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‘SAROK’ gathers former student leaders to inspire BUeños

To foster the student’s leadership skills while broadening their knowledge, Bicol University – University Student Council (BU-USC) conducted a student-leadership seminar dubbed “SAROK: An Pagtiripon para sa Padagos na Paguswag – An Pagtrayumpo kan Lider-estudyante nin Futuro,” participated by BUeño student-leaders from various organizations, held at the Bulwagang BUeño, Student Union Center on February 26, 2024. 

The event ‘Sarok’, a Bicol word that means to “fill-up,” discussed former student-leaders’ knowledge and wisdom based on their experiences, which were integrated in the inspirational messages, keynote addresses from prominent figures, and panel discussions between and among leaders and participants.

The program formally commenced with the opening remarks by BU President Dr. Baby Boy Benjamin D. Nebres III. 


Nebres accents role on student leadership, good governance

In his message, BU President Nebres mentioned that to become an effective and transformative leader, one must move forward toward progress.  

“But the only way to do that is to become good public servants and transformative leaders. What’s even better is, to start right now, on the road to becoming better leaders – while you are still young – trainable, and adaptable,” he added. 

He advised the student leaders to continue honing their leadership skills and build their “distinctive character as a BUeño leader and scholar,” before losing passion or one’s sense of idealism. 

The former USC-affiliated officer also reminded the students that leadership is not just the “quantity of extra and co-curricular” one participates in. 

“Know that your first duty is to be the best version of yourself as a student so that you can become a better person to others, and develop into a transformative leader in the service of humanity,” he concluded. 

Afterwards, the program continued with a keynote speech by Earl Vincent Vista, a former chairperson and student regent, who shared his experience as a former student-leader on the topic, Leadership Renaissance: Reigniting the Flame of Purpose and Influence in the Modern Era. 

It can be recalled that during Vista’s administration, he led the proposal for the unified uniform policy, which has since been implemented. 

The seminar continued with a panel discussion, “Empowering Tomorrow: Navigating Leadership across Student, University, and Community Spheres,” with panelists Irene Kayle Santillan, Usher Jade Azul, Leroz Atenante, and Joshua Carl Barcelon, who were all former student leaders of the university. They discussed the importance of strong leadership within and outside BU, and shared insights to effectively guide student leaders based on their roles. 

In the afternoon, Atty. Gio Bongao, Tabaco City Councilor, delivered his keynote message on “Charting the Course of Leadership in Public Service,” followed by Atty. Norly P. Reyes, VP for Administration and Finance, who also shared his experiences from being a student leader to a university administrator. 

The speakers gave encouraging messages to the participants, saying that anyone can be a good leader regardless of their status, and shared their tips on how to be an effective student leader.

The second panel tackled “Critiquing Leadership: Navigating Ethical Media Practices and Cultivating Ethical Responses in the Media Landscape,” where panelists Summer Jan Forrest Untalan, Reynald Sevillano, and Ralph Raven Tubice, who are all media-affiliated leaders, emphasized the significance of responsible media practices and the role of student leaders in shaping public perception.

The event concluded with a roundtable discussion among the student-leaders on addressing issues within the university and their solutions to the problem, followed by the signing of the board of commitment. | by Jamaica B. Divina, BUCPRO Student Intern & Arnold C. Noda, BUCPRO-MPS I

BU partners with OPAPRU, launches Peace Education Nook, University Tour

To further amplify the country’s goal of achieving unity through peace advocacy and education programs, Bicol University (BU) has joined hands with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity (OPAPRU) in conducting the Peace Education University Tour and formally launched the Peace Education Nook at the BU Library.

Through a Memorandum of Understanding signed at the BU Library building on February 24, 2024, the partnership will establish a linkage through resource-sharing between BU, OPAPRU, and other partner institutions. 

Through the launching of the Peace Education Nook, the  BU Library will house the OPAPRU publications to promote materials related to peace education. OPAPRU will also conduct “Learning Exchanges” through online, face-to-face, or hybrid peace education training, workshops, and webinars. 

In his message, BU President Dr. Baby Boy Benjamin D. Nebres III was thankful for the consecutive events leading to the development of BU, such as the latest partnership with OPAPRU. 

“Lahat ng ito ay mga biyayang hindi dapat isinasangtabi. In fact, these are blessings that need to be strengthened and explored further so that Bicol University can continue to become a ‘vessel of graces and blessings,’ for the public and the communities we serve beyond the university borders,” he said. 

The MOU signing was attended by the OPAPRU, headed Major General Francisco Ariel A. Felicidario III, GPH Chairperson of Joint Peace and Security Committee representing Presidential Adviser, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., BU President Nebres, Atty. Alex B. Nepomuceno, Dean of BU College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, Glenda Aurora S. Julianda, University Librarian, and other BU officials and guests. | by Arnold C. Noda, MPS-I CPRO

BUGS and BUIRO collaborate for British Council’s 45 years in the Philippines

The Dean of Bicol University Graduate School, Dr. Maria Jane B. Mascariñas, and the Coordinator for International Mobility and Support Services of the BU International Relations Office, Ms. Abigail Jo M. Abainza, attended the British Council’s 45 years in the Philippines “Partners’ Gathering and Inaugural of the Study UK Alumni Awards in the Philippines” on February 16, 2024. They have witnessed how far the organization has reached when it comes to its programs in Arts, Education, GOJUST, and English and Exams. Furthermore, Bicol University has been highlighted as one of the trailblazers and champions of Transnational Education. 

BU to implement landmark Equity Policy on admissions for marginalized sectors

In a milestone move for inclusive admission policies, Bicol University through the Office of Admissions has crafted the Equity Policy for Admission to Undergraduate Programs in Bicol University, which was approved by the Board of Regents (BOR) on February 21, 2024 during the Special Meeting in Manila, with CHED Commissioner and BU BOR Chairperson Dr. Marita R. Canapi, after having passed the rigors of administrative and academic councils, and duly incorporating the recommendations of the BU BOR.

To ensure equity and inclusivity, the Bicol University Admissions Office (BUAO) headed by its Dean Dr. Hennie Pama-Lomibao, RGC and Prof. Ray Artimus P. Hinlo, RPsy, University Psychometrician, and the members of the proposal committee, John Raymond Barajas, MSChE, MSDS, Associate Professor, College of Engineering, Pee Jay N. Gealone, MEng, Assistant Professor, College of Engineering, and Dean of the Office of Student Affairs and Services Daves Tonga, with BU President Dr. Baby Boy Benjamin D. Nebres III, serving as Research Team Consultant, proposed the landmark policy.

The landmark policy echoes the current vision of Bicol University as a “University for Humanity for Sustainable Societies,” that adopts the legacies of previous administrations while responding to the need for a more inclusive and equitable education. Said policy is also a response to the call of CHED Chairperson Prospero de Vera for “a fair, more inclusive, and equitable public university admission system.”

Based on a review of BU admission policies, there has not been any revisions done for the past three decades. The current selection of qualified first-year students for undergraduate courses is through the Bicol University College Entrance Test (BUCET) which is a measure of scholastic aptitude. For the past decades and to date, the entrants were gauged on the score from BUCET performance combined with the general weighted average (GWA) in Grades 9, 10 and 11, each allotted a percentage weight of 80-20 percent, respectively.

Then CHED Commissioner and BU BOR Chairperson Aldrin A. Darilag called the proposal “the first-of-its-kind” among State Universities and Colleges (SUC) in the Philippines. With the recently approved Equity Policy for Admission to Undergraduate Programs in Bicol University, admission criteria have been added indicative of a “prospective student’s handicap, such as but not limited to socio-economic and geographical considerations.”

This Equity Policy for admissions will be implemented for a period of two years, beginning First Semester, SY 2024- 2025, with a validity period subject to review, including its extension, amendment or discontinuance as approved by the BU Board of Regents.

A Secretary’s Certification (No. 15 s. 2024) has been issued attesting to the BOR action pending the approval of Minutes of the Meeting embodying the corresponding resolution.


A More Inclusive BUCET
The tenet of the innovative and landmark Equity Policy for BU admissions is reflected in the introductory part of the proposal as stated:
“It’s hard to imagine a university for the poor congested with private cars in its parking spaces; it’s harder for conscience to bear seeing subsidy from government, a big chunk of which is taken from our taxes for free tertiary education, enjoyed by students coming from more affluent, higher-income families.It’s hardest knowing that these realities exist, and we do not act decisively to leverage the inequitable barriers to college admission.”

With this, the admission to Bicol University will now revolve on the following criteria: BUCET examination result (65%), General Weighted Average (20%), and Socio-economic Profile (SEP), 15%. The SEP will consist of the Income Classification and Marginalization.

The Income Classification is based on the DSWD Listahanan 3.0. On the other hand, the Marginalization profile shall be determined based on any of the following categories: Indigenous People (IPs), Persons with Disabilities (PWD), Solo Parents, Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiary, geographically isolated and depressed areas (GIDA), and others as prescribed by law.


Other Provisions
As consistently done, the University cut-off score shall be calculated by the Admissions Office using performance mean score. However, the policy will not cover Program Quota as this shall be overseen by separate issuance from the Office of the University President.

To ensure that the policy is properly implemented, this will be revisited every two years after its implementation. This is also to guarantee that the allocated SEP percentage is still practical and relevant to the university’s targets and equity policy.

To warrant implementing the proposal and to enhance provision of affirmative action policies and programs in relation to the Equity Policy, such as the creation of additional decentralized BUCET Testing Centers in the next five years, provision of academic support services to students from marginalized groups, and psychosocial support services to students with special needs, an annual budget of Php 2.3M has been allocated.

With this landmark policy to serve the Bicolano scholars, Bicol University as a University for Humanity hopes to achieve the unwavering commitment to transformative education that fosters inclusivity, innovation, and social impact. | by Dr. Renelyn E. Bautista/CPRO with data from BU Admissions Office