Released in the Inbox section of the 16 August 2012 issue of the Philippine Collegian.
One of the many efforts of privatization is to push the eyesore and superfluous things behind the façade.
For many years, the UP Shopping Center has been serving students and the community and supplying them with their daily and extra needs with a very good bargain. However, with the prodigious raise in each stall rental from P80 to P577 per square meter, it is clear that the SC is left with very slim chance of staying.
No one can deny that the UP Town Center will spark the zest of UP students as they roam about the campus during their free time. It is clear that most students will prefer the former than the old, cheap and “lokal” atmosphere of the Shopping Center. In fact, the UP Town Center project is clear to its ideals that it’s about time a “sosyal” and professional-friendly commercial building find its place in a national university campus. Like the usual malls, we do have the tendency to want to dine better, shop better and walk better. Luxury is the word. But some have already found luxury in SC, including me.
I can always recall the many times when I can buy almost all the supplies I need for one semester with just two hundred pesos, when I could get a book with half the usual cost, when I could eat the best tapsilog without having to ride a jeepney to Philcoa. Small things, but they mean so much to those who live on less than a hundred a day.
Unnecessary high price rent
In February, the UP Diliman Business Concessions Office (BCO) informed the UP Shopping Stallholder’s Association, Inc. (SCSAI) that the monthly rent for every stall will be raised from P80 to P577 for every square meter. Most stalls are about 25 square meters big. If the rent goes up to P577 per square meter, each stallholder would have to pay a P14,425 monthly rent, a 621% increase from the current average P2000 monthly rent. As an inevitable consequence, the stallholders would also have to drastically increase the prices of the items they sell. Or worse, some stalls would just have to close.
The SCSAI proposed last March an alternative, that is to raise the rent to P150/m2 instead of P577/m2. Five months later, the proposal is still being completely ignored. On April 17, the BCO sent a letter to every SC stallholder telling them to comply with the new contract pertaining to the Memorandum of Agreement on the supposed UP Town Center as replacement of the SC. The MOA includes the plan to relocate the “legitimate” stallholders, those who have submitted the required files (ITR, permits, etc.), to the new Town Center, wherein only those who really “deserve” a spot will be granted a discount on rent. The association is, of course, willing to submit all the files required to prove legitimacy but, with the spirit of militancy, will not sign the repressive contract (Philippine Collegian. 13 July 2012).
Protest Art and Culture of Repression
You may have noticed the newly painted white walls of SC. Fairly recently, UP Alay Sining closed a partnership with SCSAI to help them in the struggle in keeping the Shopping Center. The project is a mural painting campaign promoting SCSAI’s stand on the new policy and the community’s statement against commercialization of education.
UP Alay Sining, together with other student organizations, class sections and Fine Arts freshmen, initiated the project by putting up the primer paint. However, a representative from the UP administration stopped us just when the last stroke of white paint was to be made. The admin said that the SCSAI and the students need to have a permit approved before the painting could be continued, something the admin never required the SC stallholders before.
This is a clear manifestation of the culture of repression dominant in the society; when the people use their assumed freedom of expression to expose and oppose anti-people policies, the ruling clique kicks back with spiked shoes by repressing the freedom to protest.
The permit for the murals is now being processed and should be approved in fifteen days. We invite artists and students to join us in creating this monumental people’s art, in supporting the stallholders’ fight for a just monthly rent, and in continuing fight for accessible education and academic freedom. If the admin denies or delays the issuance of the permit, Alay Sining and other organizations shall still continue with the project. After all, the repressed have already given us the necessary permit.
Artista ng Bayan, ngayon ay lumalaban!
Alay Sining, 18 years of serving the people
visual arts | creative writing | music | theater
contact: 09052409504 or 09196827642
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