Firstly, a disclosure: the Urban Roamer is an alumnus of the Manuel L. Quezon University. Technically, I only studied there for 2 1/2 years as a transfer student (long story) but considering this is the school from which I graduated, I suppose the MLQU aspect of my college education should weigh a bit more.
Thus, my interest gets piqued with any news that comes my way about my alma mater, like the one I will be sharing later on in this post. But before we go further, I suppose this is a good opportunity as well to talk about this underrated institution in the heart of Manila.
One thing about this institution is that despite the name, the school was not actually founded by kin of President Manuel L. Quezon. Rather, it was founded by a group of academics and legal luminaries who happened to espouse the ideals of MLQ regarding education as a right of all citizens that will help uplift the lives of the masses.
The school first opened its doors on November 1, 1947 at the corner of Mendiola and Legarda streets as the MLQ School of Law. In a span of a short period of time (as in only about a year or two) the fledgling law school made its mark with an impressive average passing rate in the bar examinations.
The MLQ School of Law later began offering additional courses as it also moved to a bigger campus along Hidalgo Street in Quiapo, the heart of Manila itself. With these developments, the school was renamed the MLQ Educational Institution, eventually becoming the Manuel L. Quezon University in 1958.
At present, the MLQU is still situated along Hidalgo St., with a separate campus for its School of Law along Arlegui Street. The present one along Hidalgo though is not the original building but rather the area near the estero where an empty lot now sits on the site, left untouched since the old building was demolished after a fire hit it about a decade ago.
At the same time, the area around university had seen better days in the last 50 years as Quiapo “evolved” into this place of chaos and urban decay at the heart of the city. Nowadays, some people shudder at the thought of studying in a school located in Quiapo with the negative perception going around Quiapo. It also didn’t help that university had been struggling in the past due to administration issues, a dwindling student population, and limited resources. As an alumnus, I was pretty much aware of all these.
Despite those challenges, it is still a respectable institution as its law school still performed well in the bar exams, not to mention its criminology program gaining prominence as well recently. It has also churned some prestigious alumni with the likes of the late Senator Blas Ople, former Supreme Court justices Isagani Cruz and Jose Melo, Labor Sec. Rosalinda Baldoz, former senator and cabinet secretary Alberto Romulo, film director Celso Ad. Castillo, even the model-policeman Neil Perez.
Then came news last October that ownership of MLQU changed hands from the original stakeholders (who themselves are kin of the school’s founders) to realty developer New San Jose Builders of the Acuzars. Not many people may know the firm of the people behind it, but they are the ones behind some residential and commercial developments in the country, most notable perhaps would be the Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan. You may have also encountered the Acuzars here in the Urban Roamer, in particular their old house in Samar Street in South Triangle which was the homebase of Noynoy Aquino’s Samar faction, now demolished to give way to…you guessed it, a New San Jose Builders residential tower project.
How the Acuzars and New San Jose Builders got interested in MLQU is something that the Urban Roamer has yet to find out. One can surmise that perhaps their interest with the university came about around the time they were building their residential tower right across the MLQU campus. (which also led to the “relocation” of the old house that used to stand there to Bataan, but that’s another story) In any case, this latest development in MLQU is part of a growing trend recently of businesses or taipans purchasing educational institutions, especially in Manila: University of the East now under the Lucio Tan group, National University now under the Henry Sy group, and Centro Escolar University under the Emilio Yap group.
Granted that New San Jose Builders has only gotten to know MLQU for only a few months, the group seems eager to make its mark in a big way. Apart from rehabilitating facilities, they have also made possible for MLQU to achieve its latest milestone, being the first university in Manila to tap solar energy for its power needs, at least in part, under the net metering scheme. (you can learn about it and other aspects of solar power in a previous entry here)
Such developments should be enough to keep anyone interested with what’s going to happen in the coming months and years, especially those like myself who have a stake in the institution as an alumnus. On the other side of the coin, there is reason as well to be concerned about possible commercialization of education, considering the new owner is a business and has not been involved in the education sector before. Will MLQU end up like other business-owned institutions that are after profits more than knowledge? I can only cross my fingers that it would not be the case.
At the very least, with the changes the New San Jose Builders group are planning for Manuel L. Quezon University, I hope they will not change the ideals the school was founded on that was espoused by the man the school was named after.
Pro patria et jure. For country and for law.