by Jellica Saddi
Los Angeles, CA
The Lord knows how long serving Him through Hospice care has been on my mind. With the death of my brother, my volunteer experiences at home, medical missions abroad, visit to the sick, the special formation I was fortunate to receive through the Iraya Study Center in the Philippines, and the two years it took me to build a life back home in California, I'm finally at a good time in my life to commit to this. I've been on their mailing list since 2008, but this weekend I finally completed their Heart Touch Method training for the terminally-ill and marginalized human beings, and received my Hospice assignment today. Every single person I met this weekend touched my soul and I cannot express the gratitude and joy I feel. It's been an great end to my Spring Break, but I know this is only the beginning of something that will change my life forever and hopefully make a difference in someone else's life who will be moving on to the next.
May Valencia and Charlene Versoza, both UST students,got the chance to be part of the international gathering of university students in Rome last April 2015. Through their adviser from Iraya, they learned, discussed and wrote about UNIV 2014 theme: Cosmos: The Ecology of Man and His Environment. Below is the the abstract of their paper presented in Rome, Italy:
Safeguarding the Integrity of the Human Person:
A Case of the Regulation of Stem Cell Therapy in the Philippines
Due to technological developments, the healthcare environment is constantly facing change. Concretely, Adult Stem Cell Therapy has suddenly become a popular alternative for medical needs. This event has brought stem cell tourism in a boom that is, offering this unproven treatment to those who can afford the expensive services. This is a challenge healthcare has to face particularly in safeguarding the integrity of the human person. The Department of Health in the Philippines has taken steps into circulating guidelines to regulate the growing stem cell tourism in the country but it has not clarified whether the Adult Stem Cell therapy is still a research or a treatment. This paper aims to find out if the current Adult Stem Cell Therapy is research or a treatment and what regulations are in place for these procedures. From the data gathered, it can be concluded that majority still consider Adult Stem Cell Therapy as research and not treatment; and that there are efforts from the government to regulate these procedures. Recommendations include providing of clearer guidelines and stricter implementation of regulations.
by Chessy Celedonio, Adamson University
In this busy world, it is so hard to recognize life’s unfairness. We are occupied with our egoistic aspirations for personal success, selfish goals and wild dreams.In our journey, our walk is always on the rush that sometimes we almost forget to look around and notice people passing by, walking before, after or together with us. Sometimes, we haven’t realized that there are people around us who need our help.
Sama-Sama Sa Samar Rurals Service Project made me see the reality that there’s still a lot of Yolanda Victims who cry out for help. As we landed in Tacloban Airport, I was able to picture out in my mind what happened there couple of months ago. And as we travelled from Tacloban to Samar, I was able to see the devastating remembrance that typhoon Yolanda has left them.
Upon arriving at Hernani, the warm welcome of the Gawad Kalinga Family made me smile. My excitement overflowed as if I could not wait for the next day to come. To be with these people for almost a week will always be a memorable part of my journey, because I know that we’ve touched their lives in our own little ways.
Most of the people there don’t have expensive clothes to wear and delicious foods to eat, but they all have a big heart that welcome and love us as if we are really part of their family.
Countless realizations came into my life during and after our stay in Samar. The children in GK made me realize that life can be happy and meaningful if we only knew how to appreciate everything that we have. Whether small or big, everything is a blessing from God. Throughout the week, I was able to observe how strong the relationship of every family was. Despite of all the challenges they are facing, you can see that the love of the family for each other is the one that makes them physically and emotionally strong.
With this experience, I learned to open my heart and feel their sufferings. I also understood what generosity and compassion is.
As young people, we should be aware of the difficulties that persons, families and communities experience. Let us not be afraid to think of their situation. Let us be active! Let us be concerned and give attention to others.
by Dianne Argamosa, University of the Philippines
For Rurals 2014, we, the volunteers of Iraya Study Center came together at Samar with the intent of being able help with the little ways we can through teaching, painting, interviewing and assisting in the medical mission. In light of the recent devastation caused by super typhoon Yolanda, each of us was aware of the possible conditions the people of Samar were in. The weight of the tragedy falls greatly especially upon them, and it was still crucial to send the message of continuous recovery and hope. Keeping this in mind, perhaps I can say that each of us was determined to have that message come across. But of course, that won’t be a light task.
On our first few hours at Eastern Visayas, I remember one of the youngest volunteers saying, “We can’t really tell them everything will be alright”. She was staring across the window of the minibus we were on, getting a full view of the state the places were in.
Though it was evident that a lot of constructions were ongoing, people were recovering, I silently agreed. After seeing all the ruined houses, tree branches scattered across empty spaces that were probably residential areas before, hills full of ‘trees’ with only its trunk and roots remaining, bridges still being repaired, people still living in tents four months after the typhoon, people just beginning to build their houses, and the lives that were lost-- how can we explicitly and lightly say ‘Everything will be alright’? As much as we want to give happy memories to the kids we were going to teach, how should we go about it?
We had a lot of activities planned to make the most of our time at Samar. In the morning, we were to have enriching talks prepared by Ms. Marela, Ms. Krisna and Dr. Cla. The topics were on Piety, Sanctification of Work, Devotion to our Lady and Evangelization. We were also going to teach children with the lessons we prepared the evening before. Some days were allotted for Academics (like teaching Math), most were centered on Catechism and Virtues.
In the afternoon, we were divided into the Paint and Interview teams. We rotated each day to accomplish these two tasks. But, apart from St. Joseph GK Village, we also went to interview residents at Baranggay Trapikoand a person who lived uphill at Baranggay San Miguel.
Then on April 4, we were to have a Medical Mission at Mercedes, Samar. Each of the Volunteers were asked to fulfill certain roles such as being a doctor’s assistant, pharmacy assistant, A lecturer discussing nutrition facts and a ‘daycare ate’ taking care of the Children while the Medical Mission was ongoing.
In the end, despite all our worries, we were able to achieve all these and more. I think one of our guiding factors was the fact that no matter how challenging it may be, we were doing it for the Lord. We have Him as our strength. He has a purpose for why we came all together at Samar doing all these activities. He gave us protection and the grace to both accomplish our tasks and enjoy the activities with everyone as well.
Perhaps another reason for why we gained confidence lies in the GK Community itself. On our way to the GK site, I was wondering how to approach the village, the children. After all , we were still technically strangers to them.
However, when we arrived at St Joseph’s GK Village, those worries disappeared. It was already late in the afternoon, but the residents were still waiting for us, smiling at us as they welcome us to their community. I remember how the children’s voices and energy filled the place. They were even willing to play with us. Seeing them welcoming us so warmly gave us confidence.
And each day, it was the same. The children were always ready to listen to us, spend time with us while eager to learn the lessons we made for them. Though there was an initial language barrier, it gradually came down as we learned action songs and bits of Waray (and as we discover that there were students who can translate for us).
We also gained a lot of friends through each other. Having experienced the same conditions and activities, like bonding in the beach over a camp fire or lying on the sand under the stars on Samar’s clear skies, spending nap times in the bus on our way to our different destinations, preparing knock-knock jokes for our performances and surprise birthday celebrations. Honestly, our activities drained much of our energy each day, but it was fun spending time with everyone as well. Furthermore, as we offered it up to our Lord, it became more fulfilling and worthwhile.
If asked whether or not we would like to go to Samar once again, taking aside our school’s different academic scheduling, I think we would all immediately say, ‘yes’, because going back to Samar, to the children we teach, to the place that holds our Summer 2014 memories would make us all happy.
by Mae Valencia, IV Accountancy UST
It was summer and the blistering heat outside didn’t stop us, UNIV writers, to crunch our brains and work over our UNIV paper. After reading the keynote speech of Secretary Ona on Stem Cell Therapy, we decided that it would be a good topic to present for UNIV’s 2014 theme, “Cosmos: The Ecology of Man and his Environment.” Our chosen topic discussed about the proliferation of stem cell tourism in Philippine clinics which offer unproven treatment; using claims and anecdotes of patients’ successful therapies as primary advertising inducement to promote this seemingly “effective treatment” but in reality, are not accepted scientific evidence.
As researchers and writers, Charlene and I had to investigate if there were existing guidelines on Stem Cell Therapy by different government institutions. We also researched positions of different medical societies and interviewed practitioners with regards to their stands on the booming stem cell tourism. It was a refreshing experience for an Accountancy student like me to be involved in a medical issue that is prevalent in the environment we live in yet not given enough attention. It was also interesting to delve on this study because it is uncommon to tackle a medical issue in relation to ecology and environment.
According to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, “Ecological conversion must include a recovery of a culture that respects life. Only a society that properly respects the dignity of every human being at every stage of life can properly respect the environment.” Since we cannot be separated from our environment, it is only fitting that we must be aware of the different social issues especially on matters of health. Joining UNIV 2014 as a paper writer made me aware not only of my own environment but it also helped me to reach out to other people by making them informed on issues that confront our values.
by Marie Mandario, I PT, UST
Last Saturday, UNIV 2014 was held at the University of Asia and the Pacific. I was very lucky to be one of the delegates who have witnessed these female students from different universities showcase their papers and videos about the theme this year which is “Cosmos: The Ecology of the Person and His Environment”. This forum not only tackles about environmental awareness but also its effect on us and our relationship with others. It was indeed a very educational event and how I wish I could bring my friends with me next time.
Our world keeps on changing, innovating. It is inevitable because of the constant demand for convenience and modernization. But along with these developments are conscious and unconscious hazards for the part of the man and the environment. Sadly, these are oftentimes neglected. I, myself, admit that sometimes I am being selfish with the environment, not thinking that even in just wasting paper or food I already contributed to the decreasing social and environmental awareness. The event is such a wakeup call to me, a reminder that I also have a part in protecting the environment which is complementary with the welfare of others.
This reminds me of the topic we have discussed in our Theology 2: Church and Sacraments. My professor keeps on telling us we should go back to the basics. By basic he means that we should live in simplicity and in relation to others. Let us take a break from those far and unfathomable concepts. Through respecting the environment, we can already show our passion for others. Modernization should not be a hindrance for us to keep our responsibilities with the environment which is where you, I, and we live but rather be a way to satisfy the needs of one another.
Through the presentations I realized that doing good things to others does not necessarily require big events or projects. It can be done through numerous simple ways like being aware and doing something out of this awareness. I acknowledge the presenters and Engr. Berba for sharing their experiences, ideas, and visions. It is indeed a great opportunity to reflect and learn at the same time. Thanks to UNIV 2014!
by Carol Relucio , Teacher, UNO School
I will never regret sitting down for one full hour to listen to Madelaine Abraham, a Dean’s Lister from UST College of Pharmacy. A young lady who is so inspiring, Madz has carefully mastered being an A-student. Truly a model of hard work, she surrenders to God the result of her exams. I find it encouraging to know how she offers her studies to God and at the same time transforming it into an excellent work. I perceived a conversion of hearts among the students who sat through this talk. There is really no shortcut to success. Madz’ formula might just work for you: pure HARDWORK backed up with prayers.
Thirty years of nurturing young women is definitely something to smile about! Iraya joined its establishing foundation, KALFI (Kalinangan Youth Foundation, Inc.), as it celebrated it's pearl anniversary last September 29 at Makati Sports Club. More than 60 Iraya alumnae together with other beneficiaries from KALFI's other study centers gathered and celebrated around this main idea: a continuing commitment to holistic formation of young women. Let's smile to that:)
by Madelaine Johanna Abraham, II Pharmacy, UST
I first heard about St. Josemaria and Opus Dei at a very young age (around 4-6 yrs. old) when my aunt Lucille told me about him. I did not know initially what it was all about, I just knew that it is an organization in the Catholic Church and that my aunt is part of it. As I grew older, I found out more about the organization as she invited me to attend seminars, activities, to go to Opus Dei centers, and as she lived by the values fostered by Opus Dei. She even introduced me to Bishop Alvaro, St. Josemaria's successor. When I knew about him, his good works, and those countless times when he answered my aunt's prayers to him, I did not think twice but prayed to him too. And from then until now, he has been helping me with a lot of things like in my studies, in my relationships, in my goals in life, and in my aim to become a better person, closer to God.
However, with all of these, the objectives and the whole essence of the organization still was not clear to me. It was when I started to read the book my aunt gave, "Friends of God" authored by St. Josemaria, that I've really understood about it. I read chapters about various topics such as work, peace, human virtues, and the richness of ordinary life. Every chapter, every paragraph, and every word inspired me because it made me feel that it is actually not that hard to be a saint, living in my own ways. I used to think that in order to go to heaven, I would have to do extraordinary things like dying for someone or for many people, giving away most of the things that I have, giving up my profession or aspirations in order to serve God, and several more. But when I learned about Opus Dei and what it was all about through the book, I realized that I did not have to change much to be good. I just have to do the simplest and littlest things in the best possible and holiest ways. It made me feel better that I do not have to give up everything, I just have to devote everything to Him. For instance, whenever I am studying, I must do my best and offer it all up to Him and that will already make God happy. I can reach my goals, and I'm not deprived of it. I just have to direct it towards a path with God along and at the end of it. In the most ordinary things in life, I can be holy. I just have to DO them in a holy way. There are much more things that I learned from "Friends of God" and about the whole organization of Opus Dei itself, but the emphasis is on what I have learned about being extraordinary in the most ordinary means. It makes me feel fulfilled whenever I am able to maximize all the things I am blessed with, and it is easier to do something when I put my heart into it. And at this early age of 17, I know now that the only path I shall take is the path WITH God, and Opus Dei must help me in this journey.