THE UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES CHRISTIAN BROTHERHOOD (UPCB) Dekada ‘70 alumni visited New Era University’s newest campus in Pinugay, Baras, Rizal to visit the pioneering students—the recipients of the UPCB scholarship program—on January 9, 2020, which also coincided with the first anniversary of the start of formal classes in the campus. With hearts filled with excitement, the representatives of UPCB Dekada ’70 traveled from Quezon City to Pinugay during the early hours of that Thursday morning. They were welcomed with tender warmth by the NEU Rizal Branch leadership, faculty, and students.
FROM THE DEPTHS OF ONE’S HEART
Brother Joey Red, the director of NEU Rizal Branch, welcomed the guests and expressed his deepest appreciation on behalf of NEU Rizal as the students finally met the people behind the scholarship. He also conveyed his thanks to the Church Administration for their continued support and guidance to the newest branch of the University. Then, Brother Cesar Villa, one of the leaders of UP Dekada ‘70, recounted the birth of the scholarship program. Afterward, a message from Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, Executive Minister of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ), to the UPCB Dekada ’70 was read by Bro. Feljun Fuentes. Part of the message read: “Natutuwa rin akong malaman na hanggang ngayon, makalipas ang ilang dekada, ay namamalagi hindi lamang ang inyong matibay na ugnayan bilang magkakapatid sa Iglesia at magkakaklase. Higit dito’y nananatili at lalong tumibay ang inyong kaisahan sa masiglang paglilingkod sa Diyos at sa pagmamalasakit sa mga kapakanan ng Iglesia.”
Dr. Perigio Francisco Jr., the dean of the College of Agriculture, expressed his gratitude to the guests and shared future directions of the college. Grace Edon, one of the students, gave thanks to the group in her speech: “Lahat po kami ay buong galak at excited na makita namin nang personal ang mga taong tumulong sa amin… Hindi niyo kami personal na kilala, pero tinulungan ninyo kami.”
After the heartwarming remarks, the students presented a self-composed song for the UPCB Dekada ’70. They also gave the guests well-crafted décors made of seedlings as a gift of thanks for the opportunity given to them.
THE UPCB DEKADA ‘70
On August 5, 2017, the University of the Philippines Christian Brotherhood Dekada ’70 was formed. It is composed of the brethren who studied in the University of the Philippines from 1970 to 1979 with the prime purpose of launching worthwhile activities for the Church. It is also where they can share ideas, exchange information, and relive college memories. Even as time separated them, they found a way to search for their colleagues. They formed an unbreakable bond as a family that supports, empathizes, and loves one another. As the group got bigger, they decided to create an oversight group called “UP Leadership, Dekada ‘70” to steer and direct the group.
The Leadership is composed of six former UPCB presidents, namely, Bro. Gil Evangelista, Bro. Cesar Villa, Bro. Feljun Fuentes, Bro. Edmario Reyes, Bro. Salvador Corpuz and Bro. Dean de Jesus. Dr. Virgen Hernandez (a member of NEU Board of Trustees), Bro. Mario Tolentino, and Sis. Frances Sabino are also members of the group.
The College of Agriculture was a project initiated by Bro. Eduardo V. Manalo to battle the pressing worldwide problems of poverty through agricultural studies and research. His encouragement to young members of the Church to take the course inspired the 48 pioneering students to persevere in their studies, as Ms. Grace Edon stated, “Hindi lahat kami pantay-pantay ang kalagayan sa buhay noong pumasok sa pamantasang ito. Pero udyok ng pananampalataya at panawagan ng Pamamahala, sinikap naming maging isa para magtagumpay sa layuning ito.”
Life is hard; it requires sacrifice in the fight against never-ending challenges. For the students of College of Agriculture, studying was never easy due to the obstacles that come their way. Ms. Grace acknowledged that some of them are working students while others already have children and families to take care of. Contemplating about the cost alone is enough to discourage them, but a person can always dream the biggest dream, paint the largest picture, and make endless possibilities come true.
Their ambition? To help in fulfilling the vision of the Church Administration—to be the Church’s frontliners in fighting the worsening poverty within and outside the Philippines. Ms. Grace continued, “Ang pangarap na naumpisahan sana ay matupad sa tulong at awa ng Ama na nasa langit na may gagamiting kasangkapan upang iabot sa nararapat.”
The support of their families and friends, the sympathy they have for one another, and their constant prayers to our Lord God became their weapon in the battle for their dream that seems so far away but is getting closer by the minute.
Ms. Grace also expressed her gratitude to the Church Administration: “Salamat po nang maraming-marami sa pagkakataon na ibinigay ninyo po sa amin—sa Pamamahala, ang Kapatid na Eduardo V. Manalo, na walang sawang nagbibigay ng gabay sa gawaing ito— ito’y malaking proyekto na sa hinaharap ay malaki ang pakinabang sa loob ng banal na Iglesia.”
AN OASIS IN THE DESERT
The atmosphere that morning was filled with the feeling of a new beginning as they remembered the past, rejoiced at the present, and hoped for the future—a remarkable day that will go down in the history of the College of Agriculture.
After the short program, everyone headed to the field for the tree planting event to celebrate the start of a wonderful partnership between NEU and UPCB Dekada ‘70. Then, they proceeded to the campus tour to identify the possible improvements the group can offer.
The event successfully and joyfully ended later in the afternoon. The bond between UPCB Dekada ‘70 and NEU College of Agriculture became stronger as they continued their commitment to the Church Administration. The representatives of UPCB Dekada ‘70 left the campus inspired to work harder to help the students achieve their aspirations—a fascinating ending to a hopeful beginning. Sister Frances Sabino declared, “I give my personal commitment to help make this happen, using whatever talent and resources God has blessed me with. We look forward to a tighter partnership with the NEU in the months and years to come.”
The path is still long and the fight has only begun, but Sis. Frances advised, “Set your sights forward… it may seem beyond your reach right now with the many obstacles you have to surmount, but if you commit your heart and soul to it, and pray for God to lead the way, one day, you’d realize you are already there.”
A door of opportunity will always open, but one must work hard to get to that door. As Dr. Francisco advised the students, “Magpatuloy kayo kahit maraming hadlang para magtagumpay ang layunin ng Namamahala at marating din ang inyong mga pangarap sa buhay.” With the bountiful support the students get, indeed, they never walk alone.