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Thomasian wins SC Presidential race in Japan

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Former UST Central Student Council President Reyner “Ney” Villasenor has won the coveted presidency spot of the International Student Council (ISC) in the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) in Japan.

GRIPS is one of the top economic schools in Japan, ranking 4th in the country and 14th in Asia based on statistics by IDEAS.org. The international university focuses on policy studies and also serves as a melting pot for students from different backgrounds.

Villasenor bested his rival candidate to secure the position, making him the first Filipino to snag a high ranking position in the ISC. Last year, a Filipina was elected Program Representative for one of the programs.

Announcing his victory via Facebook and Twitter, Villasenor captioned his photo with the following heartfelt message: “When I ran in UST, getting 13k plus votes was so difficult. But in an environment where there are leaders from different countries all pursuing graduate studies, securing a majority support is the most difficult thing I’ve done so far. It is truly a humbling experience. Salamat po Lord.”

 

“G.R.I.P.S.”

Campaigning in a multicultural campus is a tough feat but winning their votes is tougher. Villasenor said that he is used to socializing with people of different nationalities. He also added that he made sure to be “cautious and sensitive enough to each one’s cultural and political background”.

“I did not focus on the things that will divide us as a group. Rather, I highlighted more on our common ground and the things that can unite us all,” he stressed. “I talked to people, listened to their concerns, and reviewed last year’s ISC performance and made my platform.”

The acronym “G.R.I.P.S.” served as his campaign platform. It aims to develop a more sociable and interactive campus environment.

The platform’s initials stand for the following: Greater Involvements in Activities and Socio-Political Concerns, which aims to improve information dissemination and social networking, Revitalized ISC Annual Events and Gatherings, which aims to inject life to the existing school events, Improved Collaboration and Networking between and among members of GRIPS community, which includes the DISCO (Direct ISC Operations) program for organizing peer tutoring and alternative learning experiences like seminars, forum, and symposium, Professionalized and Personalized Service, which offers better solutions to the basic concerns of the students, and Sharing of Best Practices of each country per Area of Concern by organizing exhibits and fairs to showcase each country’s best practices.

 

Leader Among Leaders

When asked about what motivated him to run for presidency, Villasenor said that he wanted to expand the ISC’s area of responsibility. He also wanted to showcase the leadership skills of the ISC on a grander scale.

“I honestly thought that the International Student Council should do more aside from organizing parties and school events. We are all leaders from our countries and I think we owe it to ourselves to do more and make the most out of this experience,” Villasenor said. “I told people that I hope we can do more and build networks, relationships, and friendships that will last even after our time in Japan.”

“I said to myself, I can only do so much if I’ll just be a typical student. My friends from Malaysia, Indonesia, Poland, and Pakistan said, why don’t I try to run for the ISC presidency. So I did,” he added.

Villasenor served as the president of the UST Central Student Council from 2007 to 2008 and was the proprietor of the Student’s Code, which laid down the rights of the Thomasian students and gave voice to the voiceless.

 

Perks of Presidency

Aside from handling paper works and meeting deadlines, “Ney” also carried a great responsibility to the Thomasian community on his shoulders. Juggling the job of being a president and a student was a task executed to perfection by this accomplished leader.

For every difficulty encountered, there were also perks to being a president.

“Student council officers take more risks in engaging in this type of life. Council officers don’t get special treatments. In fact, professors are tougher on us because we are student leaders. We have to embody the ideal Thomasian. It’s quite a pressure… but at the end of the day, not everyone is given a chance to be trained on how to plan projects, execute programs, liaise with offices, organize events, [and] attend forums. [It’s] additional learning experience for us,” he said.

“In job applications, companies… prefer graduates with leadership background and exposure to organizing events, planning, liaison work, etc. I think this is also an advantage,” he added.

 

Thomasian Pride

Inside the classroom, Ney was just like everyone else. The Political Science major focused on his papers, readings, and reports. He enjoyed eating street food and watching movies with his friends.

His favorite professors include Atty. Bong Lopez, Prof. Zenia Rodriguez, and Dr. Edwin Martin.

“Atty. Bong is someone I look up to. He is like a mentor to me. Ma’am Zenia is the most objective person you’ll meet in PolSci but she is also the truest friend you’ll have. Dr. Martin is a good professor,” said Villasenor.

Aside from professors who helped shape him into who he is today, he also believes that education is a prime priority.

“Never forget this: ‘You enrolled in a school to study.’ Everything that will be presented to us is hard, that is why we have to exert effort to understand. To simply put it, ‘Study well. Prepare well. Be smart at it. Party harder outside but when in school, give it your all.’”

And when asked what he thinks his greatest contribution to the Thomasian community is, he humbly answered: “My greatest contribution is yet to come. For now, every Thomasian out there can contribute to UST by remaining true to their identity as Thomasians. Committed. Competent. Compassionate. Individuals with character.”

“Thomasians are not known for half-baked output or things done in haste. We are always competent in our chosen fields, committed to our engagements in life, compassionate with the needs of others, and we do all these with character.”

 

Reporting by Christopher Emmanuel M. Tigno

Photo by Lira Bitao

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CSC, partner student organizations launch ‘Halalan 2013: Tomasino para sa Bayang Pilipino’

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The Central Student Council (CSC), in cooperation with the different organizations in the University of Santo Tomas (UST), launched on Thursday Halalan 2013: Tomasino para sa Bayang Pilipino, the University’s grand election awareness program.

The grand launch of this program, which was held at the Tan Yan Kee (TYK) Student Center was deemed a success since the hall was filled not only with student organizers and administrators, but also with interested Thomasians and guests from communities near the University.

Housed in the TYK building is a mini exhibit which shows the identities of the candidates who are running for seats in the Senate, their past projects, and their side with regards to the different controversial laws such as the Cybercrime Law, the Reproductive Health Law and the Sin Tax Law. The exhibit also showed the students’ guide to the Senate and House of Representatives, comprehensive information about the Pork Barrel as well as the legislative and the candidates’ certificate of candidacies. A freedom wall was also provided for Thomasians for their written pledges regarding the election.

Dr. Evelyn Songco, Assistant to the Rector’s Office for Student Affairs, said that this exhibit will be of great help in making the young voters be familiarized in the election process.

“Itong exhibit na ito ay makakapagbigay ng paunawa sa ating mga estudyante at voters tungkol sa kung sino ang kanilang iboboto at mga issue na may relasyon sa legislative body,” she said.

According to CSC president Rubi Dauan, Halalan 2013: Tomasino para sa Bayang Pilipino is the UST’s election campaign program which aims to provide activities that will encourage the students to be actively involved and knowledgeable in the upcoming May 11 senatorial election.

“We, the young people comprise more than 40 percent of the 2013 electorates and I believe that we can do something to change the landscape of the election and the election process in our country… Halalan 2013 is our response,” said Dauan.

This program is also in collaboration of CSC with student organizations like Central Comelec, Batas Tomasino, The Political Science Forum, Tomasino Web, Thomasian Cable TV, UST Simbahayan, EdTech Center, Office for Community Development, Office for Public Affairs, Office for Alumni Relations and Office for Student Affairs.

The program will include activities and contests for the Thomasians such as documentary making contest, tagline making contest, PPCRV and senatorial candidate forums, trainor’s training, printing of statement shirts, creation of websites and Facebook pages.

Dr. Songco said the duration of the program will be approximately until the end of March. The dates of the said events are still to be announced.
She added that the evident participation of the students is the basis to declare the success of the program.

“If we can change at least .005 of voters’ attitude, then we are a great success,” said Songco.

Reporting by Jamille Domingo

Photo by Efigenio Christopher Toledo IV

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UST confers the title ‘Honorary Professor’ to Poland’s democratic icon

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Among other prominent state leaders like Aung San Suu Kyi and our very own Cory Aquino, Poland’s democratic icon was granted another fulfilling recognition from Asia’s oldest university.

Former Poland chief executive Lech Walesa arrived at the University of Santo Tomas to receive the title ‘Honorary Professor’ and to deliver a lecture focusing on faith and leadership.

Mr. Walesa was welcomed at the UST Medicine Auditorium by the Thomasian community, delegates from different academic institutions, and diplomatic corps.

Rector Rev. Fr. Herminio V. Dagohoy, O.P. bestowed a medal to Mr. Walesa and was succeeded by Secretary General Fr. Winston F. Cabading, O.P.’s citation of the award. The said recognition was given to “distinguished individuals who have achieved extensive international eminence and distinction recognized as exceptional.”

In the lecture delivered by the former president, Mr. Walesa highlighted the importance of today’s youth, saying that they shoulder the changes from which the nation depends on.

“It is you who has to make the change,” Mr. Walesa said with the help of his translator. “I hope none of you will say it is impossible.”

Mr. Walesa has been a recipient of the 1983 Nobel Peace Prize for being an advocate of non-violent human rights activism and became a leader of the Solidarność (Solidarity), a social movement which became responsible for the downfall of communism in Poland.

Having the Catholic faith as his bulwark of inspiration and pride, Mr. Walesa was able to serve his country as the President of the Republic of Poland in 1990. Though he lost in the succeeding election, Mr. Walesa remained active in serving his people through the establishment of Lech Walesa Institute in 1995.

Leading his nation towards independence in a non-violent activism made the former Polish president garner different honorary degrees from prestigious universities, including Harvard University and the University of Paris. He also received several salutations including the Medal of Freedom from Philadelphia, USA and the Grand Cross of the Order of Bath from Great Britain.

Finalizing his lecture in the auditorium, Mr. Walesa emphasized on the importance of freedom and living a person’s life according to his will.

“Everybody is equally free,” he said. “Everyone can organize his or herself the way they want it to be.”

“If you want to want, then we will have a beautiful Philippines,” he added.

 

Reporting by Serine Alejandro

Photo by Ezra Acayan

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Reporting Actions With Resiliency

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Reporting Actions With Resiliency, also known as R.A.W.R., is a rather young publication which was culminated three years ago to release information from the Central Student Council, Local Student Councils, and other University-wide governing bodies. Since then, it has been circulating limited copies around the campus to let everyone feel that Student Councils exist and that it is necessary to document their actions.

CSC Press isn’t new for CSC. Seven years ago, the CSC released its first issue under the name of VOX, with former CSC PRO Marge Asilo spearheading the project. CSC PRO John Ryan Sze (A.Y. 2010-2011) felt the need to revive the publication to release regularly, thinking of a publication name which has something to do with the Growling Tigers and true Thomasian leadership. Me and the News Editor that time Rich Escolar-Chua speculated of the theme on the PRO’s table in CSC Office. By-and-by, we came up with something which has to do with the utterance of a tiger, and thereby calling it, quite rightfully, Reporting Actions With Resiliency.

2011-2012 CSC Secretary Kamille Cruz (A.Y. 2012- 2013) and present CSC PRO Cris Angelo Salazar both agreed on carrying R.A.W.R. in their priorities and making the publication possible each year.

R.A.W.R. does have a distinct and a meaningful name. On the surface, it sounds like the utterance of a tiger, and it is hip and appeals to the Thomasian Community because it simply sounds like so. But have you ever come to think that naming as such, it can be understood as the utterance of a real UST Growling Tiger? Of a Thomasian student’s unmistakable voice?

R.A.W.R. Therefore aims to stand for a Growling Tiger’s voice. Our main goal is to present the actions of the Student Councils because we believe that information from the SC’s are significant to be known by the Thomasian Community, and at the same time gathering students’ reactions and insights as true leadership is resonating alive around UST.

As an outcome, this forms a bigger picture that leadership is continuous. No matter how big it is, a single leader’s contribution influences the Thomasian community. Hence R.A.W.R.’s unremitting performance on the documentation of the student leadership history of the University, and UST’s history at large.

As fitting as it sounds, though it still relies to its volunteer staff who are willing to create and contribute something spectacular for the publication, R.A.W.R. has its staff working hard spending their time in their domestic residences, but are still standing for their unifying goal: To report the student leaders’ actions with resiliency.

by Arch John Camps

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