A Victory for All Women Athletes and Athletes-to-Be

First off, I want to congratulate the Ateneo de Manila University Women’s Volleyball team for winning their first championship in the UAAP Women’s Volleyball Series yesterday afternoon. You have made the university community “happy happy” with your strong golden hearts!

Just to give a rundown, the Lady Eagles beat Adamson University, National University twice and champion titleholder De la Salle University thrice in the semis and then thrice during the finals to win their first ever crown. I admit that I was only able to watch the last finals game and I only learned about their journey from my family who avidly watched their games. I didn’t realize how big the team had become all over the Philippines until I watched yesterday on television. I’m glad I watched and went to the bonfire and celebrate the victories for the university, for students and most importantly for women!

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“Heartstrong” is the mantra coined by the Lady Eagles’ Coach Tai that inspired the team and lead them to victory.

For the past eight or nine bonfires, ladies’ teams (as well as other athletic teams) took a backseat to give way to celebrating the Men’s Senior Basketball Team’s Championship in the UAAP. This time, women took the front seat in driving and celebrating a victory for the university. This shows how much the institution has progressed from being conservative and masculine to being liberal and gender-neutral. And this happened in the 40th year anniversary of having women Ateneans!

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Team Captain, Series MVP and Finals MVP Alyssa Valdez shared to the community how they felt during Set 3 of Game 3. Women being cheered onstage during the Bonfire! FINALLY!

As a woman and a member of the alumni, it’s really heartwarming and inspiring to see the celebration in front of my eyes. It’s the recognition that I believe many of us have always wanted to see. Their victory is something that would inspire many female teenagers to fulfill their dream of being university or professional women athletes as they have seen that women athletes are accepted, loved and admired by society.

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Again, congratulations Lady Eagles.  And congratulations too to the high school and university Judo teams, the Women’s and Men’s Senior Badminton Teams, the Men’s Senior Swimming Team, the Men’s Senior Volleyball Team and Team Glory Be for your respective victories. Keep your hearts strong and continue winning!

Here are the other photos from the bonfire:

Here’s the university community celebrating the lighting of the bonfire and singing the school hymn Song for Mary:

Lessons from University Long After Graduation

Amidst the everyday traffic chaos, the pushing and squeezing in the rail transit stations, the general feeling of frustration brought about poor national governance and corruption and other worries and disappointments came messages of hope from the university I graduated from – messages that I used to hear on a daily basis before that gave me so much optimism, but are rarely heard now, save for the occasional homily given by a Jesuit priest. These are the messages that I’ve longed to hear.

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These messages of hope from this evening’s of testimonials entitled “Women Leaders: In the Footsteps of St. Ignatius” which is part of “40 Years Half the Sky: Celebrating Co-Education in Ateneo de Manila”, a campaign celebrating the presence and contribution of women in the university. Ateneo first opened its doors to women in 1973 and now women slightly outnumber the men. The women spoke about how Ignatian values and spirituality are making an impact on their lives.

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Ateneo President Father Jett Villarin gives the Opening Remarks

The women leaders who spoke were CHED Chairperson Dr. Patricia Licuanan, Filinvest Development Corporation President and CEO Josephine Gotianun-Yap ad Rags II Riches Founder and Director Reese Fernandez – Ruiz.

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Dr. Patricia Licuanan, Chair of the Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED)

Dr. Licuanan shared lessons on balancing one’s career with a rich and relaxed personal life, balancing leadership, the zest for change and courage with management, systems and prudence and being a voice of hope by finding comfort in advocacies and reforms and even afflicting people’s comfort zones.

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Josephine Gotianun-Yap, Filinvest Development Corporation and Filinvest Land Inc. President and CEO

Josephine Gotianun – Yap shared that in business, having a sense of responsibility and vision trumps power. In business you have to set a moral tone which will guide the mission, vision and general operational direction of the company.

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Reese Fernandez Ruiz, President and Co-Founder, Rags2Riches (with Monch, and Dan and Bem in the photo)

Finally, Reese Fernandez – Ruiz shared that being more reflective or in her words – “disturbed” – has helped in her growth as an individual and how it has helped grow her social enterprise, Rags2Riches. Her testimonial actually hit home because I actually went through what she went through. Like her, I prepared a plan on how to be rich and successful and life, and found myself deviating from the plan after encountering prisoners from Bilibid, having an internship in UNICEF, volunteering for a non-government organization, working for another non-government organization and having the heart for development and business. Her questions struck me and her answers pretty much validated the path I’m taking now. Her parting words to the audience were, “Never stop asking ‘Why?'”.

I’ve actually stopped asking myself that after graduation. From my short healthcare stint post-graduation and in my business and development sector career now, I’ve never really asked. I just kept going, and feeling and knowing it’s the right way to go.

On my way home, I found myself asking myself “Why am I doing what I am doing?”.

And after 7 years of exploring the world through healthcare, education, development and marketing, I now have answer.

Viewing the World with Me

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