March is a celebration of women and their amazing contribution to the world. I know you have heard of an old adage that says “It’s a man’s world.” Well, look at what we’ve got? Maybe if we allow more women to run the world rather than men dominating it, perhaps we will end up better. Come to think of it, the compassion, care and love that every woman innately possesses may be the solution we are looking for to solve the pressing problems that plague us today.

I know that I may be sounding exaggerating things but let me tell you how my values and character were shaped and influenced by the women of my life.

I want to start with my mother. Her name was Rosalita but we fondly call her Nanay Dada. She left us and joined our Creator June last year. It was one of the most painful things that ever happened to me. I miss her everyday. I did not come from a well-off family. Growing up wasn’t easy especially because I know I had to work doubly hard to achieve all the things that I have now. In difficult and challenging moments, I always remind myself of the guidance, confidence and overwhelming support of my mother. Things then become bearable because I had my Nanay with me to cheer me up. I can’t imagine growing up without her in my life. I may not probably be the person I am now without her being the wind beneath the wings of a young dreamer.

Then comes my better half and life’s forever roommate, Anabelle. The moment I married her, my plans became our plans. My dreams became our dreams. My aspirations became our aspirations. I learned not to be me anymore but us. I appreciate that I have her as my intellectual sparring partner, a person who can give me counsel especially in times when I need to crack my head because things are not making sense. Anabelle saw the best and the worst of me and I would have not survived many challenges before without her on my side. Last December, we renewed our vows together in our silver wedding anniversary. Looking back 25 years ago, I made the right decision to marry my woman best friend.

I have three kids and two of them are women, Ea and Aya. I am still in awe of how Anabelle and I, despite our very tight schedule to propel our respective careers, managed to bring up two wonderful girls who share our love and genes for science. I watch in the background silently cheering for them while they make a humble name for their selves. All of my children are equal to me but you know, my princesses are the crown jewels of every Dad in the world. I am praying hard that my son, Pipo, will also be able to meet his own woman who will change his perspective in life in the future.

I realized through time based on my personal experiences that much of a man’s strength is anchored on the women behind him. The very persons who are behind any man while he is steering the wheel. This is also true with VSU. Let me say this, our growth as a university is because we never run out of outstanding women who are equally doing their part in making VSU great.

Of the 1,730 number of employees we have, 699 of them are women. That is 40.4% of our total current workforce. My number 2 in administration is a woman, Dr. Beatriz S. Belonias. Seven of our 14 Deans are women. Majority of our unit heads right now are women. A decade ago, our Chief Steward was a woman leader who came to international prominence because of he amazing work in environmental protection and conservation. Her name was Dr. Paciencia P. Milan.

VSU is prominent because we are an institution that allowed our women to make change for us. This is the theme of the national women’s month celebration this year. I am certain that we will continue to progress as a university when we continue to empower our women and let them be a coequal steerer of the wheel.

Let me wind up my tribute to women by going back to our main institutional icon, the Search for Truth. That statue is a testament of how we see women as a coequal partner in pursuing scientific advancement through instruction, research and extension. Let it remain our guiding direction as we strive for a greater future for our dear VSU.

Happy women’s month celebration to everyone!