JANUARY 14, 2020, Pasig City – As the new year marked the beginning of a new decade, it also marked a new beginning in the life of Universitas. Last January 9, on the occasion of the first ULQ installment for the year, COO Morize Arenal announced before the staff and guests of Universitas the appointment of Atty. Angela Butalid as the new CEO of the Foundation.

The incumbent president and former CEO, Atty. Oliver Tuazon, who is currently in Maastricht, Netherlands completing his Master of Laws, expressed his delight at the news.

In view of Atty. Tuazon’s physical distance from the Philippines, where the operations of the Foundation are principally held, the Board of Trustees deemed it fitting, with encouragement from Atty. Tuazon himself, to appoint a new CEO who can directly and personally assist the officers and managers in implementing the activities, projects and programs under their care.

Atty. Tuazon stated, “I am very happy of this development. It is notable that the new CEO came from the ranks of the V Officers and Managers, and I am honored to be replaced by a very smart and capable young lady, who lives the values we promote at an exemplary degree.”

The new CEO

Universitas finds in its new CEO a woman who combines advocacy with hard-work, volunteerism with professionalism; and who, like the rest of the officers, managers and volunteers of Universitas, has a day job of her own which she manages, sparing no effort and skill, to balance with her tasks in the Foundation.

A lawyer by profession –  like her predecessor -, Atty. Angela Butalid passed the Philippine Bar exams of 2017, after obtaining her Juris Doctor from the University of the Philippines College of Law.

The Butalid family, after Atty. Angela signed the Roll of Attorneys

After taking her lawyer’s oath and since then, she has worked at the National Privacy Commission, occupying the post of Chief of Staff to the Deputy Privacy Commissioner. Among other functions, she drafts and proposes amendments to policies and procedures relating to the increase of compliance and enforcement efforts of the Commission.

Beginning in 2018 up to her recent appointment as CEO, Atty. Angela has been earnestly involved in the operations of Universitas, heading and directing programs such as the Universitas Lawyers’ Quarterly and the Universitas Mentoring Program. She likewise heads the Research Group for Law, Governance and Society under the team for Research, Publications and New Media.

An Exemplar of Competence

Aside from a law degree, Atty. Angela also holds a Bachelor’s degree in English Studies major in Anglo – American Literature from the University of the Philippines, where she finished cum laude in 2013. During her undergraduate years, she was a college scholar for six semesters and was inducted to the International Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. She was likewise a recipient of academic awards in her elementary and high school days at St. Scholastica’s Academy, Pampanga and St. Paul’s College, Pasig respectively.

It is worth noting that last July 2019, together with Atty. Joel Arzaga, a fellow Project Manager at V, Atty. Angela was admitted to and represented the Foundation in the graduate seminar Moral Foundations of Law, an intensive week-long program organized by the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey, which tackled subjects such as practical reason, human good, positive law, morals legislation, crime and punishment, property, and rights and duties.

Atty. Angela and Atty. Joel pose with world-renowned legal theorist and Oxford law professor, Dr. John Finnis, during the Moral Foundations of Law Seminar

Her academic achievements aside, the new CEO has also had numerous experiences in leadership and organizational work. Despite the rigors and pressure of studying in one of the country’s most prestigious law schools, Atty. Angela fearlessly involved herself in extra-curricular activities by heading their graduation committee, joining the academics committee of UP Women in Law, heading committees under the Bar Operations Commission for different years, and being a researcher for the Stetson International Environmental Moot Court Competition Team.

Prior to law school,  she held various positions in her college organization, UP Lingua Franca, and served as the chairperson of their college’s graduation ball committee. In addition to these, she was also a volunteer catechist and teacher for UP Klub Tala which was involved in teaching Math, English, and Catechism in Batino Elementary School and Daang Tubo weekly.

In her free-time, Atty. Angela could be found pastry baking, oil painting on canvass, or travelling.

Initial Encounters and Lasting Impacts

When asked how she first encountered Universitas and what it was that prompted her to join, Atty. Angela fondly recalled how she was introduced by her dad to Atty. Oliver Tuazon, the president of the organization.

“My dad had met the founder of Universitas during his annual retreat. They instantly became friends because they had the same name – Oliver! – and they both had advocacies in their communities,” Atty. Angela shares. “At some point, they agreed on an ‘x-deal’ where the founder would give a talk on virtues for the youth of Sta. Ana, Pampanga, our hometown, and my dad would let the Universitas Bar candidates spend the weekend at our farm for a restful review. I was a new lawyer at the time and was asked to give a mock bar exam for the Universitas candidates (I’m happy to report that they all passed that year!).”

Before parting, Atty. Angela narrates, the founder asked her to be a mentor for the Foundation. “To which, I reluctantly agreed  – not having any experience on professional mentoring at the time,” she says. 

Little did she know that her acceptance of the invitation would open to more offers for her to take on tasks and leadership roles for the Foundation. “After that initial encounter and a few attended events later, more projects were given for me to head – the Lawyers Quarterly, the Bar Project, the Mentoring Program, a Research Group for the Publications team,”  she relates. 

Atty. Butalid, along with her fellow V officers pose with former Associate Justice Jose Mendoza during the first ULQ

Mentoring workshop-seminar with Mr. James Lactao, MA, RGC

Reflecting on her experiences in the Foundation, Atty. Angela shares that the people she met through Universitas created a positive impact on her, such that she did not find herself averse to handling the assigned tasks despite having a job that took at least 12 hours of her day.

“The members of the Foundation amazed me,” Atty. Angela shares, “some of them live in Alabang, Malabon, Binangonan, and some even come home from abroad just to make it to the Foundation’s milestones. Everyone had their share of difficult life circumstances but the casual spectator would never guess this because of everyone’s hard work and great sense of humor.”

For Atty. Angela, friendship with everyone involved in Universitas is a constant source of encouragement. “Meeting all of these people changed me; whenever I feel like I’m having it rough, I see these friends in my mind’s eye and I can almost predict how they would just laugh at my misfortune and brush it off.”

Birthday surprise for one of the VOM’s during a Mentoring Seminar

Atty Angela with V Officers and Managers during a get-together

The new CEO also recognized the invaluable role that her predecessor played in pooling different people together, trusting in their potentials, and putting up the Foundation with its noble vision and unique thrust.

“It’s unarguable that all of these people came together because of Atty. Oliver Tuazon, the only person I’ve known to possess an unlikely combination of intensity and cheerfulness,” Atty. Angela maintains. “It’s like he never gets tired, with the excitement he shows whenever he sees a friend, or the twinkle in his eye when he talks about an idea. These traits of his undoubtedly established the culture of friendship and hope in the Foundation.”

The first two CEOs: A photo of Atty. Angela together with Atty. Tuazon during the former’s first visit to the Universitas HQ

Vision, Hopes and Prospects

Asked what her vision is for Universitas, Atty. Angela submits that it is the same vision that Atty. Tuazon and his co-founders conceptualized, that is, a society led, directed and managed by leaders who are competent, with stable moral character and well-formed conscience. 

“It’s a vision that is both so encompassing and fundamental that it might seem a little abstract to some,” she observes. “As each of our projects unfold, however, we see it becoming more concrete. Attendees of the talks, myself included, would always remark that they feel ‘refreshed’ by the new perspectives offered on their profession or about life in general.”

Atty. Angela further states, “we always hope that the next government officials and industry leaders would have chanced upon our seminars or talks at least once, and would have a seed planted that would provoke their thoughts on matters like ethical reasoning, human dignity, or conscience. Nation-building, after all, doesn’t happen overnight.”

In pursuit of this vision, the new CEO sees the Foundation’s potential to be at the service of a wider public. For one, she commends as V’s strong point its extensive network enabling it to invite professionals who are well-known in their fields to facilitate talks.

ULQ with IBP President Atty. Egon Cayosa

ULQ with Deputy Privacy Commissioner Atty. Dino Aguirre

“I think a lot of people would benefit from our ability to get prestigious speakers to give talks at such a friendly environment – we’ve had a Member of Parliament from New Zealand, a former Justice of the Supreme Court, a President of an international youth organization, a celebrity couple, a President of a medical society, the President of the IBP, a budding film director, and a wide spectrum of other notable guests,” she recounts.

Atty. Angela also considers the possibility of tapping into other forms of media and modes of publication, such as podcasts. “Our talks are usually 45 minutes to 1 hour long,” she notes, “so it would be perfect for those driving to and from work or school.”

After enumerating several partnership proposals for and by Universitas, the CEO indicated the Foundation’s need for more people to volunteer their time and talents to carry out its plans. “Each of these endeavors will require a lot of thought and manpower,” she says, “and everyone in the Foundation has a day job  — not as a coincidence but as a requirement, to establish discipline and selflessness.” 

Hence, Atty. Angela stated that one of her objectives for Universitas is for it “to attract brilliant and hard-working people who would be willing to utilize their talents and a small portion of their time for a cause that is greater than themselves.” 

“At the same time,” she adds, “we want to give these brilliant and hard-working people opportunities by exposing them to the programs of our partner institutions abroad, ultimately for them to give back to our society. These partners include institutes in Harvard and Princeton, as well as an International Organization based in the United Nations, New York.”

Balancing acts

As already mentioned, the people who volunteer for Universitas are not expected to do so full-time and are in fact asked to have a day job of their own as their source of living. Thus, anyone involved in the Foundation is familiar with the struggle and joy of being able to balance one’s professional work with one’s volunteer work. 

This challenge flows from the conviction that service to God and country cannot wait until we “have the time”; rather, it must begin now. And to this challenge, the new CEO is no alien.

When asked for some tips on how she manages to balance her work as a lawyer with Universitas work, Atty. Angela gives three: (a) know yourself; (b) a little planning goes a long way; and (c)  don’t postpone things if it’s possible to deal with them now.

Taken at the Council of Europe Office in Strasbourg, France in November 2018. Atty. Angela’s work as a lawyer involved representing the National Privacy Commission in the “Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data”

First, you must know yourself. This is a principle that guides Atty. Angela in her daily grind.  “After some years of study and work,” she shares, “I’ve already gotten an idea of: the time of day when I’m most productive or creative; how long it takes me to produce certain things; or the effects of not attending to my health and fitness. All these factors are considered in planning my day or week, so I know when I’m at the best disposition to do something or meet someone.”

Second, the CEO emphasizes the practical value of drawing up a schedule and planning one’s day.  “I mentioned earlier that my work as a lawyer takes up at least 12 hours of my day, so it’s important for me to plan ahead so I can make it to Universitas for events or meetings. For example, if we have a Lawyers Quarterly event, I have to be in the office by 7:30am so I can leave by 4:30pm, and with traffic from Pasay, that takes me 2.5 hours. I will reach the Universitas HQ just in time for our 7:00pm talk. Working backwards, this means I should sleep early the night before an event because I will have to wake up at 5:00am.”

In connection with this, she underscores the importance of setting down in writing the things that need to be done. “I try to keep a list of things I need to do, or people I need to meet with,  or even books I want to read. This is helpful because if I know I’ll be in a particular area, I’ll remember who I should contact and try to meet while I’m there. When I go for an errand and foresee that I’ll be lining up for a while, I’ll bring a book so that, little by little, I can finish it through all those little windows of time.”

Planning one’s schedule properly, according to Atty. Angela, also requires making time for rest and reflection. “All of our activities and experiences will be for nothing if we don’t get to process them, either in journaling, prayer, or sharing them with family and friends,” she shares.

Finally, the CEO advises against postponing things if they can be dealt with at the moment. “It doesn’t take a lot of time to compose an email, or reply to someone’s message, or write down an idea that comes at a random time of the day. While we would want to sit down and think about our tasks at length, we also have to remember that there are other people involved who also operate on a timeline. By being prompt, we show kindness and consideration for others”

What keeps her going

V Officers, Managers and Volunteers during the First Incorporation Anniversary of the Foundation

Running an organization that aspires for nothing less ambitious than nation-building can be overwhelming and itself demands much competence, character and well-formed conscience from its personnel.

Fortunately, the chief executive is not left on her own in carrying this sweet burden of the Foundation, and from this thought, Atty. Angela draws consolation. Asked what it is that keeps her going, she responds, “it would really be the people I work with, and the people we work for.”

Trusting in the abilities and commitment of the officers, managers and volunteers of Universitas, Atty. Angela is optimistic that they will be able to overcome administrative difficulties and guide the Foundation into stability and self-sufficiency.

On the other hand, about the people whom Universitas is called to serve, Atty. Angela comments, “[w]e hear a lot of stories about young people who go through a ‘lost’ stage, and this may be caused by a lack of framework for doing their work or living their lives. The Foundation hopes to offer that framework to society… and of course, have fun while we’re at it.” – universitas.ph

NOTA BENE: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and the speakers mentioned in the article, and not necessarily to the Foundation.


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