It has been several days since my return to Manila from the old city of Torun in Poland, and I can say that my brief stay at the College of Social and Media Culture have made an indelible mark in my memory. I felt intellectually at home at WSKSiM and in the same measure, felt warm (in the tail-end of the cold winter) with the camaraderie extended to me by the college administrators led by Dr Zdzisław Klafka and the head of internationalization, Dr. Krystian Chołaszczyński. Its unwavering adherence to its institutional identity and educational mission impressed me a lot.
I arrived in the evening of March 2 via train from Frankfurt, Germany without any problems and found the accommodations to be outstanding. The two campuses of WSKSiM in Torun are impressive in terms of lecture and broadcast facilities and conduciveness to study, and its role in the mass media and public discourse of the Polish nation are evident.
My visit was in connection with the growing partnership between WSKSiM and my university, the University of Santo Tomas (UST) in Manila, the oldest university in Asia, under the Erasmus+ framework. I am the second faculty member from UST to visit WSKSiM after my colleague in the UST journalism program, Assistant Professor Christian Esguerra, a media personality in Manila. In 2018, I welcomed two WSKSiM faculty members in Manila, Dr. Monika Szetela and Dr. Chołaszczyński who lectured to full audiences at UST.
Despite the distance and seeming difference between the two schools and nations, there are ties that bind, and ties that should be fostered. UST owns a precious copy of the book of Torun’s very own Nicholas Copernicus, “On the Celestial Revolutions,” in its archives. The Philippines and Poland are both nations of strong faith subjected to authoritarian regimes and repression of free speech, but succeeded in transforming themselves through peaceful revolutions.
On March 4, I had the opportunity to talk to three English classes at the Salesian School of Torun, where I showcased to the pupils the natural wonders of the Philippines, and my country’s history, geography and people. The students marveled at the centuries-old Ifugao Rice Terraces, the Mayon and Taal volcanos, the Bohol Chocolate Hills and the world-famous beaches of Boracay and El Nido.
I had the opportunity to return to these touristic wonders when I finally met the students of WSKSiM on the 6th and 7th of March – at the beginning of my lectures I felt that I needed to place faraway Philippines in the world map. I believe the students gained a clearer picture of the Philippines and its place in the Asian continent and the world.
In my lectures I gave a balanced picture of the situation in the Philippines and told students and faculty of the significant accomplishments of the three-year-old administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, such as tax reforms, free healthcare and education, improvements in infrastructure and others. These achievements, it must be said, have been sullied by President Duterte’s bloody war on drugs and his incessant attacks on the Catholic Church, one of his strident critics and a beloved institution among Filipinos.
The students of WSKSiM asked intelligent questions and I answered them as best as I could. The highlight of my visit, however, was my guesting at Radio Maryja on the evening of March 7. It gave me the opportunity to broadcast information about the Philippines and its political situation to the Polish national audience. My heart was warmed by the good impressions left by Filipinos wherever in the world they were met by the Polish people – the Holy Land, Rome, Canada and other places.
I hope the cooperation between the two educational institutions sparks greater people-to-people exchanges and economic ties between the Philippines and Poland. I look forward to a stronger partnership between WSKSiM and UST, two institutions that are destined to be important intellectual beacons in Europe and Asia.
Mr. Felipe F. Salvosa II
Journalism Program Coordinator and Erasmus+ Coordinator
Faculty of Arts and Letters
University of Santo Tomas
Manila, the Philippines
Visit: March 4 to 8, 2019