PAJ fetes 2023 UPAA Awardees

Written by Arlyn VCD Palisoc Romualdo

UP President Angelo A. Jimenez (rightmost) leads the toast to the 2023 UP Alumni Association awardees (Photo by Misael Bacani, UP MPRO)

“To the best of the best of this University, our alumni, for representing our highest ideals and aspirations, for being true alumni of UP and sons and daughters of the Filipino nation which UP has dedicated to support and promote, cheers!”

This was UP President Angelo A. Jimenez’ toast to the 2023 UP Alumni Association (UPAA) awardees during the dinner he hosted in their honor at Ang Bahay ng Alumni on August 16. The social event is usually held days before the actual awarding ceremony. This year, the ceremony was scheduled on August 19.

Leading the 38 individual awardees were Most Distinguished Alumna, former Philippine Vice President Maria Leonor Gerona Robredo, and Most Distinguished Alumnus, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan. Four were recognized with UPAA Lifetime Distinguished Achievement Awards: National Scientist Lourdes J. Cruz, Dr. Nathaniel A. Einsiedel, Dr. Gisela Padilla Concepcion, and Engr. Rene Santiago. Twenty-nine were given the UPAA Distinguished Alumni Awards in various fields and disciplines, and three were recipients of the UPAA Presidential Awards.

Ten families received the UPAA Multigenerational UP Alumni Family Awards—one with four generations of alumni and three with three generations of alumni. UP Epsilon Chi Fraternity Alumni, Inc. was cited with the UPAA Distinguished Service Award for an Alumni Chapter.

2023 UPAA Most Distinguished Alumna, former Philippine Vice President Maria Leoner Gerona Robredo talks about the “sense of home” that UP alumni feel when they meet other alumni, when they cheer for the UP Fighting Maroons, or when they gather in celebratory events such as the one hosted by the UP President. (Photo by Misael Bacani, UP MPRO)

“We may have different stories about our college experience and yet we are bound by a shared feeling—that sense of home when we talk about UP. This goes beyond every alumni homecoming or every other chance that we get to come back to our UP campus, wherever that may be in the country,” Robredo said in her message, which she had requested to deliver earlier than scheduled because she had to catch the bus to Naga in time for the commemoration of her husband’s death anniversary. Her husband was former Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, who died in a plane crash on August 18, 2012.

“What I have learned from this esteemed institution has greatly contributed to my professional formation as a public servant. . . I will forever be grateful to the University for molding me.”—2023 UPAA Most Distinguished Alumnus, National Economic Development Authority Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan (Photo by Misael Bacani, UP MPRO)

Balisacan, on the other hand, said that he was “very fortunate” because UP gave him the “space, time, and resources, and privilege to pursue his academic interests freely.” He also encouraged his fellow awardees to “continue striving towards our ultimate vision for the nation, continue striving to attain that excellence with honor, and continue being active participants in our country’s development journey.”

UP President Angelo A. Jimenez delivers a brief address before toasting to the awardees. (Photo by Misael Bacani, UP MPRO)

“Have we fulfilled our promise as the best and the brightest?” Jimenez posed this question in his speech, saying that UP has lasted more than a hundred years and yet “we find our society still faced with so many challenges.” This prompted him and his team to envision UP as “a national university dedicated to producing good citizens and leaders, and engaged in knowledge co-creation towards a just, equitable, and prosperous society.” His emphasis on the production of good citizens is a dramatic shift from expected visions of UP as a great university or as a regional and global center of excellence.

UPAA President and Alumni Regent Robert Lester F. Aranton starts the short program with his opening remarks. (Photo by Misael Bacani, UP MPRO)

The list of the 2023 UPAA awardees in the dinner program can be found below.