This morning, Ruby and I attended the graduation rites of her younger sister at UP Mindanao-Mintal campus.

Since it’s also an opportunity to cover, we took several shots of some vendors on the sidelines for news dispatches.

As the program was about to start, we rushed back to the atrium of UP Mindanao. We were just few meters away.

But we were surprised to hear some faculty of the school told us that we, and even the parents, are not allowed to take pictures since the UP Mindanao has its own official photographer.

How much if without caption?

I told them that we will just take a photo of our graduate while she’s marching towards their designated area. But the ladies, including the guard, insisted that it is prohibited because they have an official photographer.

Wow, I didn’t know that there is such a policy like that in a state university like University of the Philippines!

Wondering why the school would impose such policy when almost everyone these days are brandishing digital cameras as well as camera phones. Why they would prevent parents or relatives to take pictures in this precious occasion?

After taking few shots, we went to guests’ area and stayed for a while. Then we moved to the other side of the atrium to have a good vantage point as Shim is about to receive her “mock diploma.”

While we were there, we noticed that they did not allow some guests to pass by behind the railings. The faculty members and the guards led the guests to pass by below the stairs in front of the atrium.

Even the elderly guests are not spared to pass by below the stairs amid of scorching heat of the sun. Guests would just pass silently behind the railings, but why they wont allow them? They couldn’t cause any disturbance nor disrupt the ongoing ceremonies.

And we also noticed a videographer from ABS-CBN at the middle of the atrium and right behind the railings taking footages. A faculty approached him and asked for identification and told him to move to the sidelines because no one is allowed to take shots behind the railings.

The videographer approached us and complained that the UP Min policy is confusing. He was asked if who invited him to cover the graduation rites. Actually when we introduced ourselves first that we were also around to cover, a lady faculty also asked us if who invited us.

ABS-CBN videographer (behind the lady) held at bay by the guard and the faculty member

Minutes later, when the videographer left, the same faculty member approached us and told us to leave the sidelines because nobody is allowed to shoot in that area.

So I told her (and another guy) to ask the videographer to leave the sidelines too. Now they are saying that they invited the videographer! Funny. They asked for our ID, ruby showed her presscard. Unluckily, I left  my press card at home. Still, we were not allowed to take photos because we are not invited.

If that’s the case, that uninvited guests or media are not allowed, then they should have held the graduation rites inside a gymnasium and CLOSED THE GATES to the public.I suspect they are just scared that we might be able to capture a ‘lightning protest,’ which has been a tradition in every UP graduation rites. But no protesters dared to unfurl any banner.

They insisted to lead us to the guests area and shoot from there. We refused. We just left and told the faculty guy: Di nyo paagian na inyo tiles, wala pa diay na uga na?

He just told me not to go back anymore. But we returned to the atrium at the end of the ceremony.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is now the state of the university in the Philippines.