(From left) UP Manila Alumni Association (UPMAA) immediate past president Rene Madarang, UP Manila chancellor Dr. Carmencita Padilla, the author and UPMAA president and Deputy Speaker Deogracias Victor ‘DV’ Savellano.
Iskolar ng Bayan
MIKE ABOUT TOWN - Mike Toledo (The Philippine Star) - December 31, 2019 - 12:00am

What a way to end the year that has had its share of challenges and, of course, excitement.

To be recognized by friends, by your peers or colleagues is special indeed. But to be recognized by your alma mater is an honor that you will always cherish and remember.

During its general assembly and homecoming, the UP Manila Alumni Association (UPMAA),  upon the recommendation of its search and awards committee, bestowed on me the Most Distinguished Alumni award for the College of Arts and Sciences. 

The author as a UPMAA Most Distinguished Alumni awardee.

The UPMAA is currently headed by Deputy Speaker Ilocos Sur Rep. Deogracias Victor “DV” Savellano as president, with executive director and past president Roger Cuan, and immediate past president Butch Madarang.

Early this year, I was also named by the San Beda University Alumni Association (SBUAA) as the Distinguished Bedan for 2019 in media and communication. The Distinguished Bedan 2019 for government service was none other than our indefatigable Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.

San Beda was where I spent my formative years, molded in the Benedictine way of prayer and work. I had written here before about the occasion of that awarding (see my column, The Red & White Ball, Feb. 26, 2019).

From “Ora et Labora” to “Honor and Excellence.”

My undergraduate and law school years were spent in the University of the Philippines. Students of the state university, then and now, were called Iskolar ng Bayan.

Looking back, my years as an Iskolar ng Bayan were some of the best years of my life. Academics was a daunting task (don’t even get me started on law school, whew!) but the training and exposure I got from UP prepared me for the real world of hard knocks. 

The award was a humbling experience because, as I look at my fellow awardees and the roster of past awardees, it’s a venerable list of dedicated men and women who did not only excel in academics but also shared their expertise to serve their communities and the nation.

I am overwhelmed with the responsibility attached to the award, that of living up to the ideals and values that the university upholds.

UP Manila prides itself in being considered as THE health services center of the country. Along with its pursuit of excellence and the holistic development of the human person, it also offers academic programs in the arts and sciences that respond to the needs and aspirations of the Filipino people.

UP Manila today is recognized as the country’s premier institution for the health sciences and the leader in health human resource, education, training and research.

My fellow distinguished alumni awardees who not only excelled in their respective fields but have also unselfishly served the nation and our alma mater were United Doctors Medical Center president Dr. Walfrido Sumpaico (Dr. Sumpaico exemplifies the qualities of the UP College of Medicine graduate, his lectures here and abroad have earned him the respect of the international community); former BFAD director and dean of the College of Pharmacy for unprecedented four terms Leticia Barbara Banez-Gutierrez; Ma. Rita Villanueva-Tamse, chief of the Clinical Nursing operations of UP-PGH with over 40 years of service; Department of Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje, a PMA-Unilab Dr. Jose Rizal awardee, among several other awards; Dr. Remedios Magkasi, a respected member of the academe and multi-awarded as well; and Prof. Teresita Camiling Mendoza for her accomplishments in the field of community-based rehabilitation counseling.

Tasked to deliver an acceptance speech on behalf of all the awardees, I spoke on the theme of the general assembly and homecoming, which was “Aruga sa Sambayanan at Organisasyon” or Caring for People and the Organization.

The overarching message of my talk was — that in spite of advances in technology and the unrelenting surge of globalization, especially in this VUCA world (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity), there are some things that never change and should not change: compassion for people, for the community, and for the nation; and, ensuring the health and well-being of the population and of the nation, that the poor especially have ready access to medical and health services.

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno.

It was no surprise that the keynote speaker was none other than everybody’s Yorme, Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso.

Mayor Isko embodied the general assembly and homecoming theme of aruga. Here was a public official, who, since Day One of assuming office, had nothing but care and caring for the people of the City of Manila. It was but fitting that he was chosen as guest of honor and speaker in this year’s general assembly and homecoming.

My heartfelt thanks to the UPMAA, and to the SBUAA earlier, for the recognition. I will forever treasure the awards they gave me. These awards inspire us to be better and to do better in caring for the Filipino and for the Philippines.

To wipe away every tear from every eye of every Filipino, a motto I have taken to heart as borrowed from our chairman, a fellow Bedan as well, Manuel V. Pangilinan.

May the coming year 2020 bring us much hope and much caring. Happy New Year! *

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