A woman for the people: Mylene Villegas’ unshaken desire to serve the nation

BY Lizst Torres Abello

Phivolcs Director III values her work with the goal to always help and give the ‘favor’ back to the Filipino people

Inspired by the urge to offer good service to Filipinos, and with the thought in mind that any work inspired by a goal to help the people is considered as good work, Dr. Ma. Mylene Villegas truly has a heart of a real “Iskolar ng Bayan.”

Photo credit to Mylene Villegas

A graduate of Bachelor of Science in Geology at the University of the Philippines Diliman, and now the Deputy Director of one of the most reliable agencies in the country, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), Dr. Ma. Mylene Villegas is firm in her values to work steadfastly for the public.

“For my case, considering that I am a product of public school system, I always feel that it’s a way of giving back to the country kasi libre akong pinag-aral, so for me, how in a little or whatever kind of means can you give back to the country and make sure na nakatulong tayo (For my case, considering that I am a product of public school system, I always feel that it’s a way of giving back to the country because I studied for free, so for me, how in a little or whatever kind of means can you give back to the country and make sure that we can help),” Villegas said.

Also a licensed geologist who finished third in the Philippine Regulatory Board (PRC) 1990 Geology Licensure Board Examination, Villegas has been serving one of her purposes by working in an agency that studies how to lessen the impacts of disasters like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, a task which she believes to be a generator of more opportunities towards economic growth.

Success journey

It was not a coincidence, but maybe more of destiny, when the stars aligned for Villegas after the Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991. It was when an opportunity came in.

Photo credit to Mylene Villegas

Just few months after the eruption, Villegas said she started working from the lowest entry-level position in Phivolcs, and from there on, countless experiences in field works had changed her life.

From monitoring lahars particularly during the rainy season in her first five years in the agency to studying the activities of volcanoes through delving into the qualities and kinds of different rocks, she then realized what she really wanted to do in her life as a Science Research Specialist (SRS) way back 1991.

Photo credit to Mylene Villegas

As Villegas had also experienced traversing the heights of various landforms, she learned that there is nothing too hard for a person who had self-discipline.

With that, she became a Senior Science Research Specialist (SRS) in Phivolcs for two years, until she was able to serve as the Chief SRS for another two years.

In her duty as the Chief SRS, Villegas was able to significantly contribute to various projects of the agency by leading systematic conceptualization and implementation of Phivolcs information materials and by publishing several relevant research studies in Science particularly in geology.

Photo credit to Mylene Villegas

Just nearly four months ago, Villegas took her oath as the new Deputy Director of Phivolcs, a woman who is now overseeing the internal and external affairs of the agency including the challenges that it faces.

Photo credit to Phivolcs

Science in the eyes of a woman

In her early years, Villegas said most of her classmates wanted to pursue careers in medical and engineering field, but she wanted a fresher and unusual path.

“I was more inclined to something different, and I saw that there was geology course which was not that popular during those days, it was in the 1980s,” she said.

Villegas added that as time goes by, she even realized the essence of her work, as knowing how to make Science more understandable to people can impact their lives.

“What we work on, the world that we have right now—it’s actually helping people, it is very important that you do Science because it’s helping people, in the end, when you do research, it has to have an impact or it has to solve problems of humanity,” she said.

“Our goal remains that whatever we do, we make sure that our end use will be for the benefit of the Filipino people,” she added.

Woman leadership

For Villegas, holding onto the core values of Phivolcs is a must for every government, as these include innovation, integrity, and service to the people.

“How we take care of our people, excellence—-hindi pwedeng pwede na ‘yan, it is always that you have to make sure to do your best all the time and that you’ve exerted all possible means of doing things and ‘yung tamang quality of work that you do,” she said.

She also said that success in Phivolcs was more of a teamwork, while they also work on themselves as leaders to inspire their team members to always do their best.

She added that she had good supervisors in the past from whom she was able to adapt the desire to encourage the current employees and future generations to have the same kind of aims and goals.

Villegas also has an educational degree on MS Geology in Arizona State University, a Master’s degree on Development Communication from UP Open University and a Doctorate degree in Communication, also at UP Open University.

Source: https://mb.com.ph/2024/3/7/a-woman-for-the-people-mylene-villegas-unshaken-desire-to-serve-the-nation-1