OSA’s annual leadership summit puts spotlight on public service

24 May 2024 | Roxanne Joyce A. Javier, Carmel J. Cayaon, Angel Junice P. Lumba |

To strengthen UPLB’s mandate to lead as a public service university through providing community, public, and volunteer service, the UPLB Office of Student Activities (OSA) of the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs (OVCSA) held “Pagtalima: Bukas na Pagtanggap sa Hamon ng Paglilingkod” attended by almost 120 UPLB student leaders.

The annual leadership workshop, held on April 27-28, 2024, at the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) Conference Center, Tagaytay City, continues last year’s Paghubog, which aimed to mold student leaders. 

This year, Pagtalima focused on youth empowerment and leadership through various platforms while strengthening the student organizations’ thrust toward genuine, progressive, accountable, and sustainable public service. 

In her opening remarks, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Janette H. Malata-Silva highlighted the importance of the event’s thematic transition, pointing out the need for student leaders to understand the internal and external processes involved in public service.

“We are hoping to equip you with the necessary skills and motivation. Kasi bago tayo sumabak sa paglilingkod, kailangan talaga nauunawaan natin ano ba ang sektor na pinaglilingkuran at para saan ba ang paglilingkod na ating ginagawa,” Malata-Silva stressed.

Malata-Silva also pointed out that public service that impacts communities will transpire through the university’s student leaders, who embody honor, excellence, and service.

“So what we really want is to inculcate in everyone that honor and excellence should be for the service of the nation, should be for the service of the Filipino people,” Malata-Silva said.

UPLB Chancellor Jose V. Camacho, Jr., followed with an inspirational message. He emphasized that Pagtalima’s theme of public service is not an obligation but an opportunity for the Iskolars ng Bayan to give back to communities.

“The workshop will revolve around public service as an aspect of student leadership. Specifically, it will highlight how you can contribute to the transformation and the betterment of society through your skills, talents, and insights. Being an Iskolar ng Bayan, there is an expectation to give back to the community and to the very nation whose taxes pay for your education, “ Camacho underscored.

“Kayo na mga mag-aaral, hindi po ito isang battlecry na kailangan po tayong magkaroon ng commitment to give back to our communities through public service but more so, this is part of our very DNA as students of UPLB,” Chancellor Camacho added.

UPLB faculty member John Lorenzo A. Yambot, project development associate of OSA, gave an overview of Pagtalima 2024 through its history, as well as the students’ expectations and manifestations for both the event and their organizations’ public service, emphasizing Pagtalima as the “fulfillment of a promise” and “an oath to public service” that student leaders should satisfy.

On leadership, culture and arts, and public service and extension

The first day of Pagtalima featured notable speakers who cleared the path for students to realize their “whys,” “hows,” and “who’s” in community service geared towards the provision of impactful projects for the public. Anchored on OSA’s major clusters of leadership, culture and arts, and public service, speakers presented critical knowledge to inspire the student leaders for their elevator pitch of public service activities at the end of the activity.

Former Senator Atty. Francis Pancratius “Kiko” N. Pangilinan commenced the sessions through an inspirational video message, emphasizing that serving is a noble advocacy. Referring to the attendees as “mitsa ng pagbabago,” he noted that public service is vital to the Iskolar ng Bayan’s life.

Keynote speaker Mr. John Paulo “JP” G. Delas Nieves, managing director of ReVibe Social Impact Consulting Inc.  and executive director of +imPACT Leadership, emphasized the use of power in community service through his talk on “The Moving Power of the Youth: The Role of the Youth in Public Service through Various Platforms.” 

Delas Nieves encouraged student leaders to step up as public servants while defining “power,” its uses, forms, and laws, noting that for power to be used, it must first be acknowledged by the power-holder.

“For power to be a force of good, it should have integrity, a clear interest to protect, and it must be inclusive,” Delas Nieves underscored during his session.

The next session, “Harmonizing Arts and Sciences: Expanding Horizons through Extension and Public Service Initiatives,” featured former UP Faculty Regent Aimee Lynn Barrion-Dupo, who discussed how arts and sciences come together in public service while stressing the need to work with diverse groups of people.

“Art communicates, connects, and cultivates,” Barrion-Dupo remarked. “Science communicates, connects, and cultivates. Serve in order to change the face of science,” she added while reiterating that public service opens a venue for creating good dynamics where everyone is allowed to participate.

Dr. Clarissa B. Juanico additionally shared her experiences as the program leader of the  lauded extension program Barangay Integrated Development Approach for Nutrition Improvement (BIDANI) Network in “Transforming Communities Through Sustainable Instruction, Research, and Public Service.” 

Noting that malnutrition is a human rights violation, Juanico primarily stressed the need to address nutrition as a societal issue. She also added that extension work in the university is “a true to life” application of knowledge. 

“Invest in public service [your] time, effort, and energy. [Ang public service ay] hindi matatapos sa picture-taking lang—it is an investment and a commitment,” Juanico said, challenging the student leaders to go beyond the usual community activities format.

Director Jose Limbay Lahi O. Espaldon of the UPLB Ugnayan ng Pahinungod  concluded the first day of Pagtalima sessions through his talk “Empowering Communities Together: Ugnayan ng Pahinungod and Student Organizations in the UPLB Community and Beyond.” 

Espaldon recounted Pahinungod’s various community works and volunteerism activities during disasters such as the COVID-19 pandemic and highlighted volunteer decorum in visiting far-flung communities and the process of providing public service. 

To conclude the sessions, Espaldon guided student leaders through the seven stages of the partnership process for community programs, emphasizing collaboration, co-creation, and coordination. The session was followed by a workshop on the participants’ creation of public service initiatives, facilitated by Espaldon with Gilbert Q. Lanwang, head of Pahinungod’s Institutional Programs Section.

The Socials Night, led by the UPLB University Student Council (USC), concluded Day 1, with participants bonding after dinner. USC Chairperson Mark Gio J. Olivar accentuated the need for events such as Pagtalima 2024 to bring together student leaders to form partnerships toward public service.

Testimonials, forwarding public service to sectors

Pagtalima kicked off its second day with a summary of the previous day’s sessions, followed by the Southern Tagalog Situationer presented by Mr. John Peter Angelo “Jpeg” Garcia, chairperson of Youth Advocates for Peace with Justice (YAPJUST-UPLB). 

Garcia enlightened student leaders on the region’s human rights situation across different sectors, stressing that the importance of Southern Tagalog to the nation’s overall economy and development is detrimental to its people and environment.

“Nasasakripisyo ang mamamayan at maging kalikasan… basic sector ang hindi tumatamasa ng yaman kahit sila ang nag-aambag nito.” Garcia said, stating that as the economic crises equal human rights violations, public funds are still spent on state terror through acts such as rampant attacks against progressive youth and youth organizations. 

Sharing his experiences as a red-tagged youth and the trumped-up charges against human rights workers and activists, Garcia also underscored the need for progressive student leaders to arm themselves with knowledge and advocate for human rights inside and outside the University.

“This situation calls for you, student leaders, to be unfazed in the line of fire and continue fighting for people’s rights,” Garcia asserted.

After the situationer, the 40th and current UP Student Regent Sofia Jan Trinidad encouraged student leaders to answer the call to serve through a video message of solidarity and inspiration.

“Mag-aral, mangarap, at puspusang makibaka. Tuloy-tuloy ang laban,” Trinidad declared.

Pagtalima’s last speaker was UP Faculty Regent Carl Marc Ramota, who discussed public service in different sectors. Ramota reminded the summit’s participants to define their “public” or their target audience clearly regarding public service, as there are sectoral interests within the community. 

“It is very important for us to ask this question over and over again. Who exactly are we serving? Who is the public in public service? It is important for us to situate ourselves, the university, in the larger context,” Ramota stated.

Ramota’s session centered on establishing the public character of the University, knowing and identifying the public in public service, and laying out public service in university policies and processes. Ramota told the participants that Pagtalima is their path to being public service leaders, urging them to join the fight for academic freedom and human rights inside and outside the university.

“Ang purpose natin is not really to teach you ano yung dapat niyong isipin but to show you different perspectives that perhaps will generate in you that sense of personal advocacy, that sense of social responsibility so that later on, we will always remember those core principles,” the faculty regent expressed.

After the sessions, student leaders pitched their planned public service activities to be implemented in the next academic year as Pagtalima 2024’s final output. Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Malata-Silva commended the groups’ presentations as she assured them of OVCSA’s support, pledging financial assistance on three proposed activities on agriculture and fisheries, including Group 1’s PUNLA and Group 2’s BANGKApit-BISIG.

To wrap up the activity, OSA Director and Assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Marcelina C. Miranda provided a comprehensive synthesis of the talks and activities during the workshop, linking participant expectations and manifestations to learnings from each speaker about power, arts, and sciences, extension work, approaches to the community, and partners to be involved in public service. 

Miranda also assured student leaders that their proposals would be well-spent as OVCSA shall spearhead the revision and lobbying of their proposals, emphasizing Pagtalima 2024 as the starting point of their community service while in the university. 

The OSA director thanked the participants and organizers as Pagtalima 2024 ended with a same-day edit video presentation of the leadership summit and the introduction of the next leadership summit’s theme: Paglingap 2025.