World Education Congress cites FEU EdTech chief

Harold Culala

Harold John Culala with Datin Prof. Ir. Dr SITI Hamisah Bt Tapsir, Deputy Director General of the Department of Higher Education, MOE of Malaysia.

Far Eastern University (FEU) director of Education Technology, Harold John D. Culala was recognized by World Education Congress (WEC) for his Outstanding Contribution to Education (Educational Technology) at the Global Learn Tech Conference and Awards 2014 in Mumbai, India.

WEC, established in 2011, is an international non-product organization based in India which presents awards to institutions and individuals who have achieved high levels of excellence in education, leadership and teaching.

Director Culala, the lone Filipino awardee for 2014, was cited for an instrument he developed for FEU faculty on leveling their digital literacy. Such instrument was seen by WEC as a tool which can be adopted by ASEAN universities in crafting their faculty development plan in educational technology. To date, the digital literacy instrument has gotten the interest of universities in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand.

His department, Edtech, has started implementing FEU’s Learning Management System, called the Tamaraw Interactive Educational Service or T.I.E.S., a web-based facilities of faculty and students which houses all the e-learning capabilities of the university.

“I would not have been recognized without FEU. This was made possible by the university with (its) full support since day one. It was such an honor to recive this award, together with other important people in Asia who share the same passion in education”, said Director Culala.

Other prominent awardees were the Deputy Director General of the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Education of Malaysia, Director of Islamic Business and Finance Research of University of Nottingham, Dean of College of Education of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and professors of education and education technology from University of Pavia, Italy, Newcastle University, UK, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, and Indiana University, USA.

Culala is doing the rounds of international conferences as lecturer and keynote speaker on topics like Pedagogical and Technical Challenges of Education Technology, Webometrics; and Innovation in the classroom.

FEU Biology partners with German group for faculty development


Far Eastern University (FEU)’s Biology Department has partnered with Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS) of Germany for its faculty development program.

Professor Cynthia Mintu, Biology program head, said several collaborative projects have been lined up including faculty training and joint research undertakings.

The first project was a lecture series anchored on the theme, “Microbial natural products” which had Dr. Rolf Müller and Dr. Ronald Garcia, managing Director and research scientist of HIPS respectively, as resource speakers on Myxobacteria.

A discussion on the novel work of Myxobacteria as a source of natural products followed with both students and faculty learning from the experts.

Apart from the training and exchange of experts, Dr. Müller said, faculty who are planning to apply for scholarship for PhDs in Germany can be recommended by HIPS.

Prof Mintu added, “This early, faculty members are inspired to push the bounds of knowledge. This collaboration will pave way to achieve excellence and quality research that is globally competitive.”

Former Gov. Padaca to induct FEU student leaders


Former Governor Grace Padaca of Isabela will grace as keynote speaker the Planning, Integration, and Teambuilding Project (PITP) of Far Eastern University Student Development (SDev) on June 1, 2015 at the FEU Auditorium. She will also induct into office the newly elected/appointed FEU student leaders.

A Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Government Service, Padaca will share her experiences and insights on the theme “Empowering Community Leaders.”
Plenary speaker John Tobit Cruz, project lead of the Ayala Foundation and Kathrine Yee, World Vision-Philippines’ manager of advocacy will extend the discussion on volunteerism and community work.

Student leaders will be subsequently immersed in a community as part of their training. On-campus teambuilding activity will cap the PITP.
SDev, starting last year, has innovated the implementation of PITP from bringing student leaders to resorts to community immersion and on-campus group dynamics. PITP aims to strengthen the collaboration among student leaders and nurture their sense of volunteerism.

Last year, 50 percent of the organizations implemented collaborative community projects.

According to Joeven R. Castro, SDev director, the metric this year is to increase the percentage of organizations implementing community projects from 50 to 100 percent. “I believe that we can meaningfully nurture the leadership competencies of FEU students when they engage in volunteer work. They become more compassionate and solution-oriented. The long-term goal is to make their projects more sustainable with the assistance of the Community Extension Services,” Castro said.

Tams claim gold in FIDE World Schools Championships

(Photo courtesy of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines)

(Photo courtesy of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines)

The Philippines ran away with four gold medals and obtained two Fide Master titles against an elite field in the recent FIDE World Schools Championships held May 6-14 at the Dusit Hotel in Pattaya, Thailand.

The country can claim of having four World Champions as NM John Merill Jacutina, an incoming Grade 9 student at the Far Eastern University, scored 6.5 points out of a possible nine to win the boys U-15 category and clinch a FIDE Master title in the process.

Jacutina won his first three matches, lost his fourth game against Candidate Master Ng Jen Seng of Malaysia but scored three draws and two wins in the next five rounds to secure the gold medal. He added a bronze medal in the blitz category.

Not to be outdone, Kylen Joy Mordido of the University of the East finished in a three-way tie for first place with Mekanova Annagozel of Turkmenistan and Zhang Zhiao of China in the girls U-13 category with seven points to clinch the gold and likewise obtained a (Woman) Fide title.

Mordido actually finished second to Annagozel after the tiebreak, but was awarded the gold medal per tournament rules. International Master and Tromso Chess Olympiad Philippine team mainstay Paolo Bersamina, meanwhile, settled for the silver in the standard (long game) event, but won the blitz side with six points out of a possible seven.

The National University student lost only once in seven games in the blitz category to clinch the gold, Thus becoming World Champion blitz in Open under 17years old.
Woman Fide Master Shania Mae Mendoza, also of FEU, gave the Philippines its fourth gold medal in the girls’ U-17 category and claimed Philippines’ fourth World Champion in style, as she went undefeated in nine matches.

Shania Mendoza was UAAP Season 77 Women's Chess Rookie of the Year.

Shania Mendoza was UAAP Season 77 Women’s Chess Rookie of the Year.

The 16-year old Mendoza won seven and drew twice — against WCM Sapane Saloni of India in the sixth round and Ovesova Mengli of Turkmenistan in the next round. She added another silver in the blitz category where she scored six points, half a point behind blitz champion Jiang Zhaoyi of China.

Other Filipino medalists were Alexis Anne Osea, an incoming Grade 11 student at Letran, who clinched the silver medal in the girls U-15 with five points, and Justine Mordido, the younger brother of Kylen, who also won a silver in the boys U-11 category in the blitz category.

Overall, the Philippines took home four gold medals, five silvers and a bronze against a tough field that included participants from chess powers, Russia, USA, China, India,England, Kazakhstan, Romania, Turkmenistan, Azerbajian, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand and among others.NCFP president and chairman Prospero Pichay, Cong. Neri Javier Colmenares NCFP Committee Chairman for grassroots development and promotions and Executive Director GM Jayson Gonzales lauded the new four world champions.

“They showed the world that the Philippines is up there among the elites. My congratulations to the winners and to all those who participated,” Pichay said.

Cong. Colmenares, meanwhile, said the result has encouraged the federation to conduct more tournaments for young and upcoming players.

“Kaya talaga nating makipagsabayan sa magagaling na chess players sa mundo. Kaya tuloy lang ang programa,” said Colmenares, and GM Gonzales thanked the continuing support of the Philippine Sports Commission under the leadership of Chairman Ricardo Garcia and the Philippine Olympic Committee President Jose Cojuangco Jr.

FEU president assumes key CHED, DepEd posts


Dr. Michael M. Alba, Far Eastern University president, was named regional secretariat program director for the National Capital Region of the Private Education Assistance Committee (PEAC) by Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Armin A. Luistro and current chairman of PEAC.

As PEAC regional director, Alba shall serve in a voluntary position of one year and will work closely with the National Secretariat.

The PEAC was established in the 1960s to manage and develop programs of assistance to private education and participate in initiatives affecting the sector. It also manages the Education Service Contracting and Teacher Salary Subsidy components of the GASTPE Program of the DepEd, the In-Service Training Program, and the Research Program, among others. (

Leonora B. Alcartado, assistant to the FEU president, was named regional secretariat program coordinator.

Dr. Alba’s appointment as the chairman of the technical committee for Economics was likewise renewed by Dr. Patricia Licuanan, chairperson of the Commission on Higher Education. He also sits as member of the Technical Panel for Social Science and Communication effective February 12, 2015 until December 31, 2016.


FEU, Taylor’s of Malaysia expand partnership


Far Eastern University (FEU) has expanded its partnership with Taylor’s University (TU) Malaysia through collaborative faculty research projects and student exchange programs.

“The FEU-TU short mobility program, dubbed “Philippines Biodiversity and Cross Cultural Exposure” has touched the hearts of both Taylor’s and FEU’s students, including myself “, said Phelim Yong, Ph.D., team leader of the Taylor’s University contingent. “Our partnership has reached another level where we have seen a strong growth potential in student and staff exchange. We are very thankful for the warmth, excellent hospitality, and dedication that can be clearly seen in the staff and students from FEU.”

Cynthia Mintu, FEU’s Biology program head, said the student and faculty exchange program is part of the MOU between the 2 universities. “Our international linkage is a long term partnership. Our MOU will expire in school year 2016-2017, subject to renewal every three years”, she said.

Both universities aim to strengthen their academic and research joint projects that benefit the environment. The goal of the visit is primarily to expose the students to Philippine biodiversity which is part of the biology curriculum of both schools. It is likewise a cross-cultural exposure to the Philippine environment.

The week long mobility program included a trip to the National Museum, laboratory sessions, an out-of-town trip to Bolinao, Pangasinan, a visit to a mangrove nursery, and field activities.

Baccalaureate Address, 2015


(Delivered by FEU President Michael M. Alba during the 87th Baccalaureate Mass on April 24, 2015)

Chair Emerita Dr Lourdes Reyes Montinola, Chair Aurelio Montinola III, our main celebrant Ateneo de Manila University President Rev Fr Jose Ramon Villarin, SJ, our co-celebrants Rev Frs Rainnielle Pineda, Stephen Mifsud, MSSP, and Der John Faborada, FEU trustees and administrators, faculty and staff, parents and students, distinguished guests, friends, ladies, and gentlemen:

First and foremost, on everyone’s behalf, I congratulate our graduating students of 2015 for this milestone achievement of completing their academic programs and commend them for their hard work and discipline over the last four or five years, which has culminated in this high point of their young lives.

I also thank the students’ parents, families, and friends for the love and support that sustained and motivated the students in their quest to earn their college degrees. Surely, the students will agree with me that their diplomas and medals are due as much to their parents, families, and friends as to their own efforts.

And I thank the faculty and the academic services staff as well for unstintingly sharing their expertise and wisdom, and indeed their very selves, in the work of transforming our students from the girls and boys that they were four or five years ago to the women and men that they have become.

With your permission, allow me now to direct the rest of my remarks to the graduating students.

Dear students, if FEU has been successful in its degree-conferral function, then you are graduating with learning outcomes that signify both your productivity and life skills. Not only do you have the requisite skills of your discipline or profession, the FEU curriculum has also developed your critical thinking and self-directed learning skills, which should put you on track to be a committed lifelong learner. Moreover, the curricular and extracurricular offerings of FEU have sharpened your moral sensitivity and challenged you to be a well-informed and engaged citizen of the country.

By now, however, you know that how well these outcomes have been formed in you ultimately depended on you. As our founder Nicanor Reyes Sr. once said, “All that we [the administrators, faculty, and staff of FEU] can do to help you is only half the process of training you. In the long run, the most important factor in your … education will be how hard you yourselves work for that education.”

This is so because, to draw from economics, which is my academic discipline, education is an experience good. What that means is that education is a good or service whose quality is not known at the outset. Recall your situation when you first enrolled in FEU. Perhaps you did so because you had heard good things about FEU from family and friends or read nice features about FEU in the newspapers or social media. Still, you really didn’t know how your FEU college experience would turn out.

A peculiar attribute of an experience good is that its effect on the consumer depends on the extent of the consumer’s engagement with it. Consider a movie, for example. Its impact on the viewer depends on how attentively the viewer watches the movie and how receptive the viewer is to the movie’s premises, perspectives, and ways of telling the story.

So it is with your college experience. The more engaged you were with the curricular and extracurricular offerings of FEU, the more FEU was able to fulfill its mission and the more you were transformed by your college experience.

Well, here is news for you: Life is also an experience good. At this juncture, when you consider your future, you again cannot tell what the quality of your life will be. But drawing from your college experience, you know (or ought to know) that your life will be lived more fully the more engaged you are with it.

So the question you will need to answer is: What does it mean to fully engage life?

Obviously, you will have to find your own deeply personal responses to this all-important question. But let me give some pointers.

First, to engage life is to engage life-for-something. In other words, you cannot just go and seize the day without knowing what for. Hence, you will need to continue your journey of self-discovery and of understanding the world in order to find your life’s purpose. In effect, you cannot tune out the way Macbeth did in Shakespeare’s play when he rues:

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Second, to be engaged in a life-for-something is to be entrepreneurial and opportunistic about it. Since to live life fully is your most important life-project, you have to use all the talents, skills, and resources at your command, and unleash your imagination and your creativity to achieve your life’s dreams and goals.

But you cannot do it according to Frank Sinatra’s signature song My Way, the singing in karaoke bars of which has caused lives to be violently snuffed out. Because: although asserting the indomitability of the human spirit is admirable, biting more than you can chew and generally living by your own rules unmindful of how others are affected are actually disdainful.


All that said, however, and since we are at Mass, let me direct you to a faith-based response. The Christian faith tells us that the highest purpose of life is to follow Jesus Christ, who, in the words of Pope Benedict XVI, “precisely because he is God, descends [and] empties himself all the way to the Cross.”

And in the Last Supper discourses in St John’s Gospel (15:5), Jesus himself says, “I am the vine and you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.”

So to live a fully engaged life is to live for God and to have a relationship with him. It is to constantly pray (because we are such hard-headed creatures), “Incline my heart according to your will, O God.” And then it is to earnestly plead the petitions in the Lord’s Prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread,” that is, give us all the material and spiritual resources that we need, so that we can help to “let Thy kingdom come [and] Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” whether these be to earn an income that will help with family expenses or with sending a sibling to school; to establish a business that will give employment to workers; to visit and comfort the sick, the infirmed, the elderly, or the abandoned; to console the sorrowful who have lost a loved one; and so on.

In any case, the necessary condition for an engaged, faith-based life is to develop a deeply personal relationship with God and to seek and to be open to his will in your life.

On this point, let me relate a Hasidic tale that I recently heard (in the conference of Rev Fr Mariano Agruda III, OCD, during the Congress on Prayer), which captures the correct disposition toward God:

Late one evening a poor farmer on his way back from the market found himself without his prayer book. The wheel of his cart had come off right in the middle of the woods and it distressed him that this day should pass without his having said his prayers.

So this is the prayer he made: ‘I have done something very foolish, Lord. I came away from home this morning without my prayer book and my memory is such that I cannot recite a single prayer without it. So this is what I am going to do: I shall recite the alphabet five times very slowly, and You, to whom all prayers are known, can put the letters together to form the prayers I cannot remember.’

And the Lord God said to His angels: ‘Of all the prayers I have heard today, this one was undoubtedly the best because it came from a heart simple and sincere.’

To close, let me extend my congratulations once again and wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors. Always remember that my deepest hopes are that you live fully engaged lives in accord with God’s will.

Bio students win in MSP Symposium


Far Eastern University BS Biology students garnered awards in the 17th Annual Scientific Symposium organized by the Mycological Society of the Philippines, Inc. (MSP) last April 24-25, 2015 and held at the Southern Luzon State University.

The team of John Mark Bañez, Karla Angela Balein and Gervaine Agbayani won First Place in the TH Quimio Poster competition. Judges were impressed with how they presented their thesis entitled “Identification of Usnea spp. collected from Nueva Vizcaya and Assessment of its Pesticidal Activity against Aspidiotus rigidus Reyne (Hemipter: Diaspididae)”.

Meanwhile, the team of Mark Gabriel Galinato, Dyanara Sula, Georgina Cababa, Bianca Cipriano and Chiruel Mangubat won Second Place in the highly competitive TH Quimio Best Undergraduate Thesis competition. Galinato presented and defended the thesis entitled “The Diversity of the Fruticose Lichen Usnea in Kalinga, Luzon Island, Philippines and the Development of Interactive Key”.


Biology Department faculty Krystle Angelique Santiago mentored the FEU contingent. Other universities who participated in the symposium were the University of the Philippines, University of Santo Tomas and Central Luzon State University.

“It is indeed a great experience for our students to represent our university and show off these excellent results,” Prof. Santiago said.