A UP golden jubilarian looks back

By Jingjing Villanueva- Romero

Last Aug. 20, six in-denial Goldies swinging, swaying and shaking their (oversized) booties and worn-out knees to the tunes of “Bongga Ka Day,” “Macho, Macho Man” and “Bonggahan”: Sessie Tible-Caoyonan, lawyer Rowena Daroy-Morales, Jun Sabug, the author, Minnie Banez-San Juan and Dr. Carol Israel-Sobritchea

The most turbulent period of the University of the Philippines’ (UP) history was recorded during our era in the 1970s. The First Quarter Storm happened. The suspension of habeas corpus was declared and the announcement of martial law caught us all by surprise.

Yet the indomitable spirit of UP survived all these.

Yes, we attended teach-ins and discussion groups (DGs), held vigils, joined rallies and marches. The UP community stood their ground against the police and military takeover of the campus.

Many survived teargas attacks. There were those who learned to manufacture molotov cocktails in the basement of Kamia Residence Hall. And there were those who initiated boycotts and strikes.

While my friends and schoolmates went to all these mass actions, coming home trembling and hungry, I was restricted from participating because my father was with the military then.

Stories abound of friends and comrades who went home barefoot, out of breath from running away from the antiriot patrols. Among my fellow UP students, there were those who landed in jail and got beaten up by the police during demonstration dispersals.

The more patriotic and brave ones went underground. Sadly, many never came back. They were either missing in action, perished during bloody encounters or were “salvaged” beyond recognition.

We grieve for these young heroes and heroines to this day. We remember them. We honor them. We will never forget them.

‘Peyups’ way

Meanwhile, within the Diliman Republic, we followed our parents’ wishes and their sacrifice, so that we may pursue higher education, obtain our university degrees and serve a bigger purpose for the benefit of our country. Of course, apart from studying hard, we also lived our university years on campus and had fun in our free time.

Against the backdrop of martial law and curfews, campus life eventually had some semblance of normalcy. The campus administration and the various student organizations laid out activities beyond lessons that were taught in classrooms.

UP president Jijil Jimenez (fourth from right) and UPAA president Robert Aranton (third from right) with the 2023 jubilarian honorees

All these were designed for us to grow the ‘Peyups’ way. The UP Delta Lambda Sigma sisterhood, the political committee of the UP Residence Halls Association and UP Christian Youth Movement were some of the organizations in the university where I lived. These organizations nurtured me and contributed to my growing up as a young idealistic AB Broadcast Communication student.

We lived through our university years, developing a taste for a broad range of experiences among the dizzying choices of what the university offered us.

Where we lacked certain skills, specialty clubs were set up to help, with math problems and the like. One may end up not only mastering the subject but gaining a college sweetheart, as well!

For a taste of the finer things in life, we trooped to free concerts, movies and performances at the Abelardo Hall, UP Theater, College of Arts and Sciences Theater, or the Dulaang Kapiterya of the UP Institute of Mass Communication—with our significant others or friends and classmates.

Campus romances blossomed and thrived—and lasted/settled in domestic bliss through all these years. The ill-fated ones, while many have ended up at the altar, are now just bittersweet memories of one’s youth’s folly.

Academic freedom

The UP professors encouraged us to be voracious readers, to be deep thinkers, to keep our ears close to the ground, and to identify the community or organization we chose to serve.

All our mentors inculcated in us the love of country and national pride. It has been in our DNA to appreciate what it means and what it takes to be proudly Filipino.

The author and Nena De Leon-Paler are first in line in the “ikot” jeep, the fastest mode of transport from building to building. The fare for one ride in the ’70s was 5 centavos.

Free thinkers. Philosophers. Debaters. Activists. Leftists. Conservatives. Regionalists. Social Democrats. Greek-lettered society loyalists. Sophists. Fence-sitters. Free loaders.

Regardless of what badge we carried, academic freedom allowed us to sit in the classroom for traditional learning, or knock down those walls to learn from the masses.

We learned to be streetsmart. We learned to adapt in volatile, complex and sometimes ambiguous situations.

Through perseverance, many, if not all, allowed us to graduate and be the change agents, enablers and capability-builders of our country.

Born in the generation of baby boomers, flower people, and “make love not war” champions, we were in UP in the most interesting of times.

Natural-born leaders

Yet, many of us never really “left” the university despite holding prestigious and/or servant leadership roles in different sectors and industries.

Whether in the political arena, in government, in business and industry, in the academe, in arts/heritage/socio-cultural development, in NGOs, in mass media, we served as natural born leaders. Now as golden jubilarians, we continue to serve to this day.

The golden jubilarians after receiving their golden medallions from UPAA last Aug. 20

The experiences we had in the 1970s had us gravitating back to the UP Diliman campus, not just through the years, but through five decades.

We have witnessed how the university has evolved, how activism has ebbed and flowed through the youngblood of the many Iskolar ng Bayan, and how the graduates feed our country’s and international workforce with a diverse group of talents.

We can at least speak of what to expect in the future as we have half a century of learnings to pass on. Many of us will continue to have a strong desire to serve, regardless of how far we go, how far our ambitions take us.

Welcomed by the bright yellow sunflowers along University Avenue on the approach to the Oblation, in front of Quezon Hall (Administration Building), we anticipate coming home.

1972: Eleanor Drilon-Gregorio, Nena De Leon-Paler, Cecille Carreon-Eco and the author at the Oblation Plaza. The present fountain was a later addition.

Count on us to be there in alumni gatherings and reunions to pay tribute to UP Naming Mahal, just like we did last Sunday, Aug. 20, where together with my batchmates, we joined the revelry for the diamond, golden, ruby and silver jubilarians.

As a proud golden jubilarian this year, I look forward to celebrating as a diamond jubilarian in 10 years’ time. And yes, together with my batchmates, we plan to present another performance that will surely bring the house down again!

The author, a member of UP Diliman AB Broadcast Communication Class of ‘73, is a retired publicist.

Source: https://lifestyle.inquirer.net/473281/a-up-golden-jubilarian-looks-back/

Doktor Para sa Bayan, Kasama ng Bayan

Written by UP Media and Public Relations Office

Photo courtesy of Jessica Perez.

Jessica Franco Perez
Magna cum laude
Doctor of Medicine
UP College of Medicine

I am Jessica Franco Perez, 32 years old, from San Mateo, Rizal. I studied BS Nutrition in UP Los Baños and graduated magna cum laude in 2011. I passed the Nutritionist-Dietitian Licensure Examination and became a Registered Nutritionist-Dietitian that same year.

I worked at the Dietary Department of the UP-Philippine General Hospital (PGH) as a clinical dietitian. I was assigned at the Nutrition Clinic of the Department of Out-Patient Services where I provided nutrition assessment, individualized diet plans, and educational lectures to patients, doctors, and paramedical professionals. While working at PGH, I was also given opportunities to participate in different researches.

I am a co-investigator in a research project of Dr. A.G. Limpoco of the Department of Family and Community Medicine, titled “Development and Evaluation of Rapid Eating Assessment for Patients (REAP) Tool”. I also became part of several patient support groups, such as the Hansen’s Club, Lipat Kalinga, and Psoriasis Club.

After six years of working at PGH, I then applied to and got accepted in the University of the Philippines College of Medicine at the age of 28. I became a member of the UP Pangkalusugang Samahan ng mga Mag-aaral (UP PAGSAMA) where I served under the SocCon Force, a committee that focuses on social engagements and community organizing activities. In the recently conducted 114th Commencement Exercise of the UP College of Medicine, I finally got my Doctor of Medicine degree, graduating magna cum laude and being one of the Top 5 Most Outstanding Graduates in Academics of our batch. I was also given recognition as one of the Top 3 Most Outstanding Interns of AY 2022-2023, being an outstanding intern in Medicine, Obstetrics & Gynecology, and Surgery.

Pursuing the dream

Photo courtesy of Jessica Perez.

I have always dreamt of becoming a doctor since I was a child. However, being born in a middle-class family, this dream seemed impossible. Being the second child in a brood of four, I also wanted to help my parents financially, especially in sending my younger sisters to college. I initially gave up on my dream of becoming a doctor and focused on a career still close to medicine. I was happy serving as a clinical dietitian. It was an equally fulfilling profession, having the opportunity to help other people through proper diet and a healthy lifestyle. However, I knew that some part of me was wishing and hoping I could still be a doctor someday. Every morning after I conducted lectures in the OPD waiting areas, seeing the long queue of people patiently waiting to be seen by a doctor, I had always felt the desire to serve more, both as a dietitian AND as a doctor.

When my youngest sibling was already in her last year in college, I asked myself, “Posible pa bang maging doctor ako? Ipu-pursue ko pa rin ba ang pagme-Med kahit na matanda na ako?” These doubts had been running through my mind for quite a while. I also did not want to be a burden to my family, especially to my mother, given the additional years of studying instead of earning money. Thankfully, my family and friends were very supportive and encouraged me to still try. As the famous line goes, “It is better to try and fail than to never know and wonder what could have been if I tried.” And so, I juggled work, the National Medical Admission Test review, and preparations for applications to medical schools.

With a limited amount of savings and overwhelming uncertainty, I found the courage to resign from the job I had treasured for six years to start this new journey. I was very blessed to be accepted in the UP College of Medicine, where I could have a subsidized, high quality medical education. Without the subsidized tuition fees, the scholarship grants from the College, the Pe Gan Heng Foundation, and the UP Medical Alumni Society of America (UPMASA), as well as the unending support of my family and friends, I may not have been able to reach this point.

Student life and survival tips

The University of the Philippines has been my home since I was in college. I have always believed in its ideals and advocacies. With this, I am truly grateful to be admitted to the UP College of Medicine that lives up to its vision-mission of cultivating highly competent scholars whose lives are directed to learning and service to the underserved. Our medical curriculum is guided by the principles of a community- oriented education, research, and service. These ideals and principles guided me through all these years. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the College greatly helped the students as they were able to quickly adapt to the challenges and difficulties brought by the pandemic restrictions. They made sure that we were learning, while giving us ample consideration and understanding of the fact that we were also taking care of our family and doing chores at home, on top of our obligations as medical students.

Admittedly, I struggled with my studies, especially during my first year in medical school. With a gap of six years from the last time I had reviewed for an exam, I needed to relearn and adjust my study habits to fit the highly demanding medical education. I would sleep first after a long day of lectures and then wake up early in the morning to study. We all have different learning styles and thus, it is important to identify the study routine that works best for you. What worked for me may not work for other students. But if I were to share one study habit that greatly helped me survive medical school, it is the habit of planning and making a schedule. Planning ahead and identifying my target accomplishments for the day or the week made me more efficient and focused on my activities.

Photo courtesy of Jessica Perez.

Another survival tip is to allow yourself to rest, as well as to allot quality time with family and friends, and on your hobbies. These will help you keep your sanity and will give you a boost to face yet another week of unending lectures, duties, and exams. My advice to make this possible would be to: 1) actively listen during lectures; 2) limit your time for browsing your social media accounts; and 3) prioritize sleep (you absorb and understand better what you are reading with a clear mind). I also maximized my study hours during weekdays (or on allotted study days) so that I could go home to Rizal and spend time with my family in the other days. All these helped me maintain balance between studies and life outside medical school.

Last but definitely one most important advice that I want to share is to have a deeper reason for what you do. Why are you studying medicine? Whenever I felt exhausted having to study for an exam even after a tiring hospital duty, I always went back to why I was here. I always reminded myself not to study just to pass the exams, but to study so that you will be a competent and excellent doctor for your future patients; study so that you can be part of a better healthcare system that you have always wanted. When we have a purpose that goes beyond us, things will still be difficult, but you will have the courage to overcome whatever obstacle you will face.

Plans after graduation

After graduating and passing the Physician Licensure Examination this October 2023, I plan to apply to the Internal Medicine residency program at the UP Philippine General Hospital. In the future, I also want to enter the academe as a professor and to participate in activities, programs, and advocacies directed to the service of marginalized communities and to the betterment of our healthcare system.

Photo collage courtesy of Jessica Perez.

Looking back on my journey

Work hard, be patient, and do not give up on your dreams, even if it would take time realizing them. There will be detours and things will not always be in your favor. But be steadfast and trust that God’s plan is the best plan. Looking back on my journey, I now realize why God had to delay my admission to medical school. It was at the right time for me, when there was a CGMS (Cash Grant to Medical Students Enrolled in State Universities and Colleges) to largely subsidize our tuition fee knowing that I might not be able to finish my medical education due to financial constraints. I was taught by the most excellent professors who nurtured and inspired us to do our best as future physicians. I met my friends who have supported me and believed in me even in times when I myself doubted my own capabilities. They made my stay in UPCM worthwhile and much more bearable. Trust that the failures, rejections, frustrations, and “unanswered” prayers we encounter are part of the process to prepare us for the best things in life.

May we always uphold honor, integrity, and excellence whatever path we choose. May we all live a life of purpose, a life directed to the service of others. Kudos at Padayon, mga Doktor Para sa Bayan, Kasama ng Bayan!


Written by Dr. Jessica Franco Perez for the UP Pagtatapos 2023 microsite. https://up.edu.ph/pagtatapos-2023/

Source: https://up.edu.ph/doktor-para-sa-bayan-kasama-ng-bayan/

Love life and don’t give up

Written by UP Media and Public Relations Office

Photo collage courtesy of Hannah Patricia Bringas.

Hannah Patricia E. Bringas
Doctor of Dental Medicine
UP College of Dentistry

I am Hannah Patricia E. Bringas, a graduate of Doctor of Dental Medicine of the UP College of Dentistry. I was supposed to graduate from the course back in 2017 but several interventions contributed to my delay.

During the preparations for the Lantern Parade 2013, my dominant (right) hand was injured by a cutter blade in a freak accident. I was immediately rushed by my seniors and my friends to the PGH Emergency Department as I was already losing a lot of blood. The hospital staff performed several tests to check if there were any internal damages, especially on the nerves, and fortunately, it all seemed okay at the time. We all thought that it was just a simple skin laceration that needed to be sutured and closed shut. I was dismissed and I returned to my classes with a bandage on my hand the next day. The unfortunate accident happened in the second semester of my first year in Dentistry Proper, while I was enrolled in the Dentistry 131.1 (Operative Dentistry I) laboratory course. This course is only offered once a year and it is a prerequisite to several of the courses in the succeeding pre-clinical years. Even now, I could recall some laboratory sessions when I struggled to finish an exercise as my bandage kept falling off or my wound suddenly bled out of nowhere, but I continued to participate in classes and even attended the Lantern Parade itself.

During the Christmas break, I started to notice some difficulty in moving my right hand, but I thought that it was just part of the healing process, and it would return to normal after a few days or weeks.

However, one day, after our anatomy class, I consulted with my professor, an orthopedic surgeon, regarding my struggle in lifting my right ring and little fingers on their own and in using my hand to grip objects. I told him about my accident and asked for any input. That was when he informed me that my injury might have resulted in the transection of a few of the tendons in my right hand. He referred me to one of his colleagues for further assessment.

My surgeon knew that I was taking up Dentistry and he warned me that if I did not immediately undergo surgery to restore function and to prevent atrophy of my arm muscles, I might have to say goodbye to my dream of becoming a dentist. So, I went through the operation. I had to wear a cast for 6 weeks while the semester was still ongoing, and I was required to attend physical therapy sessions for several months after the cast was removed. As a result, I was unable to perform our laboratory exercises in Dent 131.1. I was advised by the then College Secretary, who was also the faculty coordinator of the said course, to file for dropping to avoid getting a failing grade. I was given the chance to still attend the lectures, while struggling to write with my left hand or using my tablet just to take down notes. I was even offered an oral examination because I was struggling to write legibly.

I already knew by then that I would not be able to graduate on time, that I would be delayed, that I could not join my friends and batchmates. It was painful, both physically and emotionally. My parents even asked me if I wanted to leave Dentistry when they saw and felt how defeated I was, and thought of how my injury would definitely affect my future. It had gotten to the point that I would take my injury as a test to see if I really did belong in Dentistry. However, I never thought of quitting. I saw this hurdle as an opportunity to strive harder. I was even able to perform well academically the next semester, and finished with a GWA of a “College Scholar”.

I re-enrolled in the same laboratory course the following academic year but had to endure pain and discomfort on my right hand while still undergoing physical therapy. Unfortunately, I was not able to complete the requirements in the course on time, as the laboratory procedures then required double or even triple my previous efforts, given my injury. I received a failing mark on the laboratory course and had to wait another year to re-enroll again.

I was already delayed for two years in the pre-clinical courses, but I made sure to never receive a failing grade on any theoretical subject. I practiced performing my laboratory requirements a lot, so as not to fail ever again. I also worked as a student assistant for a year during my pre-clinical years.

As a clinician, one cause of my delay in completing the requirements was due to repeated cases because of patients’ non-compliance even with the treatments already nearing completion. I, however, attended to all my patients, other clinical requirements, research, and community service in the best way I could, despite constant suffering through pain and discomfort in my right hand.

During the semesters within the pandemic, I lived alone near the College to attend to all the remaining requirements that I could accomplish via remote laboratory sessions, online case discussions, and limited face-to-face simulation exercises. However, a few of those remaining requirements still needed to be accomplished on live patients, so I still waited for the re-opening of the clinics last September. Once the clinics re-opened, despite a few problems encountered, I did not stop until I was able to complete my requirements and finally graduate.

While attending to my classes and requirements, I was a shift head for several semesters, and later on, became the head and the student council representative of the resident clinicians. I served a few years in the Dentistry Student Council, joined and performed with the members of GrooveDex, was one of the founding members of the UPCD Occlusal Harmonies, and participated in several dental missions and served the community through the Dental Health Brigade.

Even now as I practice for the board exam, my hand still hurts every now and then. The large scar is still there and reminds me every day of what I have lost, and of what I have also gained through all I have experienced. They taught me not to give up. They taught me to appreciate every second. They taught me to love life, and that there is always light at the end of a very dark tunnel. These lessons are what I will carry with me as I face the next chapter of my life.


Written by Dr. Hannah Patricia E. Bringas for the UP Pagtatapos 2023 microsite. https://up.edu.ph/pagtatapos-2023/

Finding your own groove

Written by UP Media and Public Relations Office

Photo courtesy of Virgilio Roi C. Adaptar.

Virgilio Roi C. Adaptar
Cum laude
BS Food Technology
College of Science and Mathematics, University of the Philippines Mindanao

My name is Virgilio Roi C. Adaptar, 24 years old, born and raised in Davao City, and people call me VR. I am a graduate of the BS Food Technology program at the College of Science and Mathematics, University of the Philippines Mindanao.

My research interests include probiotics, valorization of local produces and agricultural by-products, and nutrition, all anchored on the principles of inclusivity and sustainability.

I used to compete as an Adjudicator in the UP Mindanao Debate Society, and was able to represent the University in various debating competitions and tournaments around the country.

Also, together with my fellow DOST Scholars, I am one of the founding members of the UP Mindanao League of DOST Scholars, the first and the official association of DOST Scholars in the University. I eventually served as the Founding President of the organization, and held various leadership positions throughout my residency.

I am also an active member of the U.S. Government Alumni Association -Davao, the regional chapter of international exchange alumni of U.S. Government-funded exchange and internationalization programs.

I attended McNeese State University during the Fall 2021 semester under the Global Undergraduate Exchange Program (Global UGrad) through the U.S. Department of State, World Learning, and Fulbright Philippines. Upon coming home, I then became an active member of the Global UGrad Scholars of the Philippines Alumni Association.

Overcoming financial difficulties

Growing up, I was well aware of my family’s financial struggles. Scholarships, subsidies, side hustles — these sustained my financial needs throughout my studies. I started taking commissions and part-time jobs way back in high school, because even though I had a scholarship, it did not fully cover all fees and I had to find ways and means for my daily allowance and other expenses. I also saw how difficult it was for my mother to make a living and did not want to keep asking from her anymore.

In college, I was awarded an undergraduate scholarship from the Science Education Institute of DOST, which really helped ease the financial burden. Despite the generous amount I received every semester from DOST, I still opted to do side hustles as the stipend I received was still not enough for me as a self-supporting student in this economic climate. I used to do events hosting, ghostwriting for blogs and other online platforms, arts and crafts commissions, tutorials for elementary and high school students, and eventually I became a call center agent, and later on transitioned into being a freelance virtual assistant. I should say, being a working student was difficult and would not want to romanticize it. If I only had the option and the privilege to be a full-time student, I would not want to work while studying just to make ends meet.

I am not that typical “straight uno” student who would often be celebrated for academic prowess. I would rather refer to myself as a student who had the capacity to endure. This led me to being selected as one of the four Filipino students, and the only Mindanaoan, for the prestigious Global Undergraduate Exchange Program for the Fall 2021 batch. Furthermore, grit enabled me to pursue my undergraduate thesis on non-dairy probiotics which also utilized local agricultural by-products. My study won 1st Place in the Oral Research Presentation (Undergraduate Category) of the Philippine Society for Microbiology Mindanao 27th Annual Convention and Scientific Meeting and was nominated as finalist for Best Thesis (Basic and Applied Research Category) in the Department of Food Science and Chemistry of our Ccollege. Currently, I am working towards getting it published in a scientific journal. Finally, I was able to shift my Sablay from right to left when I graduated cum laude last July.

Hardships before becoming an Iskolar ng Bayan

When I was 12, someone power-tripped me and said “You do not deserve to be an honor student,” and slammed their fists on the table. Some people even expected the 12-year -old me to just easily move on from that experience, and that I was just overreacting. Of course, not everyone believes in mental health and trauma. And yes, being an honor student in elementary is not really that big of a deal for a lot of people, but the young and naïve 12-year -old me felt invalidated.

When I was 14, my family faced a huge financial problem and finishing high school was almost taken away from me. I remember seeing my mom, swallowing her pride to ask for help from others whenever I needed something for school, yet she would often be rejected or humiliated. I could even remember some relatives asking me to just drop out of school since class grades “cannot be eaten” and that I should just start working instead to be more useful to the family.

At present, my anxiety is still triggered by all those words said. I still get nightmares once in a while and I still wonder about what goes on in the minds of those people, if they think about what they’ve done, what stories they’ve told their friends, family, and other people. I haven’t exactly figured out how to let the trauma and anxiety go away. Most of the time, I just distract myself.

College seemed to be a great opportunity to pursue more things “to distract myself” and grow up from what happened in the past. And in a place like UP where freedom is highly valued, I felt more free to blaze my own trail and make the most out of my time as an eager young adult.

Org life in UP

With the freedom that we all enjoy in UP, organizations served as a meaningful avenue to grow and develop beyond classrooms and laboratories.

Through the UP Mindanao Debate Society, I was able to enjoy the art of discourse, meet new people in tournaments, and find a safe space among my co-residents. Debating taught me innovative thinking and problem-solving., Aand much more than these, it made me realize the importance of being aware of the issues that we face in society, and that talking about these issues sheds light on the real problems and lived experiences of the various sectors of society, and that the more we talk about these, the more attention we can bring to them to help shake up the status quo.

Moreover, I never initially envisioned that I’ll be a part of a bunch of people behind establishing a new organization. We were freshies back then and we often asked the same question again and again if UP Mindanao already has its own organization for DOST Scholars. Until we ourselves answered our own question. We then established the UP Mindanao League of DOST Scholars (UPMin LeaDS). Not long after, I found myself taking the lead as its founding president. From dancing “batis” during our first Patriot Scholars Formation Program, being duly recognized as a student organization on campus, launching our first project and initiative, and organizing the first Congress we attended as an org; to taking new leadership roles in the organization (as if I was playing “Trip to Jerusalem” and being surprised as to where I would end up next), being a rallying point for academic and moral support for our fellow scholars and aspiring ones, helping revive and mobilize the regional organization of DOST Scholars in Davao, struggling through the chaotic times during the pandemic (and getting a lot of anxious, worried, and confused messages from fellow scholars, all uncertain of what might happen next), and everything in between, I was grateful for the opportunity to initiate and lead. I know that the org is still far from being what it is envisioned to be and that I did have my lapses and shortcomings and a lot of unfinished business and what ifs as a leader, but I am grateful for the trust and confidence shown by the people around me and I am excited to see what’s next for UPMin LeaDS.

Being a working student

My org life in UP sounded fun and stress-free, right? Here’s what was happening beyond the org meetings, projects, and events.

I was not born with a silver spoon, and of course, society is unfair to those who are not that privileged.

At some point, I felt that I was easily exploited by others who saw my background as an opportunity to manipulate and make it work to their advantage, but I did not have much time to think about it back then. I was too preoccupied with the need to put in extra work, to make the most out of meager resources, to always be on the lookout for the next available “raket”, to think of ways on how I could make it from one paycheck to another, from one month’s stipend to the next, to juggle one job and another, switching lanyards or IDs from one shift at work to try to make it on time to the next class in school. I had to look for ways to augment my income while trying to meet deadlines and studying for exams because no one else would.

Hard work is often set as the ultimate factor behind success and our society loves seeing or hearing “rags-to-riches” stories to the point where poverty is romanticized and accepted as a norm. In an ideal world, hard work may be the sole and primary factor for success but we are far from being in that ideal world.

As a Food Technology major, I struggled to go through a typical day in college. It was even more magnified when I was already doing my thesis with very minimal funding. I hope that someday, access and support for quality scientific education will be available for all those who aspire to be researchers, engineers, doctors, educators, scientists, and mathematicians;, and that we may move past being a society that oppresses, deprives, and excludes.

If hard work or “sipag” was the only factor to achieve success, other working students like me should have already been assured of a more comfortable life straight out of college, right? Farmers and laborers would probably be as glorified and celebrated as CEOs and world leaders. However, we are definitely not in an ideal world where hard work is the sole factor behind success.

Plot twist

No, this is not going to be a college love story.

Instead, we go back to one random morning during my sophomore year. It was around 8 AM and I just got out of my graveyard shift at work. My first class for the day, organic chemistry, was at 8:30 and with the one- to two-hour commute from the office to the campus, it would always be impossible for me to make it in time for class.

Towards the middle of the semester, I realized that by being a student by day and working the night shift as a call center agent, I would most likely fail in the class. I thought to myself that if I eventually get a 5.0 in my transcript, I should have some redeeming factor to make up for the anticipated failing grade.

The universe was telling me to let go of my graveyard shift job and just be a full-time student, which was not really sitting well with me given my situation.

I was ready to get my first 5.0 in UP and started to look for options on what I could do to compensate for that in my transcript.

Attend workshops? More debating? Start doing internships (and a lot of them)? Join fellowships? Join another org? Go on an exchange program?

Coincidentally, another professor of mine invited us to an exchange programs roadshow hosted by Fulbright Philippines and I learned about the Global Undergraduate Exchange Program (Global UGrad).

The Global UGrad program is a semester-long exchange program in the United States participated in by over 60 countries that “brings future leaders to the United States to experience U.S. higher education, gain critical professional skills, and explore new cultures and values”.

Asst. Prof. Kriza Faye Calumba, who later on became my thesis adviser, was very instrumental in this endeavor as she encouraged me to apply and even agreed to write a recommendation letter supporting my application.

The things that happened next went in my favor: I got a 4.0 instead of a 5.0 and passed my removal examinations for organic chemistry, I let go of my night shift job and found another job with more flexible working hours, and I got into Global UGrad.

However, the pandemic happened and things went to a pause for a while. I was supposed to leave for the U.S. by August 2020 but the situation was still far from being under control. My program was eventually postponed to Fall 2021.

I will never forget August 12, 2021, –the day I traveled to the United States. Growing up in a family where studying in college seems like a shot to the moon, studying abroad was just as far-fetched.

McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana became my home for the rest of the semester. I was able to explore concepts in nutrition and food production from an international perspective and also studied microbiology from a clinical perspective and learned about American History with the theme “What is the role of the United States — around the world and at home?”

Homecoming Week at McNeese State University, Lake Charles, Louisiana. Photo courtesy of VR C. Adaptar.

Throughout my stay in the United States, I was also able to watch my first football game in Lousiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, enjoy the art scene and authentic Texas brisket and barbecue in Austin, Texas, explore some caverns in San Antonio, Texas, visit the historic French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana, and celebrate Thanksgiving in Jacksonville, Florida. I also fulfilled a childhood dream of stepping foot inside a space center when I visited the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Visiting the NASA Kennedy Space Center during my Global UGrad Exchange Program. Photo courtesy of VR C. Adaptar.

Furthermore, the community engagement component of Global UGrad also allowed me to connect with the community in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and get to know the locals, many of whom were still recovering from two devastating hurricanes that struck the area at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Being an exchange student means that you are also serving as a cultural ambassador of your country, and it was truly an honor to raise the flag of the Philippines. From introducing adobo to my American roommates, showing them the way we cook rice with the trusted finger method for measuring the right amount of water, sharing some OPM songs, teaching some Tagalog and Bisaya words to my American classmates, to assisting a research student in her study on plant-based yogurt, sharing a bit of our shared history between the Philippines and the U.S. in class, and connecting with Filipino-Americans in the area, I believe that I was able to make the most out of my stay in the United States.

Upon coming back home, I continued working on my undergraduate thesis, got involved again with more projects through my organizations, and actively helped in promoting exchange and internationalization opportunities for other Filipino students to help them widen their perspectives and further capacitate them in their chosen fields, and in return, apply what they learned in their respective communities.

Yes, I flew out during the Delta surge and went back home to the Philippines in the middle of the Omicron surge.

Study habits

I can’t say that I really have good study habits. I adjust depending on my mood and physical well-being (e.g., I postpone studying or doing academic work if I feel sick). I don’t force myself to study or do academic work if I still don’t feel like it because I will end up with half-baked or mediocre outputs. One thing that I think worked for me though, is reading or writing at night. I think the peaceful atmosphere between 10 in the evening until around dawn helped me focus, especially during the lockdowns during the pandemic where everyone was at home and awake during the day. Nevertheless, I think it’s a matter of “finding your own groove” and seeing what truly works for you when it comes to studying or doing academic work and requirements, because what worked for me might not be that effective for you. If all else fails, get some sleep.

I should also emphasize that the guidance and mentorship I received from my professors in UP Mindanao, especially the Department of Food Science and Chemistry, made this academic journey seem like I was standing on the shoulders of giants. The pandemic made the semesters too uncertain yet my professors remained nurturing and understanding, especially my adviser, Asst. Prof. Calumba, who truly lived up to her role as an adviser holistically and continued to believe in me at a time when self-doubt almost consumed me.

More tips for students

Lessons I picked up while performing my experiments for my thesis:

    1. I encountered different strains of lactic acid bacteria: some are fast-growers, some grow at just the right amount of time, while others take a bit longer. Like these different bacterial strains, we all have our own different pace in life.
    2. I did a lot of trial and error for my experiments. I made some mistakes. I made some adjustments. It’s okay to make mistakes in college. We are human, after all. It’s okay to try again. Did it take you a 2nd, 3rd, or nth try before succeeding? Again, it’s okay and you did great! I don’t think there’s such a thing as “lesser success” just because it took you longer.
    3. Sometimes, I had to stay until 10, 11, or midnight in the lab while waiting for tests to finish and during the wait times in between, I would read or watch videos or do some side tasks (that may or may not have been directly related to my thesis). Yes, college will be exhausting but academics is not the end of it all. Find an alternative outlet or channel which you could also invest your time and energy in.
    4. I always went back to the objectives of my study throughout my thesis-related works when I felt confused. Always go back to your WHYs, your purpose. This may not exactly be motivating but it can help you recalibrate, redirect, and realign your path in pursuit of your goals.
Thesis days at the College of Science and Mathematics. Photo courtesy of VR C. Adaptar.

Plans after graduation

I intend to pursue a research and development track and work in the food industry for the next couple of years after graduation. Meanwhile, I also plan to volunteer or contribute to non-profit and civic orgs on the side because I enjoy doing those things as well. Furthermore, I also want to pursue postgraduate studies in food science and technology abroad in the near future.

The true meaning of the sablay

May we be disturbed by the stereotypical status of UP students, graduates, and alumni as “the cream of the crop”, the “upper echelon”, the “best of the best”. This privilege exists because there are others in the margins who are oppressed, deprived, and excluded.

May we be reminded that for every single sablay being shifted to the left, countless others still suffer and struggle with the very systems that they trusted yet failed them. May we also be reminded that for every single sablay being shifted to the left, there remains a lot of space that must be taken up to eliminate social injustice systematically.

UP, para kanino nga ba tayo?

After successfully defending my undergraduate thesis, with my adviser, Asst. Prof. Kriza Faye
Calumba, at the College of Science and Mathematics. Photo courtesy of VR C. Adaptar.

Written by Virgilio Roi C. Adaptar for the UP Pagtatapos 2023 microsite. https://up.edu.ph/pagtatapos-2023/

Source: https://up.edu.ph/finding-your-own-groove/


Written by UP Media and Public Relations Office

Photo courtesy of Nixie E. Serna.

Nixie E. Serna
Magna cum laude
BA in English (Creative Writing)
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
University of the Philippines Mindanao


I am Nixie E. Serna, 23 years old, from Surigao City. I studied BA in English (Creative Writing) at the University of the Philippines Mindanao and graduated Magna cum laude. As a creative writer, it is given that you have to be interested in reading and, of course, writing. At a young age, I had always been drawn to books. I usually spent my free time browsing in the library from the time I was in grade school. I would also spend the little money I saved from my ten-peso allowance to buy those booklets sold by visitors in school back then. Eventually, reading compelled me to write because I also wanted to create my own stories.

My undergraduate thesis was an essay collection titled, Seismic, for which I received the Thesis with Distinction award. The essay collection was on disasters, particularly the 2017 earthquake in Surigao, the 2019 earthquake swarm in Davao, super typhoon Odette in 2021, the effects of the pandemic, and other personal disasters I have experienced. Some of my works have also been published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer Youngblood column, Life UPdates of Likhaan: UP Institute of Creative Writing, Dagmay.online, and Mindanews.

Sinews of Syllables. Photo courtesy of Nixie E. Serna.

Aside from reading and writing, I also draw in both traditional and digital media. I run an art account on social media; and you can find me on Instagram and Twitter by the username @nikushiisan. Most of my drawings are fanarts of media I like such as anime, K-pop, movies, or TV shows. I rarely upload drawings nowadays because of my busy schedule, but I try my best to draw every now and then to keep my skills sharp. One of my goals is to one day improve my art so that I can also illustrate my own stories and characters or produce illustrations for Filipino writers.

In addition to reading, writing, and drawing, one of the hobbies that take my mind off the stress of academics and other matters is listening to K-pop songs, particularly the group EXO. I am an EXO stan or an EXO-L which is the official name of their fandom. I follow this K-pop group because of their diverse and great discography, artistry, and dedication to their fans. I also always keep in mind this quote by Kai, one of the members of EXO, about studying to motivate myself, “If you’re not good at studying, don’t even think about liking me. . . . Focus more on your studies than us and meet us again proudly in the future.” I do hope I can meet them at their concert in the future.

Overcoming financial constraints

My parents primarily supported me in my studies. However, there are four of us siblings in the family and their minimum wage is not enough to send us to school. As the eldest child, I had to find ways to fund my education. The Free Tertiary Education Law greatly helped me in achieving a higher education. Otherwise, it would have been difficult for me to enroll in college, especially in UP, considering that UP Mindanao is very far away from my hometown.

Since my first year, I applied to the Student Learning Assistance System of UP so that I could receive a stipend to help me with my studies. Through the stipend I saved, I was able to buy a laptop and pay for the internet bill, both of which were necessary not only during face-to-face classes but especially during online classes due to the pandemic. During my second year, I applied for a scholarship sponsored by the UP Mindanao Foundation Inc. They were meticulous in accepting their scholars by checking their academic standing and economic background, but thankfully, I was accepted. Every semester, I would renew my scholarship by submitting my grades. Even during that time when we were devastated by super typhoon Odette in 2021, I persevered in completing my requirements so that I could renew my scholarship. I am immensely grateful to UPMFI and the taxpayers who helped me finish my education. I would surely use what I have learned in the University by giving back to the people.

Dealing with disasters

Aside from financial constraints, my college life was nothing short of disasters. Like my fellow batchmates, I had to endure the challenges brought by the pandemic in 2020, including the shift to online classes which took a toll on our mental health because of isolation. My parents were laid off from work and we had to rely on the cash assistance and ayuda from the government to sustain us. Around the height of the pandemic on September 2020, our house was also demolished since the lot it was standing on was sold to a new owner. We are temporarily living right now in a house that was intended for the stay-in employee of my mother’s employers. To sum up, we currently have no fixed abode because we do not have our own house.

In October 2021, my father suffered a mild stroke and had to stop working to recover. We were able to get by and buy his maintenance medicine through the support of our relatives and family friends. As if we were not struggling enough, my hometown was leveled by super typhoon Odette in December 2021. Our roof was blown away and everything under it got soaked. For more than a month, we had no electricity, mobile signal, and we only had an intermittent water supply. I was in my third year at that time and it was around finals when the super typhoon struck. To comply with my remaining requirements, I went to charging stations to charge our flashlights and devices while I read my readings. At night by candlelight, I would write my papers by hand and then type them on my phone when I was able to charge the battery. I also contacted my professors once the mobile signal returned and relayed to them my situation. Despite the setbacks, I was able to submit my requirements on time. One of my professors told me that it was miraculous how I surpassed those challenges. Looking back, I sometimes cannot believe how I survived all of that. I was driven by my desire to win against my situation and I succeeded with the help of the people around me.

The aftermath of super typhoon Odette. Photo courtesy of Nixie E. Serna.

Although my family was not financially stable, I was not pressured and dictated upon to become anything they wanted me to be, which probably helped me to do well in my studies. There are expectations of me as the eldest daughter, but they never pressured me, which I greatly appreciate. My parents let me choose what path to take and only reminded me to focus and study hard so that I could achieve my dreams.

Study habits and survival tips for students

Regarding my studies, I always make sure that I have enough rest before I do my work. I listen to my body; if I am already sleepy then I take a break before proceeding again. A 30-minute to an hour nap will work wonders. I found myself more productive if I had enough sleep than when I did without it. Another thing that helped me with my studies was figuring out the type of environment that I thrived in. I am an introvert and I work best when I am alone and in a quiet area. I cannot do that with the crowded area we have in our house during the daytime so I work at night when everybody else is asleep because I easily get distracted by noise. Even when I was living in a boarding house with my classmates for my final semester, I tried looking for a spot where I could work peacefully or I asked them to keep it down when I was working. Knowing what environment works best for you can change the game in your studies.

If I feel down in the dumps or when I am at an impasse, I always think of the quote by John Green in his book Turtles All the Way Down, “Your now is not your forever.” Whatever bad situation I am in, it will come to pass. The disasters I have experienced are a testament to that; those disasters were not forever. The same also goes for happy moments; so it is important to cherish them. Life is too fleeting to keep overthinking. The change you are looking for will find you if you carry on. Padayon.

Speaking at the Recognition Program of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Photo courtesy of Nixie E. Serna.

Plans after graduation

Now that I have graduated, my priority is to be employed so that I can help my family, particularly my siblings who are still in school. I would like to work in the government or to teach because I would like to give back to the people. I would also like to pursue graduate studies so that I can further my education and be updated with the trends in my field.

I know I have already mentioned this but I would like to say padayon to my fellow UP graduates and alumni as a closing note. I really like this binisaya word because it encapsulates the feeling of hope and the motivation to carry on in a single word. Wherever you are and wherever you will be, I hope you continue to padayon and never forget to serve the people. The people are counting on you.
Written by Nixie E. Serna for the UP Pagtatapos 2023 microsite. https://up.edu.ph/pagtatapos-2023/

This Filipino designer’s bags have made it into the hands of Doja Cat, Astrid Leung, and more

Andrei Yuvallos@inquirerdotnet

Photos from Neil Felipp’s Instagram

What do Doja Cat, the cast of “Crazy Rich Asians,” and Dolly De Leon have in common? They’ve all worn bags and accessories by Filipino designer Neil Felipp.

On the surface, the likes of Doja Cat, Dolly De Leon, the cast of the hit movie “Crazy Rich Asians,” and Bella Poarch don’t have much in common. But when you take a closer look—especially at their red carpet looks—you’ll quickly notice a very chic common denominator.


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They’ve all worn minaudières by Filipino designer Neil Felipp San Pedro.

“Honestly, I thought it was a joke,” San Pedro says about how his Suzy Wong minaudière ended up in the hands of Doja Cat during the 2022 New York Fashion Week.

Thinking it was a scam, San Pedro did his due diligence and found that Doja Cat’s stylists were the real deal. He sent over a few of his pieces, and the next thing he knew, his phone was ringing off the hook.

Doja Cat walked down one of the most iconic red carpet fashion events with his bright cherry red Suzy Wong minaudière.


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A post shared by Neil Felipp (@neilfelipp)

Minaudières are a fashion accessory that combines the aesthetics of jewelry and the functionality of a bag in one. It’s a fashion statement, to say the least, and the minaudières of the Cebu-born designer are red carpet mainstays.

Prior to his red carpet success and the launch of his eponymous brand in 2010, San Pedro graduated from the University of the Philippines Cebu majoring in industrial design (now product design).


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He apprenticed under fellow Cebuano and furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue, whose pieces have found their way into the homes of Hollywood celebrities and literal royalty.

“A lot of the things I actually learned was through working with [Cobonpue],” San Pedro says of his three year internship with the furniture designer. “He’s still my mentor and one of my biggest critics today, and I love him for that.”

San Pedro’s craft though doesn’t fall solely on his shoulders. He works with a team of local artisans who deal in metalwork, shells, and other materials (who also happen to be some of his childhood friends) that bring his designs off the page and into real life.

A crazy, rich story

One of the landmark moments in San Pedro’s career so far has been the crazy journey of how his bag landed in the hands of Astrid Leung in the 2018 film “Crazy Rich Asians.”

“Kevin Kwan came [to the Philippines] to promote his second book ‘China Rich Girlfriend’ from ‘Crazy Rich Asians.’ During his book tour, one of my clients was carrying one of my minaudières. My friend showed it to him, and all of a sudden, he was so amazed by it. He asked, ‘Who made this?’”

The Suzy Wong minaudière made it to Kwan’s Instagram and instantly became a viral sensation.


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A post shared by Neil Felipp (@neilfelipp)

“Everybody started messaging me saying ‘Neil! Kevin Kwan noticed your bag!’ and I’d be honest and say, ‘Who’s Kevin Kwan?”

After the whirlwind attention, San Pedro reached out to Kwan through Instagram to thank him for his post. After mutually following each other, conversation flowed between the two creatives and how they approached their art.

San Pedro literally entered the world of “Crazy Rich Asians” in the third installment of the series, ‘Rich People Problems,’ where his Suzy Wong minaudière made a special appearance in the book. But something bigger was coming in the form of a screen adaptation.

“When the greenlight for the movie came out, he asked ‘Neil would you be open to let us feature your bags in the movie,” Kwan asked San Pedro. And his response was an obvious and resounding yes.

Kwan then sent a personal recommendation to the film’s director John M. Chu and costume designer Mary E. Vogt. Within 24 hours, they requested all of his available designs with a promise that they’ll only be used by primary actors.

In the end, his designs came out in three scenes and they were all used by one character: the iconic Astrid Leung.

“It was so beautiful because the only person I really wanted [to wear my designs] was Astrid,” San Pedro laughs.


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A post shared by Neil Felipp (@neilfelipp)

In one of the most important scenes in the movie (the one where she walks down the aisle at Araminta’s wedding with her grandmother after her huge fight with her scumbag husband), we see Astrid carrying a Siren minaudière.

According to San Pedro, it was a full circle moment because one of his more recent designs—The Phoenix minaudière—was inspired by her character.

“[Astrid] was actually the inspiration for the Phoenix because of how she presented herself and how she got out of that horrible marriage.”


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With a growing client list of both local and international celebrities, San Pedro makes the case for Filipino craftsmanship and excellence deserves attention on the global stage. All of it is for a bigger purpose, though.

“Everything I do is for the Philippines and Cebu. It’s more than just me as a brand. It’s a gift to be a platform for the craft.”

Source: https://usa.inquirer.net/136038/this-filipino-designers-bags-have-made-it-into-the-hands-of-doja-cat-astrid-leung-and-more

Visual artist draws inspiration from Mindanao weaves in solo exhibit

Dolly Dy-Zulueta

“Devotion” is part of Aileen Lanuza’s recent solo exhibit titled “A Symphony of Roots.”

MANILA, Philippines — Contemporary visual artist Aileen Lanuza presents flourishing tapestries that showcase the indigenous weaves of Mindanaoan tribes in her solo exhibit “A Symphony of Roots.”

For her, these are treasures inherited from a rich history by present-day Filipinos — stories that we must continue to tell and live today.

The resplendent tune of shared memories once whispered in the shade of grand narratives resonates in the works of Lanuza. These serve as a reminder of the bonds that transcend time and place.

“Cor Rosae (The Heart of a Rose)”

Working closely with Mindanaoan artisans of Kaayo, which is dedicated to telling our woven stories, Lanuza hearkens back to our roots, using indigenous weaves from tribes across the region in her compositions.

Founded in 2016 by the mother-and-daughter team of Mary Ann “Baby” Montemayor and Margarita Nograles, clothing line Kaayo brings Mindanaoan weaving heritage to the world, collaborating with women from the T’boli, B’laan, Mandaya, Bagobo Tagabawa, Tagakaolo and Ata Manobo tribes to raise awareness of, preserve and reimagine their individual weaving methods and traditions.

Each thread, each brushstroke traces a strand of a long and rich history, woven into symphonic tapestries. Each creation carries the weight of ages past, a tale of triumph and struggle that echoes through time.

“Blue Aestas Caelum (Blue Summer Sky)”

“I share the same passion as Kaayo has, in maintaining our roots and bringing forth our custom indigenous weaves that are inherently Filipino,” Lanuza said. “It is important for me in my works to highlight the best of what we are, maintaining our identity and always bearing the power to be who we are.”

Relating her experiences as a modern Filipina, Lanuza delineates a heritage that is not just a relic of the past, but whose tune we always carry, resounding in everything we do and constantly redefining who we are and who we can be.

Her signature floral compositions follow the movement, form and eloquence of Maria Clara, capturing its timelessness, its quiet intensity, and the enduring flourish of its beauty. As she composes this symphony of roots, the pieces interweave destinies of those who hear its call.

The artist, Aileen Lanuza (b. 1981), studied Fine Arts, majoring in Visual Communication, at the University of the Philippines Diliman. In 2008, she had her first one-woman show. Since then, she has made the rounds of different countries around Asia and North America to showcase her works.

Her style has consistently focused on women and the female experience; from realistic Filipinianas and pop art homages, to impressionistic self-portraits and enigmatic figures, she invites her audience to contemplate on the emotion and context of her subjects. Depicting both tenderness and strength in one picture is what makes Lanuza one of the most sought-after Filipino contemporary artists today.

Source: www.philstar.com/lifestyle/arts-and-culture/2023/09/03/2288798/visual-artist-draws-inspiration-mindanao-weaves-solo-exhibit

Alyssa Kangleon: Ceramic artist with a purpose

By Irene de Jesus Obligacion

Alyssa Kangleon is a ceramic artist whose pieces celebrate femininity and sculptures. In her works, she also explores the relationship between community and carework, as humans deal with social, economic and environmental uncertainty.

Alyssa graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Broadcast Communication from the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Mass Communications in 2019. Simultaneously, she took Wheel Throwing Pottery and Handbuilding Ceramics from the UP College of Fine Arts Ceramic Studio from 2017 to 2018.

The artist creates pieces that celebrate femininity.

How did you become a ceramic artist?

I found ceramics during a challenging time in my life while struggling with my thesis and university graduation. It feels trivial now, but in those days it was comforting and encouraging to see my pottery get more refined the more time I spent in the studio. It gave me a sense of control. I eventually learned that the art of making ceramics is an exercise in letting go of control. Ceramics gave me the space to express myself, and I was lucky to have people interested in some of my work enough to buy them. I only ever really wanted to keep making ceramics and would take odd jobs to be able to afford more time in the studio. Thankfully, the support I received from people has enabled me to build my home studio and has allowed me to expand into other possibilities.

Was there a time you couldn’t produce anything? How did you overcome it?

I’ve come to realize that every time I feel stuck, it means I’ve chafed against my thoughts for too long. Now I take it as an invitation to do something physical to ground me into my body. I love going on walks. It’s incredibly humbling to witness the trees achieve stillness while persistently evolving. I also have a lot of other hobbies like birding, reading, foraging, pickling, cooking, drawing, and making prints. These are the things that make up my days and they often find their way into my ceramic practice as well. Making ceramics is also something that grounds me, it just doesn’t feel that way sometimes when I think about it too much. But once I start working with the clay again, I’m reminded of its calm and malleable nature and I feel possible again.

What do you hope to achieve five years from now through your art form?

I hope to be able to represent my interests and advocacies in a more timely manner. At the moment I’m finally producing work that aligns with my love for native plants, but that’s an interest I have held for three years. I have a tendency to keep things to myself and let ideas ferment, and perhaps that is just my process, but I hope to practice a little more urgency.

At the end of the day, what puts a smile on your face?

In the mornings, I buy fruits to put in the fridge that I may later enjoy at the end of the day. I often think about the fruit’s journey and feel immense gratitude that somebody tended to the tree that produced it, that insects or animals or maybe even people aided the pollination process, and that somebody picked this, and transported it, and stocked it in the stands where I buy it. It feels miraculous after all this that I get to enjoy it and it always floods me with tenderness.

Source: www.manilatimes.net/2023/09/03/the-sunday-times/arts-awake/alyssa-kangleon-ceramic-artist-with-a-purpose

Beyond Einstein: Pinay physicist investigates exotic subatomic particles

Building on Albert Einstein’s work, a Filipina physicist and an international team of researchers recently discovered that a special class of subatomic particles can be described using concepts from the famous scientist’s Theory of Relativity.

UPD-CS NIP associate professor Dr. Gennevieve Macam and her colleagues are working to understand the behavior of a relatively new subatomic particle called a Weyl fermion. (Photo credit: Dr. Gennevieve Macam)

UP Diliman College of Science National Institute of Physics (UPD-CS NIP) associate professor Dr. Gennevieve Macam and her colleagues were investigating Weyl fermions, exotic subatomic particles that are similar to electrons but have no mass. They found that the behavior of these particles can be understood by adapting Einstein’s ideas on causality.

Causality refers to how one event can directly lead to another event in a cause-and-effect relationship. Einstein took this idea further when he realized that nothing can travel faster than light. This led to the concept of “light cones,” which represent all the possible paths that light—or any signal moving at the speed of light—can take from a given event in space and time. Anything inside the light cone of an event could potentially be influenced by that event, while anything outside the light cone cannot be affected by it due to the limitation imposed by the speed of light. The outer boundary of this cone is called the “event horizon.”

Dr. Macam collaborated with Prof. Guoqing Chang of Nanyang Technological University and his team. They found that these concepts, which normally apply to space and time, could also be used to describe the behavior of Weyl fermions in terms of energy and momentum.

“Our work shows how Einstein’s equations can be adapted to describe quantum materials,” Dr. Macam said. “This paves the way to a better understanding of how the strange quantum world and our everyday reality are intertwined.”

Weyl fermions were first theorized by German physicist Hermann Weyl in 1929 but their existence was only proven almost a century later, in 2015. Due to their charged but massless nature, Weyl fermions may have future applications in electronics and computers.


Chiu, WC., Chang, G., Macam, G. et al. Causal structure of interacting Weyl fermions in condensed matter systems. Nat Commun 14, 2228 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-37931-w

For interview requests and other media inquiries, please contact: UPD-CS Science Communications ([email protected])

Cebu’s lone psychometricians exam topnotcher: ‘Believe in yourself’

John Sitchon

Trisha Amistad from UP-Cebu is the sole Sugbuanon to achieve a position in the top 10 of the 2023 Psychometricians Licensure Examination

CEBU, Philippines – Trisha Amistad made her family proud by becoming the only taker of the August 2023 Psychometricians Licensure Examination (PLE) from Cebu to make it to the topnotchers’ list.

Amistad, an alumna of the University of the Philippines – Cebu (UPC), was attending a funeral mass for a friend’s relative on the night the PLE results were announced.

“At first, I was just looking at our group chat with my classmates and scrolling over the list of the names of the exam passers but then, I checked the list of schools and saw UPC and wondered who got in the top ranks,” Amistad told Rappler in an interview on Thursday, August 10.

Lo and behold, the 24-year-old Amistad realized that she was more than just any exam passer and registered psychometrician – she was a topnotcher and the only one from the province of Cebu.

Amistad ranked 10th with an 87.20% rating.

“I remember being so happy that night and when I got home, my family was so excited for me… My mother called me and told me that she already knew that I was going to excel,” Amistad said.

Raised a champ

Born in Lapu-Lapu City on January 9, 1999, Amistad’s family saw to it that she was well-supported and loved.

Her father, Dino, was an overseas Filipino worker during her younger years, and her mother, Evangeline, was the caretaker of the family. Amistad’s grandparents also took turns watching over her and her siblings who were taught the value of self-belief.

“I had this lolo (grandfather) whom I cherished so much, who I looked up to… He would always say that I really understood things and that no matter where I was, I was going to excel,” Amistad said.

MOTHER AND DAUGHTER. Trisha Amistad (left) and her mother Evangeline Amistad (right) on the day of her graduation on July 29, 2022 at the University of the Philippines – Cebu. – courtesy of Trisha Amistad

The topnotcher recalled moments of sharing her problems with her grandfather, Joel, who would listen patiently and remind her that she was more than capable of anything. The comfort of being listened to helped her go on with her days and achieve more as a student.

But Amistad’s drive in the academe, she said, was mainly attributed to the efforts of her mother.

“She already saw the potential in us way back in nursery because I guess at that time, we could already read so she wanted to nurture that gift,” Amistad said.

As early as age 3, Amistad’s mother invested time and money to provide them with study loads, books, and other learning materials in hopes that it would instill a studious and disciplined mindset in her children.

According to the achiever, this paid off in the end and has been helping her even after college. Amistad thanked her mother for everything she has done for them.


From preparations to the final day, Amistad believed that working hard for one’s dreams matters.

“One of the lessons I take to heart is that you just have to believe in yourself, in your capabilities, and if you have that discipline in you, use it and if you don’t have it yet, build it,” the topnotcher said.

She said there is “no perfect formula” to pass the exams and that one must find the initiative to seek more knowledge by doing research, attending sessions at review centers, and planning days ahead.

“It’s a matter of urgency if you will and sometimes, if you cannot handle heavy subjects, you can do light subjects. I prefer to alternate between light and heavy subjects when studying,” Amistad said.

She also emphasized the significance of incorporating opportunities for relaxation and leisure into daily routines. Her preferred avenues for unwinding include engaging in video games, online shopping, and indulging in anime.

Holding on

Before the exams, Amistad worked as a marketing officer of the Cebu-based hobby convention Otakufest, as a freelance illustrator, and as a human resources specialist for a private company.

“Now, my priority is to become a psychometrician of a company,“ Amistad told Rappler.

Amistad said she wanted to remind both her fellow exam passers and those who didn’t make it to hold onto the purpose of their dream profession, which is to champion mental health.

“Even if you are not in that profession, you can still do that. In your little ways, you can help the community, your friends, even yourself, and I think that’s just as noble and helpful to the community,” Amistad said. – Rappler.com

Source: https://www.rappler.com/nation/visayas/cebu-lone-psychometricians-licensure-exam-topnotcher-trisha-amistad-2023/