UP Alumni receive the Teresa Awards for 2022

Written by Ylenette Reforzado

True to the ideals of Honor and Excellence, 11 of the 17 awardees of the prestigious Teresa Awards were also alumni of the University of the Philippines.

Recognized for their professionalism and contributions to the nation and society, the Theresians-turned-Iskolar ng Bayan received the Teresa Awards during the Saint Theresa’s College Quezon City (STCQC) Alumni Homecoming on January 29, 2022. The celebration titled, “Illumnate, 75 years of Theresian Brilliance” was held online, via Vimeo.

There is no doubt that most of the Teresa Awardees were also UP Alumni. During an interview with STC Alumni Association Director Annielu Dandan, she mentioned that, before a Theresian entered UP, she is already socially aware and well-grounded to be able to understand what life is, especially for those who are less fortunate. When they entered the university and eventually became UP alumnae, volunteerism has become part of their lives and helping others motivates them to be more active and fully engaged- not just in STC and UP- but in the society as well.

Director Dandan is also a graduate of the University of the Philippines Diliman. She finished Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering (BSIE) in 1985. When she was asked about her proudest moment as a Theresian-turned-Iska, Director Dandan proudly answered that, “…when I was able to finish my BSIE course in five years.” She also shared a fun memory during their college graduation at the College of Engineering lobby when their College Dean interacted with the graduates and guests, which made it a more intimate and touching event.

The Teresa Awards is the recognition given by STCQC Alumnae Association to Theresians who have made extraordinary contributions to society and who have been a constant blessing to their fellowmen while living a life of humility, integrity, and compassion as exemplified by the patron saint, Saint Teresa of Avila.

Let us celebrate these UP Alumni who were conferred the 2022 Teresa Awards for their remarkable accomplishments in their respective fields, as well as their selfless actions in touching many lives. Their selfless sacrifice like the quintessential symbol of the University, the Oblation, marks them as true Iskolars Para sa Bayan.

The following are the UP alumni who recipients of the Teresa’s Achievement Awards:

Elena Enriquez Pernia
Education and Communication

Elena E. Pernia obtained her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the UP Institute of Mass Communication, which honored her with an Outstanding Alumnus Award in Communications Research in 1991. She has earned her Ph.D. in Communications from UP in 1993. Pernia has been a full-time faculty member of the College of Mass Communication since 1982. In line of her belief that, “Research worth doing is research worth showing,” Pernia is a teacher not only to students but also to communication and media professionals who want to improve themselves. She conducts trainings and workshops, publishes books, and even hosts programs in TVUP. In 2015, when the Annual National Communication Research Conference was held, she received the Quill Awards from the International Association of Business Communicators and was the recipient of the Communication Excellence in Organizations (CEO) Awards. In 2018, while serving her second term as the Dean of College of Mass Communication, CHED recognized the College of Mass Communication as a Center of Excellence.

Pernia has been serving as the UP System Vice President for Public Affairs since January 2019. This position has allowed her to harness the knowledge, resources, and expertise of the UP community for the greater good of the country so that UP would be a Public Service University. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, she launched the webinar series, Stop COVID Deaths in April 2020 to facilitate dissemination of emerging knowledge on the treatment and management of COVID-19 to the frontliners of our community.

Dr. Eufrosina Marina Angeles-Melendres
Science and Medicine

Dr. Eufrosina M. Angeles-Melendres graduated cum laude in Bachelor of Science in 1970 in UP Diliman and finished her Doctor of Medicine in 1974 in UP Manila. She is considered as the country’s first and foremost expert in Pediatric Hematology. She engaged herself in extracurricular activities with the objective of serving the less privileged. Dr. Angeles-Melendres has received several awards and citations in the UP College of Medicine for her outstanding achievement in teaching, research and publications, and service. She has devoted much of her medical career to government service. As a consultant of the UP PGH Pediatrics Hematology-Oncology, she has inspired other consultants and fellows of the Department to solicit donations from generous donors including Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Child Foundation, Shrine of Jesus, the Way the Truth and the Life, Miss World Philippines, and Santa Elena Construction. Their contributions were able to pool cancer patients to avail chemotherapy and radio therapy sessions. Cognizant to the increasing prevalence of hospital-acquired infections among cancer patients admitted in wards, she lobbied for the creation of a separate Hematology and Oncology unit of PGH. The creation of the unit resulted in the decrease of infections among the cancer patients in wards.

Engr. Rosario Soliman Calderon
National Development

Engineer Rosario S. Calderon is the only female graduate in BS Civil Engineering at UP Diliman in 1972. She then took her Master’s Degree in Business Administration and Public Administration in USA. While working in large companies in the US, she handled several projects in the Philippines including the Casecnan Irrigation and Hydroelectric Powerplant. As Senior Technical Energy Adviser for the US Agency for International Development, she led the development and implementation of the Alliance for Mindanao Off-grid Renewable Energy (AMORE), through which about five remote villages in the Southern Philippines were provided with electricity and portable water through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP). Calderon believes in giving back to the schools that have molded her. Aside from STCQC and the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, she also supports the program of the UP College of Engineering for Scholarships, Student well-being, Professorial Chairs and classroom upgrades. After meeting Gracia Burnham in a conference, Calderon started supporting the New Tribes Mission of the Philippines, Inc. which helps to provide education, spiritual formation, and livelihood opportunities for over 10,000 indigenous people all over the country.

Maria Sagrario Lim Floro
Gender and Development Economics

Maria Sagrario L. Floro graduated magna cum laude in UP Diliman with a BS in Business Economics in 1976. After four years, she went on a Stanford University fellowship, which led to a Ph.D. in Food Research. In 1988, she became Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics in the American University, Washington DC. In addition to teaching, Floro did research on topics close to her heart including Gender Equality, Unpaid and Care Work; and Equitable Development. Since these concepts have not been accepted on mainstream economics in the 1990s, her application for promotion tenure was not supported by the Department Chair and initially denied. Her students and colleagues rallied behind her, including her Harvard Professor who wrote letters of support. In 1996, the University President granted her tenure. By 2018, American University gave Floro the University Award for Outstanding Scholarship and Research.

She has done trailblazing work on the measurement of unpaid household and care work, which is mostly done by women, an invisible sector in economic statistics. During this time of pandemic, the economic evaluation of care work re-emerges as essential to fostering human well-being, social and environmental justice, and greater economic growth. She had worked closely to principal names in feminist economics, served as Board Member and Vice President for Development of International Association for Feminist Economics; and Associate Editor of its Flagship Journal Feminist Economics. Beyond all these advocacies, Floro’s most important role is being a mother to her daughter Maria, who wrote that, “despite hurtling challenges, my mother believed in my potential, even when I did not believe in myself”.

Prof. Janet “Jai” Sabas-Aracama

Prof. Janet Sabas-Aracama earned her Bachelor of Music in Choral Conducting in 1984 and Master of Music in Choral Conducting in 1992 in UP Diliman. Professor Sabas-Aracama, also called as “Teacher Jai” by many is a luminary in the field of music. She had her first piano lessons at the age of four and pursued the passion for the keyboard until high school, while also taking ballet lessons under the dance icon, Felicitas “Tita” Layag Radaic.

When she was currently a Professor in the College of Music, Department of the Conducting and Chorale Ensemble, she was a Soloist and Assistant Conductor at the UP Concert Chorus, until she was appointed as the Artistic Director and Conductor in 1999. Since 2000, Teacher Jai has led the Chorus in nine major international concerts in Europe, USA, and Asia, and has won several international choral competitions including the Grand Prix Award of the Cracovia Cantans in Krakow, Poland in 2015. Jai was recognized by the 2020 Aliw Award for Best Major Concert as a Musical Director of GILIW KOrus. She is also recognized twice by the University as UP Artist Rank II in 2011 and in 2020. Aside from these awards, teacher Jai is also a voice coach and mentor to many aspiring artists. She is a vocal coach and participant in shows such as GMA7’s Starstruck and The Clash. Jai has always believed that the talents are gifts from God meant to be used to serve her family, others, and in the process, glorify God.

Dr. Leticia Salvador Tojos
Social Development

Dr. Leticia S. Tojos obtained her BS in Social Work in 1971, Master in Social Work in 1977, and Doctor of Philosophy in Communication in 1999 at the University of the Philippines Diliman. Dr. Tojos is a Social Development Professional. She received the Gawad Chancellor Award in 1992, 1997, and 2005. Also in 2003, the Philippine Association of Social Workers recognized Dr. Tojos for her years of dedicated service.

She possesses an uncanny ability to identify underserved sectors of the society and utilize research and training capabilities to find solutions to the problems and challenges faced by these social groups. Dr. Tojos has promoted an alternative paradigm for older persons that could see them as active and rich in experiences rather than helpless and weak. This program was supported by Coalition of Services of the Elderly of DSWD. She has also spoken in preventing elder abuse, addressing inequality in her own backyard.

Dr. Tojos also conducted research that confirm the academic nature of the work being done by the UP Research Extension and Professional Staff (REPS). This lay the basis for upgrading the status, benefits, and privileges of REPS.

Teresa’s Light Awards

The Teresa’s Light Awards is given to recognize the Theresian’s missionary spirit for social justice, solidarity and peace, and contributions to promote a transformative society. The awardee nourishes a stimulating relationship with God, other people, nature, and herself. Get to know the life-changing stories of our Theresian Iska, and why they deserve to receive the Teresa’s Light Awards:

Ma. Teresa C. Isada-Gutierrez
Business and Industry

Ma. Teresa C. Isada-Gutierrez graduated Bachelor of Science in Business Economics in 1975 in UP Diliman. Being born to a large family, she learned to be mindful of others by putting their welfare before her own. Armed with a business economics degree from UP, Isada-Gutierrez started her career with LBC Express as head of the company’s International Division. Isada-Gutierrez, also known as “Techie” by her friends and colleagues, established LBC branches in different parts of the world, where there are many Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). After leaving LBC in 1990, Techie set-up her own logistics firm, the ABest Express. Today, ABest has over 100 branches and 60 acceptance counters. It is a company proudly Filipino-owned and powered by female leaders holding their own in a male dominated industry.

Because of her entrepreneurial prowess, Techie was able to establish businesses that showcase the best products of the Philippines. She launched Promdi Deli and Promdi Kainan in Metro Manila malls which sold delicious delicacies from different provinces. She also set up Filmart stores in Vietnam and Cambodia that bring Filipino goodies to OFWs. Techie did not just build a company; she has built lives and inspired her co-workers to reach their full potential. Her secretary at LBC became the President and COO of LBC many years later. Her maid, whom she brought to Cambodia, is now the manager of a Filmart store in Phnom Penh. Techie has remained humble and forgiving. She inspires others including her three children to pray as if everything depended on God, but to work as if everything depended on them.

Ma. Isabelle Mangosing Besinga
Family Life and Parish Community Service

Ma. Isabelle M. Besinga graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in UP Diliman in 1972. Besinga faced many challenges early in life. As a teenager, she was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis, a chronic auto immune disorder which affects the voluntary muscles of the body especially those that control the eyes, mouth, and limbs. But her condition did not deter her from pursuing her dreams. While she excelled in the corporate world for her undeniable skills for graphic design and advertising, she also helped to build the church of God both in the physical and family senses. Her husband who works in a banking industry helped them fund and build the Jesus, Lord of Divine Mercy Church in Mapayapa Village, Quezon City where they live. Through the Couples for Christ Chapter in their village, they help married couples renew their faith and strengthen their commitment to raise their families grounded in Gospel values. Besinga facilitated the Kasalang Bayan Program in their community and helped organize the Christian Life Program in nearby communities. She used her artistic talent and designed the coffee table books for the 25th Anniversary of Couples for Christ, and for the 100th Anniversary of the Society of the Divine Word in the Philippines.

However, after her numerous falls, she could no longer go to their church. Because of that, the Parish Priest asked her to make the Parish newsletter which later evolved into a prolife paper. Many people think that the greatest achievement of Besinga is bringing up three talented and creative daughters who have imbibed their mother’s faith, missionary spirit, and generosity in using their talents to serve and praise God. They are active in Kids for Christ, Singles for Christ, and currently, in Mission Families for Christ, and participate in the choir and Youth ministry in their parish.

Atty. Nonette S. Corcino-Mina
Parish and Community Service

Atty. Nonette S. Corcino-Mina graduated Bachelor of Arts in 1970 and finished Bachelor of Laws in 1975 in UP Diliman. She is a lawyer by profession, but her desire to serve God and the community was already evident when she was still a student in STCQC and UP. Her commitment to evangelization deepened when she became a leader of the Basic Ecclesio Communities in her parish in Las Piñas. The cancer prognosis of her mother in 1992 led her to her devotion to the Divine Mercy. To have a more flexible schedule, she went into private law practice in 1994 but resigned six years after to work in parish full time. In October 2001, she received the Outstanding Parishioner Award. Corcino-Mina participated in intensive training of the Divine Mercy Apostolate and joined the core group for their parish in 2009. She was later appointed as a Diocesan Lay Coordinator to oversee 24 parishes. They conduct training for The New Evangelization and Mercy (TNEM) for youth and adults. Their feeding program for the street children incorporates teaching of the values of cleanliness, discipline, studying, and keeping their dreams alive for a better future. She does not take credit for any of her accomplishments. Humility and great love for God make her a most suitable instrument in spreading God’s light and love to the world.

Dr. Cynthia S. Fernandez-Tan
Science and Medicine

Dr. Cynthia S. Fernandez Tan finished Bachelor of Science in 1976 in UP Diliman and Doctor of Medicine in 1980 in UP Manila. She has devoted both her professional and personal life in the service of the Lord. As a medical student, she volunteered for medical missions in underserved communities. Upon becoming a doctor specializing in Obstetrics and Gynecology, she could’ve chosen to migrate in USA or practice in high-earning private hospitals. However, Dr. Fernandez-Tan chose to stay in the Philippines and joined the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital and became its first Gynecologic Oncologist. As an active speaker of the Speaker’s Bureau of the Philippine Cancer Society, Dr. Fernandez-Tan promoted cancer prevention and early detection through community lectures and mobile clinics.

She also joined surgical missions organized by the Department of Health (DOH) to perform operations on indigent patients in remote communities. Dr. Fernandez-Tan worked in DOH’s training the trainers for the Basic Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care Program to transform rural health units into competent birthing centers. In 2009, she helped the Philippines adopt WHO standards for Essential Intrapartum and Newborn Care (EINC) or Unang Yakap, which aims to make the birthing experience to have a more positive outcome for both the mother and child. Dr. Fernandez-Tan’s dedication to community service and outreach activities was recognized by the Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society in 2015 and by the Philippine Society of Oncologist in 2019. Outside of her work as a doctor, Cynthia has taken the time to nurture her faith and family. She and her husband joined the Buklod ng Pag-ibig Community and led the group of couples in Bible Study and prayer. She also served in the Holy Spirit Parish Pastoral Council. Cynthia has been a loving and caring daughter, wife, mother, and grandmother.

Ma. Angeles C. Guanzon-Lapeña
Education and Family Life

Ma. Angeles C. Guanzon-Lapeña graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1975 and Master of Arts in Psychology in 1983 in UP Diliman. She is considered as a guiding angel who helps the young people, whose lives she touched, to realize their full potential through education both inside and outside the classroom. While involved in a Psychology course in UP, she collaborated with her professors to indigenize the practice of Psychology. The later output is the Panukat ng Ugali at Pagkatao, an assessment tool which is used until today.

Guanzon-Lapeña later pursued a career in Education, teaching for more than three decades in premier Universities in the country. She promoted research geared towards improving the welfare of Filipino families. Her research led to her personal involvement with SOS Children’s Villages Philippines. She first joined as a consultant and later, as President of the Board of Trustees. SOS is a volunteer organization that provides family base parental care and for children who have offended or abandoned. During the pandemic, she has kept in touch with housemothers through zoom catchups. Guanzon-Lapeña has also been serving at the Senate of SOS international. After retiring from the academe in 2014, she joined the Phoenix Publishing House as the Chief Technical Advisor and Global Resources for Assessment Curriculum and Evaluation. Guanzon-Lapeña has since assumed the role of Director leading the Development of achievement-based assessments that are closely aligned with the learning competency set by the DepEd for the K-12 levels. She also initiated the formulation of battery assessments for entry into high school, senior high school, and college. Her activities have focused on mentorship and stewardship. She has done this unconditionally with the intention of sharing as much as she can with her colleagues as well as her three daughters. Guanzon-Lapeña is truly a living example of letting her light shine and being a blessing to others.

Photo credit: screenshots from Illuminate: 75 Years of Theresian Brilliance (St. Theresa’s College Quezon City Alumnae Homecoming 2022)