Student Leaders Convene for PSG Leadership Training 2023
by Sydney Leila Reyes | The Paulinian
Photo cover by Stephanie Jacob
ST. PAUL UNIVERSITY MANILA—The annual PSG Leadership Training Seminar was held in the Founder’s Hall from July 20 to 21, 2023. The theme, Synodal and Transformative Paulinian Leaders, aimed to shape the incoming batch of Paulinian leaders for the academic year 2023-2024. Leaders from various college councils and student organizations were invited to gain valuable insights and skills to help them excel in their respective roles.
The first day of the leadership training seminar was hosted by Patricia Dioquino and Grant Hilario from the College of Education and the College of Arts and Sciences, respectively. The program began with opening remarks from the Vice President for Christian Formation and Student Services, Sr. Nicole De Marie Dabalus, SPC. Her remarks centered around the world of leadership and synodality, revisiting the history and legacy of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres’ founding father, Fr. Louis Chauvet. “You are the contemporary Fr. Louis Chauvet,” Sr. Nicole said, urging Paulinians to extend their leadership beyond organizing activities and school events.
A presentation from Mr. Abcy-Dee John Gonzales, an alumnus, followed Sr. Nicole’s talk. He briefly introduced his journey, which started with serving his parish and later on, founding charities and entering politics. With the goal of teaching the students to become well-rounded Paulinian leaders, he shared his knowledge of the key concepts that kept him grounded. At the end of his presentation, he went back to St. Paul’s example of servant leadership. Gonzales emphasized the importance of investing in people and thinking of the “long-term results nang pagkakaroon ng pagmamahal sa serbisyo.”
Mr. Gonzales was followed by Mr. Michael Franks Pammit, a guidance counselor from the Lourdes School of Mandaluyong, who spoke on “Transformative Leadership in the New Normal” and the struggles that Paulinian leaders might be experiencing during the shift to different modalities in the COVID-19 pandemic. With his experience in educational psychology, he helped students to navigate issues related to personal, work, and team conflicts. “Let’s all help build a better future by being better in the present,” Mr. Pammit said.
After the morning session, the celebration of the Holy Eucharistic was presided over by Rev. Fr. Oliver Par, SSP in the Chapel of the Crucified Christ. The Gospel reading from the book of Matthew called on Paulinian leaders to be instruments of God, reflecting His presence and love through their actions.
After the lunch break, indoor team-building activities were facilitated by the Supreme Student Council (SSC), headed by Ms. Josef Mari Aliel Dator. Leaders were grouped randomly and tasked to accomplish a series of challenges within a time limit. Games including “Spider Web,” “Paper Bridge,” and “Animal Sounds” were just some of the exercises geared to foster camaraderie and strengthen the bond among student leaders. The first-day session concluded with a brief processing talk conducted by Ms. Marjiemae Lorenzo, Head of the Student Affairs Office. During this talk, students were provided with the opportunity to share their insights and contemplate the significance of the games.
The second day began with hosts, Raphaelo Guiuan and Nelyn Valenzuela from the College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences, introducing Ms. Dator to present the SSC’s Calendar of Events. This calendar will be a reference for the different organizations to avoid scheduling conflicts. Important dates, such as Freshmen Initiation Day, Recruitment Week, and University Week, were announced in advance in preparation for the upcoming school year. The newly elected officers of the SSC were also introduced. Shortly after, Ms. Lorenzo took the stage to discuss the Student Organizations Handbook. Topics included food budgeting, budget requests, auditing procedures, and writing concept papers.
The highly anticipated talk of Msgr. Pedro Gerardo “Gerry” Santos took place after the lunch break. He began his presentation by briefly sharing some stories from his childhood and early career. Growing up in the U.S., where he became a working student, taught him to persevere. He believes that the Filipino virtues that he grew up with gave him a “cutting-edge advantage” in different fields. He challenged Paulinian leaders through thought-provoking questions that would push them to reflect on their existence. First, Msgr. Gerry asked the attendees what they were grateful for–to realize their privileges and acknowledge the blessings they have received in life. Then, he asked the students, “What are your sana’s in life?” He urged them to use what they have learned in school to hope for more fruitful blessings. Lastly, he asked the students to translate their hopes into “kaya’s,” to become proactive in making their goals come true.
After his introduction, Msgr. Santos proceeded to narrating the Bible story of “The Rich Young Man.” He pointed out three key concepts in the passage: encounter, listening, and discernment. Encounter pertains to strengthening the sense of self so that “we may share the love with others.” He explained that it enriches us by developing our character through relationships and building a culture of encounter, where we “practice inclusivity and not be cliquish.” He also challenged Paulinians to “disturb the equilibrium and shake the system.” Here he mentioned how society has become more accepting of people in the LGBTQIA++ Community, taking this as an opportunity to learn and grow from their culture. “We must remain Christ-centered and use our faith as an anchor through change,” Msgr. Gerry said. He used this discussion to segue into the following concept of listening. He addressed the need for leaders to listen to their people, to face the issues they encounter “as part of their synodality.” Msgr. Gerry is a firm believer that branding is labeling, which creates further divides in the community. This was a challenge to the Paulinian leaders to start a new generation of leadership in SPUM with a renewed perspective on what it means to serve the people. The last concept of discernment reminded the students to reevaluate the direction in which they lead their people. Msgr. Gerry’s talk concluded with a short Q&A session.
The last event of the day was a team relay challenge. Leaders were grouped into eight and tasked to accomplish a series of minigames. The ultimate challenge was to build a tower using disposable straws and other materials. Each team had to construct a tower that was both tall and structurally sound. Using draw lots, two teams would be given a chance to break the opposing team’s tower with a ball.
The leadership seminar ended with a short awarding ceremony and a photo opportunity.