A little over four decades since its establishment in 1965, the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) continues to be a pioneer, leader, and model of an institution of higher learning. Barely towering over the walls in its periphery, it stands tall nonetheless, in a 3-hectare lot in the heart of Intramuros which is part of hallowed grounds where heroes like Jose Rizal once tread.
If the universityâ€™s 43rd foundation day celebration last June is any indication, the tradition of excellence and service upheld through the years lives on. The occasion also allowed a recollection of the core values upon which the University has been built, as well as a collective display of the stakeholdersâ€™ commitment to make the University relevant to the times with an unbridled enthusiasm to chart new directions for its future.
The forthcoming faculty and staff development programs slated in September and October this year has adopted the theme Revisiting the Past, Responding to the Present, and Redefining the Future that echoes the atmosphere permeating the university these days with the end goal of making the institution truly a peopleâ€™s university.
Revisiting the Past
PLM holds the distinction of being the first in several waysâ€”the first institution of higher learning in the country and perhaps in Asia to offer tuition-free tertiary education; the first university funded solely by a city government; and the first institution of higher learning in the country to have its official name in Filipino.
Well-meaning leaders who were just too enthusiastic to address the problem of poverty were behind the establishment of PLM just like then Manila Mayor Arsenio H. Lacson who signed Ordinance No. 4202 on January 13, 1960, appropriating one million pesos for the construction of the school. Then, Mayor Antonio Villegas, his predecessor, issued Executive Order No. 7 on February 13, 1963, creating the committee that formulated the plans for the Universityâ€™s establishment. The Committee was headed by Dr. Benito P. Reyes, Professor Emeritus of the Far Eastern University, who was to become the first President of PLM.
On July 17, 1967, PLM formally opened its doors under its first college named University College with the first batch of 556 bright freshman scholars from among the top ten graduates of Manilaâ€™s 29 public schools.
Responding to the Imperatives of the Times
From its first enrollment record of less than a thousand, total semestral enrolment has grown to an average of 10,000. The lone college in its earliest beginning has sprung to 12 colleges, five (5) graduate
and two (2) professional schools. There is also the Open University and Distance Learning Program (OUDLP) which serves as the umbrella of unit programs and colleges, namely : the Emeritus College, the Expanded Tertiary Education Equivalency & Accreditation Program (ETEEAP), the Ramon Magsaysay School of Public Governance, and such other programs for midwives.
Every year some 5, 000 applicants take the PLM Admission Test (PLMAT). Only about 2,000 qualify for admission to the University. Previously, only residents of Manila and high school graduates of the cityâ€™s public schools with a grade not lower than 85 were qualified to take the PLMAT. In recent years, the University has admitted non-Manilans but honor students from other schools outside of Manila. This policy has provided the brightest and most deserving students an opportunity to join the pack of scholars with zero-tuition fee.
To date, there are 53 single-degree baccalaureate programs and 49 masterâ€™s, doctoral, and graduate diploma offerings that lead to degrees in accountancy, economics, architecture, business administration, computer studies, education, engineering, law, mass communication, mathematics, medicine, nursing, physical education, physical therapy, psychology, sciences, social work, tourism, management, and public governance.
There is also an integrated learning center for toddlers called the Mabuhay Learning Center and a score of specialized centers including a training hospital, the Ospital ng Maynila Medical Center that contribute to the universityâ€™s thrust on outreach and community service.
The impressive performance of its graduates in various licensure examinations through the years has prompted the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) to rank PLM among the top five schools and one among the only three public universities in the top ten category.
In the last three years alone, PLM has consistently ranked second in the board examinations for accountancy, electronics and communications engineering, physical therapy; ranked third in nursing with passing rates between 98 and 100 %; ranked fourth in architecture; ranked sixth in medicine (2005).
Aware of the financial straits brought by the economic crunch PLM employees are wading through, the present administration has distributed bonuses and long overdue across the board increases. After the staff promotion scheme implemented starting last January, the faculty are in for the next round of promotion. More recently, the PLM Fitness and Wellness Center Program was launched. A joint project of the College of Physical Therapy Clinic and the University Clinic, the Presidentâ€™s pet program is part of the Universityâ€™s thrust to establish a holistic multi-disciplinary approach towards the promotion of a healthy lifestyle among students and personnel.
Redefining the Future
A significant phase in PLMâ€™s four decade-long of success stories came in August last year when its seventh president, Atty. Adel A. Tamano, assumed office. After six presidents, the last having served for three terms, the changing of the guards ushered a new chapter in the history of PLM, one that is punctuated by an empowering leadership anchored on optimism and idealism but is certainly not limiting and unrealistic.
While thrust in an enviable position as spokesperson for the United Opposition, President Tamano breathes new life to PLM as he brings a youthful albeit unassuming air in his stewardship of his newfound territory. Being the Universityâ€™s youngest president as well as the first Filipino Muslim president of a university in Metro Manila has made him all the more a leader to reckon with. His administration comes with his management team teeming with a shared sense of responsibility and leadership. On his side is an equally ebullient partner, Atty. Ernesto P. Maceda., Jr., executive vice president and dean of the College of Law. Together, the two lawyers make an incomparable duo out to spearhead the necessary changes in improving the lot of PLM.
The tandem is backed by two other lawyers, Atty. Patrick Mariano and Atty, Marisol Anenias, university legal counsel and university secretary, respectively. The Board of Regents, headed by its chair, former Supreme Court Justice Justo P. Torres, has been supportive and approving of the reforms presented by the management team for sanction of the highest policy-making body. The other school officials â€” the vice presidents, heads of various administrative offices and units, deans, and faculty play significant roles in the decision-making process as they are consulted as often as necessary and made integral part of working committees that help craft policies and implement programs that augur well for the well-being of the various stakeholders. Clearly, the new stewards opt for a participative, not a centralized, form of leadership.
The changes instituted in the first few months of the new leaders at the helm of PLM serve as windows to what the future holds for the university. The front gates on both sides of Muralla and General Luna Streets are now flung open and allow entrants a semblance of a free way to the lobby of the main building Gusaling Villegas where the security guards are stationed for the usual check. One is greeted by the well-trimmed foliage that give way to a better view of the universityâ€™s iconography â€“the flaming torch which signifies light and truth â€” right on the frontage of the school.
President Tamanoâ€™s hands-on approach has immersed himself in the experiences of the students, faculty and staff as well as the real conditions of the facilities. Himself an advocate of wholistic education, Atty. Tamano is poised to provide ” a rich university life with fun activities on the side. This includes the upgrading of facilities vis-Ã -vis student and faculty exposure to more enriching and relevant activities. ”
Judicious use of available funds enabled the new leadership to install 40 computers with internet access in the library within three months from assuming office. Latest editions of books and hard-to-find references from both local and foreign publishers are purchased regularly to beef up the University Libraryâ€™s collection. The increase in allocation for book acquisition has never been aggressively pursued.
Lecture fora, seminars, workshops and other trainings feature distinguished personalities and highly esteemed experts in their fields as speakers. Just recently, the university became a music hall and camp for the participants to the Opusfest, the international piano and chamber music festival. Master classes with interactive performances conducted by international concert artists were open to the PLM community.
Tamano and Maceda are gung-ho, zealously eager over their PLM Big Brother Project: “Students will hold review classes in poor public high schools to prepare graduating students for college admission tests. We hope to instill in our students the commitment to give back to the city and the nation at large, to help others in their bid for a better quality of life, the way PLM education has done for thousands of graduates.”
A night school for PLM janitors and security guards who have not finished college is also in the offing. The distance learning programs and the off-campus program that offer a bachelorâ€™s degree in public administration remains a continuing program. It is designed to help qualified government employees get their degrees and equip them with better chances of vying for higher positions and improving their competencies in their respective offices.
In his inaugural message last January, President Tamano underscored the need to invest more in education “if we are to make some profound changes. “This is an affirmation of where the premier state university in Manila is headed.