Thinking Pinoy: Wharton Graduate Mar Roxas, that is not a "Background in Economics"!

December 14, 2015

Wharton Graduate Mar Roxas, that is not a "Background in Economics"!

Was Mar Roxas intentionally vague about his educational attainment just to bloat his credentials? Because what he did was like bragging about a ₱ 2 million SUV that turns out to be a Mitsubishi Montero.

Contrary to Davao City Mayor Rody Duterte's claims, an earlier ThinkingPinoy report showed that Senator Mar Roxas indeed graduated from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. 

However, after checking out Roxas' personal profile in the Senate website, there appears to be an extremely subtle but effective case of resume padding, that he exaggerated the importance of a qualification to make himself look better — at least on paper — than he should.

Roxas, the "Wharton Graduate"

Roxas has often been called a "Wharton Graduate" to imply his terrifyingly superior educational attainment, and Roxas gains lots of political mileage out of it.

We can observe this in news articles, such as those from the Huffington Post, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and even as recently as November 2015 in Rappler,.  .

Roxas is generally considered to be the best-educated 2016 presidential candidate, even by his rivals' respective supporters, which he wishes to woo to his side, especially due to his dismal pre-election survey scores.

In February 2014,  an Inquirer article described Roxas and his political ad. The Inquirer stated,
"[The ad] showed Roxas—a Wharton graduate who comes from the elite Araneta clan—in a wet market as he mingled with vendors and market goers."
The Inquirer essentially accentuated the peculiar sight of a Mar Roxas — who received a prestigious education and who belongs to an almost-royal bloodline — mingling with truly poor, far-less-educated, excruciatingly regular Filipinos.

The problem: A bachelor's degree is hardly prestigious for a PH senator. Instead, it's the norm.
When most people hear "Wharton Graduate", it' means someone with a Wharton MBA.

However, Roxas' highest educational attainment is a Bachelor's degree from Wharton-UPenn.

Mar Roxas Senate Bio

The biography section of former Sen. Roxas' profile page.

Part of Roxas' biography on his senate profile page states:
"Mr. Palengke' is Senator MAR Roxas, the son of the illustrious Senator Gerry Roxas, and the grandson of the venerable President Manuel Roxas whose public service careers have greatly benefited the country. MAR graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1974 and the Wharton School of Economics at the University of Pennsylvania in 1979. Before entering public service, MAR worked as an investment banker, mobilizing venture capital funds for Small and Medium Enterprises."
Examining the underscored sentence, Roxas did not specify the degree he received from the two institutions he attended: Ateneo/ADMU and Wharton-University of Pennsylvania.

Education and the Regular Filipino

Living in a country where 1 in 4 adults do not even finish high school, Filipinos have a deep regard for education. Hence, those that have advanced degrees are generally regarded as more desirable than those who don't.

Mar takes pride in his over 30 years of public service, and with this extensive experience comes the expectation that when he writes his biography for the Philippine Senate, he's writing for the regular Filipino.

Assuming that that was in his mind would be reasonable, because it would be downright ridiculous otherwise.

For a regular Filipino, the lack of degree information on his senate bio implies that Roxas obtained his Bachelor's degree from ADMU, as the Ateneo is known primarily as a higher education institution.

Consequently, for a regular Filipino, the Senate bio implies that he has a postgraduate degree from Wharton/UPenn, as Filipinos who acquired two undergraduate degrees separately are extremely rare.

For a regular Filipino, where a person attended high school is irrelevant to a Senator's job.
Even in the Philippine white collar job market, an applicant's high school education is largely ignored, even for entry-level job openings. Fresh 4-year college graduates insert high school information only if there's nothing else to put in their resumes.

And that's what Roxas did.

Roxas graduated from ADMU High School in 1976 and Wharton Undergraduate School in 1979, according to this record.

Battle of the Presidential Resumes

Roxas' "legendary" Wharton education gave the the regular Filipino the impression that he's the smartest among the presidential candidates.

After all, his rivals graduated from less prestigious schools: Duterte from San Beda, Miriam from Michigan, Binay from UP, and Poe from Boston College.

But now that we've ascertained his educational attainment, let's list the five candidates one by one along with their postgraduate degrees.

1: Miriam Defensor-Santiago

  • Doctor of Juridical Science
  • Master of Laws
  • Master of Arts in Religious Studies
  • The list of postdoctoral studies is too long so I'll stop at this point.

2: Jejomar "Jojo" Binay

  • Bachelor of Laws
  • Master of Laws
  • Masters Degree in Public Administration
  • Master's Degree in National Security Administration
  • Master's Degree in Management

3: Rodrigo "Rody" Duterte

  • Bachelor of Laws

4: Grace Poe-Llamanzares

  • None

5: Mar Roxas

  • None
In as far as formal education, Mar Roxas sits squarely beside Senator Grace Poe as the two least educated presidential candidates for 2016.

Too bad Roxas had the temerity to believe that we will never find out.

Mar's Pride in his "Background in Economics"

This would not have been a big deal, really. However, you misrepresented your educational background in the the worst place possible.

Why? Because addresses are as official as any official source can get. That convenient omission has made its way to mainstream media and inevitably, to the consciousness of the regular Filipino.

That underscored sentence appears almost verbatim in major news websites:
  1. "Roxas... graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1974 and the Wharton School of Economics at the University of Pennsylvania in 1979."
  2. "Roxas... graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1974 and from the Wharton School of Economics at the University of Pennsylvania in 1979."
  3. The Philippine Star: "[Roxas] graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1974 and the Wharton School of Economics at the University of Pennsylvania in 1979."
And just when I thought the misinformation can't get any worse, you even used that same misleading sentence in, your own official website.

Your own website conveniently states, "1964 to 1979, BACKGROUND IN ECONOMICS: Mar graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1974 and the Wharton School of Economics at the University of Pennsylvania in 1979".

Roxas attended Wharton from September 1976 to May 1979, equal to 2 yrs & 8 months. There are no other links, no other popup text, no anything else on that slide.

2 years, 8 months
With that slide, you're clearly telling us that you have a "Background in Economics" because of your Ateneo High School stint and a Wharton degree.

And to include 1964-1979? Dude, you were born in 1957, so are you telling me that you've been studying economics since you were 7 years old!?

Mister Roxas, we're not very smart, but we're not that stupid. Your childhood and your high school education has nothing to do with reinforcing your "Background in Economics."

Mister Roxas, no self-respecting presidential candidate will consider four years of high school and three years of college a "Background in Economics".

Mister Roxas, many regular Filipinos can neither read nor write. Twenty-five million of us are grossly undereducated. That's why many regular Filipinos mistake satire for real news.

You are well aware of that.

These are regular Filipinos like me. And it breaks my heart to see that all I can do for them is write.
And despite all this, you chose to take advantage of our weakness.

To think that I even shelled out my own hard-earned money to verify your records so I can protect you, even if I do not like you.

That "little" lie of yours will make regular Filipinos vote for you, because they will think that despite Mamasapano, despite DAP, despite Yolanda, despite Oplan Lambat-Sibat, despite damaging Davao's tourism, you can still do the right thing because you're OH...SO..SMART.

Dear Mister Roxas

Dear Mister Roxas, no matter how stupid you think regular Filipinos are, FILIPINOS ARE MY PEOPLE.

But instead of accommodating our weakness, you took advantage of it.

Mr. Roxas, just this one time,  let me be the voice of the Bottom 40%.

Just this one time, on behalf of the poorest, least educated Filipinos, the ones who need the most help and understanding, let me quote that potty-mouthed mayor :

"Put**g i** mo."

UPDATE (16 DEC 2015)US Ambassador confused on Mar Roxas' “Wharton MBA”

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