April 21, 2013

Pushing beyond limits

It’s just today that I realized how busy I had been for the past two weeks when I visited my blogs. I made it a point to update my blogs at least once a week to raise my Alexa rank. Alexa is a quick and easy way to estimate how popular your site is compared to other sites. Ratings start from 1 to 20,000,000 and even beyond. The lower the number, the better your rating is.That  has become my self imposed challenge  to test my reflexes without necessarily stressing myself.  Assessing the backlog vis-à-vis  my limits, I decided to repost my previous blogs according to their value and relevance. The following article, first published April 16, 2012 on Lariza Website, qualifies in my Faith Journey blog.

Elsie E. Malabon, cum laude, leads the BSSW 2012
graduates of the Department of Social Work
The 84th Commencement Exercises of Central Philippine University on April 15 has been inspiring. The Department has produced 12 graduates in the Bachelor of Science in Social Work, one with academic honor, cum laude. Together with 3 others, the honoree was not even expecting to graduate this semester, as some of her subjects were supposed to be offered in the 1st semester classes , a sort of lapses in advising.

But, as it were, I took time to study the complex condition of irregular students upon resuming my position as head of the Department. Thereafter, arranging their load in unconventional manner and semestral offerings so as to minimize the period of their stay. This skill was honed from those unlikely experiences in past life – my exposure in gambling during my youth. Like risk taking and the skills in arranging/organizing cards, mahjong tiles to win despite their weak/losing state. Yes, maximizing all the chances, even pushing beyond limit.

Equally inspiring is the fate of our Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) graduates. There are four of them who made it completing the Magic 10 to mark the 10th year of the revival of University’s MSSW program. It was in 2002 when we reactivated the program, a couple of years after I finished my Master of Social Work from the University of the Philippines- Diliman. With the strong support of Dr. Fely David, Dean of Graduate Studies, we succeeded to achieve it during the University’s historic Centennial Year in 2005.

The Magic Four with their thesis adviser. (L-R) Kareen Jay Diesto-Lozada, Sr. Aubrey Casimiro DC,
 Araceli Tondo, the author, and Carol Kay Cortuna-Blando
One of our MSSW pioneering students succeeded to complete the academic requirements and passed the final defense. Subsequently, Mrs. Lolita Camarig, municipal social welfare and development officer of Leganes had joined the commencement march of the Centennial graduates. Thereafter, we produced graduates with non BSSW degrees who subsequently hurdled the board exam, namely: Aujun Labrador, Lunnie Lasquite, and Melody Arandela-Ambangan. Ruby Plagata, another graduate, will soon take the social work licensure examination. Our other graduate is Prof. Maribel Gonzales, former head of the Department of Social Work, University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos.

Pose for posterity after the graduation ceremony.
The author, flanked by Kareen Jay (L) and Carol Kay (R)
Completing the Magic 10 are this year’s four MSSW graduates. Of the four, two are faculty of the Department of Social Work, CPU, namely: Carol Kay Cortuna-Blando and Kareen Kay Diesto. Both are close to my heart being my students during their undergraduate years; colleagues when they joined the teaching force of the Department; partners in volunteerism and development endeavors.

But organizational changes separated us for awhile until we have the opportunity to work together again. Having something in common both as victims and victors of experts in manipulating people and circumstances, we developed the biblical slogan “overcome evil by doing good.” Renewing our relationship, we committed to resume the interrupted partnership and development including their MSSW degree. Thereafter, I served as their thesis adviser struggling with them through thick and thin until they were conferred with their hard earned degree yesterday.

The other two are personnel of the Colegio del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus,namely: Sr. Aubrey Casimiro and Araceli Tondo. The bonding we have may not be comparable to the previous ones. Yet, it is also interesting and equally significant. Adverse circumstances did not hinder their desire to finish studies according to their schedule. Even my serious sickness and subsequent health limitation could not withstand their earnestness to complete the course.

We have experienced pushing beyond limits just to continue our classes. At times, holding reportorial sessions at home due to my limited mobility. In some instances, conducting classes at the University gazebo because I could not make it to the 3rd floor where Graduate School classrooms are located. There was even a time we had classes under the acacia tree beside the Department of Social Work, having no access to the office which used to be an alternate venue for my masteral classes.

But tougher times were just waiting ahead, making their presence felt during thesis writing stage. Aware of my health limitation, we tried to organize their respective schedule to avoid overlapping that would put unnecessary pressures on us both. Despite this, however, unavoidable circumstances compelled us to confront realities that push us beyond our limits.

A delay in the data gathering of one advisee had  a domino effect on our overall schedule.  With the scrambled schedule, we were compelled to confront the pressures we wanted to avoid. More so, that another advisee was affected by the changes of schedule of the accreditation involving our own department.

It was trying moments for us all. Especially, that I was still in the process of recuperating from critical illness which dramatically changed my lifestyle. While in the past, I could work effectively under pressures, I have learned to avoid such situation after my ailment. Previously, I loved doing homework; especially rush paper work until early morning. However, since my sickness, I have disciplined myself to sleep early with strict resolve not to bring home any school or office assignment.

Faced with the dilemma vis-à-vis the aforementioned limitations, we braved the tough times with faith in God and team work. I encouraged them to share with one another the development of their work to challenge each other. Similarly, the under development to make each one aware that she is not alone in such situation.  By God’s grace, our faith journey did bear fruits – they graduated even when we were pushed beyond limits.

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