Word Vomit: GAB Caf

Rant about school, administration and state universities with their cool logic.

…No judgment, this is a word vomit of feelings.

I’ve never cared about current events in school (or even in the country, sometimes). But I have always cared about people saying stupid things or authority figures bullshitting their way through power plays. I’ve always had the compulsion to correct people (with the assumption that I am correct, of course).

Excerpts taken from UPM Admin pushes for eviction of GAB Caf concessionaires by Gonzales and Hechanova, The Manila Collegian 

CONTEXT

The University of the Philippines Manila is a national university (note that I don’t say state university, but that’s a different issue entirely) lauded as the Health Sciences Center. It is also very anti-poor, anti-equality, anti-equity and anti-democracy. The university is supposed to welcome the people who need subsidised tuition the most; following that logic, the facilities of the university should similarly be accessible to the different demographics.

Tomorrow, small businesses selling meals (concessionaire stands of food) at Php25 to Php75 each (roughly USD1.2) will be evicted from the parking lot area where they have been set up for over five years. They are our only source of accessible (near and cheap) and healthy food. The nearest alternatives are commercial food chains like McDonald’s or KFC or Jollibee, and I don’t need to tell you about their health value. The proposed alternatives involve buying food elsewhere and bringing packed lunch, like everyone could afford the time or resources.

Regarding the inconvenience that will be caused by the removal of the GAB Caf stalls, he voiced that, “Clean, nutritious and affordable food is available nearby…if students simply walk a bit further. The PGH itself, as well as Padre Faura, Taft Avenue and Pedro Gil has food outlets, not to mention the nearby grocery stores. ”

Moreover, Lapeña emphasized that the removal of the GAB Caf stalls does not mean accessible food will no longer be available to the students. “The students will not lack outlets to obtain food from; what they will lack (and miss) are the outlets they have gotten used to having. The GAB Caf “issue” will only be an issue if it is treated as such,” Lapeña stressed.

Oh, yes. Because my 7AM to 230PM classes give me all the time in the world to walk to the other side of the known universe.

And the supposed reason? A new “student center” will be built near the same area, so the food stalls need to be evacuated for health reasons… and the student center will also be the new cafeteria, with rights open to public bidding by bigger food industry entities.

MY IRRITATION

lies with the bullshit.

Absence of contract

In a correspondence with Vice Chancellor for Administration Jose Florencio F. Lapeña, Jr., he affirmed that the administration arranged the closure of all UPM concessionaires that do not have valid contracts. Moreover, he clarified that, “They are not being evicted. Their day-to-day or month-to-month renewals are simply not being renewed upon expiration”.

Lapeña also said there was no need for consultations regarding the said closure. According to him, the GAB vendors, without a legal agreement, have been operating for more than five years. 

“No, there was no need for such consultations. Their day-to-day or month-to-month occupancies had actually dragged on for several years (most for more than 5 years) on verbal agreements only, without written contracts,” Lapena stated.

Additionally, he indicated that having a valid contract is essential for both parties to bind them to their obligation. “If, for instance, the health and safety of students is jeopardized by any product sold by a concessionaire, who will be held responsible?,” Lapeña lamented.

If you’d notice, the only pragmatic concern here is the health and safety of the students, and.

ARE YOU TELLING ME THAT FOR MORE THAN FIVE FUCKING YEARS, STUDENTS HAVE BEEN EATING FOOD WITHOUT ANY SORT OF ACCOUNTABILITY MEASURE? That you have allowed this kind of irresponsibility to practically be part of the UPM experience? We’re talking about this by your standards of legal agreements! And notice then that the only time that the administration decides to care is when a new building has to be built? What is this, delayed concern? Where do you even find the courage to write this shit up?

Deep breath. So, if we’re looking at the “real problem” as the security brought about by a question of liability, of all things, then why not just offer these small businesses contracts, and relocate them? It gives us our favorite tapsilog, bacon or crispy sisig, and provides some insurance for the school administration. Isn’t that a legitimate option?

Conversely, the administrators of the College of Dentistry and College of Pharmacy have also sent notices for the eviction of the stalls in their respective colleges last February 19. The College of Medicine, on the other hand, presented a valid contract with its concessionaires after a proper bidding process. 

Oh look, it is. Or in any universe, it should be!

…Imagine. If I was the administration, I’d offer them these contracts, right, and if it just so happens that they can’t accept the terms, well… then they can politely leave. I mean, that’s more politically strategic over-all, so I don’t see why they couldn’t have done that instead of raising the ire of the student body…

NOW LET’S TALK ABOUT LEGALESE. AS AVERAGE FUCKING REASONABLE PEOPLE. I am not a lawyer. You are also not a lawyer. None of us are lawyers, because we are in a health sciences centric university. 

The point. The point is that even a person off the street could only call bullshit on this argument:

Lapeña also said there was no need for consultations regarding the said closure. According to him, the GAB vendors, without a legal agreement, have been operating for more than five years.

“No, there was no need for such consultations. Their day-to-day or month-to-month occupancies had actually dragged on for several years (most for more than 5 years) on verbal agreements only, without written contracts,” Lapena stated.

Because let me define you a thing, and it only took me one google search to find it:

*Fireworks* IMPLIED CONTRACT IN FACT *Fireworks*

DEFINITION

Consists of obligations arising from a mutual agreement and intent to promise where the agreement and promise have not been expressed in words.  Such contracts are implied from facts and circumstances showing a mutual intent to contract, and may arise by the conduct of the parties.  A contract implied in fact is a true contract.

It’s even in Wikipedia.

But I didn’t have to google it. Because I knew, even without knowing anything at all in the world, that the fact that they have been operating right in your campus (sorry, our campus) means that they have been given implicit consent to stay and operate there! And the service they give in return to the school through the students, or whatever rental fee they give if there is, fulfils a contract! Repeat after me: behavior is enough to determine a contract. A contract is defined by an exchange.

And okay, maybe I’m wrong, let’s look at that glaring loophole where nothing has been written on a table napkin –even if you could have offered them one. In fact, let’s ignore the fact that some judges accept contracts made on tissue paper or signed with a squiggle because what is important is the intent behind the action. Let’s forget all of that. Because thing is, even if it does not exist in paper, guess what? It’s basic human decency to respect partnerships.  (Or, in fact, to just respect people, care for people, listen to students, understand the idea of “sole means of livelihood”…)

And hell yes these are definitely partnerships. OH MY GOD. Most marriages don’t even last more than 5 years (obvs looking at the world demographic, or possibly just Nevada). Average insurance partnerships range four to five years. If that’s not a partnership, with implied if not explicit behavioural expectations, then I do not know what is.

You talk about day-to-day or month-to-month renewals. Care to explain? Was that one in writing? Are you also being valid and acting to the letter? Or, as I suspect, are we going down the same road of bullshit that has endangered the livelihood of these business owners and the rights of students in the first place? 

So what do you really want, because you are seriously hurting our mojo. And their lives.

I think, and this is where I have to clarify myself

I am not inherently opposed to the idea of a student center (though god knows if I’ll still be in UPM by then, given the fact that the plans are all up in the skies) or of removing small businesses (I know, I’m sorry, I’m elitist some days and egalitarian the others; …I love you Ate Beca). There are merits to every side of the equation.

What I despise is the utter lack of transparency and accountability by the administration. This is only one of a long line of decisions made without the consultation of the student body, and this one affects us as much as the academic calendar shift does.

And their shortcomings have become so apparent, but no attempt at reparations were made. In fact, they are steadily bulldozing through all the plans, even though none of the contingencies have been finalised. Look at the academic calendar shift –no dates have been set yet, because that’s how prepared they are. It’s not even official in the offices I’ve encountered. No memo.

There are no plans for the student center, no assurances that the trade-off will really benefit the students. When will construction start? (They said March 1, but we all know what happened to the Little Theater). And I’m all for helping other generations, but it’s our batch who will be compromised. The alternatives –acceptable ones– should be made available to us, and not to some distant future.

We are limited by the resources we have. We understand. But these are (the meagre) funds allotted for the future of the nation. And look how they make them run. 

And if we ask you to honestly answer why. I have a feeling the answer mentions “profit” and “we seriously do not care about your opinions” somewhere.

A footnote

I’ve heard some people say to those who rally for GAB Caf, and SSWC, and PGH and student fucking justice, “and what’s your solution? At least the administration’s doing something for you/us.”

I could spend another one thousand words on people like them, but I’ll cut it down because I am, technically, on a study break.

We are offering solutions. More clearly, we are vying for a postponement because the plans surrounding these clusterfucks are as confused as you are. Fix things before we destroy it, that kind of thing.

But what offends me more is the fact that students and teachers and people like them miss the entire point. It’s not a question of practicalities, at least not only. It’s a matter of principle. It’s the circumvention of the democratic process, a clear disregard for the cultivation of an honest and transparent system for the students and sector who need outstanding examples the most.

Leave your agendas out of it. Or, actually, do whatever the hell you want. Just be clear about it, yeah?

Life update:

I just finished a 2K essay in Filipino so I had the understandable urge to get all fired up in English.

Yay, privatization of the Philippine Orthopedic Center… and state universities… and all government services…

…what.

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