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BSDC alumni recognized for remarkable achievements

9 July 2019 by KSGCatapang

Four graduates of the College of Development Communication recently gained national and international recognition for their achievement.

Remsce Pasahol of BS Development Communication Class of 2015, topped the Philippine licensure examination for environmental planners. He was top-ranked among 2,029 passers, garnering a score of 81.20. As announced by the Professional Regulation Commission last June 11, a total of 4,953 individuals took the said examination.

On social media, Pasahol revealed his inspiration for taking the environmental planning exam: a similar feat by a public administration graduate of UP Diliman, who topped the same licensure examination three years ago.

Currently a student of MA Urban and Regional Planning and part of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, he credits his achievement to the research orientation of his undergraduate course.

"I am very grateful of my Devcom education which has provided me a good command on how the topics of development can strategically be conveyed to the audience who most need them," he said. "As I am starting my Devcom career, I realized that knowing the 'how' isn't enough. Another concern should be about being knowledgeable on the 'what.' That time, my focus was on identifying the 'topic of development' I want to focus on as a Devcom practioner. Kumbaga, it is about looking for the 'message' I want to communicate," he said.

Calling himself "true to the Devcom tradition of citizen participation," and noting that his education has given him "a better way of seeing things—examining issues and solutions as a development perspective," as he put it, he now advocates for a local planning system that is closer to the people — what he called a more equitable brand of environmental planning practice "where people's voices are given more consideration."

He called urban planning his "childhood hobby," with his residential compound a playground he imagined as a city complete with various infrastructures and facilities. "Nagawan ko rin ito noon ng mapa," he said, noting that his work then included transportation routes in this imaginary city.

As an adult and a professional, he is now excited at the idea of being able to influence planning of spaces. He specifically believes in land use planning workshops at the local level moving all the way up, and also hopes to work toward popularization of plans, such as the local land use plans, to make them more accessible, understandable, and relevant to the people, specially the marginalized and vulnerable sectors of society.

"I hope I can also use my environmental planning and devcom background to contribute to the advancement of environmental communication and risk communication in the Philippines," he said.

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Victorena Diesta and Charmaine Distor of BSDC Class 2017 won first place in the 2019 Global Youth Essay Competition on Combat Sexual Violence in Conflict, besting 33 papers from 18 countries.

Being among the top three winners, they were invited to present their paper during the 1st International Conference on Action with Women and Peace: Global Integration to Combat Sexual Violence in Conflict held in Seoul, South Korea. The presentations aimed to share research findings and innovative ideas toward an inclusive shared vision.

Entitled "Reconstructing Marawi: Gender-based approach to addressing sexual violence in post-conflict Marawi, Philippines," their paper is about a proposed rebuilding project of social capital in Marawi called KASAMA (Kabalikat sa Mapayapang Pagbabago, also Companions for Peaceful Change), which integrates the Filipino valuing for kapwa and pakikipagkapwa-tao in the reconstruction of communities, building on pag-unawa (understanding), pakikilahok (engaging and empowering), pagpapatayog (connecting and building), paghahatid (designing and delivering), and pagsusuri (monitoring and evaluation). The project deems the community not as a mere beneficiary but as an active partner for social change.

Reached for comment about their achievement, Distor said that she and Diesta are passionate about gender equality and women empowerment, having participated in the International Girls' Health Student Writing Competition in Korea last 2016, where they were among the finalists. She added that their education and training in development communication helped them formulate the paper and the project proposal, specifically on treating any development initiative as audience-based, which is rooted in the principle of knowing one's audience.

To give meaningful contributions to society, Distor's advice to devcom students is to put their heart in every project, program, or activity they do for stakeholders. "Afterall, Devcom is known as a communication with a heart, and we must bring that wherever we go," she said.

Diesta emphasized the need for students to appreciate their devcom education as it equips them with the competencies needed when they start working. She also said, "It keeps you hungry for learning new things, honing existing skills, and all for a purpose that is larger than yourself."

They intend to submit their paper for presentation in this year's conference of the Association of Development Communication Educators and Practitioners, which will be held in Marawi.

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Nilo Alcala, who graduated from CDC in 1999, topped the American Prize in Composition 2018-19 (Professional Choral Division-Major Works Category) with his work "Mangá Pakalagián" (Ceremonies).

A composer, arranger, and vocalist, Alcala has long been making a name in the music industry. He was the first Philippine-born composer to receive the Copland House Residency Award, which allows for "gifted, emerging or mid-career" composers to reside at the restored New York home of composer Aaron Copland and "focus on their creative work, free from the distractions of daily life and other professional responsibilities," according to the Copland House website.

He was also the first Philippine-born composer to be commissioned by the Grammy-nominated Los Angeles Master Chorale.

On his Facebook page, Alcala wrote that awards do not really mean or weigh much because "the essence of victory is not in the end goal." In the same post, he said that his art is not necessarily for award or money; rather, it is about being changed for the better in the process of creating something and achieving a goal. He added that through his work, he hopes to build cultural bridges, inspire discourse, inspire others, and create ripples.

The very first recipient of the CDC award for best undergraduate thesis, he said that as a devcom student he picked up early on the value of excellence in both in academics and extra-curricular activities. "Clarity of concept, strength and organicity of material, and coherence of a theme (topic) are among the most treasured lessons I've learned while in DevCom and which I am now applying into the musical concepts/themes/motifs I use in my compositions today," he said.

He calls it his mission "to represent my country of birth extremely well."

Alcala said he intends to continue composing music for orchestra, choir, instrumental chamber groups, and even films and video games, adding that he will continue to apply the values and lessons devcom has taught him.

He hopes to encourage current BSDC students to work toward getting their degree and gaining knowledge. His advice? "Be attentive as well to other essential, very practical (non-academic) lessons that life is teaching you. These lessons will prove useful in whatever endeavor you take on in life."

(with inputs from Isabella Medallon)