By. Michelle C. Salon
A RECENT international academic congress held virtually included a spotlight on the Philippines’ celebration of the 500 Years of Christianity and devotion to the Sto. Niño and brought together 150 female students in the Asia-Pacific region, 35 of them coming from different colleges and universities in Cebu.
Dubbed as “Pagsubay: A Journey of Faith into the 500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines,” this particular historic segment in the UNIV 2021 Asia-Pacific Congress became an online cultural get-together that traced the history of the Christian faith and the devotion to the Holy Child.
Pagsubay was organized by the Banilad Study Center, a project of the Kalinangan Youth Foundation, Inc. (KALFI), a non-stock, non-profit organization committed to the holistic formation of young women through academic, professional, and leadership programs.
During the activity, Rev. Fr. Ric Anthony A. Reyes, the spokesperson of the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu, shared different traditional practices around the devotion to the Sto. Niño. He tackled the culture and spirituality in the Philippine context, the Sinulog ritual dance, the practice of knocking on the glass pane of the Holy Child icon, and the gesture of waving one’s hands in front of the Niño.
He also talked about the hubô or the changing of clothes of the icon; singing the gozos, a plain hymn-like lyric narration recounting the glories of a saint or God through different Christ-centered events; and the celebration of the ‘kaplag,’ the finding or discovery of the Sto. Niño by the Miguel Lopez de Legaspi expedition on April 28, 1565.
Cebuana artist and educator Mary Rose Villacastin-Maghuyop, who is also the activity’s emcee, demonstrated the basic dance steps of the Sinulog, especially if one is tasked to hold the Holy Child while dancing.
The UNIV is a yearly academic congress for university students conducted by the Istituto per la Cooperazione Universitaria since 1968. Its culminating activity is an Easter seminar in Rome, Italy where students from over 85 countries gather to discuss important issues in society concerning a given theme.
This year’s theme, “Navigate: Seeking a Solid Education in a Liquid Society,” captures the current state of affairs in the field of education and reflects the ongoing health crisis brought about by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
The UNIV 2021 Asia-Pacific Congress was conducted online from March 28 to April 4, 2021.
The Cebu delegation, through the Banilad Study Center, contributed to the preparations for the congress by organizing a talk in February titled, “Getting Good Research Done: Taking a Page from Personal Experience,” given by Amparo Pamela “Mimi” H. Fabe, a professor at the National Police College-Philippine Public Safety College and a former member of the UNIV Scientific Committee from 2013-2017.
A special feature of the congress was Glocal Hack, an international cultural activity focusing on team-based learning experiences to create solutions that respond to the challenges related to this year’s theme. Representing Cebu were Ann Louise Castañares of the University of the Philippines-Cebu, Kaye Hyacinth Moslares of the University of San Carlos, and Laura Joan Matheu of Cebu Normal University.
Three groups from Cebu worked on a research output each—two research papers and a video—which were accepted and presented to all UNIV 2021 Asia-Pacific delegates during the official research paper presentation forum, along with 17 other research outputs from cities like Bacolod, Iloilo, Laguna, Manila, and from participating Asia-Pacific countries like Indonesia, Japan, and Hongkong.
The research outputs from the Cebu delegates reflected the current concerns of the youth. The first research work is titled “A Quantitative Research on the Impact of Technology Dependence on the Mental Health of the Senior High School and College Students from Cebu City,” penned by Danielle Go of Sacred Heart School-Hijas de Jesus, Nina Rivera of Cebu Doctors University, Kaith Etcuban of Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepcion, Marianne Ceniza of Philippine Science High School-Argao, and Krystelle Paz of Southwestern University-Phinma.
The second research paper focused on “The Students’ Resiliency During this Time of Pandemic” written by Joan Ribecoy and Wenjeline Sanchez of the Banilad Center for Professional Development (BCPD).
The third research output, a video, explored the possibilities of what art can do in the field of education. Titled “Integrating Creative Learning for a Solid Values Education During the Pandemic,” this was produced by Helena Ruth Lapurga and Alyanna Cesante of St. Theresa’s College-Cebu, Amanda Yap of Cebu International School, Clarice Padro and Debbie Rosales of Cebu Technological University.
According to the Cebu delegates, this year’s UNIV is one experience they will treasure, not only because all the hard work and diligence in their respective research outputs were recognized, but because they all gained a different perspective on how learning ought to be: open, free and collaborative.