by Mary Grace Cruz & Marco Pantaleon

Last March 1, 2019, the officers and volunteers of Universitas celebrated its first Incorporation Anniversary at its headquarters over dinner and a get-together. The Incorporation Anniversary marks the day when Universitas was legally incorporated as a non-stock corporation.

Looking back at the history of Universitas, it started in the year 2002 as an organization of scholars, youth leaders and volunteers, whose officers were mainly from the University of the Philippines. Its principal aim was to foster among its members a spirit of excellence and service to society and to promote values education among the youth. On December 12, 2017, the last chairperson of the organization and its founding adviser, together with other friends, decided to begin its process of incorporation as a non-stock corporation.

The past year did not only see successes for the Foundation–which were made possible, thanks to many people who gave their support through various means–but also the beginning of many more opportunities and challenges that the Foundation has yet to face.

In get-togethers among the members of the Foundation, Atty. Oliver Tuazon, its founding President & CEO, would always quip that Universitas is not “Oliver-sitas”, provoking laughter among the officers and volunteers. However, Atty. Tuazon’s emphasis on this idea is also his way of reminding the officers and volunteers that Universitas does not revolve around its founding members. Rather, the Foundation is anchored on its mission of serving our country, through the united efforts of its members in principled leadership across all sectors of society–our concrete contribution to nation building.

One of the highlights of the evening was the launching the Universitas Fellowship Program (UFP). The UFP is the premier program of the Foundation offered to provide holistic formation for future principled leaders in all sectors of society.  It is akin to a management-training program where future officers and managers of the Foundation are formed.

The idea behind UFP is that applicants undergo all the key APPs (Activities, Projects & Programs) of the Foundation, depending on their qualification level, and are provided with professional mentors.  They have to accomplish work, and acquire knowledge and skills, related to the three key principles of Universitas, namely, Competence, solid Character, and well-formed Conscience. Concretely, these are measured through the following: Capacity Building, Research & Communication, and Compassion (Social Welfare & Outreach).

Being inducted as a Fellow manifests that the individual is equipped with the necessary formation, tools, skills, and discipline to help contribute to nation building—in one’s family, group of friends, organizations, community, and the society at large. Once inducted, a Fellow renews his fellowship in the Foundation through his annual contribution which depends on his financial capacity, active participation in at least one APP, and by recommending at least one application to UFP per year.

Beyond improving one’s capacity for leadership tasks, a Fellow gains access to all the APPs offered by Universitas, its global network of leaders, and international training programs with partner institutes, all geared to strengthening one’s personal and professional development, in order for each one to contribute better to society.

The evening ended with a toast, led by Dr. Jose Maria Mariano, to welcome this year as well as the coming years for Universitas. Dr. Mariano delivered a message about the value of remaining young at heart. This message is a reminder for everyone in the Foundation that the youth have a potential which can be tapped into and serve as a gateway for changing the world; a potential which is present in every young person regardless of the circumstances in which they may find themselves. If channeled in the proper direction, these potentials can elevate the standards of leadership in the future, which will no longer simply be driven by an ambitious seeking of one’s own interest, but will be a daring and concrete call to selfless service.

Officers, Volunteers, and Fellows of Universitas
A cake to celebrate the First Incorporation Anniversary of the Foundation

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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