UNEP Supports BACS vs Peñafrancia Military Parade


IRIGA CITY --- Unknown to many, two years before the Bicol Association of Catholics Schools (BACS) decided not to participate in this year Peñafrancia Military Parade, the University of Northeastern Philippines (UNEP), a private, non-sectarian school, had already stopped joining the region's longest and widely participated military parade competition since school year 2007-2008 finding no relevant purpose in it, UNEP's top official said.

In an article in her blog (peachyalfelor.blogspot.com) titled "Of Devotion and Parades," lawyer Remelisa G. Alfelor-Moraleda, UNEP president said the decision by the university not to participate in the event was arrived at after carefully deliberating on the pros and cons. "Regrettably, we arrived at a decision that announced to us that there is no relevant purpose anymore in continuing to participate in this event," Moraleda said.

Moraleda cited four reasons behind UNEP's choice not to join the parade.

These are: financial, academic, lack of student enrollees in Citizen Military Training (CMT) subject; and bias and lack of integrity on the part of the organizer.

In the case of UNEP, Moraleda said the school during the 2006 military parade contest spent almost half a million pesos for trainors, uniforms, make-up, allowances, transportation of participants, meals, and other incidental expenses. The contest also means more expenses for parents who are already burdened by the high cost of quality education.

"Truly, participation in the parade has become impractical for us in UNEP, for our students and for their parents. The long time devoted to preparation and practice for the parade also take its toll on the academic performance of the students, aside from the fact the schools are having a hard time coming up with the right number of students who want to join the military parade due to the dwindling number of CMT enrollees," Moraleda said.

The UNEP top official also expressed "great doubts" regarding the rules of the parade contest, which she said is "the view of most school authorities."

"Our school cannot continue to subject itself to a competition whose organizers are suffering from a reputation of bias and lack of integrity. This is why we have declared and maintained that unless and until there is a revamp in the organizers of the event, we will continue to forego participation in the Peñafrancia Military Parade Competition," she said on her blog.

Describing the military parade as having "already paled in meaning," Moraleda refuted the arguments of the event organizer that the parade is an expression of devotion to Our Lady of Penafrancia. "Is it not a better expression to participate instead in the Translacion, which is a truly religious activity?" she asked.

Moraleda said UNEP students, in the past several years, had participated in the Translacion with great success.  Students discussed their experience in class and truly this has been a more effective way than attending the military parade.

She also said that the organizer's other arguments that the parade is also a good way to advertise the school, promote camaraderie, and instill discipline among the students, have no basis at all.

"It is more effective to market the school through media advertising. There is no inter-school camaraderie that happens among student participants as the students are trained to be focused on the competition and do not have time to interact with student from other schools. As to discipline, it is already innate among the students and is just shown during the parade competition," the UNEP executive added.

Moraleda recommended that the Naga City government as the main organizer of the parade should defray part of the expenses of the participating school like what the Legazpi City government does in the form of transportation expenses of P 10,000 every time it invites UNEP to participate in parade in the city.

She said that on the issue of the integrity of the organizers, it is also necessary for the Naga City government to evaluate the performance of the organization carrying out this event.

However, Moraleda clarified that UNEP "is not against military parade competitions. In fact, we have been conducting military parade competitions for several decades already during our Activation Day celebrations. However, we are one with the Bicol Association of Catholic Schools in saying that the military parade should not be conducted within the 9-day Novena to Our Lady of Peñafrancia. We should focus more on Ina and on our faith and not in endeavors that actually have even the capability of eroding our faith to Ina."

Finally, Moraleda clarified that UNEP "is not calling for a complete boycott of this competition by other schools, but rather a call to re-evaluate our purpose for participating in this event."


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