Why Senator Miriam chose MMSU

 

TRANSCRIPT:

Last month, nag-usap-usap kami ng aking staff saan kami mag-inaugurate o mag-launch ng aming presidential at vice-presidential. Some suggested the North, some the South because I come from the Visayas, some wanted the rally or whatever event might happen inside Metro Manila, some outside Metro Manila. Pero bandang huli, dahil marami na masyado ang nagsasalita, ka’ko, dalhin niyo ako sa campus where I have always been most comfortable with an audience, but only a campus consisting of ordinary students. I want a campus with a high IQ.

(Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago at Mariano Marcos State University, Batac City, Feb. 9, 2016)

 

And, of course, the obligatory pick-up lines here:

=) =) =)

 

No typical nerd: Meet Dane Calica, summa cum laude

IMG_3749

He regularly plays DoTA, watches cartoons on television, spends long hours with his barkada, and nurtures a vibrant love life.

But Dane Mikhael S. Calica is no ordinary boy. He will lead the 1,926-strong Mariano Marcos State University Class of 2013 in the Commencement Exercises to be held, April 3, at the university’s Sunken Garden. Making history, he is only the second MMSU Summa Cum Laude since the university’s birth in 1978. The late Gemma Ulep, who finished accountancy in 1999, was first.

Calica obtained a General Weighted Average of 1.1994. His transcript of records, peppered mostly with 1.0s and 1.25’s, shows that his lowest grade was a 2.0 in Invetebrate Zoology from Prof. Wilnorie Rasay. He has 1.75 in three subjects: Entomology and Comparative Anatomy, also both under Mr. Rasay, and English 2 under Dr. Aurora Reyes.

In 2009, Calica graduated as first honorable mention at the Ilocos Norte National High School-Special Science Class. When this Laoag City native took the MMSU College Freshmen Admission Test, his score of 156 was highest among around 5,000 hopefuls from various provinces in Northern Luzon.

An advice

In his speech during the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) Graduation Ball, March 21, Calica shared that an unsolicited advice given him early on helped define his college life. He was referring to this writer who did a story on the CFAT topnotcher. I was sure that Dane is intelligent but, because he shunned extra curricular activities in high school, the reason why he graduated only third in rank despite having the highest grade average, I had doubts as to whether he would fully enjoy what a university education has to offer. After the interview, I told Dane that there is so much to learn outside the four-cornered classroom and that he should aspire for a well-balanced college life. I also told him that our people expects him to do great things and so he should use his gifts well. He did not say anything. The incoming nursing freshman just let out a shy smile.

Continue reading “No typical nerd: Meet Dane Calica, summa cum laude”

Habemus Summam! MMSU produces 2nd Summa Cum Laude

Habemus Summam pic
Dane Mikhael S. Calica

It’s official. The 1,926-strong Mariano Marcos State University Class of 2013 will be led by a Summa Cum Laude graduate.

With a General Weighted Average (GWA) of 1.1994, Dane Mikhael S. Calica of the College of Arts and Sciences’ BS Biology program, is only the university’s second recipient of the highest Latin honors, and the first in fourteen years.

A native of Laoag City, Calica is the eldest of three children of Gary, a seafarer, and Marilec, a full-time mom. He finished high school at the Ilocos Norte National High School – Special Science Class in 2009. Despite having the highest average in his batch, he graduated only as first honorable mention due to low points from extra co-curricular activities.

Topping the 2009 MMSU College Freshmen Admission Test taken by around 5,000 examinees from various provinces in Northern Luzon, he initially enrolled in BS Nursing but shifted to BS Biology after a semester. Although extra co-curricular involvement does not count in earning Latin honors, he served as president of the Biology Circle for two years, and as president of the CAS Student Council in his senior year.

Joining Calica in the elite honors roster are four magna cum laudes and 113 cum laudes.

I am currently writing a full feature on Dane who is not really your typical nerd. In the meantime, Here are some more “Summa” facts: Continue reading “Habemus Summam! MMSU produces 2nd Summa Cum Laude”

OPEN

I brought my kids to the Open Capitol activity held Feb. 2 in celebration of the 194th Founding Anniversary of the Province of Ilocos Norte. Eighty Accountancy Students enrolled in Sociology 1 (Society and Culture, which I teach) formed part of the estimated 7,000 visitors who trooped to the Capitol that day. The tour to the province’s seat of power was timely as we were just about to begin our classroom discussions on government as a social institution.

Here, dear karikna, are some of the observations and insights of my students. Continue reading “OPEN”

Boy from Currimao tops fisheries exam

This young man makes me proud to be from Ilocos Norte.

Jerick Christian P. Dagdagan, a cum laude graduate of the BS in Fisheries program at the Mariano Marcos State University, landed at the top spot of the Fisheries Technologist Licensure Examination held last month.

It was not easy for Dagdagan. Unable to find a review center (MMSU and CLSU had none due to lack of registrants), he found himself doing self review. He said he just consulted his teachers at the MMSU College of Aquatic Sciences and Applied Technology when there were items he could not understand.

The difficulty is coupled by the fact that he did not immediately review after graduation. He finished his studies in 2010 but, due to financial constraints, opted to work immediately as a fisheries development advocate at the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Regional Office in San Fernando, April to August.  He would later move to Davao to be assistant manager for technical operations at the Jorona Aquatic Resources and Training Corporation until April this year when he decided to prepare for the board examination.

Eldest of four children of Vicente, a security guard, and Mary Grace, a nurse at the Governor Roque B. Ablan Memorial Hospital, Dagdagan was the typical carefree teenager. In an interview, Dagdagan confessed to your karikna that taking up fisheries was only his last recourse. He would have taken up nursing or chemical engineering but, due to late enrolment, lost a slot in those programs. The reason: he was “nabarkada” and lost track of time. But at CASAT, Jeric did a turnaround. He is described by his teachers as brilliant and determined. He was active in school organizations and was sent to competitions, both academic and cultural. He was also the college’s bet in table tennis.

It is actually a double treat for the family living in Brgy. San Simeon in the coastal town of Currimao as Jerick’s brother Jake Valentin, who graduated last April, also passed the board exam.

The morale of this story: If you want to succeed, pagbabarkada is the key to success. Joke!

Jerick’s story is actually a lesson on the often unappreciated relationship between will and destiny.

Ianree kayganda

DEAR AIAN,

On June 1, you took your new job as provincial tourism officer of Ilocos Norte. You left a teaching career in the university to assume a responsibility where you feel you can be of better service to society.

I talked to you against it, first because you are a real gem in the academe, and second because I will miss working with you, but you seem resolute and eager, and so I fully support you and wish you well, as any real friend should.

You have always had my respect, and you know that. You know, too, that I believe you are one of the most creative minds in the province, er, in the country. You loved your job in the university, and your job loved you back. As a result, students under your tutelage won regional and national awards. With your theatrics, showmanship and exceptional talent, you have endeared yourself to your colleagues.

As you endeared yourself to me. Thank you for doing the cover and layout of “The He(a)rd Mentality”, a perfect testament to your Dionysian ecstasies. “Don’t judge a book by its cover” is an old maxim our book defies, for the cover you skillfully crafted gave perfect justice to my work’s content. You made me cry with your difficulty in beating deadlines, but that is not exactly unusual with real artists whose worlds defy both time and space. I am glad the end did justify the tearful means.

You are a real gem, Aian, but not all good people, of course, must hide inside academic walls and content themselves with passionate theorizing and making students believe in an idealized world. Leave that dreamy job to fools like me. Continue reading “Ianree kayganda”

Top athlete crosses finish line, cum laude

DEFYING STEREOTYPES on student athletes, this guy proves that there is as much gray matter between his ears as the muscles in his arms.

Arnel Jordan B. Doming has gathered 15 gold medals from various regional and national sports competitions he participated while in college. Last March 26 he received yet another. “It is the most precious one,” he says.

Domingo graduated cum laude with the degree bachelor in secondary education, major in mathematics.

Four years ago, Domingo’s future was unsure. Although he graduated as valedictorian both at the Bagbago-Puttao Elementary School in his hometown Solsona and at the Ablan Memorial Academy in the same town, he could not go to college because of financial limitations. Domingo’s father Erneso died when he was in fourth grade. His mother Lorna is a housekeeper. Continue reading “Top athlete crosses finish line, cum laude”

Redefining rivalry, top 2 grads take competition in stride

Magna cum Laudes being grilled by your karikna
Magna cum Laudes being grilled by your karikna

THE RIVALRY could have been as fierce as the Manny Pacquiao-Ricky Hatton match. After all, at stake was the honor of being this year’s top graduate in a well-esteemed university.

But for Kathleen L. Hortelano and Julius-Ver A. De Guzman, who were classmates in all of their four years at the Mariano Marcos State University, the competition was anything but cruel.

For one, while they may have excelled in accountancy, the course was not really their first love. Hortelano wanted to be a soldier like her father while De Guzman dreamt of becoming a doctor like his eldest brother. As it turned out, destiny had other designs for the two. They took up BS Accountancy and the rest is sweet history. Continue reading “Redefining rivalry, top 2 grads take competition in stride”

Academicians critique priest’s book on Aglipayanism

scan0015

FR. ERICSON JOSUE is one of few Catholic priests I admire. Besides being bright and hardworking, he is humble and sensitive. We have known each other since our early teens (when he was still so lanky while I was then too fat), and I have always held him in high regard.

While other priests were busy attending parties, grooming expensive dogs, and constructing an ostentatious swimming pool in the Bishop’s Palace, Ericson had been busy writing books. Only in his early thirties, this son of Pasuquin has already published his second research output. “Out of the Depths”, which came out last December, tackles the phenomenal rise and eventual decline of Aglipayanism.

Well-meaning scholars must be given support and due recognition, and so I encourage my students and friends to read the book, if only to generate intelligent and enlightened discourse, a rarity in the Church (and government) these days.

Here, allow me to share excerpts of an interview conducted by students with Professor Fides Bernardo A. Bitanga, who teaches Sociology of Religion in the Mariano Marcos State University. Bitanga is also the new Editor-in-Chief of Sabangan, a social sciences publication in MMSU.

Continue reading “Academicians critique priest’s book on Aglipayanism”

Dear MMSU

mariano_marcos_state_university

Today, you turn 31.

The past year, one of your children was hailed one of  Ten Outstanding Students in the Philippines.  Also, a mentor bagged the coveted Metrobank Outstanding Teacher plum.

You have produced topnotchers and victors, and brought home a number of awards, but your greatest achievement lies in helping improve the lives of families and communities.  In 2008, you brought home the Most Outstanding Extension Program, besting all other universities in the country, proof that your excellence goes beyond instruction inside the classroom and extends to greater, nobler roles in human development.

mmsu-logo1

In 1978, you immediately built your reputation as the best university in the northern regions.  Today, you wow the nation with your feats.

Happy anniv, MaMaSU.  We love you.

Debate!

NOVEMBER 20, THURSDAY—It’s three in the morning as I write this, and I, along with a team of student debaters, should be boarding a bus to San Fernando, La Union to join a regional debate championship.

Fate is not on our side, however, as Nestor Corrales, one of our debaters, had to be rushed to the provincial hospital due to severe stomach pains. Nestor’s absence paralyzed our team, and it was too late to change horses. We decided not to push through. So, here I am, yet again, glued in front of my laptop in consuming solitude.

The other team members, Jonalyn De Ocampo (BS Civil Engineering II) and Lester Toledano (BS Nursing II), already had their bags packed and were so excited to go. It would have been their first time to represent MMSU in a competition of such scale.

Quite interestingly, we are also holding this week our university Intramurals. And so, against a backdrop of athletes running, swimming, kicking and smashing, there we were engaging each other in training for what we consider as the “basketball of the mind”.

Elsewhere, COMELEC Commissioner Rene Sarmiento was so impressed at how debate has been made integral to the United States electoral process that he suggested a presidential debate for the 2010 Philippine polls.

Sarmiento said debates to be held in our country will “gauge the capacity, potential and eloquence of candidates.”

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines quickly volunteered to host the presidential debates. It seems odd to me, however, that the Catholic Church, an institution that mandates its faithful to always say ‘Amen’ in blind obedience, would offer to host an event that welcomes, respects, and celebrates differences in opinions. Their offer is good but it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. Thanks, but no thanks.

Media organizations and civil society groups were also warm to Sarmiento’s move, and for good reason. Our people are exhausted of candidates who sing-and-dance their way to public office. But Romeo Macalintal, La Gloria’s election lawyer, readily opposed the holding of mandatory debates, saying that it is unconstitutional.

It will be remembered that, in 2004, La Gloria refused to join a presidential debate. Instead, her team staged something even worse than the musical cheap shots employed by politicians during campaign rallies. The administration party organized a ‘Gloria look-a-like contest, where the contender with the biggest facial mole and the most conspicuous set of teeth wins. (The capacity to lie straight-faced should have been the biggest criteria). Continue reading “Debate!”

Ang gurong ‘di nagpasalamat



NAIS KONG IBAHAGI ang isang karanasan ko nu’ng bago pa lang ako sa MMSU. Unang semester ko noon ng pagtuturo sa unibersidad.

Ako ay bahagi ng College of Arts and Sciences o CAS. Kapag faculty ka sa kolehiyong ito ay lilibutin mo ang iba’t ibang mga gusali para sa iyong mga klase. Itinayo sa mahigit sa isandaang ektaryang lupain, malawak ang MMSU at magkakalayo ang mga building kung kaya’t sumasakay kami sa tricycle madalas, lalo na kung sobrang init o umuulan, kapag gahol ka na sa oras, o kung pagod at tinatamad ka nang maglakad.

Minsan, mula sa CAS papuntang CBEA, isang kolehiyong may kalayuan, ay may nakasabay akong isang guro at isang estudyante sa pagbiyahe. Ako at ang guro (mga 40 pataas ang edad, babae) ay nasa loob ng tricycle samantalang ang estudyante naman ay nag-“backride”, sumakay sa may likuran ng drayber.

Tinanong ako ni Ma’am kung saan ako bababa. “Sa CBEA po,” aking tugon. At di na kami nag-usap pa.

Naunang bumaba si Ma’am sa isang mas malapit na gusali, nagbayad siya at sinabi sa drayber, “Duwakam ditoyen” (Dalawa na kami dito). Ang initial reaction ko e magpasalamat lalo na’t hindi pa ako sumasahod noon, pero bigla akong napatigil at tinanong sa aking sarili, “Sino ba ang inilibre niya? Ako ba o ’yung estudyante? Baka naman ‘yung estudyante kasi ay di pa naman kami magkakilala ni Ma’am.” Hayyy, ang hirap! Kapag nagpasalamat ako at hindi pala ako ’yung inilibre, mapapahiya ako at baka ganun din si Ma’am. Awkward ‘yung sabihin ni Ma’am: Ay, sori, haan nga sika’t impletyak, diya’y ubing (Sorry, hindi ikaw ang inilibre ko, ‘yung bata). Ngunit, kapag ako pala ’yung inilibre at hindi ako nakapagpasalamat, nakahihiya naman… at baka maipamalita pa ni Ma’am na “’yung bagong faculty e hindi marunong ng tamang asal”. Dahil ‘di ko malaman ang gagawin, hindi na lang ako nagpasalamat.

Pagdating sa CBEA, sinubukan kong magbayad. Kapag tinanggap ng drayber ang pamasahe ko, aba’y mabubunutan ako ng tinik dahil hindi naman pala ako ’yung inilibre. Ngunit kapag hindi niya tinanggap ang bayad ko, patay! Dyahe kay Ma’am.

Tinanggap ito ng drayber… kaya’t ako’y napangiti. Nu’ng paalis na ’yung tricycle, ipinaalala ko sa estudyante, “Ading, ’wag ka nang magbayad ha, inilibre ka na ni Ma’am”. Ang malaking ngiti sa aking mukha ay nalusaw na parang ice cream (ube flavor) nu’ng makita ko ang reaksyon ng bata: bakas sa kanyang mukha ang pagtataka at pagkagulat. Hindi pala niya kilala si Ma’am, at mukhang sa tingin niya ay hindi naman siya ililibre nito.

Sus! Malamang ay ako pala ang pinagmagandahang-loob. Ano ba’ng buhay ‘to? Nang dahil sa pitumpisong pamasahe ay nagulo ang mundo ko.

Alam kong magkikita pa kaming muli ni Ma’am kaya puwede pa sana akong bumawi, ang problema ay hindi ako matandain sa mga mukha. Malamang, ‘pag magkasalubong kaming muli e hindi ko siya mamumukhaan.

Ang solusyon? Nginingitian ko na lang lahat ng aking makasalubong. Hindi lang basta ngiti ha… Hindi ngiting pitumpiso… Kundi ‘yun bang smile ng batang ibinilhan mo ng pitong Happy Meal sa McDo. Ayun.

At mukhang epektib naman. Mahigit isang taon na mula noon e ‘di pa naman kumakalat na ako’y isang taong hindi marunong mag-tenkyu. Sa ating kultura pa naman, napakahalaga ng pagpapasalamat. Hindi naman dahil sa naghahanap tayo ng kapalit sa ating mabuting gawain kundi dahil sa kapag hindi mo na-appreciate ang kabutihang-loob ng iyong kapwa ay parang binale-wala mo na rin ang kanyang buong pagkatao. Sensitib tayong mga Pinoy dito.

Ang leksiyon: ang inyong abang lingkod ay malugod pa ring tatanggap ng inyong tulong, sa loob man o labas ng tricycle. Sana lang ay pakilinaw ha. Tenk yu. Siyanga pala, bakit naman ganun si Manong Drayber, tanggap lang nang tanggap?! At si backrider, nabagabag rin kaya ang kalooban tulad ko?

At sa iyo, Madam Mapagbigay, marami pong salamat. Hindi lamang sa baryang inyong ibinahagi, kundi pati na rin sa pagkakataong ako’y makapagnilay-nilay at masuri ang aking pakikipagkapwa. At dahil ‘di kita namukhaan kaya’t di ako makaganti. Sa aking muling pagsakay ay aalalahanin ko na lamang ang iyong magandang halimbawa. Sino man ang makasabay, ako naman ang taya.

Provincial bliss

MRS. MATIPO of our university library was the 50th person to ask me this question: “What made you decide to come home to the province and teach here?”

It was mid-June last year and I was meeting the librarian for the first time. She learned from her son, MJ, one of my treasured students, that I had taught in Manila schools before moving here in Ilocos.

“Many want to work in Manila,” she added, in an attempt to put her question in the proper perspective.

I had long wanted to stay in the province and it did not begin as an act of altruism. Nurturing no illusions of self-importance, it was not the “I want to go home to Ilocos and share my talents with my province-mates” sort of thing.

I first imagined working in Ilocos during one of those mornings in Manila when I was getting late for work and I still had to press my clothes (one of the things I do not enjoy doing). That morning, I was yet to eat breakfast, and my tummy was already rebelling. Food was usually something fried, something instant — something I was beginning to take with revulsion.

I was walking briskly to school when a decent-looking man approached and showed me something. “Bilhin mo na itong necklace, mura lang” [“Buy this necklace, the price is cheap”], he said. The piece of jewelry looked real and expensive, but it was broken. “Mamahalin ’to, kasi ’nung hinablot ko ’to, umiyak ’yung nurse” [“This is an expensive kind, because the nurse cried after I snatched it from her”], he added with pride.

That was the straw that broke the weary camel’s back. On the same day, I typed an application letter to the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU), the best university in the North. That was in March last year.

Only a few days were left before the start of the semester and a reply had yet to come. One more year of Manila then, I thought. That meant another year of missing the birthdays (including that of my Kuya Henry on Sept. 11 and of my Grandniece Ananda on Sept. 21), anniversaries and other special occasions of family and friends. Another year of bad food and bad air, of ironing my clothes (and losing them in the laundry shop), and of receiving frantic messages from my Mom each time the metropolis was stricken by terrorist attacks.

But the call for a demonstration teaching and panel interview came, and I was thrilled.

“Aside from teaching, what else can you contribute to the university?” I was asked in the interview.

Honestly, I wanted to just teach. In schools where I had taught, I contributed more than I should, and I wanted to be more relaxed this time. That’s what I told the panel members who, judging by their facial expressions, were unhappy with my answer. So I added that writing and debate are areas where I might contribute.
The most memorable question came from a senior faculty member: “For how long do you intend to stay here?”

“I can stay here forever,” I replied without batting an eyelash. If my 20/20 vision did not betray me, I thought I saw the professor’s eyebrows rise a bit and her academic forehead crumple a little. She was doubtful. No one knows for sure what Mother Destiny holds in the future, but I was sincere when I said that I could imagine myself working in the university until my hair is gray.

Shortly after, I was called in to work. I met my dean, and then I was led to my department on June 12, Independence Day. I was all smiles.

It has been fifteen months from that memorable day, and the smiles have not faded. I have even purchased a desk mirror so I can marvel at my face when I am smiling, which is a hundred times more often now than when I was working in the big city.

And, why not? Here, I live very comfortably. “Manang” Glory, our well-loved “kasambahay” [househelp], is so kind to pamper me. From food to clothes to cleanliness in my room, she makes sure that everything is A-OK.

Aside from our home in Laoag, which is better than my living quarters in Manila, I got a room at Coed’s, the university dormitory. My room in Manila was enough only for a bed and a table, had no window, and, if not for an exhaust fan, I could not breathe. In contrast, the well-ventilated and spacious Coed’s dorm gives me a fantastic view of the fields, which I could only imagine in Manila when I was stuck in traffic.

On top of material comforts is the immense joy that family life gives me. I have friends, and I have had friends who came and went and forgot, but my family has stood by me at all times, high and low. And, no, I would never exchange for anything the joy of coming home to my grandniece Ananda’s kisses and embrace after a long day at work, and finding out what new words or new tricks she has learned.

In the university, I am blessed to work with dreamy academics whose cognitive brilliance is matched by youthful idealism and cheerful dispositions. Our students, most of them children of farmers, are as competitive, even better, than many of their counterparts in Manila.

I had wished to just teach and relax and veer away from added responsibility but, when you are surrounded by people who breathe excellence, it’s difficult not to get infected and do your share. People might find fault in government for a number of things, but outstanding state-run universities such as ours are not among them.

Growing up with the belief that the only tourist attraction we have in Ilocos is the late strongman’s mausoleum, I used to find my province boring. But when my colleagues in Manila regaled me with stories of how they experienced a piece of paradise in Ilocos, my pride for my place was unmatched.

This is not to say Ilocos is heaven, and that I will forever be in bliss. I know that this is just the honeymoon phase. Difficulties and crises will come in my career and personal life, but given the inner joy and energy I bear, I will get by.

There are times when I miss the city, especially when I need something I cannot find in stores here. There are times when I long for the malls, their artificiality and the empty lifestyle they propagate. And, oh, yes, I miss the surprises of living in the nation’s capital, such as watching a movie and finding out after the lights are turned on, that seated just a meter away is Madam President and the First Gentleman.

At my young age, I have had the opportunity to work in various set-ups, from the seat of power in Malacañang to the corporate jungle of Ortigas and Libis to the marginalized communities in Metro Manila to the glistening world of show biz and mass media, and to the universities of the bourgeoisie. I have been blessed to travel to many parts of the country, from Aparri to Dumaguete to Cotabato, and have had the chance to visit other countries, too.

But I have never been happier than now, working in my province and in the university that captured my heart.

****
DONNA RIETVELD of The Netherlands writes via email: Hi, hope you are well.

Just want to say that I LOVE reading your column. Basta, nakaka-relate ako. The way you wrote about the 2 Glorias is really a work of art.

I am accessing Ilocos Times via the web so medyo late lagi ang column but I am going to check out your blog regularly from now on.

I am from Pasuquin but I have now adopted The Netherlands as my country. Thanks to you and the staff of Ilocos Times, I still get to update myself with what’s happening up north.

Regards and God Bless.

Herdy’s Riknakem: Thank you, Donna. You are one more important reason to burn the midnight oil to meet the every-Wednesday deadline in this publication. The consuming loneliness in writing is briefly punctuated by kind messages such as yours.

“Hindi mo makapa ang iyong nararamdaman; hindi lungkot, hindi saya, hindi bagot, hindi din naman balisa. isipin mo na lang na lahat ng nilalang, nahihimlay, nahihimbing at nananaginip nang nag-iisa. walang nagsusulat, dahil walang nagbabasa, walang bumabagsak dahil walang pumapasa. sa bawat bagong iyong natutuklasan, ika’y natututong kay rami-rami pa palang di mo alam.” – gary granada.