23 May 2020
Dear Fellow Alumni:
Ma upay nga adlaw ha iyo nga tanan.
I am writing you on the occasion of the 47th founding anniversary of our Alma Mater. While every anniversary is special, this year’s anniversary is unique as it takes place in the midst of a global pandemic. Hence our anniversary theme of “URUGUP para han Kaupayan han Katilingban nga Kalibutan”.
UP Tacloban’s response to COVID-19
The word urugop as you know means solidarity. The College adopted the word, rendered in the UP colors of green and maroon, in the early days of COVID-19 crisis as a rallying cry for all members of our community — students and alumni, faculty and staff, our families and neighborhoods, and the people of Eastern Visayas. With the URUGUP spirit the College constituency launched several public service initiatives in response to the pandemic as follows:
- URUGUP Helpdesk initially for UP Tacloban students needing assistance and support from the College. This led to a small donation drive to provide food packs for several students who were stranded in boarding houses.
- UPVTC Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services online for medical front liners organized by our Psychology faculty.
- URUGUP alcohol-based hand rub (hand sanitizer) production by our Chemistry faculty and researchers for free distribution to health care facilities and frontline service providers in Region 8
- Pasundayag Paghilom ha Panahon han COVID-19 Songs and Poetry for Healing Video Performance Series of the Division of Humanities and UP An Balangaw Performing Arts Group
- UPVTC Puso project by a group of volunteer faculty and staff to provide washable face masks to medical front liners and hygiene kits to tricycle drivers; food packs to poor households in selected barangays; food packs and cash donations to UP Tacloban security personnel; and washable face masks to inmates and jail guards of the Tacloban City Jail women’s dormitory.
- A position paper by a group of faculty members on “how to win against COVID-19” addressed to the Tacloban City government.
These initiatives have been well received not only by the beneficiaries but also by the general public and across the UP System.
Celebrating our 47th founding anniversary
It is fortuitous that the lockdown in Tacloban City was lifted on the week of the College’s 47th anniversary. While we are unable to celebrate with the usual mass gatherings, we nonetheless have the opportunity to express in a creative and meaningful way our solidarity with one another, with the people of Eastern Visayas, and with the whole world. This is the intent of our line-up of anniversary activities which we hope you can join virtually by following our posts on the UPV Tacloban College Facebook page.
We released this morning the UP Tacloban 47th anniversary APV through which we aim to highlight our pursuit of excellence and public service through the years.
We also launched today the Pagsurumpay Online Task Series with an online panel discussion on “Context, Opportunities, and Challenges for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) in the time of COVID-19” by the Psychology faculty. As you know pagsurumpay means to connector put several pieces (such as stories and ideas) together, or to make multiple connections. Aside from the intellectual work of the faculty, I hope that the series can also feature talks by alumni in key fields and disciplines.
The Kalungganayan Community Vegetable Garden which we are cultivating at the UP Tacloban campus is a kind of practical demonstration of a sustainable mode of development, one that promotes food security and environmental conservation. The term kalungganayan as you know means benefit, bringing in abundance or wealth or livelihood to people, blessing or grace.
Our commitment to excellence and equity
Alongside our efforts to contribute to knowledge generation through basic and applied research particularly on issues that are relevant to the Eastern Visayas region, and our public service programs in partnership with the national government agencies, local government units, non-government organization, and the private sector, we continue to train the region’s best and brightest through our various degree programs in the humanities, social science, natural science and mathematics, and management.
One of the challenges brought about by the pandemic is the need to rapidly shift to technology-supported teaching and learning to ensure academic continuity during the community quarantine and in “the new normal” where social distancing is necessary to prevent the spread of the disease. However, from the survey of student’s access to personal computers (whether desktop, laptops, or smartphones) and internet connectivity we found that at least 150 students (~20% of 715 respondents) do not have their own computers. They also have little to no access to the internet, which they need to receive course packages, communicate with their teachers and fellow learners (e.g. through on-line discussions), and submit their assignments. So we have decided to embark on the URUGUP Students TechPack Fund Drive to provide essential IT equipment and tools for learning to students in need (“tech pack” is a play on the word “food Pack”). We hope you will support this project for the benefit of the next generation of UP Tacloban alumni.
As we work towards making UP Tacloban the next autonomous unit (and constituent university) of the UP System, it is necessary for the College to establish itself firmly as an academic pacesetter and a leading advocate and catalyst of sustainable development by strengthening its curricula, adopting innovative teaching methods, conducting interdisciplinary research, and engaging with the surrounding communities through public service, and doing so with excellence and equity. We look to you, our alumni, as an important partner in this critical mission.
Yours in solidarity for the well-being of our community and the world.
Patricia B. Arinto (BA Comm Arts 1989)