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A Tribute to UP Students and Filipino People, A Century Ago


By: Lourdes G. Mon


On this issue, I am dedicating my article to three women whose names immediately come to mind, all alumni of the University of the Philippines Diliman. They are friends of mine, very successful in their own respective professions. They are Dr. Penelope Flores, Professor of Education Emeritus, San Francisco State University; Josefina Abaya Wee Sit, a retired Special Ed educator; and, of course, our very own indefatigable VT Publisher and CPRTV Executive Producer, Veronica Leighton.

It is almost inconceivable that I would be writing about something that happened a century ago. However, since it is rather commendable concerning the Filipinos, especially in regards to the then students of the University of the Philippines, I am very enthused to write it.

In going through the Mon archives, my husband came across an article written by the President of the University of the Philippines a hundred years ago. His name was Dr. Potter Guy Benton. How he arrived in the Philippines, I could not find any record of it. My husband told me his dad was in high school when Dr. Benton wrote this article. Impressed with Dr. Benton’s writing, my father-in-law, the late Francisco Q. Mon kept a copy. It’s great to know that even a century ago, the students at the University of the Philippines and the Filipinos at-large made a very positive impression on a foreign educator.

Before becoming the third president of the University of the Philippines in 1921-1925, Dr. Benton was President in three American universities; Upper Iowa University (1898-1902), Miami University (1902-1911), and University of Vermont (1911-1920).

Here’s the article by Dr. Benton.

There is nothing more inspiring in the intellectual development of mankind than educational progress in the Philippines. Without fear of successful contradictions, I affirm that in all human history, the educational advancement of the Filipino people, during the twenty years of American occupation has ever been surpassed. their spiritual growth is at once a tribute of American efficiency and Filipino capability.

I am not theorizing. For thirty years, I have had associations with great crowds of young people and I am able to testify, on the basis of experience and observation, that I have never come in contact with a brighter, better, more eager, industrious or promising company of young men and women than the four thousand who, today, compose the student body of the University of the Philippines. The Filipinos, in general, are not “born short,” either morally or mentally, as occasionally affirmed by superficial observers, and I wish, I might give my words the voice of thunder and the wings of lightning to refute the unwarranted slander against a people of proven character and ability so that the reputation might echo and re-echo with convincing finality.

Obviously, Dr. Benton had an engaging and rich experience with the university’s 4,000 student body. I assume that Dr. Benton wrote this tribute before he left the Philippines, as his tenure at UP was coming to an end because he became ill and returned to the United States in poor health.

In closing, Dr. Benton will continue to go down in history as a laudable educational leader of higher learning, not only in the United States, but most especially in the Philippines.


Engagement: I extend congratulations and best wishes to my granddaughter Princess Bernadette Mon on her engagement to Leo Funa. It took place in Santa Barbara, California.


Dr. Potter Guy Benson


Leo Funa & Princess Bernadette Mon

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