• The case of Krisel Mallari


    MY heart goes out to Krisel Mallari and her family. When you take your studies seriously – as all kids should – graduating with honors is something that you expect of yourself.

    I went to high school at the Rizal Experimental Station and Pilot School for Cottage Industries (RESPSCI), where the then Department of Education, Culture and Sports’ (DECS) Home Study Program or the Balik-Paaralan Program (BPP) of the 90’s was being offered.

    BPP was part of the public school that was RESPCSI, but BPP operated with its own set of rules. Students were not expected to come in regularly, and our learning was only measured through modules and tests. Mostly made up of working students, celebrities (at that time from That’s Entertainment and Ang TV), and kick-outs and drop-outs, very little was expected of the BPP students of that time. Show-up once a week, do a test, get a new module, chika the teachers and you should be fine.

    Like Krisel
    I was probably the only student who took those modules and tests seriously, and the only one who did want to learn despite the circumstances of the educational institution. I was there because I had a swollen painful knee through most of high school, and couldn’t handle regular school.

    By the time I was in fourth year, I had already been first honor three years in a row, which was no surprise to anyone. I didn’t think much of it either, knowing full well that I was the only one who even really studied and read beyond the modules – because you’d pass anyway no matter how you failed the tests.

    But in fourth year things changed. A family of swimmers became BPP students, and started participating – and winning! – as representatives of RESPSCI in the Palarong Pambansa. The fourth year swimmer was of course the biggest winner: he would be declared valedictorian based on the extra points he was given for bringing honor to the school.

    I cried like a baby. The BPP adviser felt bad for me, but seemed to not know what else to do. Even the swimmer himself was surprised that they gave it to him – he had witnessed as well how I was one of few students who took the work in BPP seriously. More seriously than he did, in fact.

    We didn’t think of raising a fuss. We all knew the systemic dysfunction that had led to this decision, and anyone who graduated with me from BPP that year knew it was all a matter of politics. I was not going to question teachers’ prerogative to give a boy who had won swimming medals extra points. I saw our grades too, and knew that it had been computed as such.

    Brave enough
    On graduation day, I was given the Leadership Award alongside second honors. The valedictorian and I both had our own speeches to deliver. I don’t remember now what I talked about, but it was obviously not about the system that had made me lose out on getting valedictorian.

    I was not as brave as Krisel Mallari.

    Because when I heard of what she did during her graduation rites in March, I was awed. That was what I could not do at my high school graduation rites, mostly because I thought it was not a battle worth fighting.

    Besides, at that point I had already passed the UPCAT, and I thought that was the greater feat, coming as I did from a dysfunctional homestudy program.

    But maybe the bigger difference was that I got a lot of kindness from my teachers and the school administration of BPP. They were one in deciding that I get the Leadership Award. They never questioned that I felt bad about not getting valedictorian. And the valedictorian himself was so nice about it, even willing to give it up except that it would be an affront to the teachers who had given him higher marks, too.

    This is the thing that’s been missing in the case of Krisel.

    Kindness, compassion
    I can’t believe how unkind people have been, how badly she’s been treated. Not only was she interrupted mid-speech during graduation – an embarrassing thing not just for her, but even more so for the school. Online, so many have called her arrogant and bitter, full of herself and unable to accept her own failures.

    And when news broke that her school was refusing to give her a Certificate of Good Moral Character, which she needed to enroll at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) for college, Krisel again fell victim to bullying and name-calling. Online, people said she deserved this kind of treatment for having embarrassed her high school.

    It didn’t matter that the Court of Appeals had sided with her on this, and had ordered Krisel’s high school to give her the certificate she needed to enroll in UST. But of course instead of giving Krisel a standard Certificate of Good Moral Character, the school issued a “’qualified’ certificate that detailed the status of the cases filed with the Court of Appeals and the Quezon City Regional Trial Court,” which to Krisel sounded ‘sarcastic.’” (GMANetwork.com, 4 Aug)

    It is beyond me why the school must be so mean. Why it can’t just let it go too, write it off as the daring of a young girl to take a stand, a young girl who is a rarity anyway.

    Thank heavens for UST
    Thank heavens UST knew to accept that “qualified” Certificate of Good Moral Character, whatever it contains. At least it had the sense to accept Krisel based on her credentials, and over and above what she was expected to submit from her high school.

    Sometimes the better schools are not the ones that we’ve considered home for years, but the ones that we are transferring to. One trusts that UST will know to nurture and cradle Krisel’s daring and courage. We could all use more of her on this side of the world.


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    1. I like Krisel for her strong will to elaborate what was happen to her n the valedictorian..thanks God that UST accept her n passed the entrance test with flying colors..GOOD JOB KRISEL my dear..you are a good leader to every student…keep up the good work!’

    2. I think you shouldn’t project your self to Kristel. Look at things more objectively:

      1. Do you hate ordinary Filipinos that much (the teachers)
      2. Do you feel yourself identifying with kristel?
      3. Are you sure you want to legitimize every parent/student complaint about their grades every time they feel like it.
      4. Don’t you think the speech is accusatory, slanderous, unfair?
      5. Don’t you think complaints from salutatorians are unique? Doesn’t it happene every year in many Philippine schools?
      6. Historically (since ancient Greece) teachers have absolute authority about how they grade/see their students. In fact most teacher opinions are indisputable and given this aren’t you just feeling rebellious and punishing the teachers of this small parochial school?
      7. Academe is not like sports or politics where people could just complain about the results of their efforts. Teachers usually allow students opportunity for clarifications or guidance on how to improve scores and grades. But final grades are usually incontestable.

    3. First let me say I’m a Thomasian and proud of it.

      What puzzles me though is how weird (I’m being kind here) is the admission system of UST.
      Whoever is charge there must known or heard of Krisel and her situation.

      There can be 3 scenarios here.

      If UST officials believe what she did was wrong, then they should have rejected her outright. Why even wait for that certificate?

      Now if they think she did the right thing, why wait for that certificate.
      Having direct knowledge beats any piece of paper, right?

      3rd possibility, they can’t decide whether she did right or wrong (I know this sounds incredible), for whatever reason. Will a piece of paper change their outlook just like that?

      What can I say? Eh did WOW?

      • Kuya, sana tinagalog mo nalang. Nahirapan ako intindihin ka eh. Pero sige, kung ingles ang gusto mo, edi ingles.

        In response to your opinion about the scenarios:

        First, it’s not a matter of whether UST believes Krisel or not. UST is basically outside of this issue so if Krisel passed the entrance exams and meets the necessary requirements, she rightfully gained her place as a Thomasian student.

        In tagalog, walang kinalaman ang UST sa case ni Krisel at SNPS. Basta naipasa ng bata lahat ng requirements at qualifications ng UST (exams & documents), pasok sya.

        Second, UST’s decision to admit a student is not based on “personal judgement”. Again, Krisel has to meet the necessary requirements. For this matter, she already fulfilled everything except submit a certificate of good moral, a mandatory requirement, because SNPS refused to issue Krisel one.

        Oh, tagalugin ulit natin. Hindi tumatanggap o tumatanggi yung UST ng studyante dahil “feeling” nila maayos o bulakbol yung studyante. Kailangan nila ng documents. Lahat naipasa na ni Krisel maliban lang sa certificate of good moral. Doon sumikat issue na to: ayaw magbigay ng SNPS ng certificate of good moral.


        Tagalog ulit: oo, yung isang pirasong papel na certificate of good moral ang aayos sa lahat ng ito.

        Oh diba? WOW talaga.

    4. Thanks for writing this Katrina. Oh the guy who wrote re Krisel doesn’t have his sympathy? You’re correct Lara, nasty, very nasty educator. Sad for San Beda.

    5. The name Kristel will be remembered….one day when she is old enough and still has in her belly the achings to come to the front amidst of all the heretic norms that abound our socities…she can be the beacon that can guide our country back to sensibilities. UST sees the thing differently..these academe had Rizal as a test case and they see Kristel in the same mould. U.P. might be the right university for her but the nurturing can be risky; more to the left. Let Kristel be nurtured where once the great ones were. And to her alma matter, you should be proud of your institution, You have graduated a thinking citizen, may you produce more of Kristel.

    6. The case of Krisel is both of extremes. Either you love her or hate her. In my case, I simply love her. She has the guts to speak out against the system. She is the future, as Jose Rizal have dreamed of our youth. Here’s hoping that the fire Krisel had lit would not just flit away.

    7. Hi Katrina, I heard about Krisel’s situation when news about the CA compelling her school to give her the certification. I caught up on my reading and got hooked and followed her story.

      I was horrified by her school’s unyielding and vindictive stance in spite of the onerous consequence that this girl will be unable to go to college. The punishment did not befit the crime. The CA was correct in stating the school exercised “grave abuse” of its authority.

      I was even more appalled when I read the discussion forums. So much vitriol and ill-feeling towards a 16-year old girl who is still a minor. I got into a word war with some of them. Some stated they would never hire Krisel in the companies they own. Others said she needed to learn a lesson … even if the price is not being able to go to college. Some said she was a liar and a cheat for altering her speech without the school’s permission, freedom of speech be damned because she was inside private property. The dean of San Beda even wrote an article reading Krisel doesn’t have his sympathy – what a nasty, nasty educator.

      But there were others, like you and me, who thought otherwise. And thank God UST was one of them.

      • Daniel B. Laurente on

        I do agree what you described here. I have read also the article from Fr, Rannie Aquino about his views saying he doens’t sympathized with Kistel. Well he has own views and we have different from them and him.
        I even emailed Fr. Rannie about my views about Kristel’s predicament as my sympahaty to her.

    8. Absolutely, we need more of Krisel’s kind in this world. Not only is she daring and courageous; she is a non-conformist – not swallowing many schools’ belief that students must speak and act like pre-programmed robots when they graduate.