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Best of Both Worlds: The Dichotomy between Arts and Sciences in UP Diliman

Words and Art by: Pinky Castro and Hanz Clemente

“Iskolar ng Bayan”

“The Best of the Best”

Honor and Excellence”

These are only some of the many attributes used to describe the prestigious university that is UP Diliman. As the foremost champion of academic excellence in the Philippines, UP Diliman has great expectations to meet when it comes to the caliber of education expected of them. Little do most know, however, that when the best students in the country converge in a single campus, honor and excellence take on a different meaning. Due to the extensive list of courses offered by the university, it is inevitable that divisions in beliefs and perceptions between students are fostered, proving that the journey to a united university has only just begun.

Despite being often pushed under the rug, the division between the sciences and the arts pervades through colleges and persists the test of time. From mere matters of social prejudice towards arts and science students to the differences in the budget allotted to their respective colleges, prejudice exists in both communities, making it extremely difficult to reconcile differences and appreciate the significance of the other’s field of expertise. The prolonged divergence between the two fields then makes us wonder: what exactly is creating this staunch divide, and can we ever hope to bridge the gap toward a deeper appreciation of both fields in the future?


The Artist and Her Craft

In Philippine society, it is common to hear things such as “puro writing lang yan,” or “drawing lang naman ginagawa diyan eh” when referring to the study of the arts. There is a somewhat preconceived notion that the liberal and creative disciplines embody the “easier” fields due to a seeming lack of objective sciences to their craft. Professor Janice Zamora-Morales from the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy in UPD says that people often stereotype the arts as “easy, purely subjective, merely opinionated, and frankly, less important compared to other areas of study.” These misconceptions often manifest in tangible ways, including the writing off of numerous proposed projects by the social science departments, and a noticeably lower budget compared to their scientific counterparts.

What many people fail to recognize, however, is how the arts are inextricably linked to the sciences. Prof. Zamora-Morales emphasized that while considered a liberal art, the social sciences are labeled as a science because of the sheer amount of data analysis required to arrive at conclusions in their areas of specialization. This not only makes the discipline immensely intricate but establishes it as a diverse field of knowledge that finds its foundations in the physical world.

Passionate about the ways scientific methods are used to arrive at visual breakthroughs, Meg Mendoza, a fourth-year Visual Communication major, echoed the same sentiments.

“A good chunk of science is experimentation; and in art, you experiment… a lot. ”

From mastering the behavior of light in its infinite forms, to applying these lessons to her artworks, she expressed how achieving visual effects involves overcoming steep learning curves depending on the subject of her art and the nuance of their surroundings.

“Crafting realistic paintings based on a natural landscape is a very complicated process that needs a lot of studying and referencing in order to achieve my desired output,” she shared with our team.

Whether to affirm preliminary findings in the social sciences or to capture the extremely subtle nuances of an artist’s technique, there is no doubt that the arts are just as grounded in reality as the sciences. With each testimonial heard, stereotypes of the creative studies lose shape, and a once indivisible barrier between the two fields becomes less and less definite.


A Scientist's Trump Card

On the other side of things, the oversimplification of the sciences as the study of objective

truths in accordance with strict guidelines is an idea that continues to persist. The notion that the field should solely be run by rationality, methodology, and data undermines the true purpose of scientific theories as a means to achieve a better, more inclusive, and equitable future.

When asked about how the division between the arts and sciences affected her experience at work, Professor Molly Mallari from the College of Human Kinetics explained that in the field of Sports Science, applied science is combined with culture-based studies to create a more comprehensive understanding of the human body.

“In my field of study, we have subjects in Anatomy and Physiology to serve as foundation courses for Exercise Physiology.”

An advocate of the incorporation of social sciences in the scientific fields, Prof. Mallari maintained that their coexistence and subsequent collaboration greatly contributed to the other’s advancement.

Moira Lopez, a third-year Molecular Biology and Biotechnology student, expressed similar feelings with how creative thinking is deeply needed to make sense of the overly technical processes that are used in biochemistry.

“How else are we supposed to comprehend complicated chemical reactions and molecular processes, without some use of our imagination?” she exclaimed, candidly.

“Intellectual and well-researched visualizations may prove to be effective in proving phenomena, but to perform experiments in a rather unorthodox and more creative manner to achieve the same results..... I find it beautifully intriguing.”

Existing norms have led us to believe that science should exist independently from the arts, when in fact, their partnership proves to be exceedingly beneficial in the long run. To devoid science of passion and creativity would be to restrict every field of study from creating meaningful discoveries. Becoming an Iskolar ng Bayan entails deviating from becoming mere cogs in the engine of economic development. The countless concepts UPD students are made to memorize every Finals week are obsolete if they remain oblivious to the concrete impacts they have on society.


Finding Unity in Diversity

No matter where you are or who you talk to in the university, every Iskolar ng Bayan has their own sense of ingenuity drawn from experiences in their respective areas of mastery. Math majors are specialists in the art of geometric analysis, fine arts majors are experts in the science of anatomy, chemistry majors are brilliant in discerning the fine details of chemical bonds, and social science majors are adept in ethnographic research. Yet among a multitude of differences, the singular intertwining thread is a collective passion to innovate and improve the lives of our fellow men and


UPD is the renowned institution that it is because it is inclusive of an expansive array of schools of thought. It is for this reason that the arts and the sciences should not be seen as clashing forces, but as the complementary disciplines that they are.

One can admire the night sky by being overwhelmed by the stars, the variety of star patterns, and their differing motions in the vast universe. But one can also be in awe of the sunset—how the colors seem to perfectly blend in harmony, symbolizing the glorious end to a person’s day. Two sides of the same coin, a contrasting yet complementary balancing act, the sciences and the arts cannot and should not exist without the other.

By combining creativity and scientific knowledge, people can create new forms of expression, push the boundaries of what is believed to be possible, and achieve pioneering breakthroughs through a leap of faith.

After all, what is science and what is art if not for exceedingly humanizing ways to see the world?


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