IN Sampaloc where we stayed during and after the war,
there is a street called Craig (Kra-eg as the locals say), one of
several streets in the district named after characters, personages,
and places pertaining to the life and works of Jose Rizal.
This particular street was named
after Austin Craig, the holder of the Rizal professorial chair at
the University of the Philippines in Padre Faura from 1912 to 1922.
This chair was awarded him in recognition of his books on Rizal, the
first being The Story of Jose Rizal, 1909, followed by Lineage,
Life, and Labors of Jose Rizal, Philippine Patriot, 1911.
The books tended to affirm the
official selection of Rizal as the national hero whose perceived
reformism (rather than the revolutionary violence of Andres
Bonifacio) was for the edification of a people yearning for
Craig arrived in Manila in 1904
as a teacher of the Bureau of Education, and was assigned to Lubang,
Mindoro, and later to Manila where he taught in the Philippine
Normal School (now a university), Philippine School of Arts and
Trades (now Technological University of the Philippines), Manila
High School (now Araullo), UP, and University of Manila. Early on
Craig was critical of the colonial officials, American and Filipino,
and was unpopular among his compatriots.
At the UP in Manila, Craig
figured in what may well be the first controversy involving academic
freedom. Professor of English Cristino Jamias tells this story in
his The University of the Philippines: the First Half Century in the
Diliman Review Golden Jubilee Supplement in 1958.
Jamias wrote that the UP board of
regents dismissed Prof. Craig from the service for having been found
guilty of “conduct prejudicial to the interests of the
university.” Only regent Conrado Benitez representing the alumni
Prof. Craig had made statements
published in and outside the campus against the regents and
President Guy Benton regarding his being sent abroad as exchange
professor (actually to let him get his doctorate), for selecting Dr.
Guy Benton as president, and attacking Dr. Alejandro Albert as
acting UP president, and for accusing a fellow American professor of
Among the regents Craig
criticized was Dr. Rafael Palma, the liberal nationalist who would
succeed Guy Benton to the presidency after the latter’s
resignation in 1923. Benton was described as having been frustrated
in his efforts to put the university on a sound fiscal and academic
footing. He was not popular among faculty and students. His health
declined and he was forced to resign after three years as president.
He died in 1927.
Four deans (Jorge Bocobo, Maximo
Kalaw, Francisco Benitez, and Herman Reynolds) and some forty
professors protested the dismissal in a petition “not so much in
behalf of Craig as in defense of academic freedom.” Law Dean
Bocobo cited “five anomalies” in the dismissal of Craig: the
board of regents acting as complainant and judge at the same time,
ignoring the favorable remarks of Dean of Liberal Arts Kalaw about
Craig, denying counsel to Craig, giving Craig only three days to
prepare his defense, and denying a request by the student Rizal
Center for postponement of the trial to enable people’s
representatives to sit in the trial.
The dismissal of Craig called
attention to Benton himself who was authorized by the board to
exercise control of all printing and publications in his office.
This may well be the reason of the deans, faculty, and students for
raising the issue of academic freedom. The Varsity News, precursor
to the present Philippine Collegian, was then the vehicle of
expression of both faculty and students. It was Benton who proposed
that the student publication be run by an editor-in-chief and a
board of assistants elected by the student body.
Craig seemed philosophical about
his case. Referring to the forfeit of his accrued leave, he said:
“Yet, I considered my dismissal more honorable than an ignominous
resignation and am content to pay the higher cost of thus
Dr. Leslie Bauzon noted in his
piece on Benton’s presidency (cf. The UP: The First 75 Years,
1983), that Craig’s dismissal generated a lot of protest both in
the campus and the colonial press. “Within the university in
particular, mass actions were staged by the students, specially on
September 14, 1922, demanding that the Board reconsider its
decision, and demanding that Craig be given back his rights and
status as professor of the university.” But the board was unmoved
and expressed confidence in Benton.
From UP Prof. Craig moved to the
University of Manila where he was a professor from 1922 to 1927. He
died in 1949 in his home state of New York, with his Rizal
scholarship as legacy and the distinction of having a street named
after him while he was still alive.