University of Philippines Manila

FVP Robredo calls for inspirational leadership at 43rd Julita V. Sotejo Lecture Series

“Bilang lider, you have to inspire people. Ang tamang sukatan sa isang lider ay yung hindi na kailangan pang lumapit sa kaniya ng mga tao, sapagkat mayroon na siyang inihandang serbisyong tutugon sa kanilang pangangailangan.”

These were the inspirational words of former Vice President and Angat Pinas, Inc. Founder and Chairperson Atty. Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, the guest of honor at the 43rd Julita V. Sotejo Lecture Series in Nursing and Related Disciplines: “Transformational Leadership in Healthcare” held on June 28, 2023 at the UP College of Nursing (UPCN) Auditorium, in Sotejo Hall.

Delivering the opening remarks, Ms. Cecilyn G. Faylona, UP College of Nursing Alumni Association International (UPCNAAI) president, acknowledged all the guests and gave a brief background about the lecture series. This was followed by a message from UPCN Dean Dr. Sheila R. Bonito, who reiterated the significance of the lecture and the legacy of UPCN Founding Dean Julita V. Sotejo, not just for nurses but for all leaders. “As we celebrate our 75th founding anniversary, we look back at the significance of the college in shaping the nursing profession and contributing to nation building,” said Dean Bonito.

This was followed by a message from Chancellor Padilla, who stated the relevance and legacy of Dean Sotejo “as the paramount figure in the rise and innovation of the nursing profession, not just in the Philippines but also in other countries.” According to the Chancellor, “Julita Sotejo stood up for the rights of not just FIlipino nurses, but all nurses, regardless of nationality and race.”

She added that UP Manila has lived and is living up to its description as “The Health Sciences Center,” noting the various changes, the radical transformation or transcendence 

that has occurred during the last nine years in its structural and curricular aspects. According to her, “As we see that the College of Nursing is a frontline institution in providing quality healthcare to all Filipinos, we have enhanced its facilities in order to meet the growing demands that come along with maintained, sustained, and improved excellence.” The Chancellor closed her message by saying, “These values of service and dedication to the community, sa mga nasa laylayan, is the spirit the UPCN has instilled in its students, in its graduates; and the progenitor of this spirit is none other than Dean Julita V. Sotejo.”

Mr. Ren C. Capucao, 2022 U.S. Fulbright Scholar to the Philippines and a collaborator in the UP Manila Heritage Project, provided a brief summary of the UP College of Nursing, highlighting the tremendous personal efforts exerted by Dean Sotejo to ensure that an excellent nursing school would be established and supported by the Philippine government, and her efforts in securing political help from then-President Manuel A. Roxas.

In her keynote lecture, Atty. Leni Robredo decided to share her experiences as the former Vice President of the Philippines and as the founder and chairperson of Angat Pinas, Inc. These included the innumerable projects and activities initiated and facilitated by, or assisted in by the Office of the Vice President (OVP) under Atty. Robredo, who, while narrating these, stressed that her office is only a conduit, and that there were numerous nongovernmental organizations who were instrumental in helping our countrymen in their times of need, in particular during the years of the pandemic.

Atty. Robredo outlined the strategies they used during the months when the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) was being 

implemented, including the logistical struggles of their free bus rides; their aid and organization of tricycle drivers and market vendors to deliver wet market goods door-to-door; their donation of face masks, medical kits, and personal protective equipment (PPE) to various hospitals, in particular to the Philippine General Hospital; and the partners they tapped to provide lodging for the frontliners.

In addition, Atty. Robredo informed the assemblage of the success of their Bayanihan E-Skwela Project, which started as a “gadget donation drive” but evolved into “community learning hubs,” sanctuaries in the community where pupils and students can learn from tutors. She highlighted the importance of collaboration between the private sector and the government, noting that the private sector “took responsibility over something [the pandemic] that was bigger than ourselves–hindi ‘yung dating ugali na ‘bahala na ang gobyerno diyan, mag-ki-criticize na lang tayo.’

Atty. Robredo emphasized the importance and relevance of voluntarism in making sure that the partnership of the government and the private sector succeeds. As she ended her message, she drove the point on one very essential thing: “In all my experiences, not just during the pandemic, but all throughout my term as Vice President, in the midst of crisis and uncertainties, in the oddest of circumstances, the only sure thing that we have is hope. In the worst of times, the Filipinos give the best of themselves. Hope is really very powerful.”

The closing remarks were delivered by UPCNAAI Treasurer Associate Professor Luz Barbara Pambid-Dones, who thanked Atty. Robredo and the other speakers, and quoted Melissa C. Florell, a renowned nurse and an advocate of nursing activism, “The primary responsibility of nursing is commitment to the patient, whether an individual, family, group, community, or population. Nurses must include activism as an intervention to address health inequities.”

The said event, which coincided with CN’s 75th founding anniversary and the 115th Foundation Week celebration of the university, was attended by Faculty Regent Carl Marc Ramota, former UPCN Dean Cecilia Laurente and other CN officials, UPCNAAI officers, officials from the Professional Regulation Commission led by Dr. Elsie Tee, chairman of the PRC Nursing Board, and other UPM officials and guests.

The program, which was facilitated by the UPCNAAI, was hosted by Dr. Earl Francis R. Sumile, member of the association’s Board of Trustees.

I Martin R. Racza

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