EDITOR’S NOTE: This article won best in-depth report in the second UST National Campus Journalism Awards last Dec. 21. It first appeared in the Flame‘s Vol. 51, Issue no. 2.
ON FEBRUARY 11, students in the University were allowed to wear their Type-B uniforms throughout the semester in anticipation of the hot weather. However, Anna Patricia Urrutia, an Economics senior, has yet to receive the two Type-B uniforms she ordered from the Arts and Letters Student Council (ABSC) last year.
“Malapit na akong grumaduate [pero] wala pa rin akong Type-B uniform. Seeing your batchmates wear their Type B uniform every day since February 11—I can’t stop thinking when can I get [mine], and if ever there’s a chance of refund, when will that happen?”
Urrutia is just one of many Artlets who own the 472 Type-B uniforms that are yet to be distributed or for exchange since last academic year.
To avoid this mishap from recurring, the Dean’s office has taken over the ordering and delivering of type-B uniforms to freshmen and to those who want to avail additional uniforms.
The second batch of orders has already been delivered but the undelivered uniforms—and most importantly, the people who should be held responsible for this—are nowhere to be found.
The track down
In the previous academic year, the contract to produce the Type-B uniform was awarded to Bright Ravens Printing Company (Bright Ravens Co.) in what appears to be a hasty procurement process.
However, following an initial investigation by the incumbent ABSC officers, it was discovered that Bright Ravens Co. is allegedly non-existent and is incapable of producing the Faculty’s big order.
As it turns out, Bright Ravens Co. was a fraudulent supplier, ABSC president Jan Dominic Castro claims.
“There was really one student from AB na pumasok, ginamit ‘yung business nila, well in fact hindi pala ‘yung Bright Ravens talaga ang gumagawa nung shirt…there’s another supplier na gumagawa ng shirt,” Castro said in an interview with the Flame.
The student Castro was referring to is Mark Beltran, the alleged owner of Bright Ravens, Co. He is a Communication Arts student.
Beltran allegedly took the contract and then looked for a printing company that could actually produce the Type-B uniforms.
“Bright Ravens is [non-existent,] it’s subcontracted, so parang ang nangyari naging middleman siya, [a] third person in an ordinary contract, para siyang agent. Kinuha niya ‘yung kontrata, [at] naghanap siya ngayon ng puwedeng gumawa nung shirt,” Castro said.
Linearity Shirts Trading, a Quezon City-based product and servicing company that specializes in custom t-shirts, personalized apparel, screen and digital printing, embroidery and custom-printed promotional products, made the type-B uniforms for Bright Ravens.
Not known to many, other printing companies also expressed interest in supplying AB with its summer uniforms. Two of them were Grafitee, supplier of the Faculty of Engineering’s Type-B uniforms, and Shirt Happens, the maker of UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe’s cheer shirt in 2014.
However, in a previous report published by the Flame, the two bidders backed out because of the “highly-customized” design of the Type-B uniforms.
Grafitee, now the supplier of the ABSC for its latest merchandise, declined to comment on the bidding process that took place.
While Artlets who have not yet received their orders are disappointed, some Artlets who were able to get their uniforms are dismayed as well due to the poor quality of the shirts they received. One of them is Jeremie Ann Ho, an Asian Studies junior.
“I’m not satisfied with the quality of the Type-B polo shirts. It was almost see-through and mabilis siyang magkaroon ng himulmol. Hindi siya cotton-like kaya hindi [siya] ganoon ka-comfortable for me,” she said.
The Type-B uniform is supposed to help Artlets cope with the hot weather from March to May. However, an expert uniform tailor said the Type-B uniform is made of polyester, thus, it is “non-breathable.”
“Mainit ‘yan (polyester) sa katawan, hindi talaga iyan pang-summer, kasi kahit may butas-butas ‘yung fabric mismo, hindi nakakahinga ‘yung balat,” said Anita Singson, a veteran tailor of Lauraenne’s Creations and Boutiques.
Singson added that the most suitable fabric for the Type-B Uniform is cotton since it is soft and more breathable.
The tailor said that the Type-B uniform is relatively cheaper since the price of most multi-colored polo shirts in the market may hit P400 and above.
Earlier, former ABSC President Marie Jann Klaire Lazo said that Bright Ravens Co. assessed the tri-color design of the Type-B uniform as “problematic,” adding they could have produced at least 500 shirts a day if only the shirt had a basic design.
However, Singson downplayed Bright Ravens’ assessment, saying they should have not taken too long to produce the orders since they used sewing machine and computerized embroidery.
Castro confirmed that the ABSC has filed a complaint against Beltran to the Student Welfare and Development Board (SWDB) for “[contracting] with the ABSC fraudulently.”
Furthermore, the complaint seeks to investigate the system employed by former ABSC president Marie Jann Klaire Lazo and former treasurer Julienne Avila in handling the Type-B uniforms, saying that “kahit kami mismo hindi namin alam ‘yung sistema nung pinatakbo nila ‘yung Type-B.”
The Flame repeatedly sought the sides of Lazo and Avila but to no avail. Likewise, SWDB-AB coordinator Fleurdeliz Altez-Albela declined to comment on the ongoing case, saying its details shall remain confidential until it is resolved.
Because there are no signs of progress, the Board of Majors (BOM) suggested that the ABSC refund the payments. However, the final decision is still up to the council and the Faculty administration, says BOM speaker Aleli Joyce Bucu.
Still, Castro said their priority is to deliver the shirts, especially to the graduating students.
But how long will Artlets wait? Not even the ABSC knows, which is why they already sought the assistance of the Faculty administration.
“Dumating sa point na na-realize namin [na] parang the supplier is not true with what they’re saying, na feeling namin na because we’re just students, kinakayan-kayanan lang kami,” Castro said.
As this issue prolongs, and with the ABSC as helpless as the Artlets who were shortchanged, students like Russell Gwynn Tan—whose payment for the Type-B uniforms is almost equivalent to her one-month allowance—are already tired of waiting.
“How long will it take before they actually give—not only to me, but [to] everyone who still haven’t gotten their shirts—our money’s worth? If I knew beforehand that this will happen, hindi na lang sana ako bumili ng shirt,” she said.
For now, Tan, along with ABSC and all concerned Artlets, may have to wait a little longer, because when asked by the Flame to comment on the allegations against him, all that Beltran could offer was an apology. F ALEXANDRA J. AVILA and DONN CLARENZE I. GONZALES