Americas Columns

AMERICA IN MY HEART: Revisiting the prestigious Stanford University

By ALFRED GABOT

PALO ALTO — Last week, I had the chance, together with a Philippinew News Today team, to revisit the prestigious Stanford University in Palo Alto, after our trip to San Jose, Santa Clara and Milpitas.

It was nightfall when we arrived in the vast campus (8,180 acres) where  three of the team members were first timers. After so many turnabouts, we ended up at the Stanford Visitor Center.

Then, we wanted to get into the Alumni Center across the street but lack of knowledge on parking regulations there prompted us to motor back instead to San Francisco and set another visit,

We were also lost back in the late 1980s when my good friend, Fernando “Ronnie” Estrada, drove me to Stanford University to attend classes in Modern Printing and Publishing Techniques spearheaded by the Stanford University Alumni Association.

Back then, printing/publishing was the 3rd to 5th top industry in America. This is indicated by robust newspaper, magazine and book businesses. A barometer to this was the San Jose Mercury News which at that time was coming out very thick in full color pages and had magazines and flyers as inserts. And the newspaper had three editions each day – one in time for breakfast, the second on lunchtime and the final issue during snack or dinner time!

With more newspapers and magazines in almost every city and county, I wondered then how voracious Americans as readers as they were awash with so many pages and sections of newspapers and magazines. I was told that apart from advertising firms, the United States Postal Service (USPS) was main beneficiary of the robust publishing business as magazines, newspapers, catalogues, newsletters, books, calendars, posters and other printed materials passed through or distributed through the post offices.

When I attended classes at Stanford University, printing and publishing was still transitioning from the tedious and sometimes dirty cut and paste typesetting traditional way to the modern and efficient computer encoding and pagination way.

When I was in high school in Manila, the process called letterpress was more difficult and dirty as they involve linotypes, cajistas who arranged the hot iron slugs into articles and pages in a box called caja, spread ink in the caja and put newsprint on top, then press to get the impressions for the proofreaders. Printing and publishing houses then had under their employ proofreaders to spot errors, grammatical or otherwise, and linotypists to typesetters who had to type (encode) the materials and later insert corrections initiated by proofreaders and editors.

Today, thanks to advances in computer and information and communications technology most of which were fashioned by dreamers and idealists based in Silicon Valley which encompasses Stanford University, printing and publishing are so easy and are available to almost everyone and at anyone’s own finger tips.

And you can do the task at the comfort of your home or in any place in the world for as long as you have reliable Internet connection and a functional desktop computer or laptop with its convergence of hardware and software to do the job.

With its seven schools of specialization attending to some 17,000 students, the 150-year-old Stanford University (the Royal and Pontifical University of Sto. Tomas in Manila is much older as it was founded in 1611) now also specializes in Artificial Intelligence (AI), among others, as it pursues its mission to contribute to the world by educating students for lives of leadership and purposeful contribution; advancing fundamental knowledge and cultivating creativity; and accelerating solutions and amplifying their impact.

As a professor and a former University Regent in one of top universities in the Philippines which conferred a Doctor of Public Management (DPM) honoris causa to California Governor Gavin Newsom, I would love to have a trip back or more to Stanford University, not a quickie revisit just like last week.

(Editor’s Note: The writer is a book author, professor and journalist in the Philippines and United States, having been president of the National Press Club during which he linked up with the National Press Club in Washington D.C. and launched NPC chapters in US. He served as a member of the Board of Regents of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila for two six-year terms, Commissioner of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Philippine Postal Corporation, among others. He is the editor in chief of Philippine News Today. Email comments to alfredgabot@aol.com or alfred.gabot@gmail.com)