where the teacher-factor can make or break my class standing or, now in college, my general weighted average. I used to pin the blame on the Teddies of Ateneo for being on a pedestal and reaping the benefits of an unfair system. However, college overturned my perspective—it shifted my condemnation to the system itself. It wasn’t Teddie. It was Tita Connie all along.

Some might say that I am coming from a place of hypocrisy to call out the academe because, for years, I must admit that I was one of the Teddies. I have always been in pilot sections since my early years in school. I had the privilege of having excellent professors who gave an outstanding performance in teaching, reasonable workloads, and most importantly, incentivized my hard work with high marks. As an honor student who feeds from academic validation, needless to say, I was blind to the sentiments and struggles of my fellow students who are at disadvantage due to the homogeneous sectioning and ranking system of the academe despite paying the same amount of tuition. It is simply ironic that educational institutions seem to prioritize excellent kids and give the bare minimum to those who could not keep up with the toiling demands of education. When the fleeting happiness of my elementary and high school years that validated my ego came to an end, college slapped me with the reality of those students who I found difficult to empathize with before. I was no longer one of the Teddies. I am now reduced to the other Salazar siblings who, albeit doing their best, could never be as favorable as Teddie. 

My freshman experience characterized by the seemingly unending requirements and unreasonable marks I get in return sparked this realization. The famous yet overlooked systemic problem in the academe: the paswertehan sa professor, which is often normalized as a culture rather than injustice in the system that needs to be reformed. The disproportionate workload and unstandardized basis of merits cripple the authenticity of the honors system. Professors who are not transparent with grading and give marks by face value reward mediocrity and depletes the students’ motivation and genuine intention to be “MAGIS”. It’s ironic enough knowing that it’s what this institution tries to rub on the face of the student body but fails to uphold. Homogeneous sectioning then is questionable because the determinant of labeling students with a ridiculous letter in the alphabet is unfair in the first place. And from this sectioning rises a preferential distribution of professors, where paswertehan sa professor system ultimately thrives. With this reality, collective sentiment uproars from my fellow students, left and right, like siblings used in this metaphor, willing to tear each other down and ultimately pin the blame on the Teddies of Ateneo. 

As this academic year finally comes to an end, I now know better. It is easy to project my anger to the factor I can easily blame. It is easy to pin the blame on Teddie because it is futile to blame the system. After all, it is Tita Connie’s validation that I am after. Rather than dissecting the root cause of the systemic problem, it is more convenient to reaffirm my rage and frustration to the people who are, most often than not, also victims of the same system that exploits, abuse, and refuses to admit where it fundamentally lacks. On the larger scale of things, this anger of mine is misdirected and is driving me miles away from the real enemy. I am powerless—my batchmates, classmates, they are too. We are all just trying to survive in this setup, and who am I to add to that burden. Is this realization a saving grace? No. A sentiment of injustice that only upsurges just because I am adversely affected now? Sadly, maybe. Or an arc towards validation just because I am no longer a Teddie in the academe? Also, sadly, it might be. 

But more than anything else, this opinion is trying to attain a semblance of what education should stand for. The pandemic in the lens of academe has an abundance of adversities, it should no longer be conditional rather encompassing. With the inequities of the world, it should be a place that teaches the youth to apply and get what is due. “Ma, I’m sorry ma”, cries a Teddie that failed to live up to the privilege of being favored. When all along, it is Tita Connie—the institution who needs to ask apologies from us instead. 

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