Bernardo M. Villegas
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Dreams Falling Short of Reality (Part 4)

          From a motley group of about 300 college students in the CRC College of Arts and Science, we have grown our student population to over 2,000, offering specializations in economics, management, education, integrated marketing communications, political economy, law, engineering, information technology, and the humanities.  All modesty aside, after less than 25 years as a university, UA&P has become among the top 5 universities of choice among high school graduates in the country, attracting not only students from the Philippines but from countries like South Korea, Italy, the United States, Spain, Nigeria, Indonesia, Vietnam, Chile, and Mexico.   It has become well known for its mentoring program in which every student is assigned a teacher who helps in his or her integral human formation throughout the college years.  Special mention should be made of its flagship program, started from the very first years of CRC, that produces industrial or business economic professionals who head the economic research departments of leading corporations.  Also highly appreciated in the business sector is the Entrepreneurial Management Program that has turned out graduates who, even before they finish their schooling, are already running businesses of their own.  Graduates of the Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) program are highly appreciated in the advertising, marketing and media sectors.

         The professors and staff of the School of Integrated Marketing Communications have spawned an annual award program called the Tambuli Awards which have attracted entries from all over Asia.  Yearly, awards are given to marketing, advertising and media campaigns of both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations that meet two important criteria, i.e., that they have been eminently successful in improving sales or public awareness of the communications message and have been able to incorporate into their messages important human values, such as family solidarity, the dignity of human work, concern for the environment, or a preferential option or the poor.  In fact, the very name of UA&P is associated with values education or formation because of the ever present doctrinal and spiritual guidance received from Opus Dei.

         Another feature of the education imparted to students at UA&P is the emphasis on the importance of the liberal arts.  Because of what we learned partly from our experiences as tutors of undergraduates at Harvard, Jess Estanislao and I decided  to give the highest priority to the humanities foundation of every professional specialization, making sure that every student who goes through the college program of UA&P is first and foremost equipped with the skills of critical thinking, of effective communication both in speaking and writing in English and for some in some foreign language like Spanish or Mandarin, and of relating the various disciplines with one another.  This very strong foundation in the liberal arts or the humanities has been bolstered by the introduction of the junior college under the K to 12 curriculum recently introduced in the Philippine educational system.  Through what has been termed the 6YP (Six-Year Program), students entering their senior year of high school can opt to follow a six-year curriculum which will enable them to obtain a masteral degree in a good number of courses offered at UA&P.  The 6YP has been vastly popular with parents and students and has added to the prestige of the University.

         The reader may be wondering what has happened to the original institution that was called the Center for Research and Communication (CRC).  It now exists as a think tank within UA&P.  We are still very conscious of what St. Josemaria told us in 1964, that we must always identify a service to society in any corporate undertaking which receives doctrinal or spiritual advice from Opus Dei.  CRC is now focused on helping a select group of LGU units to implement provisions of the Local Government Code of 1991 which authorize them to implement infrastructure and other projects for the good of their respective communities, in partnership with private enterprises following the Public Private Partnership (PPP) scheme.  Enlightened and honest mayors and governors may not have the research staff to prepare pre-feasibility studies of these projects that they can present to potential partners from the private sector.  The professionals at CRC, most of them professors from the different schools of UA&P, offer their expertise to prepare these studies which can be funded by some private foundations or Official Development Assistance (ODA) grants from some foreign governments.  At present, CRC has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs) with the provinces of Batangas, Bataan, Quezon, Lanao del Norte and Palawan and a few municipalities.  Through this service, CRC hopes to accelerate the Build, Build, Build, program of the Duterte Administration at the LGU levels, especially in the rural areas where poverty incidence is the highest.

     All these accomplishments since CRC started in 1967 have more than demonstrated how true was the prophetic words of St. Josemaria that fateful day in May 1964 when he told me: “Dream and your dreams will fall short of reality.” Encouraged with what we have seen so far, we continue to dream. Among our dreams in the immediate future are to establish a hospital and a school of medicine and to build a new campus on a forty-hectare property that a generous family has donated to the University in the province of Batangas.    I request the reader to pray with us to make these dreams come true. Through the intercession of St. Josemaria, I am sure our dreams will once more fall short of reality. For comments, my email address is bernardo.villegas@uap.asia.