Narrative Biodata: Alicia P. Magos, PhD

Narrative Biodata
Alicia P. Magos, PhD
Professor Emeritus, UP Visayas, Miagao, Iloilo

Dr. Magos is a sociocultural anthropologist by profession and has spent almost 40 years of her life as a government employee, most of which as a researcher, professor, and extension worker at the University of the Philippines Visayas in Iloilo. She also served as Director of the Center for West Visayan Studies (CWVS) for seven years and greatly helped in the CWVS mission as a Research Center and as a repository of West Visayan cultural knowledge, making it perhaps one of the richest depositories of Visayan culture in the country.

She continuously served as head of the Kapatagan Committee (formerly Balud Committee) of the NCCA for nine years before it assumed its present name (Central Visayan Committee) with Dr. Felipe de Leon, Jr. as one of the Sub Commissioners, who later became Chairman.

She was a volunteer of NCCA at the time when Schools for Living Tradition (SLT) became a flagship project of the agency. She spearheaded the idea of making Brgy. Garangan, located at the border of Tapaz, Capiz, and of Calinog, Iloilo, as the site of the first School of Living Tradition in the Visayas, thus revitalizing epic chanting and their long-forgotten or abandoned needlework called panubok (from “tubok” to slip a needle inside a cloth). It has now become an additional source of livelihood for some families in the hinterlands of Panay.

In pioneering the establishment of the first SLT in the Visayas and her advocacy for indigenous culture, she was supported by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). Initially started by the NCCA, the UP Visayas and UP-CIDS (UP Center for Integrative Development Studies) gave full support by funding the translation of the ten epics of Panay into four languages, from the original archaic Kinaray-a (Sinauna or Dinuma-an) to contemporary Kinaray-a, Hiligaynon (Ilonggo), Filipino (Tagalog) and English. Later, with the able support of former UP Staff Regent Hon. Anna Razel Limoso-Ramirez (field and research associate) embarked on the difficult and tedious task of reproducing the Panay Suguidanon translated into Contemporary Kinaray-a, Filipino, and English for publication.

Eight out of ten epics of the Panay Bukidnon had already been launched by the University of the Philippines Diliman Press under the following titles–Tikum Kadlum, Amburukay, Derikaryong Pada, Kalampay and Pahagunong, Balanakon, Sinagnayan, Humadapnon sa Tarangban. The 9th title will be launched anytime this month.

Tikum Kadlum won the National Book Award for Poetry for 2015 from the National Development Board and the Manila Critique’s Circle. The main chanter of the epics collected by Dr. Magos, Federico Caballero (Tuohan or “Credible One”), won as GAMABA Awardee (2000) upon the nomination of Dr. Magos and her team from UP Visayas. This time around, Dr. Magos, with support from the UPV Indigenous Peoples Center, is working on the grant of two Ati twins from Panay to be recognized as the Gawad Manlilikha ng Bayan Awardees for 2022.

Dr. Magos researches mostly topics on the indigenous culture of Panay, for which she won the Best Research Study for SEAMEO (Southeast Asian Ministries Education Organization) in 1996 among 15 participating countries of Southeast Asia. This was followed by a grant as a Fellow in selected universities in Southeast Asian countries and Canada. Dr. Magos has had numerous publications in reputable journals, books, monographs, and modules here and abroad.

She was also one of the 10 Team Leaders who won the First Prize in UNESCO’s Best Research Study, published with the title “Learning from Life” (1994), and was awarded by UNESCO-Paris. Together with her Research Assistants Judith Pabito and Anna Razel Limoso – they produced the book report on Literacy and Numeracy on sites in Iloilo and Negors provinces.

Dr. Magos served as a cultural consultant to her home province, Antique, and also as a consultant–researcher (2014-2015) to NCIP Region 6 in documenting customary law and indigenous forest practices of the mountain peoples of Panay. At present, she serves as a consultant to the UPV-DENR Project Panay-Guimaras Project Traditional Knowledge Systems for Cultural Resiliency and Sustainable Development. She had been sought after as a resource person to various agencies and government as well as private institutions on topics such as indigenous or traditional culture and oral literature. She is a respected consultant in various UP Visayas projects in areas of Panay Culture and Indigenous Knowledge. She has continuing engagements with DepEd for IP Education and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)Region VI and VII in strengthening the indigeneity of the mountain peoples of Panay (Halawodnon, Pan-ayanon, Akeanon, and the Iraynon of Antique).

Among her awards is the 1999 Outstanding Teacher of the Philippines by Metrobank Foundation, the 2003 Most Distinguished Alumna of the UP Visayas, and the 1995 University of the Philippines Outstanding Alumni in the field of Anthropology.

She was also bestowed Kampeon ng Wika by the Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino in 2014. She was also given the Gawad Paz Marquez Benitez by the Unyon ng Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL) for her Anthropological Research, Teaching, and Work on the Panay Bukidnon and her bringing to the world the Epics of Panay.

But among the recognition and awards that she received, Dr. Magos is most ascribed as the person who initiated the recognition of the Panay Bukidnon culture, which had given platform and empowerment for this indigenous people. (UPV-CWVS-IPRC)

Source: University of the Philippines Visayas Facebook

Good food gone wild

Ana de Ocampo
Wild Flour Bakery + Café Corp.

BORN into a family of entrepreneurs and food lovers, Ana Lorenzana de Ocampo, president of Wild Flour Bakery + Café Corp. (Wildflour), is no stranger to business. As a young girl, she spent her summers working the cash register at her grandmother’s bakery which spurred her own love for baked bread and pastries. Armed with her first KitchenAid at 13, she started selling cakes and cookies.

Such was her passion for business and food that Ms. De Ocampo went on to take up Hotel and Restaurant Administration at the University of the Philippines – Diliman. She further honed her craft at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu in London, earning a Le Grande Diplome culinary arts degree in 1996. Wanting to put her education to good use, Ms. De Ocampo dreamed of establishing her own bakery and café -— one inspired by her travels abroad, of comfort food done well, with breads and pastries baked fresh daily.

“Perhaps I was quite ambitious, but I approached all the well-known malls in Manila only to be rejected,” Ms. De Ocampo said. She eventually found an unassuming location at a new office building in then up-and-coming Bonifacio Global City, which still stands today as the company’s flagship branch.

“It was not easy being a new player in the competitive restaurant scene. Our first few days were met with empty tables, and we couldn’t help but wonder if we had just made the biggest financial mistake of our lives,” she recalled. Slowly, word-of-mouth spread, and the single corner bakery has since evolved into one of the most successful and acclaimed restaurant groups in Metro Manila.

Ms. De Ocampo’s entrepreneurial approach is one of fearlessness tempered with keen intuition, intuitively knowing what’s best for the business and doing everything in her power to make it a reality.

Wildflour became a household name in 2013 as one of the first to recreate the cronut (croissant-donut) sensation outside of the United States (gaining attention from international media like CNN and the Wall Street Journal, and with lines snaking around the block that forced a strict two-orders-per-person policy). Yet Ms. De Ocampo fearlessly decided to stop selling this star product one year into the peak of its popularity as she didn’t want Wildflour to be a one-trick pony when it has a long list of offerings yet to be enjoyed by many. This gutsy move paid off and 10 years later, Wildflour and its brands continue to delight discerning palates.

Ms. De Ocampo’s leadership and Wildflour’s ability to meet challenges were tested during the pandemic. The company learned to venture out of its comfort zone and meet customers at their homes, developing its Wildflour To-Go in-house delivery arm, its retail line The Wildflour Pantry, and its cloud kitchen concepts Wildflour Pizza, Wildflour Rotisserie Chicken, Wildflour Burger, and Wildflour breakfast, lunch, and dinner trays.

Understanding the need for flexibility and agility, Ms. De Ocampo rapidly transformed the business in this direction by expanding the team, enhancing e-commerce platforms, investing in packaging, and strengthening ties with delivery partners.

Her drive for excellence means that all business decisions are backed by data. “We’re big into analytics,” said Ms. De Ocampo, who relies on a team of industrial engineers tasked to do analytics for the cost driving part of the business. As a businesswoman, she is not afraid to ask for help. She would, in fact, request for the support in areas she admits she has very little experience in, like asking her husband to assist her in finance and accounting.

Wildflour is poised to sustain its growth in the years to come. The group has its sights set on further expanding its footprint, first by reaching every corner of Metro Manila through strategic new restaurant and cloud kitchen concepts in the most prime locations, and efficient long-distance delivery operations across multiple channels. It also aims to widen its customer base beyond the capital region and venturing overseas in the near future.

Wildflour has amassed a roster of successful concepts, including its homegrown restaurant brands — Wildflour Café + Bakery, Farmacy Ice Cream & Soda Fountain, Wild Flour Italian, Little Flour Café, Hotel Bar, and the only international franchise of US-based Pink’s Hotdogs. The company currently has a total of 15 stores (eight Wildflours, three Little Flours, two Pink’s, one Wild Flour Italian, one Farmacy Ice Cream), with three additional stores being built and more being planned which will bring the total to at least 18 stores within the next two quarters.

Hard work coupled with grit and the passion for unwavering excellence has resulted in numerous awards for Wildflour: Tatler’s 20 Best Restaurants from 2015-2022, Tatler’s 14 Most Resilient Restaurants 2022, Esquire’s Restaurant Group of the Year 2014 and 50 Top Pizza’s 38th Best Pizza Restaurant in Asia-Pacific 2022 (Wild Flour Italian).

Ms. De Ocampo has also received the following awards: GoNegosyo Inspiring Filipina Entrepreneur Award 2018, Tatler Asia’s Most Influential 2021, Tatler’s Restaurateur of the Year 2022, Lifestyle Asia’s List of 50 People that Persevered Amidst Adversity During the Pandemic and ASEAN Women Entrepreneur (AWEN) Awards 2022 as one of seven awardees from the Philippines.

Ms. De Ocampo originally wanted to put up a simple café, but the vision has grown alongside Wildflour’s success — to operate a proudly Filipino homegrown food business of world-class quality and worldwide renown that provides an unparalleled experience to each and every guest. To aspiring entrepreneurs, she advises: “Be passionate. Let your passion lead you to success.”

The media sponsors of the Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines 2022 are BusinessWorld and the ABS-CBN News Channel. Gold Sponsors are SteelAsia Manufacturing Corp., Uratex, and Navegar. Silver Sponsors are Intellicare, OneWorld Alliance Logistics Corp., and Regan Industrial Sales, Inc.

The winners of the Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2022 will be announced on Nov. 21 in an awards banquet at the Grand Hyatt Manila. The winner will represent the country in the World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2023 in Monte Carlo, Monaco in June 2023. The Entrepreneur Of The Year program is produced globally by Ernst & Young (EY).


All hail the unlikely queen of PH horror stories

By: Ruel S. De Vera

The most shocking thing about the best horror writer in the country is how she isn’t scary at all in real life, as readers who meet her for the first time can attest.

“My being normcore is intentional,” says Yvette Tan. “I used to be goth in college. I’m in disguise now. In honesty, it’s amusing, but I also want people to understand that just because one consumes horror, it doesn’t mean they have to look a certain way. I guess this is also why I don’t like dressing up for Halloween. I’m already always in costume.”

What the 47-year-old Tan is is the queen of the scary short story. In 2009, her debut collection from Anvil Publishing Inc., “Waking the Dead and Other Stories,” brought a new sophistication to a genre form. Yet that wasn’t what she originally set out to be.

“I actually started out as an artist and used to draw a lot, except I was told that my art was bad, so I stopped.”

But books proved to be her escape—and writing her personal form of sorcery.

“Pain, loneliness, anxiety and wanting to express my feelings, even if they wouldn’t be seen by anyone, were my reasons for writing. I wrote for myself. I honestly had no idea that other people would appreciate my work, because I come from a background where no one did. So I’m very grateful to be where I am now, and am extremely honored to have the readership and support that I do. You have no idea.”

Tan earned her Bachelor of Arts in Film and Audio Visual Communication and Master of Arts in Comparative Literature at the University of the Philippines, Diliman. She won awards for her horror stories, including the Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for Literature, and these early stories went into the cauldron of “Waking the Dead.”

There are so many unusual facts about Tan. For one thing, her day jobs are agriculture section editor of Manila Bulletin and editor in chief of Agriculture magazine. In fact, she scares quite easily in real life.

But Tan is casting her spell again after more than a decade with a new book of horror stories from Anvil, “Seek Ye Whore and Other Stories,” launched Oct. 25. The new book summons 10 stories, including everything from a brothel in Poblacion you might want to avoid (“Her Room Was Her Temple”), a girl and a ghost helping each other (“Fold Up Boy”), zombies attacking Angeles City (“Fresh Fruit for Rotting Corpses”), all leading up to the excellent titular story that redefines the very idea of “mail-order bride.” In each of the 10 stories (same number as in her first book), Tan illuminates how horror can be subtle, spare, stylish, beautiful and ultimately, Filipino.
“There are many reasons people choose to summon demons,” reads the introduction. “Some use demons to take revenge on their enemies. Others use them to acquire wealth and power in the mortal realm, while others use them for more mundane tasks, such as gardening. Whatever your reasons, we salute you and wish you well.” Just think of this book as a collection of 10 different demons.

Lifestyle interviewed Tan via email. Here are excerpts:

What drew you to writing horror?

I get asked this question a lot, and I still don’t have an answer! My favorite movie genre is actually comedy, and that’s very hard to write! What drew me to horror fiction was the language and imagery used. I love the way the words used in the genre flow together—they make the darkness very enticing. I’ve also always been interested in the supernatural and paranormal as things that can one day be proven with science.

I’ve always written stories that I’ve wanted to read, and other people have classified them as horror. There are two early instances: one is fellow horror author Karl de Mesa literally having to explain to me that what I wrote fell under horror. The other is of my mom’s churchmate telling her that my story gave her nightmares.

To this day, the most common feedback I’ve gotten is that my stories aren’t scary while you’re reading them, but they stay in your head for a long time after. This is fine because the reaction I want to get from folks who read my books isn’t “Natakot ako,” but “P____g i_a, ano nabasa ko?”

Is it harder or easier to stage your stories in a Philippine setting?

It’s easy because it isn’t something I have to think about. I grew up listening to grownups tell supernatural stories as if they were gossip, and also saw it given the same gravitas as hard news on TV, so to me, it’s actually like writing fiction based on reality. Some people have called it magic realism, but I disagree. If you live in the Philippines, chances are this is reality.

Have you ever been approached by a production company with the intention of adapting one of your stories for the screen?

Yes, but nothing’s materialized so far.

It bears asking, as clichéd as it may be: Are you a particularly spiritual person? Do you believe in the supernatural?

I’m a skeptical believer, which means that I’m willing to believe something as long as all possible scientific explanations have been exhausted. I wanted to be a parapsychologist when I was younger, so I’m always looking for a scientific explanation to both rule out physical explanations and hopefully explain supernatural ones.

That said, I’ve become sensitive to the supernatural by accident, and I can’t find scientific explanations for my experiences, so I’m just taking them as they are for now.

On the side of levity, are you someone who is easily scared or impossible to scare?

I tend to get scared easily, but I also know that most of it is in my head. This doesn’t help things, unfortunately. I also tell people that I don’t like watching horror movies, but I find myself watching horror movies alone a lot, so I don’t know how to answer this question anymore.

What was your scariest experience ever?

My scariest experiences tend to make the most fun stories. I’ve written about some of them on my blog, Not scary but fun was the time a couple of sensitive friends and I decided to walk down Balete Drive to see if there really was a white lady. We didn’t find presences on the road itself, but one of the houses had a lot of activity and there were more beings along the side streets than Balete Drive itself.

Your new book has come out more than a decade since the first one. Why did it take you so long?

I don’t have time to write as much fiction as I want because I need to make money. This is also probably why I haven’t written a novel. Perhaps someone would like to sponsor me?

What would you say are the differences between the stories in your first book from those in your second book?

In my first book, stories that were GP (General Patronage) and PG (Parental Guidance) were jumbled together. We didn’t think this would be a concern because I always thought I was writing for adults (even though “Kulog” won a Palanca award in the Children’s Fiction category), but we got so many questions about which stories were fit for kids and the book apparently resonated with a lot of young adults. I don’t claim to write for kids or young adults as that involves certain responsibilities I don’t think

I’m ready for, but I’m glad that they like my stories. This is why we have the demon summoning chapters.

I wrote “Demon Summoning Made Easy” for 8List as part of their Halloween offering where they had different horror writers write short short pieces and read them out loud, so that was part of the original collection. When “Seek Ye Whore” was being conceptualized, my editor, Anvil’s Arianne Velasquez, hit on the bright idea to separate my GP stories from my more mature ones, so she asked me to write another “Demon Summoning” chapter to mark the beginning of the darker stories.

I think my second book also has more human activity in it. It isn’t just about supernatural creatures, but also focuses on the choices humans have and tend to make when given access to preternatural abilities or personalities.

When you started out, it seemed like hardly any Filipinos were writing serious horror fiction, so you are a pioneer in that sense. But it seems more writers are writing horror now. Why do you think this is?

I think young people are trying to find their identities as Filipinos and folklore is one way to go about it. It’s great because I come from a time when people looked down on folklore and horror and “genre” was a bad word, and now, that’s not the case. That said, there’s still a lot of prejudice about horror. For example, a lot of people think that only jump scares qualify as horror. I had someone “womansplain” to me that horror comedy did not qualify as horror. I’ve had someone rudely ask why I write horror, as if it were a bad thing. A lot of Christians still think that horror fiction is the work of the devil. A lot of people don’t understand that good horror isn’t just about getting scared.

It can be an examination of the human condition. It can be an exploration of history. Behind every haunting is a story, and it can be a good or bad story, but it’s usually a tragedy. Horror thrives on uncertainty and sometimes desperation, and both can make people do weird, unsettling, monstrous things, or show a capacity for compassion, humanity, and love. Another reason could be that studies have shown that belief in the supernatural tends to rise during times of uncertainty, and this is where we are now.

You are the editor of the agriculture section of a newspaper. Do you find any kind of connection between agriculture and horror?

I’ve always been interested in food, something that started in childhood, and agriculture was the next logical step for me. Even before I became agriculture editor, I was a food writer. The short version is this: What pushed me toward agriculture was the over-commodification of food, how it became something “cool,” to the point that people wanted to get into it because it was in and not because they really had a passion for it.

I sort of grew up on a farm and am familiar with failure in the agriculture industry. When you think about it, folklore is humans’ very first attempts to tame uncertainty, and a lot of it comes from agriculture. In fact, there’s a whole subgenre around it called folk horror. Stories like Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and movies like Ari Aster’s “Midsommar” revolve around this. What are you willing to sacrifice to ensure a good harvest?

But also, my interest in food security comes from my love for food, and not wanting people to starve. I could go into the systemic problems we have in the industry both locally and worldwide, among other things, but that’s not what this interview is about.

What are you working on now?

I don’t know. Hopefully another book, whether it’s another collection or a novel.

Will we have to wait another decade for your next book?

Probably, but I hope not!

Finally, what would you like readers to take with them after reading “Seek Ye Whore and Other Stories”?

I hope my readers enjoy the stories. I’m very grateful for their support, and I’m honored that they appreciate what I write. Also, since the holidays are upon us, I hope they enjoy them enough to consider giving both my books as gifts to their loved ones who appreciate dark tales.

“Seek Ye Whore and Other Stories” and “Waking The Dead and Other Stories” are available at select National Book Store branches, Lazada and Shopee; visit,


Actress Chai Fonacier Is A Force Of Nature In International Film Nocebo

Actress Chai Fonacier Is A Force Of Nature In International Film Nocebo

Carlo Fajarda

One element about actress and musician Chai Fonacier that everyone would agree on is that she is fearless. Her performances radiate confidence au naturel


She received her first acting award in 2015 for Miss Bulalacao at the Cinema One Originals Festival. Then in 2017, she won the Luna Awards for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal in Patay Na Si Hesus


And Fonacier is just getting started. “I am going to ride my life now like a surfer would. I don’t surf, but I understand the principle: You sit on your board and wait for the wave. I don’t know what kind of wave is coming, and I am scared of it. But I have my eyes on the horizon,” Fonacier tells Vogue Philippines in an exclusive video call, describing her rise to stardom in the international arena.


On October 14, the long-gestating folk horror movie Nocebo will premiere in Sitges, Spain. It stars Eva Green, Fonacier, and Mark Strong. Fonacier will grace the red carpet wearing Vania Romoff alongside her co-stars.

Film Still from Nocebo | Radek Ladczuk P.S.C.

Irish director Lorcan Finnegan takes on the tale of a UK fashion designer, Christine, played by Green, who is struck by a mysterious illness. Christine hires a Filipino nanny, Diana (Fonacier), to look after the household. In an attempt to cure Christine’s condition, she offers an ancient folk remedy.


Then, a surprising portrait emerges. Diana becomes the uncontrolled and uncontrollable creation of a powerful dark force, which shapes the conflict of the story more than what she can possibly understand.


“Diana has a lot of pain. I think that this journey of hers is dealing with personal pain. This pain brought by the loss that she experienced and that led her to where she is now,” says Fonacier, who was born and raised in Cagayan de Oro. She studied communication at the University of the Philippines in Cebu where she was active in the music, film, and theater community.


“I know science has explained a lot of things in the world, but I think there are still a lot out there that we could not explain [either]. But it doesn’t only talk about folk healing, but it also discusses about the current situation of labor practices, consumerism, and the issues of fast fashion,” Fonacier says.

Carlo Fajarda

Great care has also been rendered in handling the folkloric aspect. The producers consulted with local practitioners and employed Filipino writers to guard its accuracy. Talismans, herbs, and animal “familiars” that aid spells are employed as props.


“I had fears of misrepresenting our culture, but the more that I delve into the character and the more that I delve into the story, I understand how the producers prepared for the movie,” she says. “They did it with a lot of respect. It comes from a protective space.”


She shares that they consulted with a Filipino shaman on how to handle the props. “These props were the actual stuff that shamans would use. If I mishandled them, it may take [away] the authenticity of the movie,” the actress says. “I could not forget about this one item in the movie that is very dangerous to handle. With any route you take, do not pass by a cemetery. So the producers checked all the routes to the location to make sure there’s no cemetery nearby.”


Viewers have taken note of Fonacier since the movie’s trailer was released earlier. She needed extraordinary stamina to tackle Finnegan’s most monumental tragedy, pitch-black to the point of extreme skepticism.


“Most of the characters I played before are comedic, finding the funny and the ridiculous even in the worst situation. What makes Diana unique is I am able to explore a certain kind of darkness in her and in our culture. She is not complicated at all, but this one is pretty hard,” she says. “But the kind of relationship we had with the director is collaborative. I watched Eva try different techniques during rehearsals to see how the director would receive them.”

The pair’s chemistry was undeniable. What was novel about Nocebo for the Filipino was witnessing Green, a multi-awarded French actor, graciously step back and let another star shine. 


“Eva is very generous,” Fonacier says. “She is nice to everybody on-set; yet, she was not intrusive. When waiting for her turn to go, she could sit on one corner and go unnoticed. But once she stepped into the scene, she could fill a big hall. She transformed into her character. She did not impose a certain method when we shot our scenes together. Pakiramdaman lang. She would respond to what I give, vice-versa.”


What has been less mentioned now is Fonacier’s music. After having been discovered on the first season of Pinoy Dream Academy in 2005, she finally moved to Manila where she became a singer-songwriter whose thoughtful lyrics and beauty have captured the independent music and art scenes. In 2017, she won in the Visayan Pop Music Festival as the interpreter of the Cebuano song Kung Di Pa Lang Ko Buang.


“I am going to have music with me. It’s going to be there. It’s just a matter of what phase I am in my life,” she says. “For now, it’s acting. But who knows? Back then, I thought I was only going to be a musician. I didn’t expect I would land in film.” 


Fonacier croons in her music, building spoken-word verses into operatic crescendos, but no matter what size stage she ends up, expect her to do it with bare soul. “I have been asked many times about how I made it through show business. Pain, poverty, and pancit canton. Honestly, I don’t have a clue,” she says. “When you hit rock bottom, cried all the tears, usually what happens? You start laughing like a mad man.”

Dr. Madrid says her RM Award amplifies and urges more work on child protection

Dr. Bernadette J. Madrid, director of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) Child Protection Unit (CPU), Clinical Associate Professor at the UP PGH Dept of Pediatrics, and Fellow of the Philippine Pediatrics Society, is one of the recipients of what is considered Asia’s Nobel Prize, the 64th Ramon Magsaysay Awards.

Dr. Madrid, the founding executive director of the Child Protection Network, was awarded for “her admirable commitment in championing the rights of the most vulnerable and integrating child protection services in the health infrastructure.” She is greatly instrumental in the establishment of the PGH CPU which is tasked with capacitating and increasing the number of trained child protection specialists and multi-disciplinary CPUs in the Philippines; and integrating their work all over the country for a comprehensive approach in facing the challenges of child abuse and neglect every day. As of 2021, the PGH CPU has served 27,639 children.

The RM awardee, dubbed as “Children’s Rights and Child Protection Crusader” sees the recognition as “amplifying our work so that we can do more. It raises the consciousness of people to child abuse.”

She went into child protection “because no one was taking care of the abused children at that time.” During her residency at the PGH, child abuse was not a diagnosis– it was not part of their training. During her fellowship training, she saw many abused children but they were not recognized and no services were available to them. The condition was not recognized as a health problem but a social welfare problem; but for Dr. Madrid, it was a health problem.

The RM awardee, dubbed as “Children’s Rights and Child Protection Crusader”  sees the recognition as “amplifying our work so that we can do more. It raises the consciousness of people to child abuse.

Child abuse is common in the Philippines. In a national baseline survey on its prevalence where Dr. Madrid was involved, 80% of Filipino children had experienced at least one form of abuse. Physical abuse was at 66% that translated to 25 million children. Sexual abuse stood at almost 20% or 1 in 5 amounting to at least 600 thousand children. One hospital clinic may not make a dent in the alarming situation–but the 123 Women and Children Protection Units (WCPU) in 61 provinces nationwide today help bridge the gap.


“Our work here is providing comprehensive services for abused children,” Dr. Madrid stated. Since the CPU was created in 1997, she sees how health plays a very big role in the recognition and care of these children. With the children’s gateway to these services dependent on health, work limited solely to health would be incomplete. The multidisciplinary unit then expanded reach into the networks of today. While they are not a center and they do not house children, it remains a place where children can feel safe; they find ways trying to keep children safe. Services focus on the medical, social work, mental health and wellness, legal, judiciary, TeleCPU, and other administrative areas.


Dr. Madrid established several programs and curricula on women and child protection. One of these is the “Women & Child Protection Specialty Training for Physicians, Social Workers, and WCPD Police Officers,” a training program for physicians who conduct child abuse evaluations and give expert testimony in court; as well as social workers and police officers who are part of multidisciplinary teams that provide comprehensive care for abused women and children. The training is part of the overall strategy in the creation of Women and Child Protection Units nationwide. There are now 123 WCPUs in 61 provinces and 10 cities, which have served 119,965 children and adolescents, and 30,912 women. The WCPUs have a total staff of 237 physicians, 199 social workers, and eighty-five police officers.


She has chaired previous regional consultations by the World Health Organization on the WHO World Report on Violence and Health and the Health Sector Response to Sexual Violence. She is a member of the Executive Council of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect and Chair of the Asian Forum.

Façade of the UP-PGH Child Protection Unit

More collaborations


She continues looking into more collaborations because systems require a deep-rooted approach. They help partners in the startup process (i.e. free training, initial equipment, etc.) while living an advocacy of protecting children from abuse and neglect.


CPU has a program with the Department of Education (DepEd) on the prevention of child abuse. After their research in Manila and Iloilo with DepEd on whether they could prevent sexual abuse or the sexual offending behavior of high school students, the proof of concept showed that it is doable. The program with DepEd is currently postponed given that the COVID-19 pandemic adjustments inevitably delayed the scheduling of the next trial stage. While waiting, CPU will run a trial of the concept in Valenzuela City, a path-finding city for ending violence against children. Valenzuela is known for their openness in trying out new programs. Once ready, CPU hopes to scale it nationwide with DepEd.



This coming September 29, CPU is also signing a Memorandum of Agreement with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for a partnership in legal services. The WCPUs will connect with the IBP chapters in their area to avail of free legal counseling.

UP-PGH’s Child Protection Unit Holds Surprise Celebration for Dr. Bernadette Madrid

As CPU’s research showed that universal parenting can decrease child abuse by half, CPU is also partnering with Ateneo de Manila in implementing the findings of the said research. Dr. Madrid laments that a lot of what is child abuse is acceptable as corporal punishment. According to the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, hurting children achieves the opposite effect of what discipline intends to do. It bears long-term consequences that changes a child’s physiology and the wiring of their brain–manifesting as a chronic disease (e.g. hypertension, diabetes) decades, 30 years, or even  50 years later.

Betsy Kiunisala Medalla is Growing National Open Water Swimming Team Of the Philippines From the Ground Up

By Jia H. Jung

An increasingly global contingent of “tankers” with Filipino roots populates the competitive pool swimming scene.

This past May, Chloe Isleta, Filipina swimmer and 2020 Arizona State University graduate, won gold in the 50-meter freestyle at the 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Hanoi, Vietnam. Before starting her sophomore year at Notre Dame, Manila native Jessica Geriane collected medals in Hanoi, too, including silver for a national record breaking 50-meter backstroke.

Two-time Olympic medalist and Canadian record holder Kayla Sanchez received her release from Swimming Canada this past June. In July, the Singapore-born, Canada-raised Filipina announced that she would represent the Philippines going forward.

Sanchez isn’t the only swimmer from the Filipino diaspora who has trained with or swum for the Philippines. Virginia native Remedy Rule gained dual citizenship to swim under the Philippine flag at the Tokyo Games. Australian-based Luke Gebbie was another Philippine National Swimming Team member present, breaking his own national 100-meter free record.

In fall 2020, North Carolina native Desirae Mangaoang matriculated to Texas A&M after entering the FINA World Juniors under the aegis of the Philippine Swimming Federation and winning silver at the 2019 SEA Games. UC San Diego’s Division I team currently features three athletes of Filipino descent raised on the West Coast – Teagan Monroe, Luke Pusateri, and Miranda Renner. All three swimmers have swum with the Philippine national team.

Before a dedicated open water swimming program existed in the Philippines, the country diverted domestic pool talent to 5K and 10K races in events such as the Asian Open Water Swimming Championships. But as the 2019 SEA Games approached, Philippine Swimming Inc. (PSI), the sole governing body for the nation’s aquatics, became more deliberate about developing specialized open water athletes. The competitions were to be hosted in Subic, Philippines, and a 10K marathon swim (male only) was on the schedule for the first time.

PSI looked to Betsy Kiunisala Medalla. In just five years, the Filipino open water swimmer, race director, triathlete, environmental activist, and swimming coach had stoked open water mania throughout the Philippines.

The entity invited Medalla to prepare two male national swimmers – Joboy Gonzales and Ron Jarius Villamor – for the 2019 SEA Games. Neither pool athlete had trained for a 10K before. With Medalla’s help, both attained personal records in the 10K at the Games after a 50-day ramp-up.

Now the official coach of the new Philippines National Open Water Swimming Team, Medalla is taking a ground-up approach to ensuring the sport’s future in the country.

She has effectively ended the borrowing of athletes from other events and is building a team that can focus and develop unity. Second, she aims to find her talent at home. She is convinced that the dearth of internationally competitive open water swimmers in the Philippines is not due to lack of interest or ability. There have simply have not been enough domestic open water events to give swimmers the training and exposure needed for long distance races.

“In the Philippines, there’s only one 10K open water race, and it’s mine,” Medalla says, adding, “we all know we perform better if we have a goal race in mind; we can’t just keep training without a goal.”

And when there are open water swimming opportunities, athletes need time to take advantage of them. Medalla would ideally begin working with swimmers when they are 14 to 16 years old. She cites the example of William Yan Thorley of Hong Kong, who came in third at a regional competition at age 13. Five years later, the bronze boy was at the Tokyo Olympics.

Medalla knows firsthand what it takes to meet the demands of long-distance open water swimming. In February 2014, the five foot and nothing mother of two, then 44 years old, became the first Asian person to complete the more than 7-kilometer journey from the historic Robben Island to Bloubergstrand Bay in South Africa. She readied herself for the wintery swim by sitting in tubs of ice and spending two weeks in mountainous Baguio City with training partner Julian Valencia to do laps in 10°C/50°F conditions.

Medalla and Valencia prevailed in their challenge, undertaken to express gratitude from the Philippines to South Africa for providing foreign aid after Super Typhoon Yolanda devastated the island nation in November 2013. The swimmers also broke barriers for the Asia-Pacific region, which contains 60% of the world’s population and the majority of the world’s marine environments, yet accounts for 61% of the world’s annual drowning incidents and remains underrepresented in competitive aquatics.


Medalla grew up in the capital city of Manila, where 50-meter public pools and swimmable natural waters were and still are limited. But Edward Kiunisala, Medalla’s father, was a natural born swimmer raised on the round Camiguin Island off the northern coast of Mindanao. He wanted his daughters to learn to swim, so as soon as the Kiunisalas could afford a home in the city, they bought a house with a 10-meter pool in the back.

Photo Courtesy: Betsy Kiunisala Medalla

All three Kiunisala sisters became competitive pool swimmers. Medalla was on the youth Philippine National Swimming team by age 12 and went on to captain the University of the Philippines swim team while majoring in Psychology. Upon graduation from college, she competed with the Philippine National Swimming Team before progressing into an international marketing career and having a family.

Gradually, Medalla’s commitments took her away from swimming. When she began cycling to reclaim her fitness, her friends suggested trying a triathlon and using her swimming aptitude as an edge. So it was that at age 38 in 2009, she entered her first triathlon at Subic. She jumped into the ocean for the 1,500-meter swimming leg but stopped short when the seabed dropped away and everything went black. She unfroze after a few people passed by and her competitive side kicked in. Her next thought was, I love this.

After coming in second in her age group at the triathlon, Medalla began helping Army/Navy South Triathlete club refine their strokes, posting videos with commentary on issues like low riding and bikers’ or runners’ kicks in the water. She began a blog called “Just Add Water” and voiced outrage when alums of the Philippine Science High School, her alma mater, secured government funds to build the country’s first indoor 50-meter pool in Quezon City and then left it fallow. (The pool eventually received repairs but never opened to the public as intended.)

Medalla’s activities gathered traction in the Philippines sports scene, garnering invitations to write for magazines and give swimming lectures. She transitioned out of corporate life and into full-time swim coaching, and went from being a former pool competitor to all-round open water athlete and event director.

What had borne Medalla through the hardest parts of her cold, sharky 2014 Robben Island swim were flashbacks to a family vacation in Caramoan, a peninsula with islets scattered like lush bon bons across a national park of limestone and coral reef lagoons.

By the time Medalla’s feet hit land, she was halfway there towards creating an open water challenge in her own country, an archipelago of 7,107 islands. And once back in the Philippines, Medalla partnered with the Camarines Sur province to host a swim race in Caramoan. Using components from FINA regulations and international triathlon standards, she authored an event protocol and assembled a robust safety staff.

After a successful inaugural event in October 2015, attendance for the Caramoan races grew exponentially, with a third of participants flying in from foreign countries. In June 2016, Medalla launched “VIP Challenge” of 2.5K and 5k races in Lobo, Batangas, held in the Verde Island Passage (VIP) known for shore-fish biodiversity, productivity, and mean currents. In April and May of 2017, Medalla added the El Nido 4K, 8K, and 12K races to the series that she named the Swimjunkie Challenge.

Before each event, the organizing team took to offering a dozen eggs and fruit baskets to the Real Santa Clara Monasterio de Manila in an appeal for good weather – the one element left to chance.

An open water swimming community formed around the swimming opportunities Medalla created, doubling as a force field of environmental stewardship raising awareness about issues like plastic waste and gold mining runoff. Race proceeds flowed to organizations like the SEA-VIP institution for Science, Education, and Advocacy in the Verde Island Passage and the Bantay Dagat civil organization of volunteer fishermen combating dynamite fishing and excess takes.

In 2020, the pandemic sent everything into a state of suspension but when the world started cracking open again, Medalla organized the Strong Shoulders series of 1.5, 2.5, and 3.5-kilometer swims to ease people back into the water.

A year later in 2021, she created the Philippine Openwater Swim Crossings Association (POSCA) to standardize and certify longer, tougher solo swims to be undertaken any time. A board of collaborators joined Medalla, including her sister Yvonne, a marketer knowledgeable about every aspect of swim event coordination.

Medalla tested a 3.5-kilometer crossing of the Maricaban Strait in February 2022 and launched the swim in March from the pebbly, tree-shaded beach at Planet Dive Resort, a cluster of old school villas with outdoor showers at the tip of the Anilao peninsula in Mabini, Batangas.

While the instantly popular crossings break for habagat – typhoon season – Medalla will be busy resuming the Swimjunkie Challenge with the Caramoan 5K and 10K swims this October 16th.

When not race directing or coaching, Medalla spends her time piloting uncharted courses at her own risk and often on her own dime. She envisions having a race in Camiguin to honor of her late father, her first swim teacher and respected investigative journalist. She wants to spark more events throughout the rest of the southern Mindanao region, too, once she figures out how to make travel costs and logistics more reasonable.


Photo Courtesy: Betsy Kiunisala Medalla

Medalla is applying the same grassroots efforts she has used to grow the Philippine open water swimming community to cultivate a new national team within it. She held the very first national open water swimming tryouts in June 2021. Twenty-seven candidates showed up, mostly from the southern provinces.

She recruited the first place male finisher, Joshua del Rio from Davao, and the first place female finisher, 17-year-old Hannah Sanchez, also an accomplished pool swimmer, from Manila. The third teammate to be cleared by the Philippine Sports Commission was Ron Jarius Villamor, 20, who competed in the inaugural 10K marathon swim at the 2019 SEA Games. Medalla needs two to three more swimmers for a well-rounded team.

The task that remains is to secure more corporate sponsorships. The kind of patrons necessary to pull off large scale events and an internationally competitive program long-term are committed to cycling, running, and triathlon events and athletes.

But even as Medalla vies and scrambles for sponsors, she is grateful to work with a leadership that supportive of her plans to develop a strong foundation for open water swimming in the Philippines so that the rest can follow. She is confident that the Philippines has the potential and the passion to become an open water swimming hub of the Asia-Pacific region and a generator of Olympic contenders in the sport.


Tanghalang Ignacio Gimenez is open, but who is the man behind the name?

Totel V. de Jesus

Ignacio Gimenez at the launch of the CCP new black box theater named after him. Photo by Kiko Cabuena

MANILA — With the opening of Tanghalang Pilipino’s “Anak Datu,” the Tanghalang Ignacio Gimenez (TIG) or the new Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) black box theater has been officially baptized.

TIG had a ceremonial launch on September 8, just about more than a week before “Anak Datu” had its gala opening show on September 16 to rave reviews from critics and viewers alike.

But who is the man behind the name?

During TIG’s unboxing, current CCP president and acting artistic director Margie Moran-Floirendo described Ignacio B. Gimenez as “a white knight whose love for the arts remains strong.”

Fondly called Chony, Gimenez was a member of the University of the Philippines (UP) Dramatics Club and the UP Mobile Theater under National Artist for Theater Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero during his college years at UP Diliman.

In a recorded testimonial, Repertory Philippines stalwart Joy Virata said she and Gimenez didn’t cross paths at UP because she was ahead of him by many years but she thanked Gimenez for the new theater.

Virata’s golden words: “You need theater to grow, to have a kind of citizenry. Arts should not be a last priority. It should be up there, it’s a necessity for a civilized country. That’s where our roots are.”

Theater in the countryside

Bing Licuanan was a classmate and contemporary of Gimenez at the UP Dramatics Club and UP Mobile Theater.

“We performed in many places, all over the Philippines, from Laoag City to Mindanao. We’ve been to Zamboanga, Butuan, Malaybalay (Bukidnon),” Licuanan said in a recorded testimonial, adding that Guerrero got them because the director needed some stagehands.

“Later, we became actors,” he said, showing a souvenir program of a 1950s comedy play “My Three Angels” by Samuel and Bella Spewack, which was directed by Guerrero for UP Dramatic Club in the mid-1960s. In the souvenir program, Licuanan had an acting role while “Chony Gimenez” was part of the backstage crew.

“Aside from acting, we had extra money for tuition. We got allowance from Guerrero after a performance,” Licuanan said.

He remembered Gimenez was a prankster and he was a favorite target. In Guerrero’s “Wanted: A Chaperon,” Gimenez played Don Francisco and Licuanan was the young applicant also named Francisco.

“Imagine naka-coat-and-tie ako tapos before the play would start, lalagyan nya ng kamatis ang sapatos ko” Licuanan said. He knew it was only Gimenez who could do such thing. But they were good friends.

In 1965, they parted ways because Licuanan left for De La Salle University to finish his mechanical engineering degree.

“Chony finished his pre-med but he went to Asian Institute of Management instead to pursue graduate studies. He was among the first batch of students who took up masters in management,” he said.

“We didn’t see each other for a long time. When I was already working, I just met him in the lobby of Peninsula Hotel and when he saw me, he asked me to join him in his business. Ang dami nyang businesses eh. Lahat pinapasukan niya.”

Licuanan said despite his wealth, Gimenez was stingy. “Sobrang kuripot. Ang buhok niya puti. Siya ang nagkukulay ng buhok nya. Ganoon siya kakuripot. Eh, kung magpapakulay ka ano ba naman ‘yung P200 to P300.”

At some point, Licuanan said Gimenez wanted to revive the long-dormant UP Mobile Theater.

“Pero it didn’t push through. Saka malapit na rin ang buhay namin, di ba? What’s important is to give back what society gave to him. And what is rare is what he did today, on September 8. So thank you Chony for what you did today, for the new generation to come,” Licuanan said.

Chony the music lover

Emily Abrera was CCP chairman of the board when TIG had its groundbreaking in 2016. She knew Gimenez from way back.

She said only a few may know it but when she was in high school and living in a house on Marcelo H. Del Pilar Street in Malate, Manila, Gimenez and his family were her neighbors. She and Gimenez weren’t actually friends but “he knew what I looked like and I knew what he looked like.”

She remembered Gimenez was a music lover because she heard extensive collection of vinyl records being played most time of the day from Gimenez’s house.

In UP Diliman, they didn’t cross paths because when she was a freshman, Gimenez was graduating although they have the same circle of friends and watched the same plays. She said it probably was her late husband Caloy who may have acted with Gimenez in UP Dramatic Club and the UP Mobile Theater.

“It was the ‘60s, life happens for young people and it’s amazing that years later, I’d meet Chony again. For a while I wasn’t sure if the Ignacio Gimenez was the same Chony I knew from many years back and am glad they’re the same person.”

Honed in theater

In his response, Gimenez delightfully recounted how he started in theater.

“My romance in theater started when I was in first year high school. I was around 12 years old. It started with beautiful words from my English teacher. She started it like this: ‘Gimenez, stop talking, you go and join the theater club!’,” he said, breaking the ice and making everyone laugh.

“So, I did and that’s how I started as an actor. Wonderful words.”

His career in theater was further nurtured when he went to college in UP. With the UP Dramatic Club, they would have a formal play that would fill up the venue with audiences. “The costumes, backdrops were complete. We would do very well. Every year, we would have a new play.”

“In UP Mobile Theater, it’s totally different. Every summer and whenever the weather would permit, we would gather in UP every weekend to travel to a town or barrio or city and produce street plays. Most often, there would be no stage so any makeshift stage would do.

“We had no props, so we would borrow a sofa, an armchair, a small table, all very basic. For a back drop, we would have a blanket and hopefully not too colorful. All the other props, wherever we could be, we would bring ourselves. Each also brought his own costumes,” Gimenez said.

He said for a day, like a Saturday, they would stage three plays and then go to the next town on Sunday. “We would stage another three plays. If there’s a matinee, we would do six plays. Very taxing, very hard but if someone would ask me, I’d say I’d do it again.”

“Why? Because I saw the power of the theater. Here we are, all young students with no props, no costumes and yet we were able to move people, we could make them cry, laugh, experience several emotions.

“Each town has a little plaza and we would fill up the plaza, [lots of] people shoulder-to-shoulder standing on dirt ground. It was overpowering if you see people cry and laugh, experience several emotions. Only because we came and presented something to them,” Gimenez said.

“I had a wonderful experience when I was a student at UP. I learned. I toured the whole Philippines. I saw my country. It was a moving, learning experience.

“I was with wonderful people, theater people and we presented to [audiences] who I could see would fall in love with theater. So, this is why we have this now. We’re here at this Tanghalan because it’s give-back time,” he added, as everyone stood up, clapped and gave him a long standing ovation, about 20 minutes or more with photo-ops.

“I think I said the right words to make you clap more so let me repeat that, ‘it’s give-back time,” he said.


Here’s the story behind the illustration featured on ‘Darna’ series closing credits

by John Legaspi

Mars Ravelo’s iconic characters come together in artist Jether Amar’s design

August is a pretty historic time for Philippine television as, after a decade, we witness Filipino superheroine Darna soar on our screens once again. After all the changes in casting and even the director leading the project, ABS-CBN’s “Darna” series is truly worth the wait based solely on the viewers’ and the netizens’ reactions toward the show. Apart from it being a good piece of entertainment, it champions local artistry and pop culture. And if you’ve been following it, we bet you’ve noticed the amazing illustration showcased during its end credits.

That artwork is made by Filipino illustrator and animator Jether Amar. Prior to it gracing our screens, it was first created in 2017 as a poster and shirt design in celebration of the 100th birth anniversary of Mars Ravelo, the comic book cartoonist and graphic novelist behind many iconic Filipino superheroes including Darna.

“I was commissioned by the Ravelo family to illustrate an event poster for Mars Ravelo’s 100-year celebration,” Jether tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “The poster was made without me thinking that it would be used later as a closing billboard for the ‘Darna’ series. It was a rush work and we have to create the [closing break bumper] using existing material.”

It features existing illustrations by Ivan Reverence, Sam Gregorio, and Hannah Militar depicting notable Mars Ravelo characters such as Darna, Dyesebel, Captain Barbel, Lastikman, Valentina, and Varga, among others.

Still from ABS-CBN Entertainment/Youtube

“It took me quite some research to gather and study his well- and lesser-known characters,” Jether says. “I wanted the poster to be faithful to the characters’ original style.”

Filipino comics played a huge influence on Jether’s life as an artist. As a kid, he would rent comics and copy their pages. This passion led him to study fine arts at the University of the Philippines. Today, he works as the art director of Rocketsheep Studios, the homegrown production studio behind films like “Saving Sally” and “Hayop ka! The Nimfa Dimaano Story.”

“We are now on our third animated feature called ‘ZsaZsa Zaturnnah vs the Amazonistas of Planet X,’ which is based on the popular graphic novel of the same title,” he muses.

To see more of Jether’s works, visit @jether_amar on Instagram.


Mom, former OFW snags summa cum laude from UP

By Kaithreen Cruz

UP Diliman Class of 2022 Chrisdie Mycel Ruzol graduates summa cum laude on Sunday, July 31, 2022. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

DESPITE challenges in completing her education for a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Psychology while raising two children amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Chrisdie Mycel Ruzol graduated summa cum laude as part of the University of the Philippines Diliman Class of 2022.

Ruzol described her experience being a student and a mother as “exhausting and also rewarding,” as she was able to practice her individuality through her schooling while fulfilling her responsibilities as a mom and a wife.

She shared that she had initially started taking a course at the University of Santo Tomas way back in 2010, but was not able to finish it due to a lack of financial resources.

“I worked for two to three years here in the Philippines and then around the same amount of time abroad. When I went back home in 2017, that was when I decided to continue my studies but things didn’t go as planned — I got pregnant and started our family. After giving birth in 2018, that was when I was able to enroll,” Ruzol recalled.

She said she’s fortunate to have been able to communicate well with her husband and children in setting and maintaining boundaries despite her distance learning setup during the pandemic.

She emphasized having a strong sense of personal agency to be responsible for her own learning by maximizing available resources and learning opportunities was key to her finishing her degree.

Ruzol added that involving her family members in conversations to set their boundaries and priorities helped her find a balance in the two important roles in her life.

“I really had to adjust to my setup. I had to let go of my old study habits of writing and rewriting my notes and reviewing my lectures with no distraction — but no matter how hard I tried or cried to keep those old habits, I had to let go and move on as I have other responsibilities at home, with limited physical academic resources. Whenever I have deadlines, I will talk to my husband and my toddler so they can understand and allow me to work on them, and to balance that, I make sure that I get to spend time with them after my requirements and during weekends,” she added.

She advised people who were not able to complete their studies but are still hopeful to do so to “not let go of their dreams and work hard to make them happen.”

From her personal experience of having to pause her education to work here and abroad, Ruzol said that having a positive mindset, a clear purpose and a belief that God had placed them in that situation could inspire them to keep moving forward. Despite hurdles in life, she said that people should maximize their circumstances and learn from them so that they could look back on them once they are in a better position in life to fulfill their dreams.

“Graduating as summa cum laude has actually taught me humility in acknowledging that everything happens according to God’s plans — there are things that I cannot do on my own, but God would make a way to make it work,” she added.

After her graduation, Ruzol’s goal is to pass her psychometrician licensure exam and land jobs in this field to gain experience so she could eventually become a psychologist specializing in couple and family, and probably delve into industrial psychology as well.

Ruzol is one of the 150 students from the UP Diliman Class of 2022 who graduated summa cum laude, earning a weighted average grade of 1.20 or better.

The 111th General Commencement Exercises of UP Diliman was held last Sunday, July 31, at the University Amphitheater after two years of holding virtual graduations due to the Covid-19 pandemic.


Negrense graduates summa cum laude at UP Diliman

Teresa D. Ellera

Angeli Francesca Peña Lacson with proud parents, lawyer Alex and Pia Lacson. (Contributed Photo)

A NEGRENSE graduated summa cum laude at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman in Quezon City.

Angeli Francesca Peña Lacson graduated on Sunday, July 31, with a degree in comparative literature.

She garnered a general weighted average of 1.068, one of the highest among the summa cum laude graduates of the university.

While studying at UP, some of her literary works were published abroad.

Lacson was also active in community development work, supporting women and rural communities.

She is the daughter of lawyer Alex Lacson, a Negrense who grew up and studied elementary and high school education in Kabankalan City.

Alex and his wife, Pia, also studied at UP Diliman. They met while studying at the UP College of Law.

Their youngest son, John Mark, also finished junior high school at the Paref Northfield Academy in May this year as first honor.*