TWELVE women based in Davao City have successfully finished the course on Master of Arts in Humanities Major in Women Studies offered by St. Scholastica's College (SSC) Manila in partnership with Assumption College of Davao (ACD) that provided the venue for the women's learning process.

It was the only Women Study program ever in Mindanao that was met with enthusiasm and finished in due time. It is doubly amazing that majority of the graduates were educators teaching at ACD who had to do extra effort in their studies because of their hectic schedules. A few other working women coming from other private and public organizations also joined the study group.

There was a nun, several teachers and some NGO and LGU women workers from different walks of life who are finally having their certificates today, March 21, to mark their accomplishment. It is almost an unbelievable feat, especially for most of the working mothers, professional women who did not even have time enough for their families and regular jobs, but still found the time to pursue self development in the most difficult situation.

The current executive director of the Institute of Women’s Studies of St. Scholastica, Sr. Mary John Manansan, the very dynamic prioress of the Missionary Sisters of Benedictine Sisters in the Philippines was one of the distinguished mentors who shared her wisdom on the topic Women and Religion. She taught the women how religions have influenced to a large extent Women's rights and issues, both positively and negatively. Sr. Mary John also heads the Women's Crisis Center and a lifetime honorary Chair of Gabriela.

With an aim to "awaken a consciousness of and provide an understanding of the women question through a strategy of formal education to mainstream gender consciousness", this two-year course SSC program started on October 22, 2006, and was slated to finish in October 2008. The program adopted a modular strategy that required a five day class per subject with each class having a total of eight hours per day for five days. For most of the students especially among the full time teachers, the class schedules were backbreaking considering that they had to skip semestral breaks just to attend to a two-week lecture series for two years.

Moreover, at the end of the program, each of the participants was required to undertake and produce a master thesis of their chosen subjects. This was considered the "ultimate" challenge for most of the student-teachers, as they had to work harder to meet the schedules.

"I can't believe that I have finished my study on the children of OFWs," enthused Mrs. Virgie Efondo, a guidance counselor at the Grade School Department of ACD. On top of her busy schedules in her office, Mrs. Efondo had to rush her data gathering and collation work to keep up with her deadlines.

This situation was also true even among participants working with private and government organizations who had to forego two weeks of work each semester just to attend to the lectures.

The proud graduates include the following:

1. Albacite, Lyra, a Grade School teacher of ACD, whose study delve on Kasambahays Enrolled in the Sunday High School Program of Assumption College, Davao;

2. Ambulo, Rhodora, head of the Rgistrar’s Office, had for her topic the Evaluation of the Gender Program of The Secondary Education of Assumption College of Davao;

3. Arquiza, Mary Fe, an NGO worker, focused on the Gender Participation in Potable Water Management of Cotabato with Semiotic Analysis;

4. Atinen, Junalyn, also an NGO worker, researched on the Women Inmates Undergoing Trial: A Descriptive Study of Domestic Violence in Davao City;

5. Cabasagan, Sr. Ma. Carmen Dianne (RGS), the only nun in the group, studied the Economics and Social Effects of Overseas Employment on Women and Their Families: A Study of Migrant Domestic Workers in Davao City;

6. Dacanay, Bernadette, a supervisor from semi-government organization focused on the Nature and Extent of Participation of Women and Men in Watershed Protection;

7. Efondo, Virginia studied the OFW Children enrolled at ACD;

8. Mandin, Lorna, who works with the Gender Office of the City government made a paper on Healing Wounds and Moving On: Narratives of Women Survivors of Violence in Davao City;

9. Serenado, Marilyn, another Grade School teacher of ACD study the Sports Participation and Motivation of High School Female Students of Assumption College of Davao;

10. Tan, Evangeline, also a Grade School teacher of ACD focused on the Mothers' Intervention to their Children's Computer Addiction;

11. Valle, Fidelina Margarita, a freelance writer, wrote about the Effects of the Matigsalog Customary Laws in Matigsalog Women and their Reproductive Rights;

12. Villanueva, Elsa, a High School teacher of ACD, had for her study The Male and Female Students of Assumption College Sunday Classes and their Responses to Socio-Economic Problems.

There could have been a lone man among the dozen women, but Louie Trocio had to leave for another study program abroad before he could finish the course.