SARAH RAYMUNDO is an Assistant Professor from the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman's Department of Sociology, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy. She's been teaching in UP for ten years. She has met, and even exceeded, the minimum requirements for tenure. Why then, after a year since she applied for tenure, is Prof. Raymundo being denied permanent status in the university?

Sarah is the Secretary-General of the Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy (CONTEND), Treasurer of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) National Council, and an active member of the All UP Academic Employees Union (AUPAEU).

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

This Very Weird Case

by A Former Student of Sarah

I have only been made aware of this very weird case involving Prof. Raymundo 2 days ago. I am very dismayed! Since then, I've been following some of the discussions online and visiting her websites. I was expecting her to make a statement on this in her blog but I would only find well crafted pieces talking about almost everything except her case. I'd love to hear her take on this. I've known her to be very witty and brilliant. And her crisp take on things makes her one the most exciting commentators on events, people and places. I know this because she was my former professor in three sociology courses. She played a very pivotal role in the choices I've made so far.

Back then I had a very difficult semester and so I had to beg my professors to give me a chance to pass their courses. Raymundo's requirements were heavy for that particular course. I had to tell her that I can take a drp or an inc, or even a 5. I just felt that there was no way for me to measure up to her rigorous standards. As a person, Ma'am Sarah is not the nice type of person. In fact, she can be very intimidating. She has a solid voice, she talks very fast even while explaining difficult concepts. She's the type who doesn't tell you verbally not to waste her time but before her, you just worry that you are actually doing so. But when I told her that I do not think I can accomplish her requirements she simply said I believe you can, now if you think otherwise then let's figure out why. Coffee?” I cried after she told me this. And while we were walking to have coffee, in an irritated tone she told me “Can you please stop crying people might think I broke your heart and that we are lesbians. My partner will not be amused.” To make the long story short, I finished her course not so much because she guided me through the hardwork but because she said something that really empowered me. Somebody like her believed in my capacity. That meant so much to me! It was very weird that she found it very weird that I thought I could never make it through that semester. What amazed me is her creepy mastery of the papers I had earlier submitted. She was citing some of the ideas I wrote to convince me that I was not as hopeless as I thought I was. No professor had paid attention to me in that way. My batchmates also think that she is that creepy panopticon who remembers details about her students, who memorizes their names, who knows when they were absent, where they were seated last meeting, what they wrote in a reflection paper, what they said months ago in a recitation to point out that a student seems to contradict himself with his current statement. She also knows exactly where to locate a quote from a book! I remember a group of students approached her before an exam in statistics. She asked if it was ok to use up the first 20 minutes for statistics. everybody agreed because it was quiz day and we all wanted not to push through with it. Not only did she taught us the formula, when the different statistical treatments should be used, she also explained the epistemology behind multiple regression, logit, and i forget what else. Ask her, she definitely will remember!

I can understand why people from the department of sociology resort to such unreasonable measures. Ma'am Sarah is phenomenal. You either hate her or you love her to the bones. I know that she is loved by many. You cannot know Ma'am Sarah and be moderate about her. And for the few in her own department who dislike her, I do not understand how kicking her out would make anyone of them be somewhat like her. She will leave and will most likely take her brilliance and intelligence with her, leaving them with just perhaps her garbage. I do not know what the institution will gain from that. I agree with Noli, some people can be very intolerant. And may I just add, envious. And to Ma'am Sarah, I know that behind that really strong and even sometimes scary facade is a sensitive and unassuming person who always makes herself available to people who would be bold enough to seek her attention. I hope you know that I'm thinking of you and am still in that direction where “fantasies must be traversed and exploitative power blocs must be mocked, fucked up and screwed to their last stubborn piece” (from my notes on one of her lectures). A commentator in said that there is life after UP implying that Ma'am Sarah will flourish anywhere. No doubt about that. But what about UP life after Ma'am Sarah's exit? In her introduction to Star power and the star system in showbiz a few seconds before the time was up for that meeting, Ma'am Sarah while giggling asked us, “Can you imagine showbiz or life for that matter without a Superstar? without Nora Aunor? or Judy Ann? or Sharon Cuneta? My God! That's a dreadful thought. It's killing me! I'll see you in my next life.” And then swiftly left the room.

I am asking the same question now. Can you imagine UP without its Superstar?! I can almost hear her say “In view of the human condition, what makes that a significant question? What does it allow you to think about?” That is so patently Ma'am Sarah. But if she's in a better mood, she'll probably just flash her naughty smile and answer by saying “Charot!”

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