Educators who are EMPLOYED by Catholic schools should make a CHOICE

I don’t buy this whole freedom of expression thing when it comes to speaking up about the RH Bill — not if I were employed by an institution of learning that affiliates itself with the Roman Catholic Church. Those outspoken professors enjoy the great pay (as far as educators go) in schools like the Ateneo, La Salle, and UST because those schools are lent credibility and prestige by their being run by members of European religious orders.

I think whoever authored that infamous article on the UST paper Varsitarian had it right when he or she wrote: “As these professors have chosen to teach in a Catholic university, they must abide by its teachings and beliefs. In the first place, the same is demanded of students.”

I’m not gonna go into the details of what I think about all that because I think Benign0 already delivered my point really well in his article about it…

For the professors of the UST and other Catholic institutions such as “the” Ateneo de Manila University and, sniff, De La Salle University, their self-imposed aspiration to take a stand for the ideas they are passionate about exacts a far far smaller price: their continued employment.

Instead, I will talk about my own experience dealing with the sort of choices these professors should have been considering as employees of Catholic institutions taking a stand for an issue that goes against the grain of their bosses.

At the State University campus where I went to college, there were two big Catholic ogranizations that were in the business of doing Catholic stuff like praying and singing together, going on retreats, organizing masses for this or that occasion, and going to poor barrios to teach grade school kids. One is composed of members that I’d consider (fairly or unfairly) to be more of the, shall we say, “down to earth” sort. The other was populated more by the brat-pack set — graduates of the same prestigious Catholic high schools that currently have their claws out at one another over this whole RH Bill brouhaha.

The former had their tambayan (“hangout place”) at the top of the steps of the university’s Arts and Sciences building, while the latter took residence in some kind of shed near the campus’s iconic Catholic chapel. I spent a lot of time as a guest hanging out with the latter brat-pack org. What college girl could resist? The place was teeming with Atenistas and LaSallistas, and the cars parked around the area were the sorts of cars you wanted to be seen cruising around in while sitting on the passenger seat (for those with crystal-clean untinted windows) or, at least, getting out of (for those with those naughty one-way mirrored tints). I can’t say I’m proud of the criteria I applied when choosing hangouts as a 19 year-old college student, but I was what I was at the time.

So there I was in-between classes (and even after my last class), enjoying the wit of Jake who was good at doing impromptu stand-up comedy in a thick bisaya accent (despite having lived most of his life in Quezon City) and bumming “blue seal” Marlboro Lights from Ramon who belonged to the Makati carpool set, an elite clique of guys and gals who lived in one of a handful of exclusive fortified villages in Makati. In the background there was always at least one dude or another wistfully strumming or picking notes off a guitar. Other guys or girls would be busy struggling to concentrate on their school books and assignments amidst the din of banter and laughter that filled the tambayan (why they didn’t instead study in a library if concentrating on work was supposedly that important was quite obvious).

It was all fun, games, and lots of flirting interrupted every now and then by clear reminders of what the org supposedly stood for. Lots of rituals were religiously (go figure!) observed. The Angelus was prayed every 12 noon, and some kind of rosary-like prayer was chanted at 3 o’clock every afternoon. Grace was said before meals. A crucifix hung from the wall facing the entrance. At about the time classes are dismissed in public schools around the area, some members would make paalam to go to their turo (tutoring sessions).

Personally, I just disappeared whenever the Chapel gang bowed their heads in deference to their token Catholic rituals. Even back then I had already decided that being too Catholic wasn’t my thing. By then, as a sophomore, I was already taking a couple of calculus courses which were beginning to eat big time into my campus free time. So I wasn’t about to blow an hour of my precious but dwindling tambay time on the almost weekly masses these guys attended. There were, after all, other interesting folks to hang around with in other hangouts just a few minutes’ walk away.

Eventually, reality really bit. One of the members of the Chapel gang finally asked me why, since I hung around there so much, don’t I just apply as a member? That’s when the questions hit me. Did I want to be a member of this org? As in, recite the Angelus every noon time, carry around a rosary in my pocket, say grace before meals, go to more than the one mass I trudge into every week (okay, so I still went to Sunday mass — because my mom would’ve freaked out if she found out I would rather not), and go out to stinky “depressed” neighborhoods most afternoons of a school week pretending that that noble task was what being a member of the org was really all about?

I must have mumbled some of those questions out loud at the time (hopefully not the more irreverent of them) because Lala, the girl who asked me if I’d consider applying for membership, quickly assured me: “No, silly, you don’t have to be that into all that. It’ll be fun!”


But I already was having fun as a non-member hanger-on (a sort of parasite I can admit now). Because there was no commitment to the demands of membership. Maybe the fun would still be there as a member, but the required commitments will have one way or another substracted from that fun. The calculus (as mentioned earlier, a subject relevant to me at the time) was simple: the delta of Fun as a function of X as X approached membership was a negative value. There was nothing in it for me and my shallow ways. And even if I took Lala’s advise and not be too “into all that” as a member I thought, hey, life’s too short to be spending time on something you are not too that into.

So I opted out.

These professors can too — if they decide they are not that into toeing the Catholic line.


Post Author: Kate Natividad

Frustrated artist doing geek for a living.

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31 Comments on "Educators who are EMPLOYED by Catholic schools should make a CHOICE"

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Bill Steffen

Ahhhhh Kate…. You are one helluva girl.


I like reading your articles!


It is as simple as the drab line, “the terms of employment is determined by the employer.” If these ‘intellectual pretenders’ to use the Varsitarian’s description, are not happy with the terms of their employment, (promote the philosophy/doctrine of the school), they are free to leave and look employment somewhere.


I don’t think it’s that easy. Remember, we are talking about the livelihood of the these teachers, not college life where you can easily opt out if you wanted to. As for the issue with employers determining the terms of employment, when it comes to education, such should not always be applied- otherwise, one risks being left behind by the times. Sometimes, the best teachers are not those who follow the norm simply because they are told to do so.


Oh, and on another note, the whole “because those schools are lent credibility and prestige by their being run by members of European religious orders.” provides little to their “popularity” at this point. It’s more of the quality of education as well as the success of its alumni which contribute greatly to their names. Otherwise, any school with the same “administrators” would be as well known as these 3.


“Even back then I had already decided that being too Catholic wasn’t my thing.”

Reminded me of myself back in the early 1990s. Back then, I had already decided that being Catholic *at all* wasn’t my thing. I went on to a Protestant church. Although that was a bit complicated since I was studying at Ateneo at the time.



That exactly is the problem with the younger people these days. All they want is fun, they don’t want to be serious about life.

Jesuits and de La Salle (person) have opposed the ideals of their respective authorities in the past. I think we can expect them to grant the same privilege to their employees.

As for those professors and instructors, it’s a little more subjective.
If they’re just there for the payment, I agree they should resign.

If they are there for their students, respective schools, or the community of their schools, I think it would be unfair to expect them to resign over a difference in ideals.

I think it would be unfair to require professors and students to abide by or toe the Catholic line. This would be like saying non-Catholics should not teach nor study in a Catholic institution. I subsicribe to the freedom of conscience which JPII lovingly espoused. All of us are free to have our own informed opinion. HOWEVER, these professors who made their stand publicly known may have crossed the line. They have embarassed not only the very institutions they serve but also the Catholic heirarchy. They have perverted the values which these institutions promote. No one is asking the people… Read more »
Domingo Arong
Following are relevant passages in certain documents of the Roman Catholic Church: Ex corde Ecclesiae (from the heart of the Church) APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTION OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF JOHN PAUL II ON CATHOLIC UNIVERSITIES Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 15 August … in the year 1990. “PART II GENERAL NORMS Article 4. The University Community § 1. The responsibility for maintaining and strengthening the Catholic identity of the University rests primarily with the University itself … The identity of a Catholic University is essentially linked to the quality of its teachers and to respect for Catholic doctrine …… Read more »

Because it had to be said:

“‘Join the Chapel group,’ they said! ‘It would be fun,’ they said!”

Hyden Toro

It is a choice, if we want ot multiply like Rabbits or not…

Pope Benedict XVI to Catholic educators: “In regard to faculty members at Catholic colleges universities, I wish to reaffirm the great value of academic freedom. In virtue of this freedom you are called to search for the truth wherever careful analysis of evidence leads you. Yet it is also the case that any appeal to the principle of academic freedom in order to justify positions that contradict the faith and the teaching of the Church would obstruct or even betray the university’s identity and mission; a mission at the heart of the Church’s munus docendi and not somehow autonomous or… Read more »

The fact that the same “freedom of expression” can already be seen in library holdings (unless the same schools are now removing books and journals that question Catholic views) shows that educators are in the right.

Robert Haighton
A real great article, Kate!!! I am not a complete “connaisseur” of the Philippines but do non-confessional schools exist in the Philippine? I think this bruhaha can lead to professors saying to (for instance) a journalist “on the record” I am anti RH, “Off the record” I am pro RH. This may sound contradictory and hypocritical but I think the Philippine (educational) system will make professors (and other teachers) act that way while in reality the professors just want to speak their own free mind (if they could without jeopardizing their employment). Would I apply as professor at either of… Read more »