UniversityUSG, Central Committee incur P364k loss from UnivWeek 2018
USG, Central Committee incur P364k loss from UnivWeek 2018

University Vision-Mission Week (UVMW) 2018 was a disaster—financially, at least.

The annual week-long event, held from June 1 to 9 last year, incurred a net loss of P364,268.36, as confirmed by both former University Student Government (USG) Vice President for Internal Affairs Brian Chen and UVMW 2018 Project Head Diego Santiago. Based on the income statement obtained by The LaSallian, the overall gross profits generated from the proceedings reached P2.06-million against reported expenses pegged at P2.4-million.

In an interview with both Chen and Santiago, they admit that they have indeed exceeded their “budget” for last year’s UVMW. “Hindi naman namin siya tinatago,” the former internal affairs head declares, stressing the need for transparency, especially since the event was overseen by the USG.

(We are not trying to hide it.)


Within estimates

“One of the major reasons why hindi nag-generate ng ganoong kalaking funds is because, really, the bazaar is the biggest contributing factor to the funding of many projects of the USG,” Office of Student Leadership Involvement, Formation, and Empowerment Director Patrick Lo reveals.

(One of the major reasons why it did not generate a large number of funds is because, really, the bazaar is the biggest contributing factor to the funding of many projects of the USG.)

Having been involved in both UVMW 2016 and 2017, Santiago explains that similar to prior years, they projected a huge profit to be generated by the bazaar. “Specifically, we had 140 [concessionaires] na nakakalat sa Henry Sy Sr. Hall [for UVMW 2016]. And that’s what I wanted for 2018 talaga. That’s the main goal: na ibalik yung ganung scenario kasi maganda talaga siya tingnan,” he explains.

(Specifically, we had 140 [concessionaires] scattered around Henry Sy Sr. Hall [for UVMW 2016]. And that’s what I wanted for 2018. That’s the main goal: to have that many stalls because it was a sight to see.)

Chen, who played a major role in the 2017 celebration as then USG Executive Treasurer, explains that historically, profits from UVMW were largely from the bazaar alone, covering most, if not all, of the overall costs. Based on his calculations, the 140 concessionaires they had on campus in 2016 generated at least P2.3-million. For 2017, only 80 to 100 concessionaires were open, which still reportedly earned P1.4-million.

Planning based on past performance, Chen cites that they finalized their budget on the worst-case scenario that only 80 concessionaires would be open for the bazaar, arranging the expenses for the activities accordingly.



Last minute changes

While they initially hoped to have 80 stalls set up around campus, this was not what they worked with in the end. Santiago points out sudden policy changes, stating that the number of concessionaires they were allowed to host shrunk to 40, just half of what was originally projected.

The former project head highlights that even in University events prior to UVMW, such as the Christmas Bazaar and the Valentine’s Bazaar, the administration had enforced a policy which saw the number of allowable concessionaires dwindle.

Chen recalls receiving a notice from the administration urging organizers to cut down on the concessionaires only one and a half months prior to the actual event. They cite multiple factors that led to this development. Based on past UVMWs, the walls around Yuchengco Hall would reportedly be stained by the cooking done within the stalls, causing them to blacken.

The grass around the Cory Aquino Democratic Space was also ruined by the large number of concessionaires setting up stalls in the area. Further, the stones that line the sides of SJ Walk would get covered in grease from the cooking being done by food stalls.

Lastly, food stalls within campus were unable to turn a profit during the week of UVMW as they were forced to compete with external concessionaires. “That’s one of the major concerns of the administration,” Chen emphasizes. Lo, on the other hand, clarifies that they also want a “fair amount of competition” for the different external concessionaires who avail the bazaar spaces.

This last minute adjustment, which effectively put a damper on the projected revenues from the event, worried the organizers, who had already spent over eight months planning out “every single detail” of the celebration. When the notice was served, it was too late to turn back.

Pasok na lahat. As in, na-process namin lahat. Tapos bigla kaming [sasabihan]na ‘Sorry, instead of P1.4-million, cut down tayo P700,000, P800,000—P600,000 nalang.’ So yung P800,000 na iyon, bigla kaming nanginig, kumbaga,” Chen imparts.

(We were all in. We had already processed everything. And then suddenly, we’re told, ‘Sorry, instead of P1.4-million, let us cut [projected bazaar earnings] down to P700,000, P800,000—let’s say about P600,000.’ So that P800,000 blow really shocked us.)

Lo agrees that during proposal stage, UVMW was profitable, but due to changes in processes, the fundraising activities expected to fund the entire event “did not deliver as proposed.”


Messy accounting

Upon further inspection of the income statement provided, most activities held during UVMW do not turn a profit and instead depend heavily on the bazaar’s returns to offset costs. The Culminating Night, arguably the largest event during the week, for example, earned P500,000 from ticket sales—Chen and Diego both explain this was the highest return they have seen in recent years. However, when compared against the cost to organize the concert which is at P1.5-million, the income is wiped out entirely. Fees charged by the performers ranged from P50,000 to as high as P400,000.

Lasallian Showtime, a talent show held midweek, costed P161,606.99 to organize, with most of the cost coming from obtaining the stage. Earnings from the event came from raffle tickets, amounting to P59,149.25—which cost P20,000 to make.

Remaining expenses incurred for the event totaled P21,557.12, which included the publicity campaign (P5,172.50); Kids R Us (P7,919.99); technical development (P6,211.30); and other expenses (P2,253.33).

Sponsorships aside, only the Bazaar turned up a profit, amounting to P652,750. Despite restrictions, revenues from concessionaires reached P690,000 against only P37,250 in expenses.

Other cash inflows totaled P315,218, including funds from the Office of the Chancellor worth P150,000, and sponsor contributions totalling P160,000.


Recovering losses

Painfully aware after the festivities that they were in the red, Chen relays that they immediately started work on fundraising activities to cover the losses. This however did not materialize as planned. “Nahirapan talaga kami to do so because—imagine after UnivWeek—syempre lahat ng tao nagce-celebrate kasi tapos na ‘yung commitment nila…So parang, kumbaga, mage-enjoy ka na,” he explains.

(It was hard for us to do so because—imagine after UnivWeek—people would rather celebrate since they’re done with their commitments…everyone just wanted to unwind.)

Chen suggests the remaining deficit be funded by the Office of the Executive Treasurer (OTREAS). In a separate interview, USG Executive Treasurer Adi Briones confirms that OTREAS “will technically be absorbing the loss,” clarifying that his office will coordinate with the current UVMW project heads to raise funds for this year’s event and offset the loss carried over from last year. According to him, different fundraising activities leading up to this year’s UVMW are presently in the works.