The Man Behind the Professor: A Closer Look at Sir “Randy” David

As the 2010 elections draw near, many political analysts and government officials speculate that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo plans to run representative of the second district of Pampanga.

Coincidentally, this is also where Sociology Professor Randolf “Randy” David is a registered voter.

The current head of the Department of Sociology has been a media personality since 1986. But who is the person behind the professor?

What is he like outside of the academe?

Q: How would you describe Sir “Randy” David outside of the classroom?

A: “I’m a very private person actually. I tend to be solitary, I like being alone. And as some of you already know, I ride a motorcycle.”

Q: Do you ride with a group, Sir?

A: “I ride with a group. I have a group, but half of the time I ride alone. It’s a motorcycle group of people my age, senior people, in their late forties, or fifties. And the oldest in our group is 77 years old. [The group] is called “Hombres of Manila.” It’s a very loose motorcycle group, with surgeons, doctors, lawyers and business executives in the group.”

Q: When did you start riding?

A: “Well, I started riding when I was a graduate student here. This was in 1967. I was 22. My first bike was a Ducati Junior Monza, 160 cc, just a small bike, it was given to me as a graduation gift, by my grandfather. [It was] second hand, but a nice bike… and that’s the reason why I have a Ducati (Monster S4) now, 918 cc, it’s a bigger bike, it’s a road–racing bike.”

Q: Do you race?

A: “I don’t race; you need different kinds of skills for racing. I do have another bike. It is an Aprilla Caponord. It’s a touring bike; I’ve travelled from north to south on that bike. For short distances, like going to Subic or Bataan or Pampanga, or to Tagaytay, I ride my Ducati. But for long stretches, like Mindanao for instance or Bicol (overnight), you need a more comfortable bike, so I ride my Caponord.”

Q: You were a public figure since 1986. What were your experiences?

A: “I was in television from 1986–2003. That was 17 years. I was hosting a public affairs show, a public forum [titled] ‘A Public Life with Randy David.’ I started in channel 13, the biggest station at that time in ‘86. Then I moved from channel 13 to channel 5 (ABC 5) in 1991. So I spent five years in channel 13, another four to five years in channel 5, and then I moved from channel 5 to channel 7. [I] spent two and a half years in GMA 7, and then moved to channel 2, and spent two years in ABS–CBN and then I got tired, because it was interfering with my academic work. So I continued to teach.”

“I was also at one point writing a Tagalog column for a defunct broadsheet in Filipino called “Dyaryo Filipino” which was edited by Virgilio Almario, a national artist. I started to write [a column] for the Inquirer in 1995 [titled] ‘Public Lives’. And I’ve been teaching in UP for 42 years.”

Q: Does politics run in your family?

A: “No. There has never been a congressman or senator in my family. My father was a lawyer. He was a prosecutor. My mother was a small businesswoman, and eventually [she] had to spend all her time raising us, because there were thirteen of us, and I’m the eldest. I have six brothers and six sisters, we are a big family. We are a family of professionals, walang politiko (no politicians).”

Q: Sir how about your educational background?

A: “Well, I studied here in UP, undergraduate, in 1961. [I took my] graduate and post–graduate in England. I left Pampanga for UP (in 1961) when I was 15 and never left, so I’ve spent more time here in UP than anywhere else, except for those years when I was in England with my wife. I was active in student politics, [which is] probably my only political experience. I was a university councilor, and the vice–chairperson of the student council. I ran as chairman, and lost. I was in third year college. It was a good training for me because I originally wanted to be a lawyer; it was my father’s ambition for me. But I was ‘hijacked’ by sociology. I liked it and I decided to continue. Maybe, if I had taken up law, I would have become a politician. But I like the life of an academic.”

Q: Any other hobbies you’d like to share?

A: “Apart from bikes, I also love bird watching. I bring two things when I ride my bike: my books and binoculars. At times I would just ride my bike and go to Mt. Makiling and watch birds. I also watch birds [here in UP]. I’m a member of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines so I’ve been to almost all the bird sites. Right in my backyard, I have resident kingfishers. [They are] a couple, beautiful white–collared kingfishers. It’s a lovely place to live in. To me, this is paradise. I can spend all my time just reading and writing, playing with my granddaughter, watching my lotuses grow, [and] riding around in my motorcycle. To me, that’s the good life.”

Q: Any last message (for the youth)?

A: “They should never lose interest in their country. As much as possible they should pursue their dreams and their personal aspirations in conjunction with the aspirations of the country, because we are a very young nation. We are still trying to build ourselves as a nation. The nation will not build itself alone; it will have to build itself hand in hand with its young people. So young people should as much as possible live their lives in conjunction with the nation’s life. I’m not saying that one should sacrifice one’s personal dreams, or put them aside in favor of the nation. It only means that you have only one country. It will not develop unless you participate in its development. It will not grow unless you participate in its growth. You have to treasure it the way you treasure your family, which means you have to take an interest in what’s happening
in your country.” ▪

Article by Gromico Chopitea